Every orgasm I have is a show of defiance to my rapist

A photograph of Vanessa de Largie

Vanessa de Largie | Rendezview | The Daily Telegraph | April 6, 2016

In 2014, a study published in The Lancet Medical Journal found that sexual assault against Australian women by someone who wasn’t their partner was more than double the global average.

Studies like this can seem meaningless until they affect us personally. When news headlines pay a visit to our own life, the darkness that lurks in society can no longer be ignored or denied.

Violence against women is a flammable topic throughout Australia. We cannot escape its reach in our daily newsfeed. The discussion brings with it a seething hatred, particularly against men. I grow tired of the constant bitching and bitterness.

I would prefer to hear stories of triumph from women who have survived such events. Violence against women isn’t all about doom. Within the walls of violence lives light and victory, and I think we should speak about these truths.

I am a survivor of domestic violence and rape. I feel victorious. There is an abundance of light in my life and I don’t have any hatred toward men.

I was 20 years old when I was raped. I was drunk and had just been kicked out by a one-night-stand. It was the late ’90s and I didn’t own a mobile phone. As I staggered along the footpath in the moonlight, looking for a phonebox, I came across a bench and lay down on it. I passed out and woke in a haze… to him. I was dragged away and my vagina was invaded, but I lived to tell the tale.

Then there was the aftermath. In some ways the aftermath was worse than the assault; it lingered like a stubborn stain. It affected my parents and it affected me. Why had I let myself get so drunk? Why did I lie down on that bench and go to sleep? There was so much blame, layers and layers of it.

I’m now 38-years-old and live a fulfilling life as an artist. I’ve also gone on to have an incredibly amorous sex-life. I was a highly sexual woman before the assault and I believe that was my good fortune.

The assault affected my mental state and it also affected the relationship I have with my body. I hated my body for years after the assault, I blamed it for what had happened to me. How dare it be sexy and alluring to the male gaze?

Thankfully, the rape had no affect on my libido or my attitude towards sex or men. I had sex within a week of my rape and I’ve continued to engage in sexual activity ever since.

Every orgasm is a defiant “f**k you” to my rapist.

Every orgasm is a defiant “I matter” to myself.

You see, he didn’t win that night. He didn’t take anything from me — except one brutal invasion.

His assault on my innocence, my error of judgment and my vulnerability as the “physically weaker” sex has only strengthened me. I feel unbelievably empowered by my sexuality. I own it with every essence of my being.

I write a popular sex-blog for The Huffington Post.

I pen erotica novellas under a pseudonym.

I act in sex-positive independent films.

I pose for erotic art and fashion shoots.

I perform erotic poetry throughout Australia, live on stage.

I express myself through my sexuality every day. It is my life-force. It fills me up. It forces me to create.

I own my rape. It doesn’t own me. It is part of me, like my liver, my heart and my lungs. I wouldn’t be who I am today without it.

I’m grateful for the lessons rape taught me. It has propelled me forward in ways that I never imagined. It’s a permanent reminder of what I lost but it’s also a permanent reminder of what I still have left.

I turned a misfortune into a blessing and I turned my anger into peace.