Before COVID, I had finally worked up the nerve to attend a support group for "battered women." I was raped by my then-boyfriend, who had been physically abusive leading up to it. At the time of the rape, my only outside contact was with my boyfriend's brother, as I had been isolated from my friends and family over the years. I confided in him, and he provided every excuse under the sun. Maybe I hadn't said "no" loud enough. Maybe he had an ear infection because he's prone to getting those so he couldn't hear clearly (yes, really). It took another year for me to leave. It took five for me to talk about it with anyone, but when I finally felt brave enough, I didn't know why I had waited so long. Here was a group of women who understood where I was coming from; they had been through what I had. It was life-changing. Three sessions in, an obvious male appeared in this women's-only group. One woman was immediately vocal about being against it, but the rest of us (including me, which I regret, needless to say) scolded her for not being inclusive enough. Occasionally he would pipe up with an excuse or victim-blaming for one of our exes that sounded so much like my boyfriend's brother it started to open my eyes. He would defend this as what he called "gentle devil's advocate" and claim it "helped keep us grounded from our grief." What happened next was a horrible chain of events involving this male getting a boner during a meeting, being found to have sent dickpics to other members, and it would become known he had not only not been abused, he had never actually dated a male at all, let alone an abusive one. In telling this story, the reaction has mostly been the same: "Oh, that's awful... But it's she/her, she's still a woman." Are you kidding me?
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