Have you ever … walked two city blocks, talking to yourself, repeating over and over “I can’t tell. No one can ever know. I got away, so I’m okay. I’m gonna be fine.” ? Because you went willingly into the dark room to learn more about developing film. No it didn’t alarm you when he locked the door. You have to do that to keep people from busting in and letting in light that ruins the processing film. Yes, you had been flirting with him for a few days in classes. But no, you had no idea he would turn around from locking that door and start pressing you up against the counter. grinding and groping. Sure it was exciting for about 5 seconds, but then it became scary when he didn’t want to stop. But it MUST be your fault for not wanting to give him what he wants, right? And you still feel guilty for hitting him hard enough to make him stop and opening that locked door, and ruining the film project so you could get away.
Have you ever … held the hand of a shaking friend who is nearly incoherent after getting away from her ex-boyfriend by stabbing him with a kitchen knife (in the leg) because it was the only thing she could reach when he attacked her in her parents home? She had already spent 2 or three hours on the phone with my mom….begging my mom to find me so she could talk to me. She never did tell my mom what happened, and she certainly didn’t call the cops.
Have you ever … sat on the floor in a bathroom stall, curled up in a ball and sobbed because the upperclassman who convinced you to do …*that* has refused to even look at you in public and now you know for certain it was all about his instant gratification by playing on your near hero worship?
Have you ever … walked to a payphone (back when there were such things) not even knowing if you could make a phone call, not certain you could convince the operator to help you find the phone number to call for a friend to come pick you up. After a walk in the woods with a “really great guy I’ve known since 3rd grade” who turns out to be a 10th grader willing to pin you up against a tree and push you to the ground saying that he gave you a nice afternoon and now it’s time to pay up ?
Have you ever … begged the operator to help you find the friend to come get you but PLEASE don’t call the police. No, really. don’t call the cops. please. I’m fine, I just need a ride home. I got away, so there is nothing to see here. no “real” crime. I’ll stop crying, I promise.
Have you ever … sat in your own apartment bathroom and cried as quietly as possibly because your step kids are sleeping just down the hall and your husband of just a few months has decided that vaginal intercourse isn’t what he wants anymore and blow-jobs aren’t doing it for him, he just HAS to have anal. And it’s all your fault for not being an accommodating wife. And no it couldn’t possibly count as rape because you are married to him after all.
Have you ever … spent days desperately worried about your friend who is being beaten by her husband. She won’t leave him, she says she still loves him and it won’t happen again. That one turned out better than we had any reason to hope. She found her daughter holding a stuffed doll up against a wall, striking the doll in the face over and over again and with every strike saying “I love you!” My friend said that was the breaking point. And she got herself and her daughter out of there.
Actually my story has a happy place too. I survived all of this stuff and moved through and past it to find happiness in myself and trust in God and eventually a beautiful marriage with Martin.
Oh yes, ALL of the stories you just read are from me. Personally. I live through them. I was the friend, the girl at the payphone, the one in the dark room, the new bride of just 18 years old, the friend of the battered wife. I’m not making this stuff up. I’m not retelling someone else’s stories. THESE ARE MY STORIES. These things actually happened to me and even as I’m writing this I don’t know if I’m going to publish it. But why am I writing this?
so I can get to this sentence….
Unless YOU have been brutalized or violated at some point in your life, don’t you DARE make a judgement about why people don’t report.
Please note, men can be victimized too. And there are ways women can violate other’s bodies too. I’m not discounting that.
Anyone who has ever been violated understands, you internalize it. You assume that you must have done something that that made it happen, so you mop up the mess, or comb the pine needles out of your hair and you go on. You breathe and you move forward and you try with everything in you to forget. to function. to get through one more minute without exploding and telling someone. To get through the day without giving yourself away.
And eventually it gets easier to forget. Notice I said easier, not easy.
But let me tell you, if ANY of these people that I know violated me (whether they succeeded in penetration or not) was EVER up for a major public office you better believe I would come forward.
Would I sit back and wait and hope that I wouldn’t have to come forward? Sure.
Can I recall the exact date or even time of year of some of these events? No.
Can I produce witnesses? No.
Is there anyone who can corroborate my story? not really.
But their names are forever part of the wounds on my soul.
Have you ever … questioned why someone didn’t report? or waited so long to report? I have one word for you…..
And for anyone struggling to process a memory of sexual violence, you can reach out for help via phone to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network at 1-800-656-4673