I was raped by a taxi driver in Mexico. It took me a year to be able to talk about it
This is why we need to do more
by Maya Knight
I was raped in Mexico by a taxi driver, a service that is designed to get you home safely, when I was placed, unconscious, into a cab, by two friends after a party.
I woke up in a motel room, and moved by adrenaline, shock and terror, proceeded to scream at this large, older stranger to get off of me. Outside I saw no one and this place became even more hostile. Petrified and confused I demanded to be brought back to Cholula. We drove further and further away from streetlights and paved roads in the city, and I thought I was being taken to the middle of nowhere to be disposed of.
It has taken a year for me to feel comfortable enough to say what I have to say about an issue that is too often deemed taboo. I was paralyzed by fear and shame, I was made to feel humiliated by the reactions and opinions of others about a situation that was not my choice or fault. Now, the only shame I feel is for those who victim-blame and are incapable of acknowledging that sexual abuse under any circumstance is inexcusable. I am ashamed, again and again, to be met by people in our society who do not recognize that the words and attitudes they embody contribute to the inadequate way rape is responded to.
After the incident I lay in a hospital bed, asking myself again and again how this could have happened. I was sobbing and snotting and completely unable to wrap my head around what had transpired merely hours before. I felt even more perplexed when the inevitable happened; a policewoman smacking chewing gum spat a series of questions at me that, for some reason, I had naively not expected.
“Just to clarify”, she barked “You were very drunk yes? How much did you drink? What were you wearing? So you are claiming you were you raped, correct?”
I started crying. I wasn’t claiming anything, I didn’t know what she was implying, I didn’t want to be in the hospital, I wanted to be in my house, showering and scrubbing off the dirty violated feeling which I had to sit with for hours. The questioning left me confused and humiliated. I started to wonder whether my unconscious state meant the man who raped me was any less guilty of the violent act he had committed. The really crazy thing is that I wasn’t angry at this man for a long time, I was just sad, because the right to be raging mad was swept from right under me.
This is the type of response victims of sexual abuse are met with when coming forward. It had to happen to me before I was able to understand the devastating and complex emotions that are created in the process. It felt like receiving a second bout of aggression. This time, one of judgement, one that would understandably put people off speaking about their assaults.
Then I started thinking about the bigger questions. Why does an over consumption of alcohol mean you can kidnap a woman, take her to a drive through motel, rape her and then leave her in the middle of nowhere in an industrial estate?
I will never be able to fully put into words how it felt to have my life uprooted, I will say however that the act of violence didn’t cease to affect me once I was away from the man who raped me. I dealt with depression and anxiety for months. A number of things that were fundamental to my happiness and wellbeing had been taken away from me in a matter of hours. I lost a sense of safety and security, aspects of my personality that made me who I was.
The relationships in my life suffered. I didn’t want to tell my family because I knew the pain it would cause them. Too often talking about it with my mother and my brother was too difficult. The two people I was closest to I shut out because I couldn’t pretend I was fine when they asked me how I was. A man I didn’t know had in one night created a distance between me and them. Now that my family do know, they live with it too. It has also become part of their story.
Rape doesn’t just affect one person, so we shouldn’t reduce the dialogue to just victim and attacker.
The language we use actually and concretely affects violence; there is a very strong correlation between chauvinism and measures of sexual abuse. Just because you are not a woman and you are not a victim of rape doesn’t mean you don’t have to express your discomfort with sexism. Until we talk about it properly, things won’t improve.
We have a far greater responsibility to society than just remaining silent. Please be brave: challenge your peers, your parents, your coaches and your teachers. We can become more compassionate towards one another; we just have to start acting on our beliefs. You will be doing so much more than you can imagine to stop the reproduction of rape culture.
This article is about what happened to me but it’s also about the way rape is inadequately responded to, and to what we can actually be doing to make that change. The extremely high figures of rape and sexual assault, in any country, are part of a cultural problem, which individuals are responsible for reproducing, or alternatively, diminishing.