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My rape was a ‘non-issue’

Anonymous submission

CW rape, domestic violence, intimate partner violence

It was before shelters for battered women existed or laws to protect rape victims. The attitude was, “What did you do to deserve this?”  These are words said to me by police in the early 1970s.  I had a roof over my head and food to eat, I should be grateful: words also spoken to me by the police.  One would never expect that in the United States a woman still had no rights in the 1970s- unless you were rich and had a good lawyer.

I was raped and beaten by my husband on a regular basis, he told me he did it ‘whether or not [I] needed it.’  The thing that got him off the most was beating me while raping me.  His sickening laugh and actions made me vomit during those horrid times.  As far as he and the law were concerned, rape was a non-issue. I had ‘no right’ to refuse sex for any reason, not even when I was nine months pregnant.  I was terrified the baby would be born injured from the constant rapes.  Thankfully the baby was born fine.

I tried leaving him a couple times when he was at work.  I hitchhiked to the city with the kids in tow and went straight to the welfare office.  They got us an apartment right away, with enough money for food and other necessities until the first check came in the mail.  In the 1970s there was no direct deposit or computers to see if the money was indeed in my bank account.  I was afraid he would find us even though he couldn’t find his way out of a paper bag.  The folks at the welfare office had a suggestion: to not put my last name on the mailbox but only a number given to me that would match a number on the envelope which contained my welfare checks.  I was careful not to mention my last name to anyone in the building and only the landlord knew.  The only person who knew my location was my mother who lived clear across the country.  I couldn’t leave the state with the kids without the written consent of my ex-husband and that wasn’t going to happen.  Had there been no kids, I would have been long gone whether or not I ever got divorced, just so I got away from him!

One day I answered a knock on the door and there he stood, and he wasn’t happy!  I couldn’t understand how he found us.  I found out during another beating that my mother had told him!  In her mind, a woman stayed with her husband no matter what and, yes, she knew he was beating and raping me!  So now I couldn’t trust my mother.

It was when he picked me up from the hospital after having our next baby that I knew I had to take drastic measures to get away from him.  He was drunk and I thought he was going to kill us all as he was all over the road. Since I wasn’t talking he got angry. He  pulled over, grabbed the baby from me, pushed me out of the car. He drove off.  I had necessary surgery after the birth and still had stitches, I couldn’t walk well.  I finally got on my feet and started walking back towards the city in hopes of finding a phone or the police.  My ex came back, grabbed me by my hair and threw me back in the car.

It was six months later that I was able to get away once and for all.  Without going into details, as it’s a long story, there was no trial and no one paid for raping me.  I was far more grateful for getting out alive than for having a roof over my head and food to eat.

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