The body’s transformation during pregnancy is beautiful. That is why I’m sharing this photo series that follows the development of my own pregnancy. Please forgive the horrible photo quality.
I wasn’t ready to share this particular story before, but I’m ready now. I am not ashamed anymore.
In November of last year I filed assault charges against one Kenneth Ryder for a crime he committed three years ago. The perpetrator had written a confession/apology, and sent it to my boyfriend, so I felt confident that I had enough evidence to go the police. The following is a copy of the statement I gave to the police:
“I came home at about 10:30PM after hanging out with my boyfriend all night. I had intended to go straight to bed (because I had class the next morning) I came home to find my friends playing cards and drinking shots. Kenny very enthusiastically encouraged me to join them, I tried to politely decline but he insisted. I decided to join them for a little while just to be polite. Kenny immediately suggested that I do shots with him, again I politely declined. He was persisant so eventually I gave in and took one shot (really half a shot) of tequila. After he took a shot he marked another tally on his forearm. He was up to 18, if my memory serves me correctly (I know it was in the teens, I think it was 18).
When he started trying to throw ice cubes down my shirt I knew it was time for bed and announced to everyone that I was turning in. Kenny insisted that I shouldn’t go to bed but I just ignored him. I was in bed for about 5 minutes when there was a knock on my door. I got up to answer it, and it was Kenny standing outside my bedroom door. I don’t remember what he said to me but I do remember him kissing me. I backed away and said we shouldn’t do that, “I have a boyfriend,” I said to him. He wouldn’t leave me alone so I went back out to the living room to hang out with everyone, where there would be witnesses.
Kenny was so drunk at this point he was leaning against the wall to support himself. My roommate suggested he sleep on our couch, his response was that he didn’t want to sleep on the couch he wanted to “sleep with Lucy.” I wasn’t too scared at this point because I knew how wasted he was and didn’t think he would be awake for much longer. But then his resistance to sleeping on the couch turned a bit aggressive. Amy kept suggesting that he sleep on the couch, he kept refusing, I finally offered that he sleep in my bed but he said that he didn’t want to if i was sleeping on the couch. At this point I was completely exhausted. I just wanted to go to bed. Amy’s boyfriend Devin offered to stay over, because Kenny was displaying signs of aggressive behavior, but Amy told him we could handle it. I remember saying that I wanted Devin to stay and protect us, but Amy insisted we didn’t need him. Karen and Devin both left.
Kenny finally agreed to sleep in my bed, and I helped him into bed. While he was lying on the bed he kept motioning for me to sit by him and repeatedly said “I just want to talk to you.” He said it over and over, “I just want to talk to you.” I thought he was too drunk to do anything aggresive so I sat down next to him on the bed. He immediately pulled me down so I was horizontal on the bed, then climbed on top of me with the full weight of his body. I was scared, but had the presence of mind to roll away from him somehow (I dont remember exactly how) and leave the room.
I went to the living room to sleep on the couch. I was so relieved, because I was tired, and I just wanted to sleep. A few minutes later I realized that Kenny was sitting on the couch with me. He slurred some words at me and grabbed my breasts. I was horrified. I was shocked. I almost couldn’t believe what was happening to me. A few moments later, he was still squeezing my breasts and I got over the shock enough to push myself away from him and get up. I told him he could sleep on the couch, and that I would go sleep in my bed.
So… I went to my bedroom to sleep. He followed behind me moments later and got onto the bed next to me, then immediately climbed on top of me. He pinned down both of my hands so i couldn’t escape. I was speechless. I wanted to scream but I forgot how to. He started kissing my body, my neck. I felt paralyzed, I was too scared to fight back. He was so much bigger than me, my mind immediately went into survival mode and I started thinking of ways I could escape. When he was done kissing my face/neck/body, he tried to reposition himself against me, and I used this change of movement to get away. He was drunk so I knew his reflexes would be slow. I groped around in the dark for my shoes. I kept thinking over and over again, I need to get out of the house. When I finally found my shoes I checked to make sure Kenny was still lying on the bed. He was, so I made the foolish choice of sitting down to quickly put my shoes on. the next thing I knew I was being picked up like a rag doll and thrown back onto the bed. Kenny climbed on top of me again to hold me down. I don’t remember exactly how I got away this next time but he was very drunk so I used his slow movements to my advantage. When I was able to get away again I didnt even bother with my shoes, I just flung the door open and ran to Amy’s room. ( who had left her door open in case Kenny tried to something). I told her that Kenny was attacking me and I needed to get out of the house. Then I told her that I didn’t want to leave her alone with Kenny because he was dangerous and might come after her next. She told me she could handle Kenny, and told me she would get him out of the house. I don’t know how she was able to do it, but somehow she convinced Kenny to leave, and she told me she was going to walk him home. I was scared for her, I told her not to go because he might assault her. She said she could handle herself and they both left. I sat frozen on the couch for a moment trying to understand what had just happened, and when I snapped out of it I went back to my bedroom to grab my shoes and my purse.
I was too scared to stay in my house so I got in my car and drove to my boyfriend’s apartment. I had a key, so I let myself in, and crawled into bed with him. I held onto him so tightly he woke up and asked me what I was doing there. I told him Kenny had just assaulted me and I was feeling scared and dirty. He held me as I cried. I fell asleep that night crying in his arms.”
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
After that night my friends pulled away from me in favor of Kenny. They still wanted to be friends with him. One friend even invited us both to the same party. When I reminded her that he had tried to rape me she responded by saying, “I know, but I’ve decided to forgive him.” After that night, I lost every single one of my friends in this particular social circle. The victim-blaming was even more traumatic than the assault itself.
Testimony by Katlyn Milligan
When I was thirteen years old, just going into puberty I was raped. Though at that exact moment in time I didn’t know the meaning of rape so for years I did not call what happened to me rape. Maybe there was a part of me that knew something wasn’t right and just didn’t want to believe that I was raped but I was. My first sexual experience ever. A nightmare I will never forget. I was in a basement of a house in Ohio with a close friend named Storm. Or so I thought he was a close friend. Everything was completely fine. Nothing seemed out of place or unusual. We were sitting on the couch watching T.V and drinking beer. I was close to him and he was just rubbing my legs. That did not startle me at all. Well his friend that was also in the basement with us went upstairs for something so he picked me up and set me on the sink in the bathroom and locked the door. He told me he wanted alone time with me and well I really liked this kid so I said okay. He poured me a drink it was all mixed and handed to me. I slowly started sipping it. He started to rub my shoulders and relax me. I was still on the sink almost done with the drink now and he starts to unbuttoned my pants. I told him I didnt want that. Not now or later. He kissed me and said that’s fine. I asked if I could leave and he locked the door again. He said he wanted to talk. I didn’t want to talk anymore because something wasn’t quite right not to mention I felt very uncomfortable. He told me he would never hurt me and that he just wants to feel. I said I don’t think that’s such a good idea and I really want to go home. As soon as told me no that is when I became very scared and tried to leave. He pulled me back in the bathroom and sat me on the sink. He asked me if I was a virgin and I replied yes. At that point I knew if I fought it would just end up worse. I tried to leave again. I couldn’t. He slid my pants down. I told him no as I pulled them back up. He ripped them off of me and grabbed my vagina. I moved his hand and said no I don’t want to do this. At that point he didn’t care. He just kept handing me these drinks that tasted good. He bent me over smacked my ass and laughed the most evil laugh I have ever heard. Next think I know he was attempting to shove his hard penis into my ass. I jumped begging for him to not do that. He restrained me so I could no longer move. He stuck his penis in my ass multiple times. Very hard and fast. Lots of sharp pain and blood. I tried screaming, yelling, pushing him away nothing worked. After about a half hour of that he said “I want your pussy”. I begged him no and told him how much pain I was in. He didn’t care. He shoved it right in. I was crying the entire time pleading for him to stop. When he finally after about two hours stopped and threw me on the floor. Storm told me to clean the blood up and leave. He threw a towel and shorts at me and told me to “get the fuck out”. I left the blood and ran as fas as I could. I couldn’t even walk when I finally got out of the house. I kept falling over with blood dripping down my inner thighs and the back of my legs. I finally made it home a couple of streets away. I went right to the shower and took the longest shower of my life balling my eyes out in confusion and pain. After that I wasnt normal. I didn’t speak to anyone. I acted different. Acted out in school. One day I finally broke down and told a counselor at my school. She then called the police to talk to me. The officers came to my middle school in no time. The first set of officers were nice. They asked if I needed to go to the hospital or see a doctor. They took me to the hospital where I stayed for a couple of days. Two built stocky detectives showed up wanting to question me. I was scared, embarrassed, I felt gross. They wanted every little last detail and I couldn’t even speak. They kept telling me I was wasting their time because they have other things to do and I probably wasn’t sexually assaulted or raped. That I was just a girl that got curious and things when bad. That was the moment I screamed. I screamed at the top of my lungs. I told the detectives that nothing ever happened and this can all go away now. They charged me with falsified information and I was given probation for falsifying information to law enforcement. I will never ever forget the feeling of not only feeling worthless but hopeless and used because I was punished due to being scared and not understanding. Now I am twenty one years old. This is the first time I have ever written or even spoke about what happened to me. I was given no support, guidance or even an explanation to why I was raped or even the slightest bit of nurturing or love. At the end of all of this that is all I wanted. I wanted someone to care and help me but everyone around me including my parents all took the detectives side. I struggle with myself every day with remembering what happened. I have nightmares and flashbacks at random times. Though I am older now I feel like it was just yesterday that it all happened. My memories are so real and alive. I even remember the smell of him and the look in his eyes. I will never forget it.
Testimony by Anonymous
His name was Ricky. He was 16, about a year older than me, as his birthday is a month before mine. This also put him 2 school years above me. He went to a school near my Nan’s house. Looking back it’s probably a lie, but he claimed to be leader of some sort of metalhead gang in his school. I think he was just a bully – he once punched his neighbour in the face, a boy my age who went to his school.
I thought he was amazing, with his black clothes, metal CDs and motorbike poster. I thought it was fantastic that he wanted to be my boyfriend, and, like any teen but also due to my failed-girl-feelings, I tried desperately hard to be the kind of girl he would like. I think now he had many girlfriends, and I was more the ‘other girl’ than any of them, but I was the one who met his mum. She was lovely, and fed me a lot. I was as skinny as a stick. Maybe she was just home at the wrong time, maybe she just thought he had lots of short relationships, maybe I was the most presentable girlfriend he had.
He spent most of the relationship trying to pressure me into sex; vaguely suggesting penetrative sex, harassing me for oral sex. He would try to get me alone as often as he could, and regularly got me high, to relax me. He would imply that if I loved him, I would do sexual things. I would tell him that I wasn’t ready. He had already broken up with me, by text, while I was at a school-arranged holiday camp. Being a naive kid, thinking him so amazing, I had gotten back together with him.
This time, I was at his house. His mum was out, and we were in his bedroom. We had shared a small joint, so I was a little high, but not out of it at all. He asked me for a blowjob, and I tried to deflect the conversation. Then, he unzipped his jeans and got his dick out. It was the first dick I had ever seen. He told me to suck it. I was so shocked that I just stared at it, not moving.
He was holding it with one hand, his right hand, and he reached out with his other hand. He grabbed me by the hair, yanking my head towards his dick, and I just collapsed at the knee, my body giving way as if I had fainted, and began to cry. I would say burst into tears, but they were silent, snivelling tears. I was sort of kneeling, sort of lying, my head about level with his knees.
I’m not sure why, as the rest of the incident is burned so clearly in my memory, but I cannot picture his dick at all. I can’t remember whether it was hard or soft, whether my reaction changed that at all.
He stood above me, dick still out, still in his hand, and looked at me with disgust. What he said next stuck with me the clearest, and I can still hear it clear as if he were in the room: “You’re frigid. So ugly when you cry. Get out of my house.”
The word ‘frigid’ still hurts to hear, even completely out of context by anyone, like a slap to the face. The second sentence really got to me, and I still find it hard to believe that I don’t turn into a hideous, snivelling, red-faced monster when I cry. I don’t remember what he did after that, but I got up, went downstairs, got my bag and coat, and went to the park. I didn’t go to my Nan’s house so I wouldn’t have to tell her, or my parents.
For many years, I blamed myself. At no point in our relationship did I ever say no. I said “I’m not ready yet.” I said “Um…” I said “Not now” or “Not here.” I changed the subject. I still wonder if he would have done that if I had said no. I think he would have just broken up with me. I never did anything about it, and I never saw him again.
When I was 16, he did come back into my life. He dated a friend of a friend, and I later found out he pressured her into sex, got her pregnant, and pressured her into an abortion, before breaking up with her over the incident, calling her a baby-killing whore. I feel guilty for feeling that I got off lightly, and I feel guilty because I could have done something about what he did to me, and prevented it; I feel guilty because I could do something now, and prevent him maybe doing something to someone else.
Testimony by “M”
My name is “M.”. I am 19 years old, and this is my story.
I was 5 years old the first time my cousin molested his little sister and I…I remember he called it “the kissy game”. He would tell us over and over again that it was only a game, but part of the game was that we had to keep it a secret. There were times when he would lock us in a closet if we refused to “play”…this went on for two years until I was 7 years old. I never told my parents, my friends, anyone. It was my secret and I kept it well. When I was 13 I got into what would eventually become my first serious relationship. I remember finally telling my boyfriend everything that had happened. And it wasn’t until I saw his defensive/protective reaction, that the weight of what my cousin had done actually began to set in…for all that time I had felt dirty and damaged and insecure, but I had scolded myself saying “don’t be so stupid it was only a game, get over it.”
By the time I was 17 I came to a full realization/acknowledgement that I had been raped. There was no other way to put it. It was NOT a game. It was NOT okay. And I was NOT stupid for feeling that way. To this day it still hurts to think about the things that happened, but I am learning to cope. I am learning to remind myself that I didn’t do anything wrong. I am not damaged or less of a person because of what he did to me. If anything, I am stronger.
Testimony by Patriarchy Survivor
Two summers ago I was summoned for my first jury duty. Since it was my first time I was a little nervous but my friends assured me that I would just sit around all day and that my name would never get called. I was in the court house for all of five minutes before my name was called, and I was immediately one of twelve jurors on a murder trial. I wanted to tell the judge about my anxiety disorder and about the fact that I was a rape survivor myself and didn’t know if I could handle the stress of the trial. But I was still struggling with overcoming the shame of the attack and wasn’t ready to share that story. So I made it on to the jury.
The victim’s name was Sophia Marquez. I can still see her face in my nightmares. I can still see Sophia’s sister crying on the witness stand because Sophia had been raped, strangled to death and left naked on the side of the freeway. The accused had no alibi at all, there was convincing DNA evidence and absolutely no reasonable doubt. The other 11 jurors and myself convicted him of first degree murder during an attempted rape (there wasn’t enough evidence to prove completed rape).
Most victims of sexual assault do not get justice, and it’s horribly cruel that a rape victim (or attempted rape) usually has to be murdered for the criminal justice system to even consider prosecution. If Sophia had just been sexually assault and left naked but alive on the side of the road she wouldn’t have gotten justice. The statistics are no better now than they were in the 70’s, most rape kits just sit in evidence lockers collecting dust, because the police cannot be bothered to investigate them. I am glad that Sophia’s family got justice for her murder, but most rape/ attmepted rape victims will not – their cases won’t even be investigated. And I am angry. I am angry that the district attorneys will not prosecute rapists without media pressure. I am angry that society blames rape victims and forgives rapists (boys will be boys!). I am angry that most rape survivors will not even report getting raped because the police victim blame and slut-shame. I am over this, I want things to change. Women are human beings, and our lives have value. I shouldn’t have to explain this to people, but I do.
Her name was Sophia Marquez, she was murdered during an attempted rape in Sacramento, CA, and her naked corpse was dumped on the side of a freeway. I will never forget her face, I will never forget her name.