I gain comfort in the fact that Matthew does not know me.
One of the identifying characteristics of abusers – rapists, bullies, people who indulge in any variety of physical or emotional subjugation - is their desire to completely define their victims. To own us. To say: this person belongs to me, I know everything about them, they are completely under my control. Every thought they have is mine. Everything they do is mine. Everything they are is mine. Mine, mine, mine, like the Finding Nemo seagulls. With pretty much the same amount of self-awareness.
And it's incredibly important to them that their behaviour is normal. That this is how "everyone" behaves. That any honest man will admit to wanting to rape or beat a woman. That everyone secretly wants to sexually assault children. That calling your partner every half hour to check they are where they say they are is common practice.
It has got to the point that if anyone ever spontaneously says to me "Everyone's like this, honey" with that patronising, world-weary tone of superiority that implies my naivety isn't doing me any favours, it immediately makes me deconstruct whatever it was they said to see where the bullshit is.
But of course, they would have to think it's normal. Their lives are built on sand. If it's not normal, if "everyone" isn't doing it, then you have to start questioning whether it's right to behave like that or not. And you absolutely do not want to be going down that road. If you're an abuser.
I guess it stems from some kind of fundamental insecurity or self-loathing or childhood trauma or whatever, but to be honest I couldn't care less. Abusers always do have excuses, strings of them, designed to justify or mitigate their need to hold you down and have sex with you, or punch you when dinner's late, or check your phone every hour, or text you abuse, or tweet graphic descriptions of their intent to rape you, or put you down constantly, or call you into their office and tell you you're a fucking moron. I don't accept excuses for bad behaviour. Your mum beat you, and that's why you sexually harassed one of your employees to the point of attempting suicide? Aw, poor baby. Grow up and get some fucking therapy. Because, for every one of you, there's ten other people who had the same thing happen to them who don't do what you do.
There's this myth that people can own each other like possessions. I sometimes hear people I know talking about their boyfriends or girlfriends with the emphasis on “my”, and I wonder what on earth makes them think they can just lay claim to another person like that.
You might say that bullying and possessiveness is different from rape, but actually I would argue it's not. Rape is an extreme form of bullying, to be sure, but bullying it is; it's about the desire to control, not the desire to embrace.
Remember how it feels to be drop-kicked by intense desire? We have all been there, all of us. You know that feeling. The one where your palms sweat and you lose the ability to form sentences. The one where you stare at them out of the corner of your eye and then pretend you weren't when you're caught. The one where you burn for that one beautiful person, you think about them all the time, you imagine what it would be like to be with them...
Tell me, did you ever want to take that person by force? Of course not. You want them to desire you as much as you desire them. You want them to be filled with uncontrollable passion at the very sight of you. Maybe, in your fantasies, both of you would be so gripped by desire you'd rip each other's clothes and bite and grasp, but do you want to see terror in their eyes when they look at you?
Think about the reality of it for a second; how they'd struggle. Would they cry and plead for you not to do it? Would you slap them to get them under control? You'd have to do it hard. Maybe a punch would work better? Feel their lip mash against their teeth? Can you see the blood? How would that feel? Now, how it would feel to grasp their arms so hard they'd bruise? Can you see the way the light would go out of their eyes as you took away their right to dictate what happens to their body?
Turn you on? No? And that's because you are not a rapist.
One of the great lies we have been sold is the “uncontrollable” nature of sexuality. That rape and abuse are somehow connected with desire. That if you provoke desire, you can expect rape; that if you become the object of someone else's sexual interest, even unknowingly, then you can expect attempts to control and subjugate you. You can see this everywhere, and you hear the excuses everywhere, and there is always the subtext that somehow the victim deserved it for inciting desire.
You don't even need to talk to other people. All you have to do is look inside yourself to know that's a lie, sold to us by a fucked-up system designed to normalise the horrific actions of a minority.
Next time you hear that, imagine the actual reality - of taking someone by force, or deliberately coercing someone into bed with you, or taking the calm decision to get someone drunk or put drugs in their drink so you can sexually assault them after they pass out. Think about it. Imagine it. And you'll see just how far from sex it is.
Wake up. Take the red pill. See things as they are. Don't ever let the abusers con you into thinking they're normal.