Tag Archives: rape culture

I reported my rape, but I don’t know if I’d make that same choice today

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Rape accusations and stories are in the news a lot lately. Whenever I see an article, I have two immediate reactions.

One is complete emotional pain for the victim. Because without question or hesitation, I believe you. And I hurt for all you will go through now, and possibly forever. You have done something extremely brave by telling. By reporting the crime against you. I wish for you to have strength, support, and hope for what lies ahead of you. I believe in you and I am so proud of you for being brave. For becoming a survivor.

After my feelings for the victim comes anger. So very much anger. I have an immediate anger for how the media reports these stories because they aren’t taking any time to do it right. I get so mad that they continue to lack the ability to inform without further perpetuating this rape culture that is all around us. The culture that blames the victim and questions why the victim didn’t do a better job of avoiding the crime. The culture that immediately defends and feels badly for a football player whose career might now be ruined or a celebrity who “has no reason to rape” because they are plenty popular and/or good-looking to not have to rape someone.

Newsflash idiot reporters: rape is not about sex, it’s about power and destruction and humiliation and it is a CRIME. A crime that the criminal absolutely knows he/she is committing.

Let me tell you what happened when I was raped and reported it. I spent THE ENTIRE night explaining what happened to multiple people. To nurses and doctors and detectives and my loved ones. The humiliation of having to say exactly what happened to hospital staff and then again to police was almost more than I could handle. I asked to leave several times. The judgment in their eyes and their questions was so clear.

The news media on campus and in the city were all over the story by the next day. Printing my statement word for word. As if saying that I was raped was not enough. The details for everyone to read. Why??

It was 1993. Sadly, the news media has not improved at all. In fact, I would argue that now it is a lot worse. My name was never used and my face on tv during the hearings was blurred out. Not that it mattered since my name was quickly dragged through the mud on campus. I mean, after all, I was just some nobody who accused two precious athletes of a terrible crime. Why should I be allowed to feel safe in my dorm or walking on campus? Everyone there knew who I was, but at least the whole country wasn’t watching.

I was way better off than the victims of current times. Victims who are so quickly called liars, gold diggers, sluts, and so many other disgusting things. The second a report is out there the victims also face massive judgment on every social media site. I know I shouldn’t read the comments, but I always feel drawn to them. I always have that shred of hope that people will defend the right person. That people will say “I’m sorry that happened to you” or “I believe you” or “you’re amazing and brave and not at all to blame for what happened.”

Those comments are almost never there. And that makes me tremendously sad. And so so so angry. If I am filled with anger and guilt and shame just reading the horrible comments, then I just can’t imagine what the victim is feeling.

I did read the articles about my rape in the papers. And it was awful. But the newspaper wasn’t online and the articles weren’t posted on Facebook and Twitter. After a long semester of stubbornly refusing to be pushed out of my college by the harassment and lack of support, I made the choice to leave. And I could leave the media behind me.

Knowing what I know about what victims face in the media these days, I can’t say that I would be brave enough to report the crime and to make it through all of that. I don’t know that I would want to report it knowing that for the rest of my life I would feel the way I feel going to a doctor for even a routine check up or having some stranger recognize my name from a news story about the college I attended.

I hope that if you’re reading this and you’re a victim of rape, you can find the courage to report the crime and the strength to go through with holding the criminal or criminals responsible for their actions. I hope that you will stand tall and know that I’m proud of you for being brave. That I believe you. And that nothing anybody in the media could possibly say will make me have less faith in you as a survivor.

Be strong and be you. Because you are awesome just the way you are.

KK

Moments of doubt

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Moments of doubt come at me when I least expect them.  Sometimes without me even knowing that it is doubt.  These moments feel like many things, none of them very pleasant.  I get tired of these moments.  I get frustrated and lazy and anxious.  I get unreasonable and crabby and negative.  I want to do nothing and just wait for the moments to pass.

Sometimes they do.

And sometimes they don’t pass very quickly, but fade into the background of my days.

I love to laugh and even on my worst days I can normally be found making jokes or having a good time.  But I still may be feeling lost inside.  Struggling.  Lacking the vulnerability that allows for full healing.  I ignore the moments and hide them in hopes that they will pass quickly.

Thankfully, I haven’t had many days like that for awhile and that is really nice.  The disclosure still comes to mind when I think of how far I have been able to go toward healing and not having to go back to certain doubts and certain thoughts that keep me from rediscovering the full me.  That disclosure seems so long ago and also seems like it was just yesterday.

Seeing The Monument Quilt was powerful for me.  I’m certain that it was not a mere coincidence that when I found out about the quilt, it was only weeks from being displayed in an area that I could travel to very easily.  An area that had additional anxiety and healing qualities for me.  It would be displayed on the very campus of my assault.  It never crossed my mind ahead of time that the location would keep me from going to see it.  I never felt a moment of doubt leading up to that day.

And then it was the very day I was to see it.  And then the doubt and the tears came as I decided I didn’t know if I could go.  But more of the fight inside me took over and I went.

I read stories and looked at the designs people made to release themselves from some of the burden of being a victim and becoming a survivor.  It is always difficult to read other stories.  I find myself thinking that some have suffered so much more than me and, at times, it is difficult to see other stories and not let the terrible doubts of rape culture creep into my head as judgment.  A terrible feeling and one I don’t allow to stick around for long at all.  It is so easy to pass judgment, on myself and on others, but in those moments it is SO important to remember that all suffering is terrible.  ALL trauma is true for that victim and I absolutely believe in every one of those people and their stories.  Our stories are no worse or no easier than others, no less rape and trauma.  The mind is so complex during trauma that many leave a situation not even fully understanding that what they experienced is rape.  THAT is why it is so important to believe someone if they tell you they were assaulted.  And to stand by someone who may be turning to you for support if they aren’t even sure that something happened or that what happened really was rape.  The feelings a victim experiences are so full of guilt, disbelief, shame, and so many other things, that many deny that it happened at all.

I believe.  I support ALL survivors.  And I was honored to see the quilt.  I’d like to reconnect with my group members to make a quilt square, but I’m not sure if I will or not.

I’m glad to have overcome my moment of doubt to see it.  There were squares for each city where it is being displayed and on those squares were blank fabric where anyone could write.  Part of my message was this:

It happened here and I will leave it here.  

And I am glad that I could do that.

KK

The monster at the end

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Growing up I always liked the Little Golden Book called A Monster at the end of this Book.  I own a copy still.  I feel like this book has been kind of coming to mind a lot lately as I get closer to this week being my week to disclose in group.

In the book, Grover from Sesame Street is telling the story and it is a really cute read.  The idea is that right from the start he is scared because there is a monster at the end of the book and he is afraid of monsters.  He comes up with different ideas to get the reader to stop turning the pages and getting closer to the monster.

This is how I am feeling as days go by because I would do just about anything to avoid this week’s group therapy session.  It is my week to tell my experience.  I can absolutely choose how I tell it and what I need to say in order to move toward healing, but I can’t imagine saying any of it out loud.  When I think about having to say it, I can’t get a breath.  The guilt I feel and the judgment I assume is the “monster at the end of the book.”  Rape culture is so focused on victim-blaming and what did the victim do that she/he should have done differently.  I know these people in my group therapy are “peers” and they, more than anyone else, understand how I feel most days, but it still feels like they will tell me how wrong I was or how it wasn’t really rape, or how maybe if I just did/didn’t DO x y or z it would not have happened to me.  I don’t know how to say it because saying it will make it feel so…real.  So…mine.  And I don’t want it.  I want to just give it away or stop turning the pages so that the monster is never something I have to face.

I started during the last week to write out my disclosure so that I could just read it, or so that at least I will have written it the way I think I need to say it to be most healing.  To try it out.  I can’t get through it.  I will, I hope, but so far I just can’t get myself to write it out.  And if I keep going and tell the story, either written or out loud, then the judgment will come.  I’m certain of it.

The “monster” at the end will come.  The monster feels like me.  What did I DO?  What should I have DONE?

In the story of Grover, the reader finds out right along with Grover that the monster at the end IS Grover.  That all along he was terrified of what was coming and at the end it is just himself.  Lovable, furry Grover.

This book is giving me hope.  Hope that at the end of this disclosure is just me.  That I built it up and made it a monster, but when I get through it and it is over I am left with me.  A wonderful, healing me.  A rediscovered me.  A me that is not at the end of a journey or at the end of a horrible story, but instead a me that is only beginning.

A me that can be accepted for exactly the person I am inside and have been all along.  A me with no more need to hide.

KK

Why Did Mellie Say She “Fought” When Talking About Her Experience of Rape?

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A really great read.

Real Life Athena

Trigger Warning: Content regarding sexual assault.

Scandalmellie

It has been a really busy past couple of weeks so only today did I get around to watching the season finale of Scandal. Throughout this season we have found out more about Mellie including that her father-in-law, “Big Jerry” raped her. Several times throughout the season Mellie alluded to the rape, saying things to her husband President Fitz, along the lines of “You have no idea what I’ve been through for you.” In the season finale, Olivia Pope told Fitz that Mellie had been raped.

When Fitz approaches Mellie after finding this out, he kisses her on the head and she says, “I fought him.” Why did she say this? Would this trauma have been less real or valid if she had not fought him? What does this say about how we teach survivors/victims/experiencers* of sexual assault how to feel about trauma that…

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The importance of men

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*men are also victims of sexual assault and I understand that completely, but general information is not my point for this post

I saw this PSA today. It made me tear up a bit. Seeing men take part in change where sexual assault is concerned makes me feel very happy. Validated. If you are a man in my life (family, friend, more), you absolutely must be the type of guy who I can count on to stand up on this issue. If you won’t, then you’re not my friend, family, and you will most certainly never be more to me.

Here is the link to the PSA seen on BuzzFeed.  A Bunch Of Famous Men Star In White House PSA On Sexual Assault http://www.buzzfeed.com/jtes/a-bunch-of-famous-men-star-in-white-house-psas-on-violence-a?s=mobile

First of all, you should WANT to be the type of man that makes women feel 100% comfortable. You have a mother, a grandmother, maybe a sister or a daughter, aunts, cousins, female friends. It is so important for men to take part in changing rape culture and tolerance for sexual assault.

I don’t need you to stand on the steps of government buildings with signs of support. Unless you want to, then you’re extra awesome.

But I do need you to do something.

It’s not comfortable to stand on a street with advocacy signs. It’s not comfortable to confront someone using the word rape inappropriately or victim blaming.

But it IS absolutely necessary.

One of the best things my husband ever did for me when we were married was participate in a display of anti-rape signs on a very busy street. Even when the police came and tried to get the group to stop. I was blissfully happy most of our years together and always felt loved. But I felt more cherished and loved that day than any other day in our marriage. And that is not even a little bit of an exaggeration.

If your friend makes a joke about rape, you stop them and explain why that isn’t funny. If you want to provide an example, you feel free to talk about my experience. I don’t keep it private, so that’s my permission to use my story for GOOD. If you work with people who find rape funny, or use “I was raped” when you mean “I was taken advantage of financially,” STOP IT.

STOP IT NOW.

Think about the women in your life. Right now. Imagine for a moment how those women would feel hearing a joke about the most horrifying trauma that may have or could happen in her life. Then imagine how she would feel hearing you add to the laughter. How awful! How invalidating. How truly unacceptable.

Stand up, men. Do something to show your support and the need for change. That is the definition of a good man.

KK