Whether they’re celebrities or people we know, we tend to believe “good” people are nothing like the “monsters” who rape and abuse. But here’s why we need to drop this idea – for survivors, for community, and for yourself.
by Elleanor Chin, Vice President of the Oregon chapter of the National Organization for Women
“If you disagree, I’d love to hear your thoughts”
So says David Lickey, public high school teacher in Portland Oregon. He says this in a letter he distributed to staff and the students, attacking the notion that rape culture exists, and propagating false and misleading statements about sexual assault.
Okay, Mr. Lickey, here goes. (And this is for Mr. Lickey because he brought it up, but it applies to Mr. Johnson or Mr. Russell or any of thousands of others.) As a fellow once said, “if you’re gonna be dumb, you gotta be tough.” First, Google “Rehtaeh Parsons”. You’ll need a strong stomach. Then, search “Steubenville Alayna 2015”. It sounds like you need the internet to recognize “Brock Turner” as well.
You do all that? Good. Now, a key part of the premise in your May 2, 2017 letter is rape culture is a doubtful premise because you don’t know any rapists (or don’t realize you do). All the men and boys you know agree rape is horrible. Setting aside whether your anecdotal understanding should be the benchmark, you now know of some rapists. Those internet searches will show you the pride of their respective communities, young men who thought it was totally fine to penetrate a woman who was incapable of consent, some more violently than others. If you think any of those events were actually okay – healthy sexual self-expression of young people- then we may be done talking. And I’ll hope none of the hundreds of vulnerable young women you teach have ever come to you scared, or hurt.
Next some facts: you assert rape is committed by a small cohort of violent social outliers. This myth has been disproved so thoroughly for so long, I had to read carefully to see if you were being facetious. Sexual offenses are most commonly committed by men that women not only know, but have existing relationships with: friends, husbands, boyfriends, fathers, and yes – high school teachers (look up that business teacher in Billings).
I don’t know you. I looked you up on the internet. Pictures from 2013 show a fit-looking man with silver hair and an engaging smile. If we met, we might enjoy conversation about being liberals and history geeks. I might never suspect you of being a man to use his power and access to an impressionable audience to demean women and undermine their credibility as individuals, and in the aggregate.
You have the ability to get your personal views out to hundreds of people who view you as an authority figure. You chose to package your ignorance, bounded by your limited personal experience, as dispassionate, measured fact. From there you moved on to suggest that somehow men and boys are the true victims, being treated as monolithic perpetrators of a misogyny that doesn’t exist because in the circles you move, men make themselves emotionally vulnerable in their intimate partnerships.
You have declared your experience, the life of an educated (and dare I guess, white and heterosexual) man, respected in your profession, the arbiter of the validity of everyone else’s lives. All of us are wrong, and have to be educated about the misconceptions of an “ill-defined” concept: every girl who has ever been groped or wolf-whistled on the street, every woman who has been told to walk to her car with her keys in her fingers, every woman who has been threatened in the most violent explicit terms by strangers when they set virtual foot on the internet. You elevated the legitimacy of David Lickey’s life experience over that of each of us who has listened to a man in our family laugh and say “makes you want to go rape someone right now” – when the Take Back the Night march goes by the house. You don’t know anyone like that? Lucky you. You have two choices. You can believe me when I say that I do, or you can decide I must be lying, for the simple reason that I’m not you.
What you missed about the concept of rape culture is: it’s descriptive. We don’t have to “do” anything to formulate it. It is the name we give to how we walk in the world, like it or not.
You say you know no rapists. You’re a high school teacher. You know bright, aggressive, charming young men. The statistics on men who will actually admit to sexual imposition on women means it’s mathematically unlikely you know no rapists. You did not proclaim in your letter whether you know any victims. If you have ever once in your life heard a woman described as “damaged goods,” while a man is lauded for “scoring,” you’ve seen rape culture, live and in the field. Do you know for sure not a single woman of your acquaintance has gone home after a “date” and spent an hour taking a shower and crying? Would they tell you if they had?
You’re probably having a bad few days. You’ll either learn from it, or identify as a victim (I’m not sure how your belief in the marketplace of ideas fits in with that). I’ll have a drink with you and talk about American history, or chat some more about how we disagree. Coffee or beer. You pick, my treat. If it’s a beer, I’m sure no one will tell you that you have to keep your hand on it the Whole. Time. (just in case).
18 November 2016
A bill which would allow men accused of raping underage girls to be cleared if they marry the girl has been preliminarily backed by Turkish MPs.
The bill would pardon men only if they had sex without “force or threat” and if they married the victim.
Critics say it legitimises rape and child marriage, and lets off men who are aware of their crime.
Violence against women in Turkey has increased in the past decade – 40% of women report sexual or physical abuse.
Statistics also show the murder rate of women increased by 1,400% between 2003 and 2010.
The bill was initially approved on Thursday evening after being brought to parliament by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). On Tuesday, MPs will debate the bill a second time before casting their final vote.
Analysis – BBC’s Mark Lowen, Turkey
It is a highly contentious bill that has divided Turkey along its traditional secular versus conservative fault line.
The aim, says the government, is not to excuse rape but to rehabilitate those who may not have realised their sexual relations were unlawful – or to prevent girls who have sex under the age of 18 from feeling ostracised by their community.
There is opposition to the bill on the streets of Istanbul. Many say it will encourage men to rape.
But the government will get support among its pious voter base in poorer areas where girls are married off young and the sexual abuse rate is higher. Supporters say Mr Erdogan has liberated religious women by repealing a ban on headscarves in public places.
The vote on Tuesday could spark mass protests.
If it passes it will likely quash the convictions of some 3,000 men accused of assaulting an under-18-year-old.
But critics say as well as overlooking statutory rape (underage sex) it would legitimise child marriage.
- Is Turkey increasingly misogynistic?
- Women not equal to men, says Erdogan
- Turkish students fear assault on secular education
“Sexual abuse is a crime and there is no consent in it. This is what the AKP fails to understand,” said Ozgur Ozel, MP for the opposition Republican People’s Party, according to AFP news agency. “Seeking the consent of a child is something that universal law does not provide for.”
But Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said it could help couples who have engaged in consensual sex and want to marry.
“When a child is then born from this non-official union, the doctor warns the prosecutor and the man is sent to prison, putting the child and mother into financial difficulties,” he said.
An anonymous “Jane Doe” filed a federal lawsuit against GOP presumptive nominee Donald Trump last week, accusing him of raping her in 1994 when she was thirteen years old. The mainstream media ignored the filing.
If the Bill Cosby case has taught us anything, it is to not disregard rape cases against famous men. Serious journalists have publicly apologized for turning a blind eye to the Cosby accusers for over a decade, notwithstanding the large number of women who had come forward with credible claims. And now history is repeating itself.
In covering a story, a media outlet is not finding guilt. It is simply reporting the news that a lawsuit has been filed against Mr. Trump, and ideally putting the complaint in context. Unproven allegations are just that – unproven, and should be identified that way. (Mr. Trump’s lawyer says the charges are “categorically untrue, completely fabricated and politically motivated.”) Proof comes later, at trial. But the November election will come well before any trial. And while Mr. Trump is presumed innocent, we are permitted – no, we are obligated — to analyze the case’s viability now.
No outsider can say whether Mr. Trump is innocent or guilty of these new rape charges. But we can look at his record, analyze the court filings here, and make a determination as to credibility – whether the allegations are believable enough for us to take them seriously and investigate them, keeping in mind his denial and reporting new facts as they develop.
I have done that. And the answer is a clear “yes.” These allegations are credible. They ought not be ignored. Mainstream media, I’m looking at you.
1. Consider the Context: Mr. Trump’s Overt, Even Proud Misogyny
The rape case must be viewed through the lens of Mr. Trump’s current, longstanding and well documented contempt for women. Men who objectify women are more likely to become perpetrators of sexual violence, just as one with a long history of overtly racist comments is more likely to commit a hate crime.
Mr. Trump has relished calling women “dogs,” “slobs” and “pigs,” and cyberstalked and derided journalist Megyn Kelly for having the temerity to ask him to defend his own words. He threw out the most misogynist of attacks, attempting to undermine her professionalism by accusing her of menstruating. He’s cruelly ridiculed the appearance of a female opponent (Carly Fiorina) and an opponent’s wife (Heidi Cruz). His campaign even openly acknowledged that it disqualified all women for consideration as his vice-president.
Mr. Trump has a long history of debasing women he’s worked with, crossing the line on a regular basis. He’s taken lifelong joy in objectifying women, including his proclamation: “Women, you have to treat ‘em like shit.”
This cannot be ignored. Decades of abusive language does not make him a rapist. But it does show us who the man is: a callous, meanspirited misogynist who no sane person would leave alone with her daughter. As Dr. Maya Angelou said, “When someone shows you who they really are, believe them.”
2. More context: two prior sexual assault court claims have been made against Mr. Trump
But Mr. Trump has been accused of worse than just misogynist language. Two prior women have accused Mr. Trump, in court documents, of actual or attempted sexual assault. (Mr. Trump denies all the allegations.)
Under oath, Ivana Trump accused Mr. Trump of a violent rape.
First was Ivana Trump, Donald Trump’s first wife, who said under oath in a 1989 deposition that he had violently attacked her, ripped out her hair and forcibly penetrated her without her consent. According to the Daily Beast, she claims he was wildly angry that she’d referred him to a cosmetic surgeon who had botched a “scalp reduction” job (to cover a bald spot) and caused pain in his scalp – hence the vindictive yanking on her hair. At the time Ms. Trump said she felt “violated” by the alleged “rape.”
A few years later, after their divorce was settled, Ms. Trump claimed that she did not mean the word “rape” in a “literal or criminal” sense.
Note: virtually every settlement of a case involving a high profile person paying money to a former spouse – or anyone – requires the person receiving the money to agree in writing to ironclad nondisparagement and confidentiality. In plain English: you promise to be quiet and not say anything bad about the party paying you money. This has been the case in hundreds of settlement agreements I have worked on over the years. Ms. Trump was almost certainly contractually prohibited after she signed from saying anything negative about Mr. Trump. And it is also common to attempt to “cure” prior negative statements with new agreed-to language – like, I didn’t mean it literally. (You didn’t mean forcible penetration literally?)
A business acquaintance accused Mr. Trump of sexual harassment and “attempted rape”.
A second woman accused Donald Trump of sexual assault, in 1997. According to The Guardian, then thirty-four year old Jill Harth alleged in a federal lawsuit that Trump violated her “physical and mental integrity” when he touched her intimately without consent after her husband went into business with him, leaving her “emotionally devastated [and] distraught.” The lawsuit called the multiple acts “attempted rape.” Shortly thereafter she voluntarily withdrew the case when a parallel suit against Mr. Trump brought by her husband was settled. When The Guardian reached the woman in 2016 to ask whether she stood by her sexual assault allegations, she responded, “yes.”
In a court filing, according to a report, Ms. Harth alleged that while she and her husband were trying to do a business deal with Mr. Trump regarding a beauty pageant, he repeatedly propositioned her for sex and groped her, culminating in this frightening alleged incident:
Trump forcefully removed (Harth) from public areas of Mar-A-Lago in Florida and forced (her) into a bedroom belonging to defendant’s daughter Ivanka, wherein (Trump) forcibly kissed, fondled, and restrained (her) from leaving, against (her) will and despite her protests.” In the court document, she said that Trump bragged that he ”would be the best lover you ever have.”
Recently Donald Trump issued a statement that women’s claims of sexual harassment, documented in a lengthy New York Times investigation which included Ms. Harth’s lawsuit, were “made up.”
Jill Harth responded angrily on Twitter last week: “My part was true. I didn’t talk. As usual you opened your big mouth.”
In other words, she is standing by her story.
3. The new Jane Doe child rape claim against Mr. Trump is consistent with verifiable facts about Mr. Trump and his friend Jeffrey Epstein, and has a powerful witness statement attached to it.
A third woman accused Mr. Trump of rape very recently. According to the Daily Mail, a woman filed an April 2016 lawsuit claiming that when she was thirteen years old she was held as a sex slave to Mr. Trump and his friend Jeffrey Epstein. The woman claimed to have a witness, “Tiffany Doe,” to the incidents. She filed the case in pro per, that is, without the assistance of a lawyer.
The case was dismissed by the court for technical filing errors. She then obtained a lawyer and the case was modified and refiled in New York federal court, against Mr. Trump and Mr. Epstein.
I’ve carefully reviewed this federal complaint. It is now much stronger than the one she filed on her own, which makes sense because she now has an experienced litigator representing her. Jane Doe says that as a thirteen year old, she was enticed to attend parties at the home of Jeffrey Epstein with the promise of money modeling jobs. Mr. Epstein is a notorious “billionaire pedophile” who is now a Level 3 registered sex offender – the most dangerous kind, “a threat to public safety” — after being convicted of misconduct with another underage girl.
Jane Doe says that Mr. Trump “initiated sexual contact” with her on four occasions in 1994. Since she was thirteen at the time, consent is not an issue. If Mr. Trump had any type sexual contact with her in 1994, it was a crime.
On the fourth incident, she says Mr. Trump tied her to a bed and forcibly raped her, in a “savage sexual attack,” while she pleaded with him to stop. She says Mr. Trump violently struck her in the face. She says that afterward, if she ever revealed what he had done, Mr. Trump threatened that she and her family would be “physically harmed if not killed.” She says she has been in fear of him ever since.
New York’s five year statute of limitations on this claim – the legal deadline for filing — has long since run. However, Jane Doe’s attorney, Thomas Meagher, argues in his court filing that because she was threatened by Mr. Trump, she has been under duress all this time, and therefore she should be permitted additional time to come forward. Legally, this is calling “tolling” – stopping the clock, allowing more time to file the case. As a result, the complaint alleges, Jane Doe did not have “freedom of will to institute suit earlier in time.” He cites two New York cases which I have read and which do support tolling
Two unusual documents are attached to Jane Doe’s complaints – sworn declarations attesting to the facts. The first is from Jane Doe herself, telling her horrific story, including the allegation that Jeffrey Epstein also raped her and threatened her into silence, and this stunner:
Defendant Epstein then attempted to strike me about the head with his closed fists while he angrily screamed at me that he, Defendant Epstein, should have been the one who took my virginity, not Defendant Trump . . .
And this one:
Defendant Trump stated that I shouldn’t ever say anything if I didn’t want to disappear like Maria, a 12-year-old female that was forced to be involved in the third incident with Defendant Trump and that I had not seen since that third incident, and that he was capable of having my whole family killed.
The second declaration is even more astonishing, because it is signed by “Tiffany Doe”, Mr. Epstein’s “party planner” from 1991-2000. Tiffany Doe says that her duties were “to get attractive adolescent women to attend these parties.” (Adolescents are, legally, children.
Tiffany Doe says that she recruited Jane Doe at the Port Authority in New York, persuaded her to attend Mr. Epstein’s parties, and actually witnessed the sexual assaults on Jane Doe:
I personally witnessed the Plaintiff being forced to perform various sexual acts with Donald J. Trump and Mr. Epstein. Both Mr. Trump and Mr. Epstein were advised that she was 13 years old.
It is exceedingly rare for a sexual assault victim to have a witness. But Tiffany Doe says:
I personally witnessed four sexual encounters that the Plaintiff was forced to have with Mr. Trump during this period, including the fourth of these encounters where Mr. Trump forcibly raped her despite her pleas to stop.
Tiffany Doe corroborates, based on her own personal observations, just about everything in Jane Doe’s complaint: that twelve year old Maria was involved in a sex act with Mr. Trump, that Mr. Trump threatened the life of Jane Doe if she ever revealed what happened, and that she would “disappear” like Maria if she did.
Tiffany Doe herself says that she is in mortal fear of Mr. Trump to this day:
I am coming forward to swear to the truthfulness of the physical and sexual abuse that I personally witnessed of minor females at the hands of Mr. Trump and Mr. Epstein . . . I swear to these facts under the penalty for perjury even though I fully understand that the life of myself and my family is now in grave danger.
Given all this, and based on the record thus far, Jane Doe’s claims appear credible. Mr. Epstein’s own sexual crimes and parties with underage girls are well documented, as is Mr. Trump’s relationship with him two decades ago in New York City. Mr. Trump told a reporter a few years ago: “I’ve known Jeff for 15 years. Terrific guy. He’s a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side. No doubt about it, Jeffrey enjoys his social life.”
Powerfully, Jane Doe appears to have an eyewitness to all aspects of her claim, a witness who appears to have put herself in substantial danger by coming forward, because at a minimum Mr. Epstein knows her true identity.
Jane Doe has not granted any interviews, and we don’t know anything about her background, or Tiffany Doe’s, or the details of their stories. Much information needs to be revealed to fully assess this case. Perhaps they will be discredited on cross-examination. Perhaps they will recant. But if we’re going to speculate in that direction, we should speculate in the other direction as well. Perhaps Jane Doe and her lawyer will have more evidence and witnesses to corroborate her claim. Perhaps witnesses from Mr. Epstein’s notorious parties will come forward. We just can’t know any of that at this point.
But based on what we do know now, Jane Doe’s claims fall squarely into the long, ugly context of Mr. Trump’s life of misogyny, are consistent with prior sexual misconduct claims, are backed up by an eyewitness, and thus should be taken seriously. Her claims merit sober consideration and investigation.
We live in a world where wealthy, powerful men often use and abuse women and girls. While these allegations may shock some, as a lawyer who represents women in sexual abuse cases every day, I can tell you that sadly, they are common, as is an accuser’s desire to remain anonymous, and her terror in coming forward.
What do you call a nation that refuses to even look at sexual assault claims against a man seeking to lead the free world?
We ignore the voices of women at our peril.
WASHINGTON — For the past two years, ever since 18-year-old Michael Brown was fatally shot by a Ferguson, Mo., police officer, America has been enmeshed in a wrenching discussion about how the police treat young black men.
But this week’s blistering report from the Justice Department on police bias in Baltimore also exposed a different, though related, concern: how the police in that majority-black city treat women, especially victims of sexual assault.
In six pages of the 163-page report documenting how Baltimore police officers have systematically violated the rights of African-Americans, the Justice Department also painted a picture of a police culture deeply dismissive of sexual assault victims and hostile toward prostitutes and transgender people. It branded the Baltimore Police Department’s response to sexual assault cases “grossly inadequate.”
Baltimore officers sometimes humiliated women who tried to report sexual assault, often failed to gather basic evidence, and disregarded some complaints filed by prostitutes. Some officers blamed victims or discouraged them from identifying their assailants, asking questions like, “Why are you messing that guy’s life up?”
And the culture seemed to extend to prosecutors, investigators found. In one email exchange, a prosecutor referred to a woman who had reported a sexual assault as a “conniving little whore.” A police officer, using a common text-message expression for laughing heartily, wrote back: “Lmao! I feel the same.”
Twenty-year-old Brock Allen Turner, Stanford University student and wannabe surgeon, has been found guilty of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman and sentenced. The jury heard about how the vi…
The opportunity will inevitably present itself for you to speak up about bringing equality to women too.
My inclination is to explain the need to change every state constitution in America (as we amended our Oregon Constitution with the ERA in November 2014) with the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). The federal ERA was first introduced in Congress in 1923 and we are now in our 93rd year still fighting for the day when America’s majority (women) have constitutional equality in the U.S. Constitution which means ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. This has been my lifeline for over a good decade.
The opportunity will inevitably present itself for you to speak up about bringing equality to women too.
Melissa’s Bill on sexual assault kit testing and bill lifting statute of limitations for first-degree sex crimes head to governor
Two bills drafted to help victims of sexual assaults and their families seek justice for the crimes are headed to the governor’s desk after winning bipartisan support in the Legislature.
On Wednesday, the House unanimously passed Melissa’s Bill, intended to ensure the timeliness of sending sexual assault forensic evidence to a lab for testing.
Moments later, state representatives voted 56-2 to support Senate Bill 1600, which allows prosecutions of first-degree sex crimes beyond the 12-year statute of limitations if corroborating evidence arises at any time or if multiple victims come forward.
Lawmakers credited Mary Bittler and Tom Bittler, the parents of slain 14-year-old Melissa Bittler of Portland, and sexual assault survivors Brenda Tracy and Danielle Tudor for shepherding both bills through.
“No family should have to go through a loss like ours,” the Bittlers wrote in a petition they circulated online to draw support for Senate Bill 1571.
The sexual assault kit bill was named after their daughter, who was attacked and killed by a serial rapist across the street from the family’s Northeast Portland home in December 2001.
In Bittler’s case, sexual assault kits from at least two other young teens who wereattacked by the same rapist four years earlier sat on the Portland Police Bureau’s evidence shelves. They were tested only after detectives investigating Bittler’s death noticed similarities in the attacks, discovered the kits and submitted them to a lab.
“That horrible outcome could potentially have been avoided,” state Rep. Ann Lininger, D-Lake Oswego, said on the House floor before the vote.
The Bittlers had hoped their daughter’s case would have spurred change by the Police Bureau in 2002. Portland police supervisors promised then to adopt new policies, but that didn’t happen until more than a decade later, in 2014, an Oregonian/OregonLive investigation found.
Last year, state police tallied 5,652 untested sexual assault kits collected by law enforcement agencies across Oregon dating back to 1983.
Senate Bill 1571 directs police agencies in Oregon to adopt rules for processing untested sexual assault kits by next January. The bill doesn’t provide a time frame for the state lab to test kit evidence – as some had sought – but allows the lab to prioritize the testing of kits.
Lininger called that policy a “smart approach” because it doesn’t “substitute our judgment” for that of the state police.
The kits typically contain hair and body fluids from victims who undergo forensic medical exams. If an attacker leaves behind blood, semen, saliva or hair, lab scientists can identify a DNA profile to provide police with leads in unsolved cases.
Under the bill, police agencies must pick up a kit within seven days after a hospital alerts them about its existence and submit it to the crime lab for testing within 14 days. All kits must be stored for 60 years.
The state will provide $1.5 million to the crime lab to hire nine new DNA and biology evidence technicians to help process the kits.
House Majority Leader Rep. Jennifer Williamson, D-Portland, stood moments later to urge support for Senate Bill 1600.
She shared the accounts of Tracy, who said she was gang-raped in the early morning of June 24, 1998, by four football players – including two from the Oregon State University team. Despite reporting the attack to police right away and getting a sexual assault kit done, the four men were never prosecuted. An Oregonian/OregonLive investigation uncovered that Tracy’s sexual assault kit had been destroyed three years before the statute of limitations ran out for the crime.
Williamson also relayed Danielle Tudor’s account of being attacked at age 17 in her Portland home by Richard Troy Gillmore in 1979. Although Gillmore, later dubbed the “Jogger Rapist,” was caught in 1986 largely from a composite sketch of the suspect that Tudor helped police craft, charges were never brought in her case because the statute of limitations for rape — at the time, three years — had expired.
While the pain, fear and nightmares don’t end for survivors of sexual assault, their ability to seek justice does, Williamson said.
“We know our current laws don’t work,” she said. “Today we can finally prove that someone in power is listening to the survivors of rape and sexual assault.”
“We were all sent here to the Legislature to make a difference,” Williamson continued. “Today, with this vote we can give a vote to Brenda Tracy, to Danielle Tudor and thousands of other rape survivors and finally make sure they have a path to justice.”
Tracy, Tudor and the Bittlers spent hours at the state Capitol on Wednesday awaiting the votes.
“I’m very happy the Legislature has passed a law that will now ensure rape kits are tested and not subject to whether some detective does or doesn’t believe the story of a victim,” Tom Bittler said.
Mary Bittler said she was “thrilled” and now plans to help push for the passage of similar legislation before Congress.
Tracy said she was overwhelmed.
“For me, this is real justice,” she said. “For me, the Brenda Tracy story doesn’t have to happen again. This is a huge win.”
— Maxine Bernstein
NOW member Carolyn Crandall writes about the aftermath of her experience having been raped. It is the “aftermath” that is almost worse than the attack because of the treatment she incurred from law enforcement and those closest to her. In the 37 years since this happened to Carolyn things really haven’t changed. We all bear responsibility for how rape survivors are treated.
Wednesday, March 16, 1979 – The Attack
I was asleep in my bed after having worked overtime at my office until 10:00pm, then brought work home and continued working until around midnight, then I went to bed. At 4:00am, I was awakened by a board in the floor in my bedroom creak and when I woke up, a man dressed in black with a black ski mask was standing over me. When I screamed he jumped on top of me, put his hand over my mouth and pulled my night gown up over my head binding my arms so I couldn’t move, then proceeded to rape me. I thought this is it, I am going to die. Some time passed before I realized that he was gone. When I heard the back door slam, I got up.
I was in shock for a while and walked around my house trying to figure out what to do. I lived in a duplex and the balcony between our units was joined, so I ran next door and woke up my neighbors and told them what happened. It was a sister and brother who shared the apartment. They both said I had to call the police. At first I didn’t think they would believe me if I said I was raped since I was not beaten, stabbed or physically injured, so when I called I said I had been robbed. The dispatcher started asking me more questions and I broke down and told her what happened. The police were there in minutes, took down what information I could give them and then they took me to the hospital. My female neighbor went with me. The police waited while I was treated and examined and then they took me home. The police were kind and compassionate. One of the officers indicated that the rapist had probably been stalking me for some time and knew my schedule and that I was alone that night.
At the time I was a single mother with a four year old son and he was not with me that night. Earlier in the day I had called my ex-husband and asked him to pick up our son from day care since I had to work overtime. We had been divorced for 2 years and as far as divorces go, things were going pretty well. He had a steady girlfriend who he later married and I was doing really well in my job, had lots of friends and I was happy. He refused to pay child support but I was making enough money that I didn’t really need it and didn’t pursue it. We both wanted as little trauma for our son as possible. We shared custody and visitation and our son had a bedroom in both homes.
After the Attack
One of my big mistakes was telling my ex-husband what happened and asking him to take our son for a few days while I sorted everything out. His response was and I quote, “how could you let that happen”. He was furious and accused me of putting our son in danger, although our son wasn’t there. From that time on, he was impossible to deal with. He began the long effort of brainwashing our son to believe that I was not fit to be his mother. Even his family turned their backs on me. They treated me as if I had done something unforgivable. The only issue they cared about was to know if it was a white man, which of course I didn’t know. Somehow in their minds that would have made it OK.
I moved out of my apartment the next day. I called my landlord and told them what happened and they gave me my rent back for that month. I had a dear friend who opened up her home to me and my son for the next few months while I figured out what to do, how to do it and when to do it.
I called in sick to my employer for the next two days. When I returned to work, I met with my boss and told him what had happened believing that he would understand why I needed the time off. I had literally cried for four days straight and looked pretty rough. My eyes were almost swollen shut but I felt I had to go to work. Instead, his attitude towards me completely changed that day and from then on he refused to meet with me. I was no longer included in management meetings (I was a department manager and had 6 direct reports), my expense account was taken away, and when I asked him what was going on, he refused to talk or meet with me and would not take my calls.
A position became available in the company that I was qualified for as it was the next step up, plus I would have had a different boss so I applied for the position. I had been at the company for 10 years and had moved up through the ranks to my current position (there were only two other female managers in the company). My boss told me that I was not being considered for the position because they had to have a man in that position to ensure continuity and not have someone calling in sick and deserting one’s responsibility. To make it even more hurtful, I was ordered to train the new guy. That was more than I could take, so I quit when it was obvious the person they hired was not just unqualified, but strange in that he had G.I.Joe doll that he dressed in a matching suit of his and made me talk to the doll. Back in those days there were no protections for workers and no HR. But I did get some satisfaction as the “man” they hired was fired some months later for getting drunk at a company function and punching a customer.
Few months later, after I quit my job, I moved to another city far away and for the next five years, I moved every few months, sometimes every few weeks. I even slept in my car one night with nowhere to go. I guess I was running away from myself. It was a very dark and painful time. I asked my ex to take our son until I could work through what had happened not realizing that I would lose him forever. When I returned home, I was unable to regain custody of my son. As a result, I lost the emotional contact with him and even to this day the brainwashing has been so entrenched that we are not close and I have been unable to break through what was done to him. He is 40 years old now and I have two granddaughters that I have no contact with. He still cannot shed what his father, stepmother and grandparents implanted in him about me, which I still don’t know what those details are.
This is another repercussion of the attack. Lost job, lost child, lost family and lost soul.
I only went to one session of therapy and was told by the counselor to get over it and just consider it having had sex with a stranger. This is what is so unbelievable that people actually think rape is about sex. Rape is about power and violence against women and in my opinion has nothing to do with sex.
Most men that I began dating some years later were turned off to me when I shared my story. When I met Steve, my husband now, I told him why I was telling him so he could decide right up front whether or not he wanted to continue our relationship. 30 years later and I could not be luckier or happier. He restored my faith that there are wonderful and supportive men out there who can love and respect women.
Back story, the early years
My mother married an alcoholic when I was about 6. He beat me and tortured me when she wasn’t around. His favorite thing to do to me was make me stand in a corner with my back to the room and he would pile books on my arms and dare me to drop a book or he would kill me. He ate a horrible cheese and would rub his stinky hands all over my face and stuff the cheese up my nose. One time he took me out to a wooded area when there was snow on the ground and he took all of my clothes off and made me run while screaming at me. He would chase me and hit me with his belt and knock me down in the snow. I was black and blue from my neck to my heels with many cuts on my back and legs. That night my mother bathed me as she did every night before bed and she didn’t say a word. There were many occasions like that. He killed our parakeet by breaking its neck and killed my puppy by throwing him down the basement stairs. My mother would brag to others about how she threatened to kill him in his sleep if he ever touched her. I didn’t get that kind of protection.
I am telling this part of my life because it helps me understand my own mother’s reaction to me being raped. She never said she was sorry that had happened to me, never gave me any compassion whatsoever and from then on became paranoid about her own safety. The last time I saw her was on her 80th birthday in 2002. My sister and I had gone to her house to celebrate her birthday and I stayed over. My sister left the night before. The next morning while we were having coffee I asked her why she allowed Ed (her husband’s name) to do the things he did to me. She got very angry and then went further and told me he was the love of her life and she wasn’t going to hear any negative things about him. They were only married a few years because he died of alcoholic poisoning.
I never spoke to her or saw her again after that conversation until she died on March 24, 2005. I did go to the hospital because my sister wanted me to be with her to authorize taking our mother off life support. I had no tears but a deep feeling of relief, similar to the relief I felt when Ed died when I was 12. That may sound cruel to some, but that was my honest reaction.
Women have been raped for as long as humans have been on the planet. Some men, even today, see us as property and as second class citizens. I can see it in some men’s eyes when just talking to them. Some don’t believe that we deserve being listened to or to even contribute to society except to be here for their use. I will always believe that rape is about the ultimate power over women and a violent crime. Even our law enforcement society treats rape with less concern than other crimes. Why else would rape kits sit on shelves in the police departments, untested and untouched?
But I am one of the lucky ones, alive to tell my story. My scars are not visible, but will remain within me forever. I will never completely heal because you can’t take back what has been taken from you in such a personal way.
It is my sincere hope and dream that someday women will be cherished, admired and accepted into our society with the same importance that men currently enjoy.
68 years old