Was It My Fault


I’ve watched the media coverage of the Steubenville rape this week. I’ve watched boys crying. Boys who raped a girl. I’ve heard the media talk about how these ‘promising’ young boys have ruined their future. I’ve heard people slam the victim for being drunk. One of the saddest thing though is that nobody reached out to help this girl that night. No one stood up and protected her. Instead they laughed and took pictures and now continue to threaten her and actually stand up for the boys who committed this crime. The fact that she is continued to be blamed for this crime. THIS RAPE, is not okay. We can do better. We can do better for our children, our neighbors, our friends, and the strangers we meet. We can do better. But mostly, remember… rape is a crime. And it’s not her fault.


I have three daughters. And I’m scared because while I want them to make good choices, I also want them to live in a society that watches out for others, and I hope they will be that ones to always help a friend or stranger.


But no matter the choices they make, the parties they go to, or the dances they attend…no one, NO ONE, is even allowed to violate them. It is not their fault. It will never be their fault. Ever.


* * *


I was 17 and a cheerleader. I lived in a small town and dated the popular boys.


It was my fault.


I liked to party. We’d drink too much. Sometimes way too much and we’d go to parties when we should have already been home.


It was my fault.


I dated these boys. I thought they liked me, but they didn’t. I thought they were boyfriends and sometimes I would sleep with a boy I liked.


It was my fault.


I was the drunk girl. The drunk girl in the small town with the reputation.


It was my fault.


Then one night, when I was this drunk girl at a party, I had sex with my boyfriend. I thought he was my boyfriend.


It was my fault.


At one point he got off me and excused himself to use the bathroom. It was dark in that bedroom. He came back and got back on top of me and I reached for his hair. My boyfriend had straight hair.


This boy had curly hair.


It was not my fault.


I screamed and tried to push him away, but he was bigger than me and stronger than me..and pretty soon my ‘boyfriend’ was there holding me down while this boy raped me.


It was not my fault.


And then he invited more friends.


It was not my fault.


I was drunk and stupid and only 17. But none of that was my fault.


And it’s taken me 27 years to realize that it wasn’t my fault.


Because they called me a whore and left that drunk girl curled up on a bed crying alone..and told me it was all my fault and that they would do worse to me if I told anyone.


Boys will be boys they said as they walked out. I remember their laughter.




It wasn’t my fault.


It was never my fault.


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  1. 1

    Kristin Kraabel says

    Thank you for sharing your story, for your bravery. It wasn’t your fault ever. The trials have made me sick for this young girl. Sick for my daughters. Your words full of hurt and truth are beautiful, they are needed. Thank you, Thank you for standing up and speaking your story for those who can’t. Thank you for when you tell your self it wasn’t your fault you tell other girls, women, men that it isn’t their fault either. Thank you.

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  2. 3

    ngaire stirling says

    Absolutely not your fault. What a weight to live with. I hope this is a step towards letting go and moving onwards and upwards x blessings to you x

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  3. 4

    J says

    A very brave step for you. And you are way nicer than me. I would have named them all first and last, age and hometown. They deserve the humiliation they put on you.

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    • 5

      Lisa says

      “I would have named them all first and last, age and hometown.” What if every person in America named their rapist? Would the walls come tumbling down? Mind-blowing something to think about…

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      • 7

        Christine says

        Now this is a great idea!!! Maybe the walls would come tumbling down. Maybe they won’t. But these lower than pond scum boys/men should be held accountable for their actions, however old they are now. There should be a website that has names of rapists listed, with the city and states they live in.

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        • 8

          Rachael says

          Jordan Gilbault, Phoenix, Arizona
          Nameless man, Oakland, California
          Nameless man, Brooklyn, New York

          Those are my rapists. I wish I knew the name of the other two. My first rape occurred when I was 15 years old. The scenario was very much like Jane Doe’s. But I wasn’t drunk. I had been drugged. I was a virgin.

          I called the Rape Crisis Line and was told to call the police. They and the firemen came and talked to me about what happened. The police put me in the back of their car, like a criminal, and took me to the hospital where they took all my clothes and forced me to call my parents and tell them what had just happened to me. a rape kit was done. I was sent home to my friends house, where I was staying for 2 weeks, but her mother wouldn’t let me back in her house because she didn’t want girls “like that” in her house. I tried to prosecute him from California, where I now lived with my mother. To this day no retribution has been paid to me. No apology has been offered. Nothing has been done. It’s almost as though it didn’t even happen. Except that it did. And for 25 years I’ve paid for what was done to me. Psychologically I ‘ve paid. Emotionally, I’ve paid. Financially – through years and years of therapy and medications, I’ve paid.

          It was not my fault. It wasn’t Jane Doe’s fault. It was not your fault. Someday I hope that the people who are responsible for the pain caused to women like me will be held accountable. Even if it never happens, I’ve learned; it was not my fault. I am NOT a victim. I am a SURVIVOR. And so are you.

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  4. 10

    Sarah says

    It wasn’t your fault, and it wasn’t my fault either. It also took me forever to say that. Thank you for your story. You’re strong, remember that! I’m so impressed at your strength and I am so sorry that you’ve needed to be this strong.

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    • 11

      tracy@sellabitmum says

      It wasn’t your fault. It wasn’t my fault. Sadly it took me 27 years and a bunch of bullshit media coverage this week to work through that.

      My 10 year old this week “Mommy, why are you crying so much.” I’m broken.

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  5. 14

    Keia says

    Thank you for sharing your story and thoughts.

    I’ve tried to stay away from reading this trial for the very simple reasons you stated. You are right we have to do better…and sooner than later.

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    • 16

      Arnebya says

      But you know what, Laura, we have to teach the girls to be better people too. To trust themselves, love themselves, protect themselves. The two girls arrested for threatening the victim? Those girls need to be taught to be better people. All of our children need to be taught to respect one another and know that at no time is the violation of another person, whether boy or girl, justifiable. Ever.

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      • 17

        Laura says

        I completely agree. – I have a daughter and a son -and one of my wishes for them is to feel confident about themselves and to teach them empathy and strength. I was honestly so shaken when I read that post that I couldn’t write my thoughts… I’ve been thinking about this for days – how as parents we must do better and do make the change within our children and to make sure as a mother/woman I model the right behaveor too.

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      • 18

        Jillian K says

        I really couldn’t agree more. I take the same stance on this as I do on teen pregnancy. If we teach our son’s to respect their partners, and our daughter’s to respect themselves, we are better off. If we teach our children to look after one another, and stand up for what is right, and our morals, we do more for them in the future. This is the most important thing we can teach our children, when there are so many out there looking to hate and harm. Teach them to seek out others like themselves who care for the well-being of the whole and not just the few. We also do them a favor by being honest with our children about the dangers they can face when out alone in the world.

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  6. 21

    Meagan says

    Thank you so much for writing this. So much strength! It was not your fault. It was not her fault. This whole thing has made me heart sick. Thank you for coming forward with this. <3

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  7. 22

    Alison says

    Oh hon, I am crying for 17-year old you. It was not your fault. Not ever. This hurts my heart, so very much.

    What happened to that girl in Steubenville, hurts my heart. I have two boys, I want them to grow up to be gentlemen. I call BS on the ‘boys will be boys’ excuse.

    Love you. xo

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  8. 24

    Arnebya says

    I love you. No, it wasn’t your fault. I am sorry it took you think long to realize, understand, know, and believe it was not your fault. It wasn’t my fault either as the grown man rubbed and fingered me, took pictures of my 16-year-old vulnerable self while my father and sisters sat in the next room waiting for our “photo shoot” to end. I should have known better. I was old enough to know better. My father paid $200 for a grown man to abuse his daughter and never even get proofs. I still feel like it was my fault. I know it wasn’t, but the feeling is still there. It was my fault. It wasn’t my fault. It is never our fault.

    You will talk to your daughters, Tracy. That is key. That is where it’s all going wrong. Those boys should have known better. And what’s worse SOMEBODY’S CHILD, even if the two who raped her didn’t have morals, somebody’s child should have. Someone’s kid should have said don’t do that. Stop. Leave her alone.

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    • 28

      Jill Smokler, AKA Scary Mommy says

      Oh, Arnebya, that is horrible. I’m so sorry you went through that.

      What has struck me so much about the comments are how many of you can relate. It’s terrifying.

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      • 30

        Connie says

        I was thinking the same thing. I’ve been through a similar experience, as have several friends of mine. I never really thought about how common this experience is though, until right now. I have two boys and I am constantly reminding them to do what’s right. That means going beyond just treating people with respect and kindness but also stepping in when they see something happening that isn’t right or letting someone know about something that has happened that should never have happened. Tracy and Arnebya, thanks for coming forward and sharing your stories – maybe we all need to come forward to help make a difference.

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  9. 33

    Amanda Martin says

    Thank you for sharing. I think it’s important that people realise it does happen and it has consequences and it shouldn’t be hidden and it should be talked about. And it is never ever the girl’s fault.

    We need to bring our sons and daughters up to respect each other. Somehow. I don’t know how. The most I can do is teach my son to respect his sister and hope that’s enough.

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  10. 34

    M. says

    This brought back horrible flashbacks. It wasn’t our fault. It wasn’t Jane Doe’s fault. Rape is never ok, regardless of how much alcohol one has consumed. Rape is rape. And rape stays with you for life.

    Thank you for sharing your story.

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  11. 36

    Angel says

    Unless they’ve been there, people don’t understand. They say that rape is about “Power.” But they don’t think about the LOSS of power that we suffer, the loss of self-respect, the loss of security, the loss of trust in ourselves to be an accurate judge of character, the loss of our “self.” It took me 20 yrs to come to grips with it. And I still have problems some nights around 2 am. It happened. It’s over. But it never disappears. You just learn how to turn on the lights to make the shadows disappear.

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  12. 39

    Kiran says

    Oh Tracy. It was never your fault. You beautiful, beautiful woman. Who was a beautiful, wonderful young girl. It was NEVER, EVER your fault. Thank you for your bravery and for this amazing, heart-wrenching post.

    Sending my love. It’s always there for you.

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  13. 40

    Jenni Chiu @ MommyNaniBooboo says

    You are brave and remarkable and you’re right – it was never your fault. We have to do better… and we will.
    Thank you for telling your story.

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