***Trigger warning: Rape
I am non-confrontational by nature. I just am. I may get upset, but I tend to hold it in so as to not transfer those unpleasant feelings to the next party. Even if they are who upset me in the first place. I like everyone around me to be pleasantly comfortable. I like cute sweatshirts, sparkles, cozy coffee, and giggly babies. So how then have I become recognizably the go-to feminist within my own circles? I am the girl who has never honked her horn whilst driving behind idiots. But I am also the girl who takes on internet trolls, and even “well meaning”types who don’t care to be associated with “feminazis.”
I don’t do this because I like to see people fired up. I don’t. I don’t do this because I like to fuck with status quo. And I don’t do it because I think I am superior to men. I do this because there are some serious, legitimate problems with living in a patriarchal society. Of course we have come a long way. That’s a given. And I am so very grateful that I can vote, work, love my gf in public, and otherwise just LIVE.
But what about the other ways of living. What about never leaving a drink unattended? What about always parking my car with the driver’s side facing the main entrance of the business and under a light? What about never walking alone at night? What about faking being on the phone with someone when I do walk alone? What about having mace in my car at all times and taking self defense classes?
Should I have to live like this? Should anyone? No. Of course not. Yes, I as a white(ish), American woman, have it better than most. But does that mean I should some how quietly settle for this “better than some” level of living as someone in the United States is being sexually assaulted every 2 minutes?
We should be standing beside each other supporting each other. Helping. Loving. Caring. Not asking how much she drank, what she wore, or any other god-awful, victim-blaming nonsense as women, and as humans. Because, no, “not all men,” but honestly, “yes all women.” Not *every* woman has been sexually assaulted (despite how much higher the number are than the actual statistics because reporting these things is automatic shame and guilt), but I double dog dare you to find a woman who hasn’t been sexually assaulted, physically or emotionally abused, or even just sexually harassed on more than one occasion.
A friend of mine shared some late night writing she did recently, and I am so glad she did. I share this not because I like to stir the pot, reignite old arguments, or any other confrontational or self-serving reason. I share this only to give a voice to victims. To stop quieting those who have be horrifically wronged. To stand up and say this is why I am a feminist.
My friend wrote this in a moment of vulnerability and boldness. It’s personal and expressive, so although she has not publicly posted it as it is written, all of that emotion is there for you to read and feel. Victims should not be looking at themselves to blame. They should not be shamed, or hurt, scolded, and quieted. They get a voice and it’s time to listen.
“Recent events have made me re-evaluate some things. Made me want to stand up for what I think is right. Prepare for a novel.
Seven years ago, I was raped. I was out drinking with my friends at a bar, singing karaoke, having a good time, like we often did. I was RAPED in the back of a random person’s pickup, by a man I had never met before. I had two beers and two shots and barely any recollection of the event. I have vague memories of trying to push him off of me but being too weak, like when you have a dream and you’re trying to hit someone and your arms are jello. I remember screaming, “no,” but I wasn’t screaming loud enough for anyone to hear. I woke up, alone, on the cold pavement, gravel stuck to my face and my pants and underwear around my ankles. I was crying, bawling, stumbling towards the light from the bar. A woman who had gone out to smoke saw me and started walking towards me, she got close enough and realized something was wrong. She yelled for help. My friends came running out of the bar and put me in their car. I remember waking up periodically, crying, lying in the back seat of my friend’s car wondering why this happened. She was crying. Everyone was.
I was taken to the hospital immediately. Another friend had seen the man run from the scene. He knew who he was and called the police. The things I remember from the hospital are very blurry. I remember having chunks of my hair pulled out. Doctor and nurses doing pelvic examinations and tests. My best friend at the time was holding my hand and bawling with me. I was hysterical. I was in a state of disbelief and confusion. I was in and out of consciousness.
What I remember is only a fraction of what I know to be true. In the weeks to come I had to answer questions to police, the prosecutor, family and friends. I had to watch video footage from the bar and listen to recordings of my hospital visit. Over and over again I had to tell this story. Over and over I was reminded of this horrible thing. My spirit was crushed. I thought to myself, “I must have done something to provoke this.” I blamed myself completely. I didn’t want to move from the couch. I didn’t want to talk about it. I didn’t want to hear or say his name.
The man who did this to me ran that night. Innocent men don’t run. If we had a mutual consent to have sex that night (like he tried to say later) he wouldn’t have left me in the dark and ran. The cops found him near the river by the levee around the train bridge. They had him cornered and he jumped in a pond, probably to wash away evidence. It didn’t work. DNA evidence was found. His hat was found in the bed of some stranger’s pickup. After witness testimony, my testimony, and all the evidence was gathered, I had to testify in a pre-trial to determine if it would go to a jury trial. I had to sit on the stand, with my rapist sitting directly across from me, probably 12 feet away. It felt like 3. He glared at me while I spoke, he even shook his head as to imply I was lying. His skeezy lawyer directed terrible questions at me trying to find flaws in my story, trying to make the judge think I was a slut who was trying to have sex with this low life that night. Trying to make me feel guilty, like a liar. I’m going to be honest here, I don’t remember the whole thing, and I really don’t even want to. I do know, I told this man no, and I tried to push him off of me, I tried to yell and he covered my mouth with his hand. I remember those things. I’ve never forgotten those things. I’ve re-played them in my head for years.
It didn’t take long for the judge to determine there was enough evidence for a trial. The process for this going to trial took a year, as these things do apparently. I had countless meetings at the prosecutor’s office, a constant reminder of what had happened to me. By the time the trial was near, I found myself nervous, forgetting important details pertaining to the case, and I didn’t want to face him again. I couldn’t. It was the last day before we were supposed to go to trial and the week before that, the prosecutor offered my rapist a plea deal. Aggravated assault. He would spend 60 days in jail and 5 years on probation with a no contact order. It wasn’t exactly what I wanted, but I was so afraid to see him, I just wanted it all to be over. He took the deal. I was relieved. I was pissed. I was upset. I was scared. I was a lot of things.
Part of this deal was that he pay me $2000 in restitution, along with my medical expenses. Let me tell you right now, I don’t give a shit about any money, and I told the prosecutor as much at the time. $2000 won’t make the fact that I was RAPED go away. $2,000,000 wouldn’t make the fact that I was RAPED go away! No amount of anything will ever make the fact that I was RAPED go away. And because this asshole, who had multiple DUI’s and other criminal offenses, who shouldn’t have even been at the bar that night, didn’t have the means to pay this money at once, I received $32 checks every month for a year and a half. He must have come into a little more money at some point because the checks went up to $100 until it was paid off almost another year later. My reminder checks. Oh joy, I couldn’t wait for that day every month. Just when I felt my sanity coming back, there was his name on this stupid, worthless check. It’s April 12th 2010 happy “reminder-that-you-were-RAPED-a-year-and-a-half-ago-day!” See you next month! I’m trying to move on people. This wasn’t helping.
In the years that followed, I heard his name, I even saw him a few times. Every time I ran and I hid. I turned into a fucking shell of a human being for weeks until I could pull myself together. At one point I think I was trying to drink myself to death. He had, he has, no remorse. He continues to break the laws: driving drunk, breaking probation. He’s still out there, in the town I live in, thinking he’s un-touchable.
We had friends in common, or friends of friends, so I had occasionally heard his name in conversation and it made me shudder every time. I’ve lived in constant fear of seeing his face again, running into him at the store or movies or wherever. So imagine my surprise when I hear he’s in another circle of friends of mine. I see this on Facebook. The second I find out, panic ensues. My brain goes back to that night, back to the bar, the car, the hospital, the police, the prosecutor, my old house where I sat, staring at the wall until I was too tired to keep my eyes open any longer, back to his creepy face glaring at me when I was telling the story of what happened, back to those stupid fucking checks, back to when he came into my work that one time, and I ran to the bathroom to cry and lose my shit until someone found me and calmed me down. My mind went to a million different places all at once. I told one of my friends this; Please, let me know, if you know beforehand, that this guy will be anywhere I am invited to. So I can avoid it like the plague. She agreed. She didn’t ask details, she just said that she would let me know. She stuck to that, and I love her for it.
Here’s the thing though: why the fuck, do I have to avoid places? Why do I have to “play nice” and avoid telling people that this guy is my RAPIST? Why do I have to hide what happened to me? Why should I? Why should I NOT tell EVERYONE what this low life scum bag did to me? Why? Why have I been protecting him? I owe him nothing. I don’t have to “behave”. I don’t have to do shit. Guess what, I’m not hiding anymore damnit. HE did this to me. HE chose to RAPE me that night. HE chose to break his probation by being at a bar. It is public record that this guy has a record a mile long in Idaho, and Washington. This wasn’t his only screw up then and he isn’t some reformed criminal now. HE CONTINUES to break laws, to violate his probation. He is not a “stand up guy”. HE absolutely DID do this to me. I’ve been silent for seven years damnit and I’m done. Don’t fucking tell me to be quiet. Don’t ask me to behave or to avoid places because he’s there and we don’t want drama. I have every damn right to say whatever I want. Do you want to know why? BECAUSE HE RAPED ME! He “wasn’t” criminal, he IS one. He deserves every bad thing that happens to him. He doesn’t think he did anything wrong. He hasn’t learned from his mistakes, he is in and out of jail to this day, yet still goes to the bar with his friends. I really don’t give a rat’s ass if you’re friends with this guy. Go ahead, you do that. But don’t you EVER ask me to fucking be quiet about it. I don’t have to and I won’t if I don’t fucking want to.
If you want to be friends with someone like that, you will have to deal with it and all the baggage that comes with. Nobody gets to tell me to be quiet, to avoid going anywhere because he’s there or his girlfriend is there. I don’t care. He doesn’t own this town. I have chosen to “take the high road” for way to long. He doesn’t deserve for me to take the high road. I realize, some of you, who associate with this guy, who think he’s so great, and/or he didn’t do this horrible thing, are going to be pissed at me for doing this. That’s fine. There’s a delete button at the top of my page. There’s also a blocking button in your settings. If any of you feel upset with the things I’ve said here, please, just delete me, block me. It’s already happened with a few people which is just fine with me. I prefer it, in fact. I really don’t care. I don’t care what you have to say in his defense, I don’t care “what he’s done for you”, I just don’t. I’m not going to go through facebook and look to see if any of you are friends with him. If you are, whatever, I don’t hate you at all, just don’t ever defend him to me, because it doesn’t matter. What he did to me is unforgivable. I hate him. I don’t care what happens to him. I don’t want to hear his name. If you want to hang out with him, that’s on you. Just know this, I have the right to tell my story to anyone I want, nobody can tell me to be quiet. The more I’m told to “play nice” from now on, the more I scream it from the top of my fucking lungs. Seriously, say one thing to me about it, I dare you. I am a rape victim, none of you have any right to tell me how to act, what I can do or say and none of you have the right to make me feel bad about it. None of you have the right to tell my friends to not stand up for me, none of you have the right to tell my friends to tell me to knock it off. I’m not who I once was, I won’t hide, I won’t be told what to do, I won’t be threatened, I won’t be told what I’m saying or doing is wrong. So shut the hell up and stay away from me.”