Donald J. Trump has given me reason number 738402836454929874625368490 to be happy that it never occurred to me to vote for him to be the president of this country. He issued yet another tone-deaf tweet today in reference to the allegations made against Brett Kavanaugh, in short, questioning why the assault wasn’t reported by Ms. Christine Blasey Ford immediately following.
I’m not going to get into the nuances of the allegations– you can read that on your own if you are not aware already. I fully admit to being biased to where I typically believe the purported victim, as I can see NO benefits of going forward with such a claim–do people really understand the damage that comes to your life when you do come forward?
If you have even one free moment this evening or anytime this weekend or in the near future, please visit this hashtag, whether you have Twitter (I don’t) or not.
This is one of the times where I feel social media is truly fulfilling what ought to be its ultimate purpose–unifying people around common themes and experiences, good and bad. There are some survivors on that thread who never told anyone about their ordeal.
My experience is not as relevant to the hashtag because as I’ve said on this very blog before, I DID report. And every excuse that could be made to dismiss what my assailant did was presented. To this day, and it has been fifteen years, I am still not confident that I made the right decision to say anything. Why?
- Being shamed after being victimized is like being violated all over again. What were you wearing? (The idea being, of course, that suggestive dress makes it difficult for poor assailants to exhibit the self-control that everyone else in a decent society BUT them is supposed to use).
For the record, I was wearing a long-sleeved black shirt, black pants and black boots. Okay, so the pants were pretty tight. I felt pretty good about myself when I put on the outfit that night. I haven’t seen it since it was confiscated before I had my rape kit examination performed, and I don’t care to.
2. Being blamed for being victimized is just beyond cruel. Well, you had been drinking.
Yep. Extra reason to call it what it was. If someone is passed out drunk most decent people would leave them alone, right? Not a rapist who operates on power and control. But the fact that I was passed out, something S.L. admitted to (those are his initials), only served to show the looseness of MY character. Why do we do this to victims of sexual crimes? Do we tell people who have been robbed or had their homes burglarized that it was their fault? Why with sexual crimes are we so quick to try to dismiss it or deflect from the actual crime? Is it because the perpetrators are overwhelmingly male? Is it because in a lot of cases, evidenced by the stories on the hashtag, that this abuse is taking place in families and we don’t want our dirty family laundry aired? Is it because people truly believe that people in esteemed positions can never be predators? Whatever it is, it is a TRASH mentality and needs to be DUMPED.
3. Having to tell my parents was absolutely awful, even though I knew they would believe me. Imagine not being sure if you would be believed? It was hard enough to face my family knowing they would have my back. A lot of people don’t have that luxury. My parents were devastated. My Dad wanted to kill S.L. and had to be restrained from going to Grand Valley’s campus to do so. I’d left my small town with so much promise and was coming back with a trail of shame and humiliation following. I had failed everybody. As tough and as smart as I thought I was… obviously I had overestimated myself and my abilities or else I wouldn’t have gotten raped, right?
4. I ended up having to leave Grand Valley as a senior and start all over at EMU, pushing me into massive student loan debt. Why? Because Grand Valley would rather have a popular football player there, one who had helped them achieve their first title in years, than little old me, the one who wasn’t a sexual predator but only presided over a volunteer organization for senior citizens, sang in the gospel choir and participated in multiple other volunteer initiatives. After he left willingly to escape the heat (which I’m not convinced wasn’t their plan–to make it look like they were doing something just so things would die down), I was told I’d be informed if he tried to re-enroll. The same day my classes were mysteriously dropped for the first time in four years, I ran into him coming out of the bookstore with a bag of books. I hope you are doing better by your students now, Grand Valley State University, because you CRAPPED on me, and I LOVED it there. I would have represented you well as an alumna.
I can continue, but I’d rather you go and read the hashtag. The stories are not the same, but the feelings that compel silence are. Shame. Guilt. Knowing nothing will be done. Fear of losing status, career, or other components of their livelihood. Having a mother, for the love of GOD, who chose to believe her boyfriend over her child. (Those stories made my blood BOIL). Or the most heartbreaking of the stories, the ones from individuals who were children and didn’t have a complete understanding that they were even being victimized and that it wasn’t their fault.
Think of six women you know. Picture them in your head. Imagine their smiling faces.
Realize that one of them has probably been victim of some form of sexual assault in her lifetime.
Aren’t you angry? Don’t you want her to have a voice? Would you believe her if she told?
After you have visited the hashtag, please consider supporting RAINN and/or signing up for their newsletter. I volunteer for this very worthy organization.