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'My biggest regret is not reporting my rape. My rapist has a comfortable life with a wife and kids'

I am here, almost two years later, only just beginning to pick up the pieces of my own life, writes Morgan Barbour.

Morgan Barbour Activist

I WAS RAPED in June 2016 while living and working in Dublin. I never reported my assault.

Trauma is a funny beast and you never know how your body and mind will react in the moment. In my case I was scheduled to be on a ferry at 8am the next day to move some of my possessions over to England to begin my transition to grad school, so I simply went on autopilot and I did just that.

Numbness

I did not go to a hospital or receive care until the following day, and I postponed my return to Ireland for several days while playing host to a friend and pretending that nothing had ever happened.

Those days are a blur. I remember numbness and a strong compulsion to scrub my skin raw in the shower to get his touch off of me.

The care I received in both England and Ireland was sympathetic but underpinned with blame. What had I done for this to happen? Was I generally promiscuous? Had I led him on? Was I having post-sex regrets? He was married, but didn’t I know how men were?

What was I thinking?

At the time I was working as an actress and model and hosting bar crawls for stag dos at night (my rapist was the best man on one of these crawls). Why did I purposefully choose work that showcased my body if I didn’t expect men to respond in kind? What was I thinking, taking on a job where I led inebriated men around in a tiny dress and heels?

I think my breaking point was when a nurse told me to pray when I told her I had taken a morning after pill at the hospital and had every intention of returning to England for an abortion if that had not worked.

It seemed reasonable to expect me to shoulder the blame of my assault and bring my rapist’s child into the world; never mind that I desperately wanted a family of my own one day and that the thought of being pregnant as a result of such violence has left mountains of baggage to unpack.

Trudging on

This attitude is not exclusive to my rape. It is a cancer that permeates far and wide, and it’s why many rape victims (both men and women) would rather trudge on than face a judge and the court of public opinion. It is remarkably easy to internalise.

I often find myself keeping myself in check when I speak about my own assault, trying to remove the quiet accents of blame that bleed into my accounts. Rape is an uncouth subject not meant for polite conversation, and it is much easier to swallow when the characters involved are black and white rather than well rounded human beings.

A rapist is rarely a masked, knife-wielding monster pulling women into dark alleyways. They are quite often the athlete, the co-worker, the family man gushing over his two daughters beginning ballet class. They might be funny, charming, perhaps even kind in certain situations.

But charm does not give permission to violate another human being in the cruellest manner possible.

Victim blaming

What a victim was wearing or who they have previously had sex with or what they do for a living does not make them fair game.

My clothing certainly did not cause a grown man with free will to beat me to the point where my breasts and abdomen were bruised, choke me to the point of blacking out, to leave a room covered in shattered glass, or to cause so much pelvic trauma that my vaginal canal was bloodied and swollen shut.

Those details are graphic and they are painful to share. But they are real, and for the majority of the people who should have been charged with helping me heal and seek justice, they mattered significantly less than the fact that I had modelled nude in magazines and led pub crawls in tiny dresses.

Regretting not reporting

My biggest regret in life is not being more proactive and reporting my rape. My rapist has a comfortable life with a wife and kids and I am here, almost two years later, only just beginning to pick up the pieces of my own life and embrace healing fully.

Taking legal action, regardless of the verdict, would not have undone the cruelty he inflicted on me that night, but perhaps it would have brought some closure and paved a path for future victims to come forward and report.

I cannot rewrite my past, but I hope that by continuing to write openly and honestly about my assault I can help precipitate some change and contribute to a better, brighter, safer tomorrow.

Morgan Barbour is a London-based activist, circus artist, movement director, and writer. morganbarbour.com.

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Morgan Barbour  / Activist

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