Category Archives: Rape

More Than Words……Silence Speaks Volumes

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I’ve been keeping somewhat quiet on social media and in general about everything going on with the election. I will be the first to tell you that I am NOT a very politically minded person. I don’t know a lot about politics (much to the chagrin of my politically charged boyfriend lol) and I’m ok with that honestly. I know enough to make an informed decision and what I don’t know, I research and track down appropriate information so that I am more aware of the issues and what possible concerns there are.

BUT, with all that being said, in light of all the news surrounding Donald Trump and his recent recording that has been released and now the subsequent number of women coming forward to prove that what he SAID in that recording are much more than “just” words, but it’s proving to be ACTIONS. I think what is bothering me most, actually, what I KNOW that’s bothering me most, is how people, men AND women, are casting doubt on and shifting blame to the women that are coming forward with their harrowing tales of being sexually assaulted and molested by Donald Trump.

I am APPALLED that anyone would do this. I’m also not ignorant and am fully cognoscente of the fact that rape culture is alive and real, and harmful as all get out. Now, so many conservatives (a group I once aligned myself too adamantly) deny that rape culture exists. They cast a shadow over the whole concept of rape culture. I grew up in this mindset surrounding me and it’s destroying so many people around us.

Here’s what I posted on Facebook the other day and even now, it makes me upset!

Rape Culture doesn’t always equal the specific act of rape. Rape Culture is an environment in which rape is prevalent and in which sexual violence against women is normalized and excused in the media and popular culture. Rape culture is a term that was coined by feminists in the United States in the 1970’s. It was designed to show the ways in which society blamed victims of sexual assault and normalized male sexual violence.

This is all I’m going to say about Trump’s words and actions that have come to light from 10+ years ago. And if you are going to comment and defend him or excuse his words and actions as “typical locker room banter”, don’t bother because this is my page and I’m saying how I feel about it. Like it, love it, hate it, I don’t care.

As a survivor of sexual assault, rape, I can say without question that his words are very much part of rape culture. No, what he said and his conversation did not specifically state that he raped anyone. That’s not the point that I’m getting at. And while I may be more “sensitive” to his words and actions based on my history, it’s in no way lessening what he said and in all honesty, is creating a culture that has become desensitized to such terrible behavior.

What his words DO say to me is that it’s OK for men to treat women like a piece of meat. It’s OK for men to dominate women and “take what they want” regardless of what a woman says. It’s OK to use any public clout or professional standing to take advantage of a woman. It’s OK to repeatedly chase married women and use money and gifts and whatever other means they have to physically use them.

What he said is lewd and awful and very much degrading to females. Sure, guys talk crass. Women talk crass. No one is exempt from lousy behavior and saying things that they probably shouldn’t. But his words of abusive actions and sexual predator type behavior is unacceptable, for anyone to say, let alone someone who is supposed to be an example of what the USA stands for as a president.

Yes, I know past presidents have done worse. I know that Bill Clinton was impeached based on his sexual actions while in the White House. I’m not excluding him from this either. BUT, he’s also not running for president. Yes, his wife is, and I know that she’s done some pretty terrible things in her political lifespan, but when it comes down to it, Trump is the one under the microscope. Trump is the one that said such lewd and crass things that absolutely perpetuate rape culture. He might not have raped any of these women he so loosely talked about with no thought of a conscience (which I honestly doubt he has) but he sure as hell is contributing to the current downward spiral of our present day rape culture.

So please, stop excusing his words and actions. Stop saying it’s just normal for men to talk like that, because if that’s the type of company you keep, you need to take a deep look inside yourself to examine your associations. If a boy or man was saying this about YOUR daughter or wife or sister or cousin or ANYONE, would you excuse it? Would you give him a pass because that’s “normal” conversations? I should hope not! If my sons EVER said anything remotely like what Trump said, you better believe we’d be having a major heart to heart, no matter how old they are.

Why would you defend this man and give him a pass on this morally degrading conversation that he so freely had without even pause? Rape culture is real. Rape culture has taken over our country and it needs to stop. It needs to come to the forefront of our country and not be excused, ever. When are we going to take a stand to destroy this awful behavior? God help us.

As a survivor of rape, and one that was not able to come forward about what happened to me for some time, I can fully understand why this is coming out now. Yes, there could be some politically motivated angst in the delay in coming forward with their stories, but as a survivor myself, there is a time and a place to vet out the stories. Flat out refusing to believe a woman about their assault or rape is downplaying anything that happened to them. It’s victim blaming and shaming and it needs to stop.

My story was published in the Cincinnati Enquirer on January 29,2016. You can read the article in its entirety HERE – Breaking My Silence: A Rape Survivor’s Story. But here’s a few excerpts that are really bringing it home for me:

“I was ashamed of what happened to me. I was afraid of what others would say. I was sure that my family and friends would stonewall me. I distanced myself from my strict upbringing because I thought there would be no support. When I needed it most, I was sure it would fail me as it had others before.”

Exactly this…women do not come forward because of the fact that in some circles, more circles it seems like these days, the women will be blamed for allowing it to happen, or for causing the man to stumble, or for tempting the man, etc.

“Maybe all these women finally found a support system that builds them up and embraces them, instead of tearing them down and belittling them regardless of what may have occurred. Maybe these women have finally found their strength to come forward, because they now have an avenue to voice their secret. Regardless of their reasoning, their silence does not in any way negate the circumstances or their story.

I can only speak for myself and what I know without a doubt, that in the midst of the pain and awful turmoil and the hurt, I found a voice that I didn’t know existed. I found the strength and courage to speak out against this depraved act that was carried out against me. I discovered that I was not alone and that there were others out there that could relate to and support me.

No amount of time or silence could change what happened to me. I pray that no one ever has to go through what I went through – what many millions of others have gone through. I can only hope that the women who have been unable to speak of these actions will finally find their voice and the healing that comes from breaking the silence.”

Silence speaks volumes sometimes, as we are finding out now with all these stories coming out now.

So many comments on several social media platforms are making my blood boil this morning and there is no excuse for Donald Trumps words and his now apparent actions. This isn’t locker room banter. This isn’t just words or guy talk. This is far beyond that and it’s perpetuating sexual assault and attempting to normalize it and brush it off. I for one, will not stand for this, and neither should anyone else. Quit dismissing it and blaming the women or the “Liberals” for being sensitive. Yes, I’m sensitive about this (I’m not categorizing myself as a Liberal either) because as a woman, no, not just as a woman but as a HUMAN BEING, we should not be subjected to this type of behavior, ever, by anyone.

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Breaking My Silence – A Rape Survivor’s Story

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Breaking My Silence – A Rape Survivor’s Story

As published in the Cincinnati Enquirer on 1/31/16 – http://www.cincinnati.com/story/opinion/contributors/2016/01/29/breaking-silence-rape-survivors-story/79525890/

So many people are doubting Bill Cosby’s accusers’ because they waited so long to tell their stories. And in reading those, I can’t help but look back to the five years I waited to speak up about my rape.

I was 20 years old. I was home for a year on a break from college and went on a date with a man I had just met. We went to the movies and then went for a drive afterward to get some coffee. We ended up in a secluded place and before I knew what was happening and despite my insistence that this was not what I wanted, he overpowered me. He took something very precious to me, something I intended to save for marriage.

This man raped me.

I was numb. I don’t remember how I got home. I sat in my driveway in a fog, wondering what I did to cause this. Thinking back to the night, and replaying every word of our conversation. I was intent on figuring out how I caused this to happen. I wasn’t dressed inappropriately. I wasn’t flirty. I didn’t “entice” him. But yet, I was focused on how this was my fault.

I grew up in a very religious home. We started attending church when I was 2 years old, and we attended three to four times a week. My sister and I attended the Christian school at the church. As a strict Bible-believing congregation and family, abstinence was preached from the pulpit quite regularly. Sex before marriage was a disgrace in the eyes of the Lord.

As teenage girls growing up in the church and youth group, we were reminded consistently that we as females had to guard ourselves. That we had to not cause the young men around us to stumble and fall into sin. We are responsible for our attire and actions, lest what we wear on a given day or say in a certain conversation would be the reason a boy had impure thoughts.

That’s a lot to take on as a prepubescent teenage girl. That’s a lot of responsibility to take on for someone that was in such a sheltered atmosphere. If a male sinned in a sexual manner, much of the blame was put upon the girls.

After my rape, all those church lessons flooded back to me. I believed that I somehow was the cause of this, and I couldn’t tell anyone. I had seen how my church had handled previous sexual attacks and turned the blame to the female. I saw how the church disciplined their members when this happened, and I was not about to let that happen to me. I would bury this deep inside. I would pretend that none of this happened. I would never speak of this to anyone, and keep living my life.

But, unfortunately, something this tragic and painful is not easy to keep silent. I was not only physically harmed, but my psyche was destroyed. I began to withdraw. I doubted all good intentions from anyone. I was angry. A lot. Everyone thought I was just being rebellious and running from my church upbringing. And in reality, I was trying to hide from it all.

I was ashamed of what happened to me. I was afraid of what others would say. I was sure that my family and friends would stonewall me. I distanced myself from my strict upbringing because I thought there would be no support. When I needed it most, I was sure it would fail me as it had others before.

I lived my life for five years. I attended a Christian college and started to become the “super” Christian. I thought that by doing this, I would somehow feel a weight lifted, that I would feel whole again.

I didn’t.

I just became more and more guilty. So, I buried my secret deeper and became someone I didn’t even recognize. This secret was eating me alive, and eventually I knew that I had to say something. I had to break my silence, before my silence broke me.

I apprehensively told some counselors at the Christian college that I was attending about my rape. The reaction was mixed. Some sympathized with me, some questioned how I let that happen. I decided then that I had to leave that school.

It wasn’t until I was gone, far from the religious atmosphere, that I began to question everything I was once taught. I learned the difference between being religious and having a relationship with God. It was then that I started to feel the proverbial weight being lifted.

I finally told my family, slowly. It was hard, it was painful, but I gradually began to experience true freedom. The pain that ate at me for years was starting to heal.

My attacker was never charged or convicted. I didn’t even know his last name. It was my first date with him, and I never saw him again. But even so, I can’t help but wonder what would have happened if I spoken up sooner. If I had the support that I needed to get through this awful situation, would I have been in a different place in my life? Would I have been a different person than I am now?

I eventually went through counseling and saw a therapist for a while to help guide me through the journey ahead. I still have trust issues. I still have flashbacks to that night. I have lost a lot of memories from my childhood and much of my adulthood, but that one memory is still as vivid as it is painful.

I can fully understand why some of Cosby’s accusers took years to speak up. Maybe all these women finally found a support system that builds them up and embraces them, instead of tearing them down and belittling them regardless of what may have occurred. Maybe these women have finally found their strength to come forward, because they now have an avenue to voice their secret. Regardless of their reasoning, their silence does not in any way negate the circumstances or their story.

I can only speak for myself and what I know without a doubt, that in the midst of the pain and awful turmoil and the hurt, I found a voice that I didn’t know existed. I found the strength and courage to speak out against this depraved act that was carried out against me. I discovered that I was not alone and that there were others out there that could relate to and support me.

No amount of time or silence could change what happened to me. I pray that no one ever has to go through what I went through – what many millions of others have gone through. I can only hope that the women who have been unable to speak of these actions will finally find their voice and and the healing that comes from breaking the silence.

Assistance after rape

After a sexual assault, those who have been attacked have a number of options:

• Anyone in immediate danger should call 911

• Local 24-hour hotline: 513-381-5610

• Toll-free hotline: 877-889-5610

Hotline counselors can provide information about a range of assistance options.

If a friend or relative confides having been attacked, the first, most important thing for them to hear is: “I believe you, and it’s not your fault,” according to Women Helping Women’s Kristin Shrimplin.

Bracing for the Storm

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I feel as though I should preface everyone about my upcoming article in the Cincinnati Enquirer. All my previous pieces have been pretty upbeat and what my editor will term, “slice of life” pieces. I’m proud of all my work; I wouldn’t submit them for editorial consideration if I wasn’t. And while I’m usually (or at least attempting to be) an upbeat person and that’s reflected in my writing, there are times when my writing (which is my reality) is not always upbeat. It can be raw and sometimes painful.

My next article being published is one such piece.

This piece touches on a very sensitive topic and it’s not one that I take lightly. To me, it’s not a joking matter, and while it can still technically be considered a ‘slice of life’ piece, it’s not a slice of life that I want anyone to have to suffer through.

My next article is on the topic of rape, specifically my rape that happened almost 17 years ago.

Some of you may already know about this in my life, but many do not. And it’s not because I don’t want to or can’t talk about it. Quite the opposite. I don’t like to “be a drag” or a “Debbie downer”, so it’s not a topic that I will go out of my way to talk about for that reason. But it’s a topic that NEEDS to be talked about and people need to know more about it. Not just specifically my story, but so many other victims which have had to keep silent about their story.

I didn’t write my story to gain pity from people or for you to feel sorry for me. I don’t want you to coddle me or treat me any differently now that my story will be out there for everyone to see. What I want is for my story to inspire change. I want my story to give hope to the hopeless, a voice for those who cannot speak, a comfort to those who feel like they are alone. I want a discussion to springboard from this article where people can feel safe from judgment and hatred and blame for coming forward with their life stories. I wasn’t as fortunate so many years ago, and I don’t want people to continue to suffer through this like I did for so long.

So with that being said, please keep an open mind. Please remember that there are so many people that suffer, sometimes silently. There are people that keep a smile on their face, despite what is truly going on in their lives. Remember that everyone is fighting a battle, sometimes visible, but oftentimes invisible, even to those who know us best.

I’m thankful I was able to finally have the courage to tell my story. And while it’s not been a secret story to everyone in my life, it’s now a story that everyone in my life will know. And yes, being that vulnerable is scary. It’s intimidating. But it’s necessary. Sometimes you have to go through the fire and the pain and the torture to find your true self. Without pain and heartache and sorrow, you could never know the depths of love and strength that surrounds you.

One of my favorite quotes says this: “Often it’s the deepest pain which empowers you to grow into your higher self.” In order for me to learn, and grow, and become a better person, sometimes I have to go through the pain. But the only way I can do that is if I don’t let that pain and trauma DEFINE me. I can’t let those situations pull me down, never to get back up. Those situations need to become my refining fire. They need to be used as a way to better myself, to find the greatness that can come from within me. I’m stronger than what is challenging me.

I’m not a victim anymore. At the moment of my trauma, I was the victim. But I won’t allow myself to be that person anymore. Telling my story is my way of looking tragedy in the face (so to speak) and saying, “You have NO hold over me. You won’t defeat me. I’m stronger than you.”

And through all that, I’ve found strength immeasurable. On the days I feel I can’t go on, I push harder. In the moments I think that I’m going to lose it, I find it, and then some. When I feel as though I’m a failure and worthless, I look at myself, hard and long, and find that I’m a jewel of rare distinction, and that I have more worth than the pain which tries to tell me otherwise.

And you can too. You aren’t alone. You don’t have to be silent. There is support, everywhere around you. You just have to be willing to step out and ask for it. And that’s why I’m telling my story now. Because I don’t want anyone else to ever have to suffer through life and these trials like I did.

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