I’m shaking a bit. Is it weird that, although I know roughly what things I want to write about, the topic I choose on each occasion is the one that makes me feel slightly sick? I’ve realised that I’m terrified of my own blog. It’s good though, and like that amazing quote, after I finish writing, I do always feel “a shudder of relief”.
So. Who is Mark? That’s the question that is starting to follow me around. He wasn’t a villain who came into existence for a brief fifteen minutes and then exited stage left. Whilst I would happily use the words PRICK and ARSEHOLE to describe him, and many more besides, that lets him off the hook rather easily. I wrote my undergraduate dissertation on justice and reconciliation in post-genocidal nations, and one of my key tenets was that it isn’t helpful to describe the perpetrators of genocide as ‘monsters’. If we call them monsters, if that’s all they are, then they bear no responsibility for their actions – they are evil, and don’t possess the ability to differentiate between right and wrong. The same goes for rapists.
It is difficult to accept, but rapists are very human. Mark was normal, he was friendly and conversational. And, he existed before I came across him. What had his childhood been like? Was he abused when he was young? That’s an especially difficult question for me, because I don’t want him to have been – I don’t want him to have an excuse (yes: it is deliberately pejorative language). I want to be content in my hating him, I want it to be simple.
Had he raped before? Was I the first, the only? Were there girls after me? Does my cowardice, my never going to the police, mean that I bear some responsibility for other girls he hurt?
These are all big questions, but it’s not the one that really bothers me.
I want to know where he is now. What his life is like. He was, I think, in his mid to late twenties in 2006. Does he still live in Malta, single and alone? Or – what I keep imagining – is he in Britain, married? Does he have children? Does he take them to the park, and drop them off at school?
Does he ever think about what he did to me? If so, does he attempt to rationalise it? Am I a ‘silly mistake’ he made once? Perhaps it never even flickers across his mind. Or am I one of a string of girls he abused?
All I have are questions. And no answers.