This is the first time that I’m publicly coming out and proclaiming that, yes, I was raped. It took me years to resolve what happened to me in my mind, years of going over and over that moment, or not going over and over that moment, but instead ignoring that this was a moment that happened in my life at all.
Because rape, for some (for me), can be a tricky thing to reconcile, and in light of our current society, our current events, I think it is important to share my experience, and the psychology behind my reconciliation.
Even as I write this, the tone of my post is more formal – I’ve created distance – and part of me wonders if that is because I don’t want to come across as “emotional” or, dare I say it, “hysterical”, but instead – “credible”. But the fact that this is even a concern of mine is part of the issue that surrounds women. People have applauded Kavanaugh’s emotional opening statement during the Senate Judiciary committee, but can you imagine if a woman gave an emotional statement such as that? She would not be applauded. There would be no empathy. No, she would be deemed “hysterical”. (Remember when Kamala Harris was said to be “hysterical”?) This is just one of the many hypocrisies that face women.
With my rape, there were all of those tricky circumstances involved – alcohol, leading a man on – but rape, is rape, is rape, my friends.
I was in my twenties. It was a co-worker. There was a work event and the alcohol was flowing. There was attraction between us. And I SAID, “YES”. But then I SAID, “NO”. In the middle of the act, I said, “No.” I said, “Stop.” Instead, I was flipped over, face shoved into pillow (perhaps to shut me up), condom thrown aside, and fucked. Hard. And then after being used, abused, I was left. Like I was a piece of garbage thrown out to rot.
Now, when you’re treated so lowly, at least for me, you make excuses. It wasn’t rape. He didn’t hear me. He likes me. He didn’t mean it. Maybe what I think happened didn’t really happen at all. I tried to morph the event into something more tolerable, more palatable, more livable for me. Because the idea, the fact, that I was treated in this way was unbearable, embarrassing, devastating.
So I didn’t tell anyone. And I continued to work with him. And smile at him. And allow him to flirt with me. All the while stifling my broken pieces, shoving them deep, deep down – because it didn’t really happen the way it really happened.
But it did.
I even co-wrote a play about this very thing in Chicago – called Resurfacing – about the blurry lines of rape. About alcohol. And saying “no” after first saying “yes”. This play was all about me attempting to reconcile my own experience, to put a name to it – that name is RAPE – but I was trying, desperately, to figure it all out for myself. I was raising awareness without publicly stating that I was raped. But my character said it, in the play – “You raped me.”
Now I’m saying it – I WAS RAPED.
Now, if you asked the man who raped me, he would deny it. He would probably have no idea that he raped me. He would have said that I liked it. That I said, “yes”. (But did he not hear me then say “no”?) That I was drunk. He was drunk. And if you asked the people we were with that night, they would tell you the same. We were flirting. There was attraction. If you asked the people who lived with me, they would have had no idea. Because it just sounded like sex. It’s important to acknowledge this aspect because there are people doubting Dr. Ford, people pointing out that there are other women corroborating Kavanaugh’s story; people would also corroborate my rapist’s.
But others do not know what happens behind a closed door.
I have never confronted my rapist. And that is cowardly. But I’m not ready to stop being a coward. And that’s another thing with rape – sometimes we aren’t ready to talk about it, to confront it. So when people say – “why didn’t you say something earlier?” That is such an asinine, ignorant statement. Maybe one day, twenty years from now, I’ll be able to look this man in the face and say, “Remember that time we had sex? Well, I said ‘no’, I said ‘stop’, and you didn’t.”
With rape, a shame implants itself in your heart, your soul, your vagina. And that shame needs to be exorcised, but sometimes exorcism takes time, and a whole lot of work self-healing.
Resurfacing was cathartic for me. Night after night I was able to play out my personal experience and finally say the things I wanted to say. Secretly, I hoped that this man would sit in the audience and watch and just know that this play was about him. But he didn’t. And he doesn’t know. And he’s moved on with his life, as though I were an insignificant blip, while he’s helped to define mine.
But the wonderful thing about Resurfacing, the way in which I was able to heal, was the fact that it gave other people who had been raped a safe place in which to claim it, to claim those words. Each night we would stay after the performance and listen to other people’s stories. We would hold them. And men, some men would share their own stories, bewildered as they said, “I’m so sorry. I think I’ve done this.”
Awareness is necessary.
If a man can’t stop his penis from thrusting inside of a woman’s vagina when they say, “stop”, after he has begun, then this is an issue.
If a man claims, “I don’t remember. I was drunk.” Then this is an issue.
Control your penis.
A Republican politician said something along the lines of – if it is a legitimate rape, then a woman’s body has a way to shut that rape down.
First of all, fuck off. Second of all: false.
I am a strong woman – strong mind, strong body, strong heart – but when a man shoved my face into a pillow and held me down, I was weak. No amount of physical strength could get that man off of me. I tried. I failed. My voice failed. Because as I was being raped, my mind raced – is this really happening to me? – and I remained silent.
There are those that claim that Dr. Ford coming forward is a Democratic ploy to stop Kavanaugh’s confirmation.
Rape is not a ploy.
Many don’t willfully or un-willfully thrust themselves into the spotlight regarding rape. Dr. Ford is brave. I applaud her. I stand by her. I believe her.
And the fact that we have a President who victim blames is beyond me. Who demeaned (and continues to demean) women is devastating. Who said, “Grab ‘em by the pussy”, and was still voted into office is disgusting.
Which is why all of us, the ones who have been quiet, who have been victims, we need to talk about it, and share, and get loud.
This is not OK. What is happening in our world, our country, is not OK. This President being our President is NOT OK. Kavanaugh being confirmed is not OK.
Say it. Believe it. And get loud.