My rapist has no face. Almost exactly a year ago on the 16th of this month, I was raped by a man I did not know, a complete stranger. Thankfully I remember not much about it….except the color of his hair and his ethnicity. That doesn’t mean I don’t wonder exactly what happened. That I don’t feel shame. Embarrassment. Devalued. That I don’t ask how did this happen? How could someone do this? Why me? I know how it’s made me feel this past year, and it’s been a hard road trying not to let it destroy me. Someone as strong as myself, who’s been down this road as a young woman in an abusive relationship and on the defense most all of the time would never allow this to happen to themselves, especially not again, and especially not me.
But it did.
It doesn’t matter that he didn’t know me. Didn’t know that I’m a mother. Didn’t know I have two little boys who were waiting for me to come home that night. Didn’t know that I have six nephews and five nieces. What I did for a living, didn’t matter. My first half marathon that I had the next morning with my oldest son, didn’t matter. But it so desperately mattered to me as the mother of a son on the edge of his teen years.
My name, not even my name.
What his actions did to me afterward: the rape kit, lying on the table like I was part of a crime scene as the nurse checked my body for bruises, scratches, and took samples from my hair, under my nails, and in my vagina. The months of blood tests and drugs that made me sick, as precautionary measures, to ensure I didn’t contract STDs or HIV. The overwhelming relief and tears when I got the all clear. The sleepless nights. The many times I sat at my desk just staring off thinking about taking my life. To be free. It didn’t matter — the before…or the after. Nothing about me mattered. Not to him. Just to his own self-serving needs.
Keeping quiet on social media has been exhausting with all that has been in the news the last couple of days. To not spill too much of my personal life into my arguments because I don’t feel everyone deserves a front seat for it. It’s exhausting. Trying to stay true to who I was before this. I try. God, do I try. I don’t want it to control the way I live. I’ve recently moved, so I no longer have to drive by that place every day reminding me of where it all started or fear that every dark-haired man whom I walk past is him.
So that’s the short version of my story — which I feel is important because what’s been in the headlines has been the audio of a certain man promoting actions of sexual assault. This isn’t about politics. This is about basic human decency. The human decency of the man who is looking to hold the highest position in our country. The Republican candidate for the president of the United States. This man has a long drawn-out history, including current pending court cases for rape. We’ve heard his recent demeaning remarks about women and those he has made to women. We’ve heard of how he raped his ex-wife. We are familiar with his social circle including his party life with famed pedophile Jeffrey Epstein whom he calls a “great fun guy,” and now the recent release of old audio.
My question is when does it stop? How do we keep condoning this behavior? How can anyone discredit what he says as “just words.” Because he’s rich? A celebrity? Or because he’s claiming to serve you? To think that anyone with such a narcissistic personality is going to serve you is something you need to reconsider. Self-serving is what comes to my mind — just like my rapist.
How can anyone think Donald Trump’s words in his latest audio leak are even acceptable? Maybe you’re one of the lucky ones who has never been assaulted. However, when he opens his mouth and speaks about women the way that he does, I feel the fear and I feel the anxiety from my assault take over, as I’m sure most any sexual assault survivor does. I know I’m not alone. I’ve been watching social media blow up. Each side supporting their candidate until they are blue in the face while sexual assault survivors are pushed to the back trying to be heard. Women and men coming forward about their own stories. He’s a trigger. His actions, his words, they are haunting just like the actions and words of our assailants, our rapists.
This is why I am speaking up — for survivors and victims of any kind of sexual assault, those who have been forced into silence — by advocating against this kind of behavior. Staying silent is a victim’s worst enemy. And sometimes the silence of our friends is more damaging than the act itself.
So when you see someone posting so passionately against this behavior, I encourage you to step back and consider why. Because now you know my story. Don’t ever call me a hypocrite because I read Fifty Shades of Grey — I’m far from. Don’t ever call me lost — because I know exactly where I stand. Don’t ever call me a prude just because I don’t agree with nonconsensual sexual advances or talk of assault. Don’t ever criticize someone for speaking up against acts of sexual violence, racism, discrimination. We need more people who will. And don’t ever say “his words are just words,” that we are “overreacting” and “offended” by the vulgarity of the words he used.
That’s not it. That is not it at all. Those words that you deem as “just vulgarity” are words behind the actions of our assailants. Your shaming by accusing us of “overreacting”…stop. Just stop. Take a step back. Look around you. One in 4 women are victims of sexual assault. Don’t you find that the least bit disturbing?! Don’t you wonder why? Look at the people you love, and I dare you to say you don’t care that one of them if not more in your circle are victims of a sexual assault.
The Republican candidate may be rich, he may be famous, he may be your presidential nominee and he may not, but to me, he represents my rapist. And I cannot support a man with his kind of behavior. I won’t question your reasons as to why you will, but it does make me look at you differently.
I will not turn my head and act like what he’s said and done isn’t wrong just to serve my own needs. I will not turn my head and condone it just because I don’t support the democratic ticket.
I will not turn my head period. For myself and for thousands of other men and women survivors…I will not turn my head.
We must speak out. This is real life. This is about nonconsensual sexual acts toward women and men. Recognize it for what it is, and STOP CONDONING IT. Be a part of the change in our culture.