So I'm stuck in this cycle of feeling dirty and awful about what happened (especially my part in "allowing" it to happen by allowing him in my studio in the first place, and not speaking up when he was being inappropriate before the rape), but I also feel sickly empowered in some respects because it was The Worst Thing That Could Happen, and it happened and it's over now.
I hear you on both parts of that, and I wanted to thank you for bringing up the second part. I don't think it's strange to try to wrest something good from the enormous pile of shit that rape dumps on your life. I was in an abusive relationship for a few years in my late teens, and a lot of bad stuff happened, including sexual assault.
the one time he tried a direct physical assault, he pinned me down, laughed at my struggles and tears and replied to my please for him to stop with "shut up, you'll like this". when I stopped trying to pull my arms free and was crying, he let go of my wrists and sat up to try to undo my pants, and I sat up fast and hit him hard enough to knock him off the bed, and then I ran. After that, he mostly used intimidation (he was much bigger than I was) bullying and manipulation to get me to have sex I desperately didn't want to have.
When I finally told people about what had happened, that first assault was what I told them about. And I had the same sense of responsibility - I should have made my boundaries clearer, I should have left him then instead of letting him suck me into 2 years of hell - whihc made me feel dirty and miserable and like I shouldn't even be complaining because I was so horrible I had brought it on myself. A friend of mine, who had been his friend as well until I told her about this crap set me straight. She told me I might be hurt, might be scarred a little, but I wasn't dirty, or slutty or at fault. All the dirt, all the shame, all the guilt, lay squarely on the shoulders of the perpetrator. It took me a long time to really believe that, but it would have taken longer if I hadn't heard it from her first. So I want to repeat what Mama Bear and Eirwyn said - it wasn't your fault. The blame is his. This dirt is his. There is no shame in assuming that the people you know are decent human beings who won't hurt you. If they do hurt you, it's because they, not you
, are bad.
As for the "sickly empowered" thing - look, you survived something terrible and you're still breathing, moving, living. That is a victory, even if it's from a battle you never wanted to be within 50 miles of. If telling yourself "I made it through this, I didn't break" makes it easier to keep living, to stay unbroken, then do it as long as you need to. When I got all the way away from the guy who hurt me, years later I took a cold bitter comfort (but comfort nonetheless) from the fact that I physically resisted when I wasn't sure I'd succeed. Even though that didn't do me any good over the following years, when I was in a relationship where he continued to abuse me, continued to force me (though with different means) into sex I didn't want, I could hold on to that moment when the self-hatred threatened to overwhelm me. Not everyone fights the same way - you had the wits in a terrible situation to calculate your best chance of minimizing hurt and you took it. That isn't giving up or surrender - that's a tactical decision that allowed you to get through it and reveal him to your circle. Hang on to that when you start to blame yourself - you were canny and clever and had the opportunity to unmask the bastard to your circle and you seized it. If you can pull anything good from the shitheap of what he did, anything that helps you keep going, that's another victory you've snatched from his jaws. Sometimes I think you have to flaunt, if only to yourself, the little victories, the ways in which the bastards failed to keep you down.
TLDR: It wasn't your fault, you aren't dirty, and if reveling in the strength that your survival is evidence of helps you to heal, revel sister!