There's a reason I stopped watching Game of Thrones. It wasn't because of the violence or the sex which some might perceive as gratuitous. It wasn't because there aren't any morals or lessons to be learned from the story being portrayed. But I did have an issue with the treatment of women in the series.
For survivors to see their own experiences reflected back to them can be a powerful thing, it can help them recognise that they are not alone in what they have lived through and continue to cope with. These TV shows can help survivors to find ways to speak about their experiences and access support, and can help society realise just how important it is to believe survivors, and to support them and be alongside them. I also hope it will help foster a shift in attitudes where we place the blame and shame on perpetrators, where it belongs.
To my particular abuser, who did many but not all of the things above, I say this. Every time I say sorry for no reason. That's on you. Every time I flinch at a raised voice. That's on you. Every time I wake sweating from a nightmare of what you did. That's on you. Every time I cry remembering the things you did and said. That's on you.
The impact of rape lasts long after the physical event has taken place. Women who have been raped are more likely to commit suicide and are prone to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which can include flashbacks, severe anxiety, recurring nightmares and depression. Allowing a rapist to have access to a child born out of a rape only enhances the trauma and forces the victim to relive that fear and anxiety on a regular basis.
I don't know if they removed his profile, or if he removed it voluntarily. They never replied to me. The next thing I knew, I was being charged for membership: despite having written to inform them one of their subscribers had raped me, they wanted to continue to charge me! Eventually, when they did agree to cancel my subscription, their 'sorry you're leaving' email still contained the standard 'but if you'd like to join us again' text. It was the definition of insult to injury.
Your eyes were black and you looked straight into my soul and told me you didn't give a fuck that I said no, that I had a tampon. You held your thick wrist against my chest whilst you abused me, whilst you fumbled with your belt and pushed my underwear to one side, constraining my freedom by forcing my legs apart. Whilst I kicked and screamed and cried, you grabbed and constrained and yanked and hurt every part of me that in no given universe would I have consented you to touch.
Dear Mr Morgan - Thank you. Thank you for being the person who verbalises what we think everyone else is thinking, but too polite to say. Thank you for telling me I wasn't raped, that it was, as I sometimes think it might have been, all in my head. The CPS didn't prosecute him, so according to you, it didn't happen. Thank you for absolving me of that memory, which years of treatment for PTSD, whilst helping me with the PTSD, hadn't managed to remove. Oh, and also, thank you for confirming that I didn't have PTSD either, not having been in a war, I could know nothing of what PTSD is - it was all in my head.
During my five years campaigning, I have come to the conclusion that the most important thing that needs to happen is a shift in our cultural attitudes toward women and sex. Improved laws, better university policies, all of these things can help, but without broader changes in culture, we will always be fighting a losing battle.