You Just Reminded Silent Victims Like Me Why We Didn't Tell

I’m disheartened for the many victims, silent victims like me, who wonder if they should have ever come forward when they were raped. This terrible example in the Brock Turner case has perhaps validated that our silence was the right choice after all. 

While most of us are shaking our collective heads at the lunacy that a three-time CONVICTED felon of a violent crime would serve such only three months, I also have to wonder how other silent victims are feeling.  It makes my blood run cold.

I don’t think about my rape too often anymore, but seeing this case, my thought was “see, no question that silence was a better choice for you, girl.” This just proved to me, with a definitive sick feeling in the pit of my stomach, that what I suspected when I was raped was true. I knew that telling on Chris, my rapist, was not going to be worth it. 

I just can’t believe that 28 years later there is still no true justice for victims of sexual assault. 

July 26th, 1988.

That’s the day I was raped by the man I had been dating. I was a conservative Christian back then and my mother did not allow me to be alone at home with a man, nor have one in my bedroom, even though I was 19.  But I still got raped at my house, in my own bedroom, on the white iron daybed I loved. 

My family owned a video store just 7 minutes from our home. It was my mother’s day off and Chris had come by to tell me goodbye before I left town to visit a friend. There was an emergency call from the store, so my mother nor I, thought anything of her dashing out the door to go help for a few minutes.

No sooner had she been gone, Chris appeared in the doorway of my bedroom where I was putting some last minute items in my suitcase. He went to kiss me and then shoved me down on to the bed. I knew I was in danger. Chris was on top of me in no time, pulling down my favorite green and white pin-striped shorts. I tried to push him off, I said NO in six different ways. He had a steely gaze and I knew he didn’t hear me. He knew it was wrong…he knew my rules, my mom’s rules, my church’s rules, in that moment he didn’t care.

I had never even seen a penis before and now one was inside me.

I had in doggedly protecting my virginity until marriage, it vanished in a moment as he used my body as nothing more than a depository. 

Once he got off of me and the squeaks of my daybed stopped, he went into my bathroom and I left. I didn’t want to see him or even wait for my mother to return. I ran to my car and sped down the highway stopping to change my clothes and throw them away. 

It was a hard decision to not report the rape, it meant Chris retained all his power and I didn’t have a way to get mine back, nor any justice.

I eventually did tell my mom and a couple other church friends, but the crux of their concern was the same as mine…how would a godly man ever want to marry me now that I was no longer a virgin? They echoed the narrative in my mind, “no one can know or you’ll never be loved by a good Christian man.” Thankfully, that narrative changed over time and I was able to find love, and share my experience with him. 

I knew the culture back then tended to shame and blame victims. Personal responsibility for men wasn’t required if they could rip the victim to shreds because she went public, especially on the witness stand. I didn’t think I was strong enough to put myself through it. Besides, Chris was the son of a State Trooper. I would have been lucky to see him arrested, let alone convicted. 

So he walked. He still walks somewhere today I guess. Maybe he’s regretful, maybe he doesn’t remember it at all. 

Today, I have to applaud all the victims who bravely prosecute their perpetrators.  Three months of jail time served after bearing the intimate details of how they were violated is a heavy price for a woman to pay. It seems like it costs her much more and this is on top of the horrific suffering she survived during the crime itself.

Is prosecuting a risk worth taking? I sometimes wonder if I did the right thing…should I have prosecuted Chris? Today’s headlines sure doesn’t look like it.

These crimes happen far more often than most of us think.

For the last 20+ years, I can be in a room with six or more women at any given time, no matter how we are connected, and ask how many have experienced some sort of non-consensual sexual violation or assault and at least half will say, “me too.” It’s still shocking every damn time. .   

These countless women have been violated by family members, strangers, men whom they trusted or worked with and so forth, yet I have only met two who attempted to prosecute their perpetrator.

And sure we can all stand up and say “These guys will keep doing this if no one speaks up!” I get it…and it seems common sense to think that way, but what incentive do we have to blow up our life by going through a public trial for a guilty rapist to only go to jail for three months?

Someone please tell me how we are going to fix this! Consent training is a good place to start, and I continually teach it to my own teenagers, but it’s not nearly enough.

I don’t have an answer…I don’t have one f**king explanation why our justice system continues to fail women and any of this makes sense. Lack of consent seems to matter very little if the very system that is supposed to protect us seems to be made up of “the boy’s club” and protect their own. If the would-be rapist is horny or drunk enough to violate a woman it may seem a small risk to them. If they think the worst that can happen is three months in jail, (IF she even reports it), how big of a deterrent is that in the heat of the moment? 

It’s just disheartening that we don’t care more or haven’t figured this out almost 30 years later.

I care. I care about the women who have been brave and took it to trial. I care about those who chose to stay silent. Whether you spoke up or not, Ladies, I see you and I’m shaking my head with you.

Sometimes, in moments like these, all we need and can offer is some heartfelt empathy, some collective sighing and a chorus of supportive others saying “me too.”

 

 

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