“They Kept Telling Me I was Wasting Their Time…” (How a child rape victim can expect to be treated in Ohio).

survivor2

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.

How Everything I Knew Was Wrong

Image

Testimony by Eli Shadow-Walker

“Let’s just look at it practically. Is reporting a sexual assault in a BDSM context likely to work? No, absent serious injuries or hospitalization, or video evidence, history shows that prosecutions are uphill battles, even for relatively privileged people within BDSM communities. So if it’s not all that likely to actually produce a conviction, the notion that we should pressure victims into the criminal justice system is busted. It’s a derail, a way of throwing up a hurdle and washing hands of the allegation. Until the system is fixed (if it can be), we can’t count on it to save us from having to figure out how to deal with rape and abuse in BDSM communities ourselves.”-[Feministe][http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2012/06/20/20993/]

Trigger warnings: details of sexual assault, frank discussion of sexual acts.

It’s coming up one the one year mark since I was sexually assaulted by a man who I was in a polyamorous relationship with.

Truth be told, I don’t really know how to begin this piece of writing. I still feel nauseous and cry every time I have flashbacks, I still shake (shaking pretty hard right now, as a matter of fact) and descend into panic mode despite the anxiety medication when I see his face or hear his name, and I still clench my jaw at night despite the muscle relaxants and the year of trauma counseling I’ve gone through. It’s hard to deal with. At times, it feels like I’m entirely alone. I’ve hermited and kept myself cooped up for fear of getting emotionally invested with anyone as a friend, let alone as a lover.

In one year’s time, I watched my entire world crumble to dust. I stood in silence as the first responding officer told me that in court, I would “sound like a vindictive ex-girlfriend” and that anything I had to say would “never stand up;” he told me that it wasn’t even worth trying despite him giving me the personal information on the assailant I needed in case I needed to file a restraining order. I sat in silence as two officers who both took my individual police reports promised to call me back, promised to let me know if they spoke to him, never contacted me again. I watched the rumor mill chew me up and spit me out again and again, watching him parade his innocence because he “showed the police [my] fetlife” and they left him alone. I had someone who I called a friend tell me that being assaulted was “what I needed” to find myself. I had someone I called a friend tell me that they “told me so” and laugh as I sat stifling tears on their living room couch. I had someone actively pursue the man who assaulted me immediately after I spoke up about what happened simply to spit in my face. I watched as I was publicly humiliated on his facebook by his friends, claiming I was “projecting” and that I was “psychotic.” I had someone attempt to use the assault as a furthering of their own agenda against a different individual with claims of “24/7 support,” despite suddenly stopping their responses to my texts and calls out of absolutely nowhere. An emotional conversation with someone trustworthy led me to discover he had given me herpes 1, despite his claim he was “completely clean” and, in my ignorance and naivete, I had trusted him on his word. No matter how I explained that the contraction of this disease was not through casual means, I was told I was dramatizing the situation. I had someone go so far as to tell me I couldn’t associate the assault and the contraction of the disease because of how common herpes 1 is, despite my knowledge of how I contracted it during one of the many assaults. I even went so far as to ask the man who assaulted me why he did it, despite how much I knew it was a Bad Idea (capitalization intentional). He never responded to that question, but he sure responded to everything (anything) else.

For a while, it really felt as if the whole world wanted nothing more to do with me, that I was meant to be forgotten and scoffed at. At one point, I wanted nothing more than to hide away forever, perhaps die and be done with it. I felt I couldn’t handle what I had gone through. The concept of having to go through this and not have the community respond as largely and as floridly as it so claimed it would in the face of abusers felt like the ultimate betrayal. I felt that the place I had grown up in didn’t care about me in the least, that it wasn’t worth trying anymore. I grew jaded and angry and bitter to the city at large. Hadn’t I done everything right? I did what I had been told to do by one of the educators in the community the very first day I entered the scene: file a police report. Talk to the police. They will help. The community will fall into place behind you when you have a court case. We don’t support abusers. I filed two police reports and never heard back from the police. I spoke up about being assaulted and the local kink community response was, in my perspective, indifference with a dash of smug superiority.

I decided to seek help from a counselor after the first flashback. Talking to her, explaining everything from the very beginning, intially felt like I was willingly subjecting myself to torture. I cried after (and often during) every session, begging to know why it was that everything I had been taught and everything that had been preached to me as a self-titled “BDSM newbie” had been wrong. Absolutely nothing had gone according to the formula I had been presented in 2009 at my first munch. The world, as I knew it, felt like it had been ripped out from under my feet like a rotting rug or carpet. The pain didn’t lessen for a good six months. It helped that the counselor was willing to work with me on previous physical and emotional trauma as well. I began to see the things that had attracted me to him, and more importantly him to me. All of my inner workings came to light in ways I hadn’t considered before. Some might say I needed the help. Truthfully, I agree.

In that year, I learned more and more about the assailant as people came out of the woodwork to speak to me. For instance, the ex-wife and son that he kept hidden from everyone else. The abuse in his previous marriage. The “Captain’s Chest,” where he kept his mutilation porn and snuff films featuring women. The restraining order preventing him from seeing his child, ever. The deep, extreme involvement in the Fourth Reich that hadn’t disappeared (despite what he told me). The coverup of the swastika tattoo on his back. His violent criminal history. His record of mental health issues (it didn’t take me long to realize I was lucky to be alive). The vast, vast community outside of the kink world who knew him, who knew OF him…and who weren’t surprised.

After one year, I can’t understand why the community I participate(d) in largely allows no room for growth. The overwhelming poison of a small community with a larger-than-life adulation for gossip and for word-of-mouth as opposed to facts and consideration for age and life experiences grew to a level of toxicity I felt was fatal. I’m only 22. I grew up in this community and in this city. This is the city that watched me flourish and find my niche. This is the place where I finally, after years of abuse and a sheltered upbringing, had the opportunity to find who I was, and who I am today. Why is it so hard to accept that someone who isn’t liked, isn’t popular, and is certainly outspoken, was sexually assaulted? Why is it so easy to believe that this never happened? It happened. It definitely happened. *One year ago, this man insisted on groping me through and under my jeans when I had a vicious yeast infection that kept me from even going to the bathroom without serious pain meds. This man insisted on trying to penetrate me anally despite my constant reminder and protests that anal sex and penetration was strictly reserved for my primary. This man held me down and pushed on areas of my body that had been told were strictly off limits, and despite my screaming and protests of “No, stop, stop please,” insisted on hurting me to the point that I was unable to breathe and lost consciousness from the searing pain. This man forced me to drink his blood by biting his cheek open and kissing me, spreading his blood all over my face and lips. This man demanded – and took- sex from me when I told him I wasn’t interested, wasn’t feeling it, and when I told him we needed to talk rather than just fuck. 

*None of what happened between us was in scene. None of what happened between us had been negotiated with my primary.

Oh, my wonderful primary. I can still see the anger seething in his eyes. He doesn’t say much, but I know that what happened hurt him too. He smiles, pretends outwardly that nothing’s up, but I know his physicality. I know the way he moves. He is angry. He rages inside. He’s come with me to counseling before (after all, this affects us both) so I know he’s not going to do anything stupid or dramatic, but if you know him…you can feel the anger rolling from him when we talk about the assault. We’ve been together for four years. This didn’t break us. If anything, it brought us closer together. Our combined rage, hurt, and overwhelming passion to ensure that this information is spread to those who matter has created between us a bond we will share for the rest of our lives. I love him deeply, and he, me.

Everything I knew one year ago was wrong. But.In one year’s time, I made wonderful new friends. I strengthened existing friendships with picnics, blackberry picking and pictures on the riverbank. I learned what it was to truly, deeply value the rush of cool water with the contrast of the blazing summer sun. I told my story privately, one person at a time, showing them the reports and the medical results. I found amidst the chaos and confusion a small group of people who, despite barely knowing me from Adam, were willing to trust me and listen to the story I had to tell. I found old friends who understood what it was to grow up and to be hurt, to experience trauma no matter my age. I found old friends who I had never considered close who were willing to walk the shadow path with me and to help me break free of the emotional and spiritual bonds that kept me rooted in the pain. I found a Family who supported me no matter what happened, who understood my flaws and my issues, and *loved me anyway.*

In one year’s time, I found a group of amazing, beautiful people who see me as I am. I discovered amazing friends who practice what they preach and stick to their guns no matter what confronts them. I found individuals who are able to admit they are wrong with grace and dignity and retain the ability to change themselves as life changes around them. The more I say “I found,” I beg you: read “they found me.” For without them, I could not have come so far and made it through the initial struggle of learning to accept myself. Hell, I’m still working on learning to love myself.

But that’s this year’s work.

If you’ve read all of this, I congratulate you for being able to follow my rambling and for putting up with my self-exposure. If you are hurting, if you have been assaulted, *please* get help. File the police report (no, you don’t have to have the offender arrested) so that you have documentation that what happened to you, happened. Be aware that the most help you will likely get in case of sexual assault (and often rape) is just a report on file. Your community may not support you, you may feel lost and alone and hurt and angry. You have every right to feel that way. There are trauma counselors waiting to speak to you and to help you through this time of pain.Through all of this though, remember that you are NOT alone. You are NOT the only one, and without YOU the world wouldn’t be the place it is today.

There are hundreds of thousands of other men and women (yes, both) out there who are hurting in a similar fashion.. They are silent because others have told them to stay silent out of fear of “drama,” out of “outing” someone or  the potential of libel. The problem is that simply handing our case to law enforcement doesn’t work specifically because we are kinky, and our consent is something that the law refuses to acknowledge because to them we cannot put  ourselves in harm’s way. It is illegal, for the most part. There are so very, very few cases of sexual assault in the context of BDSM that are prosecuted simply because it is next to impossible to prove consent to harm. The scant few cases that have been prosecuted have only been so because they had hospital documentation from life-threatening injuries or video tapes. With the recent fire at the NCSF headquarters and the complete destruction of the case files there, I felt it more prudent than ever to speak up. To speak out. Sure, putting this all out there like this leaves me completely vulnerable to ridicule and gossip. Shoot, I have no idea if anyone will read this, save for the man who assaulted me. I admit it, I’m scared. Writing this scares me. Posting this scares me even more.  But here it is, and here you are.

The Catholic Taliban: How “ProLife” Protestors Like to Harass Women

Image

From the Page Administrator

    Two weeks ago I started volunteering as a clinic escort at a local women’s health clinic. An escort’s job is to protect patients from protestors while they are entering and exiting the clinic. I knew my services would be needed because the clinics are nonprofit and they cannot afford to hire security guards to protect patients who are visiting their doctors. Having engaged in a few protests myself, I know what the rules are for protestors. I was naive enough to think that a group of church-goers would actually follow the law, but my recent experience has taught me otherwise. There is a huge difference between protesting and harassment, and unfortunately the police in Sacramento, California simply do not care if protestors are harassing people.
    Here is a list of some of the harassment that I have encountered myself and have witnessed being done to patients during my first two weeks on the job.

1. Protestors like to trespass on clinic property to harass patients, even though they know it’s illegal. I one time had to  literally hold my hands up in front of me to block a pastor from trying to enter clinic property. Yes, they do know it’s illegal.

2. Protestors like to scream insults at the patient after she politely declines to take a pamphlet.

3. When I ask  protestors to stop harassing me, they take that to mean that they should scream louder and more frequently. They scream delightful phrases such as “you’re a horrible person!,” “you’re a baby killer!,” “you’re evil!,” and “you’re going to hell!” And when they tire of screaming they just talk endlessly at me about what a horrible person I am. They know I can’t leave my post because my job is to stay outside and protect patients, so they try to constantly insult me in hopes that they can slowly destroy my self esteem.

4. Protestors like to take pictures of me, especially the creepy old men. I try not to think about what they could possibly be doing with those pictures… *vomit*

5. Protestors like to tell me that I am the one who is harassing them, after I have asked them to stop harassing me.

6.. Protestors like to try to convince the boyfriend/husband to force his pregnant girlfriend/wife to talk to them, even if she is crying hysterically and/or doesn’t want to talk to them.

7. Protestors are not supposed to block the sidewalks and streets, but they do anyway.

8.Protestors often bring herds of children with them… who sometimes run into the street while cars drive by.`

This is all I have so far, but it’s only been two weeks. We still have a ways to go before their 40 Days of Hate is over with, and there are all sorts of chromosomes missing from these people. 

I am a Daughter, Sister, Aunt, Goddaughter, Friend, Law Student, Volunteer…

survivor

I am a rape survivor. NOT a victim, a survivor. This is my story.

It actually starts several years before I was raped, on March 7, 1997. On that day, I was called to the principal’s office. The usual chorus of “OOH!”s that can be expected from a group of third graders accompanied me as I left the classroom and walked the familiar path to the office of our school disciplinarian, wondering what I had done this time.

It was not the principal who awaited me, however. It was a stranger, who told me that she was a detective, and that everything was okay now, and that I had nothing to worry about as long as I told the truth. Then she told me that she knew I had been touched in an inappropriate way by a family friend and that as long as I did everything I could to help, I would be safe from that ever happening again.

My parents were not present. A lawyer was not present. The principal was not present. It was just me, the detective, and her tape recorder. I was 8 years old. Little did I know that my little sister, age 5, was in another chamber of the catacomb that encompassed the administrative suite of my elementary school. She was being asked the same uncomfortable and odd questions about a family friend we both loved.

The detective proceeded with a line of questioning that included everything from my usual activities with said family friend (let’s call him “Q”), which involved the types of innocent enjoyment a normal grown man can be expected to have with the daughters of two of his closest friends, to my vivid and unusual nightmares. Somehow, these two things were later combined and used against Q in the media.

Later that day, a female police officer picked my sister and me up from our after-school program and brought us home in a squad car. The police had already arrived at my home and discussed the situation with my parents, who allowed entry because the police officer who knocked on the door said simply, “Your children have been hurt.”

When we walked in, my mother called us to her room and asked whether there was any truth to the allegation that Q had ever touched either of us in a sexual way. The answer was a resounding “no.” When we emerged from the room, a man who I did not recognize proceeded to scream at my mother for allegedly “yelling at us” and “telling us what to say.” This upset me and my sister greatly.

Never once during the harrowing 6-month investigation was any evidence uncovered that Q had indeed abused us. We went through family therapy, individual therapy, physical examinations (this being a euphemism for having cameras and fingers shoved in our vaginas and anuses), repeated visits from a social worker and various police officers, and countless questions.

This man did not abuse us. This was an innocent man who ran afoul of some of his co-workers and whose life was destroyed because of it. He was described in the paper and on the news as a

Satanist and a child molester. He, along with unnamed others (including my parents), were supposedly part of a group engaging in Satanic ritual child abuse. I believe the lead detective wanted to make a name for herself with one or more convictions in a sensational case.

Despite the overwhelming lack of evidence, my parents were warned that my sister and I could be taken from them and that we were not to leave town. Q was forced to serve 30 days in jail on a trumped-up pornography charge for the heinous crime of having obscene pictures of an adult ex-girlfriend in a dusty old box his attic. He has never set foot in the state of North Carolina since he got out of jail, with one exception – my wedding day. This is a man who loved two little girls in every sweet way that an adult man can. His absence from our lives is deeply felt and incredibly unfair.

One good thing, if you can possibly stretch the meaning of “good” that exceedingly far, is that Q’s lawyer was able to keep his name off of the sex offender registry. Yes, you read that right. No evidence of any wrongdoing was ever found, yet the prosecutor was still aiming to put the name of an innocent man on a list that would act as a scarlet letter branded on his chest for the rest of his life. For no reason.

During the time that our local police department actively and tirelessly wasted taxpayer money pursuing this meritless case, there were undoubtedly an innumerable amount of girls and women actually being sexually abused and assaulted, women whose attackers were less visible and whose stories were less striking, and who therefore garnered significantly less attention (read: none.)

I know this because I was eventually one of those girls. And this is the part of the story where I tell you about my rape.

I have always been very open sexually and have never had any problem expressing my sexuality. It could be argued that this is the result of what happened to me at a young age, but I don’t really care what caused it because it is a part of who I am and I would never change it.

In the summer of 2003, I decided I was tired of being a virgin, so I offered myself to a friend, who I will call Larry. It was quick, painful, and entirely unremarkable in any way. It was all over in a matter of minutes, and I felt no different after it happened.

Why do I tell you this? Because this same man was to become an accomplice to my rape. Two days after I lost my virginity, I went swimming at an apartment complex where a friend of mine lived. I got tired of swimming and decided to head back to her apartment to change. This was in broad daylight, in the middle of the afternoon, on a path I had repeatedly walked.

I never made it to my friend’s apartment, however. On the way there, I was stopped by Larry and a friend of his, an attractive, tall, very skinny black boy with dreads, who Larry told me was named Mark. Apparently, Larry had made an arrangement with Mark for me to have sex with him for a bag of marijuana. I was not party to this conversation.

Larry said that since I was a “hoe” now, it should not bother me to have sex with Mark, especially since I was helping out a friend. He told me that I should go with Mark into an abandoned apartment in the middle of the row of townhomes in which my friend lived and have sex with him upstairs. Several people from the neighborhood had done drugs in the apartment so it was “safe.”

I protested that I was barefoot and that there was a briar patch in front of the apartment’s broken back door, so I would not be able to safely make it there without hurting my feet. I then proceeded to head to my friend’s home, thinking I was in the clear. At that point, Larry picked me up and carried me to the abandoned apartment, with Mark in tow.

Why didn’t I scream when my friends were very likely within hearing distance? Why didn’t I fight, kick, punch, scratch, tear, or otherwise try to escape? The answer is that I had been lead to believe that rape was a violent attack, one that happened in the deep of night, when a stranger dragged you into an alley. I knew to kick that stranger in the balls and run. I had no clue what to do in this situation.

Once in the apartment, Larry deposited me in the second floor bedroom and disappeared. At this point, Mark asked me if I wanted to have sex. I said no. He began to remove my bikini bottom. I said no. He put a condom on. I said no. He laid me on the floor. I said no. He raped me. I covered my face in my hands and sobbed, praying that it would just be over and I could leave unscathed.

All of the sudden, it stopped the same way it had started. A boy who was in my gym class at school was peering around the doorway from the stairs. I couldn’t tell you his name now, but he knew what was happening. Mark got up and bolted. I never saw him again.

I ran to the bathroom, which was completely dark. There was no power in the apartment and no toilet paper. I sat on the seat in my bikini top and I cried and cried and cried. Finally, I managed to grab my bikini bottom and walk down the stairs. The apartment was utterly filthy, filled with condom wrappers, cigarette butts, broken glass, and the insides of cigars that had long ago been filled with marijuana and smoked.

I sat down on the fireplace and cried. I did not move until my friend, whose home I had been intending to walk to, came in and asked me what had happened. I could not speak. I allowed her to help me up off the bricks and out of the house. Larry was standing outside when I walked out, along with a crowd of other friends and acquaintances who lived in the neighborhood or frequently came to visit.

“Fuck you, Larry!” was all I could get out through my tears. I walked to an A/C unit and sat down, feeling like the absolute worst bit of nothing that had ever existed. I felt dirty, I felt used, but oddly, I did not feel that I had been raped. As I said, rape was this thing where you were beaten and tied up, maybe tortured. It was certainly not something that happened in the

daylight hours in a familiar neighborhood at the behest of a friend to whom you had recently lost your virginity.

I don’t remember much of what happened next. I know that I jumped into the pool. I wanted to get the disgust off me. If I was just a hoe now, I could at least be a clean one. I know that eventually my parents picked me up and that when I wandered into the house, I told my mother that I needed to go back to see my therapist. I know that I was going to be leaving for Florida in two days so I was supposed to stay in that night to spend time with my family.

My best friend, Melinda, was not there when the events transpired, but she heard about them and she and her mother came to my house to get to the bottom of it. Melinda’s mother told mine that Melinda had just been dumped by a boyfriend and really needed her best friend, so we piled into the car and went to Melinda’s house.

Eventually, the story of what had happened came out. Melinda’s mother said to me, “Maria, you know that you were raped, right?” I was shocked. There was no way I had been the victim of such a crime. I honestly thought I had just engaged in sex that I didn’t want to have, sex that made me feel dirty and worthless, but not sex I was FORCED to have. There were no weapons or threats.

I think this is part of the problem in the United States. We don’t teach our girls that rape will most likely be perpetrated by someone who we know. The violent, savage attack by a stranger gets good ratings on TV and in movies and gets a lot of attention on the news, but it is not the typical case. Usually, the rapist starts out thinking you will consent to sex with him, and when you say no, he carries on anyway.

I wish I could say that the horror of my story ended here, but it was far from over. The next day, Melinda and her mother helped me tell my mother what had happened. The four of us decided to call the police. A squad car pulled up and a female police officer emerged and asked me what had happened. She then asked me to show her the scene of the crime.

The five of us piled into the cop car and rode the couple of miles to the apartment complex where my friend lived. We were able to get into the abandoned apartment easily through the broken back door. I walked up the stairs, irrationally terrified, and showed the officer where the rape had occurred. We found the condom wrapper that Mark had discarded on the ground.

Next, the officer took Melinda and her mother home, and took me and my mother to the hospital to have a rape kit done. For those who are unaware, this means I spent many hours in the ER getting blood drawn, giving urine samples, getting shots, undergoing an extremely painful pelvic exam, having fifty hairs plucked out of my head at the root, and being questioned again. And again. And again.

During my pelvic exam, the police officer on my case was in the room. There was a “privacy” curtain drawn around my bed and my mother stood beside me and held my hand. The pain was

excruciating due to the small tears that can often occur in the vagina when it is penetrated without sufficient lubrication.

The detective on my case was actually a woman who I knew from elementary school. She had been the DARE officer for my class. She was very upset by what had happened and very willing to do everything she could to prosecute the man who did this to me. Unfortunately, she ultimately had to drop my case because her husband was in a very serious motorcycle accident. Without her personal interest in my case, I went to the bottom of the list.

I did end up going to Florida and I was fine until I received a teddy bear that said something like “We care!” in multiple colors and fonts from a family friend. I dissolved into tears. I begged my mother to come and the next day, she and my little sister arrived. There are times in your life when you need your mother. It’s not something that is easy to explain but you know when it happens.

In the ensuing weeks, I cooperated with the investigating officers as much as I possibly could. I gave them Larry’s full name and picture, as well as where I thought he lived. I recounted my story over and over again. The cold, detached way that the questions were phrased was excruciating. I was forced to relive the most awful moments of my life alone in a room with a strange grown man. I often felt as though no one at the police department believed me and if they did, they didn’t care.

At one point, an officer came to my home and showed me a line-up of photographs. He also played me a voice recording. The person who the local police thought might be responsible for my rape was at the time in jail for another sex crime. Mark’s face did not peer out at me from any of the pictures, however, and I couldn’t have remembered his voice if I tried. This was their final attempt at solving my case.

In a way, I believe both Larry and Mark were brought to some kind of justice, although I couldn’t tell you exactly what it was. I was very close with Melinda’s uncle Jared. He was reasonably active in the apartment complex where my rape occurred and he said that he would “handle” Mark. I’m not sure what happened between them but certainly no one I knew ever heard from him again.

Larry is active on Facebook; we currently have 13 mutual friends. The first time I saw him after my rape, I was in the mall food court with my mother and a friend. My immediate reaction was to jump under the table, hide, and burst into tears. I have since seen him around town a few times but I never let anyone know until he is so far away that they couldn’t get into trouble for attacking him. I heard that when the police came to his house, his father beat the ever-living shit out of him. I can only hope it is true.

Remember Melinda? My now former best friend? Supposedly, she smoked crack with Larry some time after the events occurred and he tearfully informed her that he thought I would say

yes, that he didn’t believe I was a virgin when he and I had had sex, and that he never thought Mark would actually rape me if I said no. Recounting that information makes me feel nothing.

When I returned home from Florida, my mother and I went to the Rape Crisis Center on the advice of the initial officer on my case. The volunteer, bless her heart, started the conversation with, “As a victim –“ I interrupted her, “I’m sorry, ma’am, but I am not a victim.” I have never been a victim and will never be one. I understand that rape derails the lives of many women and I understand why that is the case. But that’s not me.

Often when prosecutors put rape survivors on the witness stand, the jury is unmoved without some grandiose show of emotion. This highlights the tendency that our culture has to make excuses for the men who rape and place blame on the women they attack. There is no specific way that a rape survivor “should” act. Each of our experiences is unique and each of us expresses the feelings it has caused in different ways. Most of us would not be willing to share our true feelings in a courtroom filled with strangers about something so personal that it is often difficult to talk about to even our closest confidants.

At least in my situation, I found that it was helpful to word vomit as much as humanly possible. I proceeded to talk about my rape to anyone and everyone who would listen. I still do. Call it attention seeking, hell, you may think this essay was written merely to garner sympathy or attention. But if that is the case, you are missing the greater point – that survivors of rape should not be silenced or shamed when they choose to speak. We have done nothing wrong. If, when, and how we choose to share our stories should be our right and ours alone.

I was raped nearly ten years ago. I have no foolish ideas that this essay will affect my long-dead case or the cold hearts of the police department in my hometown. That is not why I have shared my experience with you. I have chosen to tell my story because I am tired of the ignorant statements about rape that even well-meaning people espouse in front of me on a regular basis. I’m tired of the rape jokes, the snide comments, and the ludicrous notion that somehow a woman is ever “asking for” rape.

Was I wrong to have sex at the age of fifteen? Was I wrong to lose my virginity to someone random and ultimately awful? Was I wrong to walk alone, regardless of the fact that it was broad daylight, and I had made this walk on countless occasions for years? Maybe. Am I wrong now that I sometimes go out in skimpy outfits or actually enjoy having sex with someone I have no emotional connection to? Perhaps. Does any of that make me culpable in my own rape? Absolutely not.

I am not scared. I am not ashamed. I will not be silenced. If you or anyone you know has experienced something like this and you have no one else to turn to, I am here. I will not demand that you tell someone. I will not demand that you seek help from the police because let’s be serious – what help are they really going to be? I will simply sit there and listen. I will let you cry on my shoulder. I will hug you and tell you that most of the men in this world are not

monsters. That there are men who will touch your body in ways that make you feel good and make you feel proud and make you feel loved.

If you are simply curious, feel free to ask away. I have been a survivor of this awful and violent incident for almost ten years. I am no longer living with it every day. I have moved on to bigger and better things. I think it is a cultural imperative for us to understand the experience of being a rape survivor so that it is understood how truly sensitive you must be when discussing this touchy subject.

My name is Maria. I am a daughter, sister, aunt, goddaughter, friend, law student, volunteer, and much more. I am also a survivor of rape, and I am not afraid to say so.

Some names and other identifying information have been changed for legal reasons.

The Systematic Raping of Women in the U.S. Military (Editor’s note: The author of this post was bullied by her military command to remain anonymous.)

Image

Testimony by Anonymous

First, I would like to thank you for what you do, and what you represent. Your posts give me inspiration everyday during this dark time I am going through! I commented on your post about female veterans being dishonorably, or medically discharged after they report rape. I have been in for 18 years, started off as a young enlisted Soldier, worked my way up, went to college, and I am now an officer. I have been overseas several times, and I have seen the horror of what females go through. I will admit, I turned a blind eye a lot of times, and I also did not give enough credit to other females when they came to me as their leader, and I failed. I wish with my whole heart I could go back in time and change the way of thinking I had, which is what the military engrains in you everyday. It is very much a mans Army, and while they are starting to make improvements, it is still the defendant with all the rights. I have had the opportunity to see this first hand.
It all started about two years ago. I went to an officer function, and there was a lot of drinking going on. I, myself, was not drinking, as I had to go to a gun range the next morning. As I left, a higher ranking officer asked me for a ride home. How could I say no? He outranked me. We got to our barracks, where he proceeded to pull a knife on me, drag me in his room, and raped me. He told me if I told anyone, nobody would believe a lowly lieutenant, and he also said he would kill me if I told. So, I didn’t. And knowing the Army culture, it is such a taboo. I knew he was right, everyone would believe him. So, as the months went on, he stalked me, followed me home, and repeatedly raped me for the next year. I told two people in our unit, and neither one of them reported it either. I had so much anxiety, I could not sleep, my life went from this stellar career as an exceptional officer to basically barricading myself in my house, jumping at any little noise. I cried every single day. So, I decided to go to a civilian doctor, to get something to help with my anxiety. It did a little, but not a lot. In July of 2011, we deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. He was my boss. My life went to hell. He repeatedly harassed and assaulted me. At one point, the Commander asked me what was wrong, and I said nothing. He found out that I had been taking the anxiety medicine, and didn’t tell him. I was punished for it. That is when things got very bad. Once he knew I was under the limelight, things got much worse. One night, he locked me in a tent, and raped me repeatedly for hours. I went back to my tent where I was living, and I broke. Everything from the last two years just came up, and I was very close to committing suicide. Thank God my roommate came in, and saw me. I told her a little of what had happened. She went and reported it right away. I was called into the Commanders office a little bit later, and as I walked in, the first thing he said was that he did not believe me. I had already lied to him about the medicine, so he said I had no integrity. I tried to tell him what had happened, and he rolled his eyes at me. I told him he assaulted me at work, and his reply was “are you sure he was not just having you do your job?” I walked out. Then they called the chaplain, and brought me to the hospital. I told them I did not want to file a report, because I was scared. The doctor told me the only way to get out of the situation was to be medevaced back to the U.S. So that is what I did. Once here, they assigned me to a warrior transition unit. It was the most embarrassing, degrading thing I have had to go through. When the time was right, and after hearing that he was going on leave and coming after me, I went to the police and filed a report. It was the hardest thing I have ever done. I went to an inpatient treatment facility for PTSD, as suicide was the only option that I could even think was an option. Another miracle, that place really helped. They helped me to understand that I did nothing wrong, and it was him that did everything wrong. I let so much guilt go while I was there. Once I got back, the same things started happening all over again. People were making up rumors that it was I was lying, and just a bad Soldier. After a couple months, I met my prosecution team. Two weeks later, they flew me from Missouri to South Carolina to testify against him. I had to walk though the door into a room, full of men, and also with him. I had a mental breakdown. They literally had to pull me into the room. When the defense started asking me questions, he called me a liar, and said I was known to lie, as I had not disclosed I was on this medication. I could hear the piece of shit that did this to me laugh as I cried and sobbed and tried to make my way through the hearing. Everyone in the room was on his side. I felt like I was the one on trial, not him. It was awful. It was like reliving the experiences he put me through all over again. Everything I learned at the inpatient facility was gone. I was back in the victim mode, thinking I deserved it, and I was the one who asked for it. The investigating officer asked me several times why I did not report it. I really didnt have an answer to give him. He told me that there was not one person who would have went through what I did and not report it for so long. He told me he thought I was lying. This went on for two days straight, 12 hours a day. And it is not done. I still have to go to a court martial, where once again I have to look at this bastard smile and tell my story all over again. He was able to pick the jurors. Of his peers. All men. That is his right in the Army. I have no say, no voice. I feel like I am about to break every second of every day. I don’t know what to do with myself. I go to therapy, but nothing helps. Everyone says how strong I am, that I stood up, and I came forward. But in all honesty, it is the worst decision I have ever made. If I could take it back, I would. My career is over. Everything I have worked so hard for is gone. They are discharging me, not by my choice, but because I suffer from PTSD, and I cant be around the military. That is what they said. I had no say. So now, I am just miserable, and feel like my life is over. All because some asshole held a knife to my throat, and raped me over and over again. And nobody in the Army has my back. The friends I thought I had are gone. They don’t want to get their hands dirty with this mess. And the worst thing is, if I had a female ask me if she should come forward and report, I would tell her hell no. Not if you want the next two years of your life to be living hell. The Army is broken, and broken bad. The Government needs to understand what is going on in the ranks, but they don’t want to. They don’t want this problem. And it happens every single day. So, that is my story. I just wanted to share, in any kind of hope I could help any other female that has questions, or concerns, or doesn’t know what to do. I wish I had somebody grab me by the hand and help, but I didn’t. If anything good can come out of this, that is it. Thank you for letting me share my story.