I didn’t know prior to yesterday that many people thought stories of rape couldn’t possibly go undetected for years. I didn’t know prior to yesterday that somehow I lived in my own version of Lebanese reality where I’m exposed to little tidbits of everything that most of us hear about in theory, in realms of fiction we never think would happen to people who are close to us in any way.
News of rape attempts surfaced frequently over the past few days. Some were verified (link), others are still just stories and may have been made up, causing a disservice to every single person out there in this country still feeling the sting of the pain but going through their days anyway.
Because there’s this notion that rape in Lebanon, and possibly other countries, surfaces quickly and cannot go unnoticed for a long period of time, I will be going up close and personal with the stories of two people I know personally very well. Only those few people who are deeply familiar with their story will know who they are. But the following stories are 100% accurate and have happened here, around every single one of us.
She was sitting in Deir l Salib with her psychiatrist facing her, asking her all the questions she never thought she’d have to answer. When did it start? 1997. How did it start? He was her employer. What did he do? So many things.
She remembered the first time he forced himself on her. How he threatened her he’d hunt down her family members with his influence if she ever dared speak. She remembered how she’d come to the office and see him naked on the couch, his semen all over the carpet. He had just had a prostitute over. She remembered as he forced her to clean the mess. She remembered as he peed on the carpet as she cleaned. She remembered holding back the tears.
She remembered all the weddings she didn’t go through. She remembered feeling excited about those invitation cards, doing her hair and painting her nails only to get a phone call prohibiting her from attending… Or else. She’d fight with her family in order to get them not to want to take her with them anymore. There was nothing else she could do.
She remembered all the possible marriages that passed by her over the year. She remembered the physician who lived in Canada and found her to be of exquisite beauty. She remembered turning him down because he wouldn’t let her go.
1997 was when it started. 2009 was when she cracked. 12 years has turned her in into a different woman, a different person. She wouldn’t be the same ever again.
He was a seven year old student at one of the country’s many primary schools. He was anything but calm, constantly finding himself in trouble. He raised his hand and asked his teacher for permission to use the restroom. She dismissed him. He hopped his way to the bathroom, entered the cubicle and stood there as a middle aged man faced him with a menacing look on his face.
The little boy tried to escape him but couldn’t. The man grabbed the boy, cupped his mouth so he wouldn’t scream and unzipped his pants.
The boy couldn’t remember anything of what happened afterwards. The man threatened him in order to keep quiet. He returned to class with pee all over his pants. He tried to hide it but couldn’t. His class made fun of him and he sat there crying because there was nothing else he could do.
When he got home, he snuck past his mother and spilled water on his pants to hide the stain. He then threw it in with the laundry. She would never know. And he didn’t tell anyone what happened with him that day. He didn’t know if they’d understand. He didn’t know if they’d believe him. He didn’t know if they’d help.
He held his story in and didn’t tell it to anyone until he turned 23.
That woman and that boy know they can’t get their past back in order to have a different version of their future and present. And here we are telling them that we live in a place where we really can’t do anything for them, where they’ll just have to make do with the hand they’re dealt. Because that’s how things simply are.