My rapist, Avery Peterson, left me with a lot to process. Every so often something happens that reminds me of something Avery did, and with the perspective and acceptance I now have I am able to see his actions and words in a way I had previously been incapable of seeing.
Tonight I was watching Shane Dawson’s documentary on Jake Paul. Shane and Jake were discussing a scandal that had happened where Jake’s brother slept with Jake’s ex. As Shane listened to Jake recount the experience, he became outwardly upset. His voice shook as he continuously expressed his disbelief and horror at the situation. He went so far as to call it “a life-ruining event.”
While I didn’t exactly disagree with Shane’s disgust, I found it shocking. I simultaneously found myself agreeing with and questioning his reaction. “This is unimaginable,” I thought. “He’s acting like this is really bad,” I also thought.
I wondered if it was really so bad, because if it was…
It’s not exactly the same, but it’s similar.
During the time period he was abusing me, Avery used several tactics to isolate me from my loved ones. One of those was to blatantly order that I not confide in them. I would list them and explain why I should be able to tell each one, and he would demand I not. Another tactic was he would then list the females on my list and tell me he would fuck them then make me question if he already was.
When it came to that second strategy, he tended to focus on two specific individuals, one of them being my best friend at the time, the other one being my sister.
At the time I was aware that I was not on board with the idea of him pursuing sex with my sister, and I made my discomfort known. He was all too privy to my broken relationship with her. Still, he repeatedly shared this fantasy with me. Since I wasn’t allowed to discuss what was happening between us with anyone else, I had no one I could go to that could reassure me that his behavior was unacceptable. By the time he did allow me to confide in a specific person, that sort of conversation between us had been normalized for me.
And in a way, it’s been normalized since. As I slowly undid the damage his brainwashing caused to my mind, I have been able to recognize how bad things were in general. I remember realizing that his not allowing me to talk to my friends was abusive behavior in itself, and although now I can see how obvious that is, it was a revelation at the time I realized it.
There are many little things Avery did that, though abusive standing alone, are much less significant than repeated rape. The contrast makes it that much easier for my brain to say “well, that wasn’t that bad” or overlook it as a bad thing altogether.
But then something happens, like watching the Shane Dawson documentary, where I get to witness individuals reacting to a situation that reminds me of it, and I see in their points of view how disgusted, affected, and upset it makes them. That allows me to then see my own experience more clearly; threatening to sleep with my sister when you are having intercourse with me is horrifying. If I were functioning properly I should have run in the opposite direction. I would have acknowledged that I was being treated extremely poorly and I didn’t deserve it.
But instead, the same man who gaslit and groomed me to a place where he could get away with that kind of treatment would repeat it over and over and over again. He must have been so confident that I would never go against his orders and tell someone what he was doing. I speculate that he relished witnessing the control he had over me, that he could say this thing that was both generically and personally horrible and watch me put up with it and watch me continue to trust him.