If the drama of a violated body is acknowledged, the drama of a psychic balance violated even more than the body must be acknowledged. The difference is this: physical rape lasts on average 15 minutes, the peak of violence is relatively short, but the consequences in the balance of a violated woman can take years to disappear, sometimes never disappear. Relationship rape lasts a lifetime, it is the peak of violence that never ends. It starts even before I go to court, when my lawyer tells me that I have little hope of seeing my children regularly: the important thing is that I pay the cheque, then someone else will raise them.
It is repeated every day, when I am given ‘visiting rights’ two Sundays a month, when I bring them back 10 minutes late and find the police, when meetings are missed because of a bogus medical certificate, when I find myself accused of crap I never did, when she manipulates the child into saying that it is he who does not want to see me, when the mother runs away for no reason to an anti-violence centre, when she doesn’t put me on the phone, when she turns off the mobile phone on purpose, when I go to school and the teachers treat me like a criminal, when a 25 year old social worker decides if I am capable of being a father.
It is called the rape of relationships.
And again when they hide the date of the school play from me, when my children call the latest arrival “daddy”, when I don’t have a home to take the children to, when I have to see my children in protected meetings, when I bump up against the incompetence of those who say “you should come to an agreement”, when the only thing I have left are the photos because their mother has taken them abroad, when I ask for help from the institutions and they open their arms wide, when I file a complaint and for months nobody moves, while when she does it, after half an hour the police calls me, when I cry at night like a child thinking of my children that I cannot see as I would like to…
I could go on but there’s no need: you all know what I’m talking about. These are experiences that are repeated for years, every day, every minute. The feeling of helplessness, despair, humiliation, the arrogance and incompetence of the people you ask for help, the strength to go on that every day seems to be on the verge of disappearing… We’ve all felt it. Let’s give it a name. It is called relationship rape.