When I thought about sitting down and blogging this project, it was quite overwhelming. There are so many pieces to the puzzle, so many stories and reasons behind it. I thought I’d just start out with why I felt compelled to create it, and how it came to be.
Recently I discovered how many women in my life have been sexually assaulted, and it was staggering. Not only the amount of assault, but the true brutality of the attacks completely shocked me. Then I realized, if I come out with my story, it might help other women to realize they are not alone. It’s time to tell.
In 1998 I was sexually assaulted at a party. It was very cliche – way too much to drink, a coworker who took my clothes off and attacked me as I said “No” over and over. Why didn’t I scream? There were people down the hall, so why didn’t I scream? I didn’t tell a soul until I was in group therapy four years ago, and I end-capped the story with, “But it was my fault.” It took them twenty minutes to convince me it was rape, and when I came home I looked up the California rape laws because I was in such denial. Mark came home and I told him what happened and he was upset, saying that guy was raping me and it wasn’t my fault. But still, three years later when I told my best friend, I added, “But it was my fault.” I’ll never forget the look on her face, the horror. The most strait-laced, God-fearing woman I know telling me that NO, it was NOT my fault. It wasn’t until two months ago, when I spoke with an elder in our congregation about the story of Dinah in the Bible, that I realized it wasn’t my fault. I asked him if it was Dinah’s fault that she was raped, because it’s stressed that she was associating with people who were bad. He said although it’s true that if I hadn’t been there, and if I hadn’t been drunk, it wouldn’t have happened, but that does not mean it was my fault. I finally accepted it for what it was, a sexual attack.
Then I started talking to women I know, and realizing how many of them have been sexually assaulted in some way. A particularly horrifying story is that of V, who was living in Hawaii in 1989. While walking home one night she was abducted by five Marines. They gang-raped her and beat her for several hours, causing permanent damage to her face. One of the men kept saying, “I’m so sorry,” and because of his reluctance in the act, she was able to get away. The police said it wasn’t their jurisdiction. The military said they were “good boys,” just far from home, that she was wearing a short skirt and the boys were drunk. All charges were dismissed.
This made me realize how rampant sexual assault really is. In the course of starting this project, I’ve already had one woman reach out to me and tell me that she’d been brutally raped more than once, and the last time she almost died due to internal injuries. Her attackers were never prosecuted. I know of another woman who was traveling on business, had drugs slipped into her drink and her friend’s drink in a bar, and was taken to a hotel and raped by a stranger. Another case that was never prosecuted.
Because many women who have been attacked can’t share their stories publicly, and because I’m strong enough now to do so, maybe I can be a mouthpiece for other women who’ve experienced such horrors. Or maybe a women will read this and realize there is one more person out there who knows how she feels. Either way, I’m tired of pretending it didn’t happen, and I’m tired of hearing of rapists getting away with it.
Stay tuned for more blog posts. I’ll be going into detail about what happened after my attack, including blackmail and the knowledge I’d lose my job if I came forward with sexual harassment charges. I’ll be sharing the collection of photos I created about this subject, as well as stories of other women who have broken though the pain and regained their lives.