Today I read an incredibly moving, powerful and heart-shattering piece of writing. It was a statement that was read to the court by the Emily Doe the pseudonym for the anonymous rape victim who was sexually assaulted by Brock Turner, a former student of Stanford University in America and star swimmer.
The statement detailed her experience upon realising she was sexually assaulted, her unsuccessful attempts to move on and live a normal life again and how she was re-victimised during the trial.
We know that criminal trials are messy, defence attorneys and prosecutors alike choose very vicious strategies and dig up the darkest part of their ‘opponents’ life in order to win the case.
The thing is that the woman did not commit a crime. She was a victim, who like many others before (and after) her was treated as though she was the criminal, as though she had done something wrong. “What was she wearing, why did she drink so much, how many sexual partners has she had?”
She got drunk. Tell me, how does that make it acceptable to rape her? If someone drinks too much and is murdered or is robbed, do we say they were asking for it? Do we say they should have been sober and protected themselves better?
I was not a virgin when I was raped. I was drinking when I was raped. I was wearing jeans and a singlet when I was raped.
It was not my fault that I was raped. I was not asking for it because I had engaged in consensual sex before in my life. I was not asking for it because I was drunk. My jeans were tight and my singlet small. Guess what? I was still not asking for it.
I spent so long – years actually, thinking I was a part of a drunken sexual encounter that just wasn’t great. I thought, ‘well I had too much to drink and I was flirting with boys’ (one, a friend from school and one a stranger to me). So when they came into the room I was passed out in, they began to peel off my clothing and stick their fingers inside of me, it was my fault; I had given them the wrong idea.
Maybe I didn’t make myself clear enough when I would come to and push them off me and repeat the word no over and over again until it was a bad noise stuck in my head for the better of the next year. Maybe they didn’t notice that I was slipping in and out of consciousness. Maybe, just maybe, they thought I was ‘playing along’ when I began to repeatedly hit one of the boys when he jammed his penis down my throat so hard and so deep that I thought I was going to choke to death.
Maybe they didn’t think that to this day, I would look back on that night and sometimes I would wish that I had, in fact died.
The two boys told all of their friends that I had sex with them (consensual of course) and I became known as the school slut who had a threesome. I was known as ‘wild’, I was known as ‘easy’.
In reality, I was suffering. There were so many other details that went into making that the hardest period of my life, not the least of which, the fact that the ‘stranger’ actually dated my best friend for a hot minute there. So, naturally, as high schools work, I lost my entire friendship group for being the ‘slut’ that slept with her ex.
If only she knew how many times I cried so hard I thought I would almost pass out. How many showers I took or how I couldn’t look myself in the mirror without wanting to die.
I was reading about this woman and her trial, yes her rape was more brutal than mine, she had physical damage, she was hospitalised and woke up in hospital the next day. I had no physical damage and I woke up in my rapist's house the next day (he was the one hosting the house party).
I never told anybody what happened to me. I never had the chance to be told that it was rape (it took me four years to figure that out). I didn’t understand why I felt so dirty and why I hated myself so much.
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The boys that raped me high fived each other during it, they said “she’s loving it’ when I was saying no and trying – in vain- to push them off me.
I wish I had the chance to do something about it, I wish I could go back in time and tell my mother the truth. It has honestly taken me up until today to stop justifying their actions, I had already come to terms with the fact that I was assaulted, but I thought that they didn’t know any better. I have believed that they thought it was consensual and that they shouldn’t have been punished for what they did to me when they were teenagers.
I call bullshit on that now.
I often wonder if they ever think about that night, or discuss it with each other. I think about that night almost every day, I cry myself to sleep quite often while reliving that degrading and horrible experience.
I guess the point of all of this is to say: Come forward. The woman in America has been put through hell and back and Brock Turner will spend six months in a cushy, county prison. She may have not gotten the full extent of the justice that she deserved (and that is a whole other story) but she got something.
He will pay, if only so slightly, for what he put her through. Hopefully it sends a message to other young mean – or women – that rape is never, under any circumstances justifiable.
Maybe you won’t cry yourself to sleep as often as I do.
I am so grateful to read the eloquence in which this woman describes her story. I wish it had never happened to her, just like I wish it never happened to me, or to any of us.
It is time that I stop trying to defend the indefensible. The boys that raped me were not confused about consent, they were in no way innocent, and they shouldn’t have gotten away with it.
Just because a stranger didn’t beat you in the streets, or break into your home, it doesn’t mean you weren’t assaulted. If anything like this has ever happened to you, come forward. Say something. Tell a friend or a parent or the police.
If you or a loved one has been sexually abused, Mamamia urges you to contact 1800 RESPECT or visit this website.