R Words

I follow misslisted, who is an honest, evocative writer. She inadvertently prompted me to write about something that is commonly considered, painfully, private. In today’s political climate it is a dirty, shameful, degenerate, character flaw. I was raped.

Thirty-four years ago, when I was 16 years old, I was at a party, at a camp, on a lake, out in the middle of the woods. It was early spring so it was still quite chilly. I wore work boots, blue jeans, and a big, old, athletic-gray, hooded sweatshirt.

I wasn’t exactly drunk though I had been drinking, smoking pot too. It was late and I was ready to go home. My friend Melvin was leaving with his older brother Johnny, so I asked them if I could ride back to town with them. We all piled in to Johnny’s big, boaty, Buick and headed toward town.

Heading toward town, in rural America, does not mean you will take the shortest route from point A to point B. It means you will take side roads and dirt roads in an effort to avoid the cops and get home without an OUI. It wasn’t odd that we took a dirt road. It wasn’t unusual that we stopped for a minute by the side of the road, out in the middle of nowhere.

I was alarmed when I landed in the back seat, on my back. I was exposed and afraid when my jeans were yanked unceremoniously down to my work boots. I began crying and screaming in desperation, squirming and thrashing, trying to get away.

Johnny clamped his hand over my mouth. I couldn’t breathe. I bit the sonofabitch. He hit me in the face, hard. I shut my mouth and I did not resist further. I could not accept what was happening to me or understand why it was happening.

When it was over and Johnny had tucked his teeny-tiny-tallywhacker (yes, it was that small, the smallest in human history) back in his pants, they took me back to town.

I did not go home. One does not want to hurt one’s mother with the truth of rape. I went to an older, female friend’s house. She called the sheriff’s department. A deputy met us at the ER. I had the rape kit. The nurse held my hand.

The deputy was the nicest man you’d ever want to meet. I didn’t pretend I was a virgin and he didn’t treat me like a slut. He had blue eyes and white hair. He must’ve been about 45. He told me his daughters were older than me. He said that no means no. We had a long talk about what I could expect from a court proceeding. He stressed that it was my decision, I should think about it and talk with my mother.

I was afraid to go to court where I’d be portrayed as a tramp, who had her butt stuck up in the air, begging for it, like an alley cat in heat. That nice deputy stopped in to see me, at home, a few times. Johnny knew I’d gone to the police. He drove past my house with a loaded gun. He told people he was going to shoot me. I was afraid to be home alone.

I don’t recall how it evolved but I confided in the deputy that I had witnessed a different crime, committed prior to the rape. Johnny happened to be at the crime scene so, by some miraculous application of the law, he was an accomplice. I did not hold back.

Johnny and another man went to trial that same year. I got right up on the witness stand and I testified against them. I pointed them out for the court to see. I looked Johnny dead in the eye. I was not afraid. I felt slight regret regarding his friend; he was collateral damage. I hope Johnny thought of me every day that he spent in prison. I hope he hated every minute of it.

That should have been the end of that, and it was, for thirty-four years.

A few months ago, a, very young, woman called me crying.                                                            “I have to tell you something, my mom is gonna be mad.” She cried so hard, I was afraid she’d hyperventilate.
I knew.
“I can’t help you until you tell me what’s wrong. Stop crying, Sweetie; breathe.”
“I was raped.”
I knew.

She told me, the police came. They did not follow the rape protocol. There was no female in attendance, no visit to the ER, no rape kit. There was a lot of talk about the perpetrator spending a long time in jail, about his life being ruined, and about it being close to shift change and the cops not wanting to stay over to write reports. There was a three hour interrogation when an innocent, very young, woman was not allowed to go to the bathroom. Finally she said, “I just want to go home. I want to see my mom.” She signed a release and she left her rights behind her. I would have done the same thing.

Here we are, 34 years later. My mother’s generation fought for ERA and we’re still defining women’s rights; signing the Lilly Ledbetter Act, allowing women equal value with commensurate pay in the workplace; still fighting over a woman’s RIGHT to choose.

I don’t believe in god. I especially don’t believe in a right wing, neocon, Republican god, who will pass judgment on women, decreeing that rape is somehow divine and conception, as the product of rape, is the second coming of Christ.

If you haven’t been raped, you don’t know what you’d do. It’s more than likely you’d do what you could to survive. You wouldn’t be squeezing the scrotum, you wouldn’t be sticking your thumbs in eyeballs, you’d be wondering how in the hell a nice girl like you ended up in a place like this.

Elections are not referendums on the past, they are referendums on the future. We can change the future for women in this country.

Protect your mother, your sisters, your daughters, your nieces, your wives, girlfriends and grannys- VOTE.

Vote against rape. Vote to support women. Vote for Obama.

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About elroyjones

Married, no children, responsibly self-directed, living happily.
This entry was posted in Politics and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

89 Responses to R Words

  1. oh wow…if I was there, I would xx

    • elroyjones says:

      It doesn’t bother me for myself after all this time. I rarely mention or think of it. I cannot believe that, here in the heart of democracy and human rights, women continue to be oppressed. Obviously, I’m not a man hater, I have a marvelously spoiled husband whom I would not trade for anything. It is infuriating to see what some women refuse to see, there is a subversive movement to subjugate women in this country so we will just shut up.
      Thank you for your sweet thought.

      • I’m glad that it doesn’t bother you for you – and that you’re a strong advocate.
        Recently our Prime Minister made a great speech for women, google Julia Gillard misogynist if you’d like to hear it, and newsreaders and others are speaking out strongly…

      • elroyjones says:

        Googling immediately!

      • elroyjones says:

        This is my favorite part-
        For 20 years I have called myself a feminist. I believe in a fundamental tenet so blindingly obvious that it is almost insulting to write it down – simply, women are as capable as men across all spheres of human endeavour, and that society should ensure an equality of access and reward (by which I mean pay) for these endeavours. Where society has failed to ensure this in the past, it has an obligation to redress the balance in the future. And because society – whether Australian, British or other – has failed in the past to provide this level of access and equality, a movement has been necessary to press for its provision in the future. That movement is called feminism and those who agree with that tenet are, broadly speaking, and whether male or female, feminists.

  2. Peggy says:

    You are 100% correct. We should never, ever deny our feminist forebearers after all they had to do to get us to this point. I went to the Women’s Museum in Seneca Falls recently. It was very moving and we should never forget how hard the women’s movement worked on our behalf. Same goes for the women who went to jail for handing out literature on family planning. I am not a man-hater either but I don’t understand why so many of them just don’t get it. Your post is very brave. Thank you for posting it.

    • elroyjones says:

      We will lose every gain we have made if we don’t remain vigilant. I don’t know if I am as brave as I am defiant. It took me a long time to write this post. I had to clear out all the references to pig-fuckers, a descriptive, all-purpose word that I was sorry to cut. I’m 50, it’s part of the past.

  3. This just makes me want to kill the guy… and maybe cry… and be ashamed to be a man. That took guts. Good job. Good post.

    • elroyjones says:

      I’ve been thinking about it since my young friend called me but I wasn’t sure what context I should use. Misslisted unwittingly pointed me in the right direction, offered encouragement, and gave me the support I needed to tell it like it was.
      I have always been a huge fan of guts, I am genuinely flattered that you think I have them.

      • You certainly do — one of the bravest pieces of writing I’ve seen in a long time. And a great vocabulary too. Now I can guess what you called Bloomberg.

      • elroyjones says:

        Thank you, Your Czarness. It’s really the comments that get to the heart of the story.

      • You should never be ashamed of being victimized by someone stronger than you. It just makes me sad and angry.

      • elroyjones says:

        I don’t feel like a victim. Maybe because my life has made me happy and I’m smart enough to recognize happiness when I find it…oh yeah, and I didn’t get sent to prison by a sixteen year old girl. I won. But I know what you mean about how it makes you sad, thank you. If you were really sad, you’d acknowledge that I am The Supreme Ruler.

      • That is a low blow. Fine, you can be in charge of this dimension, I still rule all the countless others…ha.

  4. misslisted says:

    Well, you know how I feel. I will be posting tomorrow. I told my family, and of course they were sad and protective and loving and encouraging. Man, the part that kills me is keeping it in and how much that hurt me. Anyway… thank you for your courage and your righteousness and for being a stellar, brave friend. xo Chris

    • elroyjones says:

      This wouldn’t have happened in quite this way if not for YOU. I’m having goosebumps over your family’s reaction. I want people to know about this, I want women to understand that it’s okay to cope in any way they have to. As my young friend said to me, “It wasn’t like CSI.” I will be reading tomorrow, and hanging on every word just like I always do. Chris, thank you.

  5. George says:

    [blowing out a very deep breath]

    Damn . . . I am sorry.

    I applaud you for a courageous and magnificent piece of writing about a sick act and its painful aftermath. I CANNOT imagine how you—and thousands and thousands of women—feel when you listen to sick, old, faux-pious white men preach about the shit you should have to grin and bear because of your gender. To call it “God’s will” is an insult to everyone who believes in a higher power. It makes me sick to think about it.

    Thank you for being strong enough to let the light of day shine on this—and telling folks what they can and should do—vote for Obama—to avoid a return to darker days, of not so long ago, when this violent bullshit was just an accepted fact of life.

    Please accept a virtual hug, my friend!

    • elroyjones says:

      Today we’re all going to take a field trip to visit misslisted to see what she has to say on the subject. She was my inspiration. Thank you for your sensitivity, George.

  6. joehoover says:

    I thought I’d head over after seeing you on Pouringmyartout, this was some introduction, powerful writing of your awful experience. It is incredible you were brave enought to deal with it how you did, and incredible in other ways that someone today is treated in that manner after going through that ordeal. I’m quite speechless, it just beggers belief that it is still not looked at by all quarters as the heinous crime it is.

    I recall being with friends before George W Bush was elected and she was saying how she would leave the country if he gets voted in (we are all in England) at the time I was too busy being wasted to consider anything outside my bubble and especially in politics, in hindsight and after growing up it may have been an exaggeration but still a valid point that whoever runs America has a bearing on the rest of the world aswell.

    I’ll be keeping my fingers firmly crossed in the coming week

    • elroyjones says:

      Hi joehoover, thanks so much for coming over. I don’t always post on such serious subjects but with this election gravity is required. You flatter America when you say that our leader still has a bearing on the rest of the world. I would like to believe that we will someday return to being an example for the rest of the world but presently there is a LOT of work to do to restore the damage done by W.
      Thank you for your kind comments regarding my experience. I am not as brave as I am defiant. I want other women to understand that all coping mechanisms are acceptable, that no one deserves to be forced to do something against their will, ever. I was very lucky that the stars aligned the way they did, allowing me to seek retribution. I got, what most women never do- even!
      You are welcome and encouraged to look around here, often I have a very good time living my happy little life.

  7. Pingback: A difficult story to tell… « misslisted

  8. Thank you for being so strong and sharing your story. I would like to be able to say I am surprised that the system failed that young girl who came to you, but I’m not. It’s a huge shame in this country.

    Again, thank you for sharing (and for voting for Obama)!

    • elroyjones says:

      I am voting for Obama and I am voting for Marriage Equality. I demand that all people be afforded the same civil rights and securities I enjoy under the LAW.
      Thank you for taking the time to comment. We are strong together.

  9. becca3416 says:

    Wow, I usually stay out of politics, but this post made me want to use my vote more than ever.

  10. judithatwood says:

    I hope people are listening!

  11. hebe in dc says:

    So moved by your post. I have much admiration for you.

    • elroyjones says:

      Thank you. At 16, I wasn’t nearly as outspoken and irreverent as I am today. My hope in airing this nasty business is that other women, young and old, will feel better about themselves and recognize that someone else’s bad behavior is not a reflection of their integrity and value as a human being. Bad things happen to good people. Thank you for reading and commenting.

  12. Stephanie says:

    Just a wonderful post. Thank you.

  13. Radhika Budhwar says:

    It was brave of you then, you’re brave now. Thank you!

  14. snehalsahay says:

    Dont have word…dont want to like it either…
    A big salute for you! Being a girl, I can feel what you must have felt..but dont want to imagine…it hurts…and here in India, girls are normally(98%) blamed for them… 😦
    dont know how people can be soo…crap..
    A huge huge hug…wanna cry my eyes out….

  15. everlastingstudent says:

    Here in GB we are witnessing a scandal involving celebrities who for years got away with abusing children and the culture of silence that occured around such events. It has had an effect of bringing out into the open many who were sexually abused as children, I hope this has a beneifical effect for our society.

    There needs to be a culture change in order to protect vunerable people from sexual predators, and this needs to be at all levels of society.

  16. Dounia says:

    Very powerful post, and it’s so sad how these situations are often dealt with. I can’t believe the things that are being said about rape in politics these days – I don’t get worked up easily, but those comments make me so angry. I feel like we’re going backwards instead of forwards. I’ll be voting on Tuesday, and I know how important this election is for so many and for our future.

    Thank you for sharing such a painful experience – I’m sure your words will help many women who have very unfortunately been through such an ordeal.

  17. la-vandala-abusiva says:

    Thank you for sharing.

  18. kuzinc says:

    Very powerful post! Thank you for sharing. I’m not American but I would vote with you if I could.

  19. iRuniBreathe says:

    I have come over to your post and story vis MissListed. I am glad you told your story, and such a strong one at that. Your courage to speak up and encourage others to be heard is inspiring. What happened to you is never right, and never okay. I am grateful to hear your heart is healing as you encourage others to be as brave as you.
    With gratitude.

    • elroyjones says:

      Thank you for your affirmation. I was one of the fortunate few. I was able to get justice. I am at a loss as to why people think I am brave but I suspect that society here in America, and seemingly everywhere in the world, has allowed the blame to be placed squarely on the victim’s shoulders. I knew the man who attacked me, I believed I was safe because I was with people known to me. I wasn’t brave.
      The only message I have is that girls/women do not need to suffer misplaced guilt for being attacked and any reaction they take in that attack is the right reaction as long as they survive.

      • iRuniBreathe says:

        I agree with your perception: most of society world-wide has taken the approach that the victim is to blame. Perhaps this was rational thinking at some point.
        I think the bravery is in speaking out, but also exposing yourself to the feelings, fears, and frustrations yet again. Re-living something so traumatic and unjust can not be easy, and I feel that it’s bravery (or willingness) to go through this process.

  20. My wife went through something similiar—long-term by an older (half) brother—which seemed to be swept under the rug by her family for decades. But I think you misjudge Romney. But see your friend’s blog for a fuller comment from me. bythemightymumford.wordpress.com. —Jonathan Caswell

    • elroyjones says:

      Thank you for your comment. I have not misjudged Romney. I have taken the time to review what he has to offer and there is nothing there that appeals to me.

      Obama believes women are equal to men and should enjoy that equality under the law. He believes in a woman’s innate sovereignty over her own body. He has earned my vote.

  21. Pingback: Teachable Moment – Rape « Sisters of Christ

  22. You are incredibly brave for sharing your story. I think the more we talk about it, the better it is for future victims (or even non victims because the crime will occur less often.)

    • elroyjones says:

      We can only hope that the crime will occur less often. I am not brave, I did the best I could to make it through a frightening experience. Thank you for commenting.

  23. Thank you sooo much for sharing this with us. I can’t even comprehend what you must have gone through. I applaud your courage for doing what you did, and looking him in the eye while doing it. You have no idea how much reading this has helped.

    • elroyjones says:

      I hope it did help. To be honest, it was an unfortunate footnote in what has become a very happy life. At the time, because I was so young, it was horrendous but life has confirmed what I’ve always believed- people are mostly good and decent. Thank you for reading.

  24. jessmittens says:

    A thousand yes’ to vote against rape / for Obama. A thousand genuine sorry’s. And a thousand bouts of anger for how police handle rape today.
    A case I know of currently has been treated as a dirty joke where the man is the victim and the crazy women are trying to vindictively punish him when he’s a good guy. The cops are acting lazy, and won’t go the extra mile.

    It’s enough to drive a woman mad.
    I get too choked up on anger to speak about the whole ‘rape culture’ clearly, but it’s tough. Bloody tough.
    Thank you for sharing your story; if more people get angry, we might get somewhere.

  25. Hope G. Miller RN BSN CP-CA SANE says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. I am a SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner) and I live and work in a border city of about 750,000 people. I am appalled and ashamed that your friend had such a horrible experience after suffering such a life altering and horrible experience. Unfortunately, since nurses specially trained in forensic evidence collection and care of victims is still relatively new (or non-existent) in many places the collection of evidence is left to ER departments and nurses who may or may not have any training or experience. And many times it will mean that they are leaving another nurse to care for twice as many patients while they do the exam and paperwork involved which can take several hours. When I first started as an ER nurse years ago the hospital I was working at had the contract with the city to do all the sexual assault exams and so anyone who made an outcry was brought to that hospital to have the evidence collection kit and report done. At that time our training consisted of watch one, do one and then train the next person or (even worse) read the instructions in the box. Thankfully, over the years the need for SANE nurses and the growing knowledge that there even is such a thing has come to the forefront and we now have several in the city. There is still red tape involved at times between us and a certain police department but overall things have improved by leaps and bounds for victims in this community. Not only is the exam paid for by the police department but the patient/victim has access to preventive medications, follow up/testing for STD’s and counseling all at no cost to them. The reason why I wanted to mention all this here is because one of my roles as a nurse is to educate. When people know that there is such a thing as a SANE they will know that it is to their benefit to ask/demand to be examined and have evidence collected by a SANE if there is one in their community.

  26. speaker7 says:

    Yes, this is the reality. The more we diminish women, the more we think women are less than, the more we promote a fetus over a women, the easier it is to disregard women as people. The men in power today who feel no shame making the most lunatic remarks about rape should be put in some comparable situation to have a taste of the real world.

  27. Dani Heart says:

    Heartbreaking and informative blog. Kudos to you for being brave enough to write this.

  28. magik says:

    Hats off to you, for penning down your story. I’m not an American, but I hope Obama wins. I hope. 🙂

  29. Ann says:

    I’m not American – I’m sitting across the world in a little country called New Zealand, aghast at the movement to control women’s reproductive rights in your country, as if women were children too stupid to know what’s good for them. It scares me and I don’t understand why women are not protesting in droves about it. If it happened here, we’d be marching on Parliament, but then we have a different style of government, a single federal one, without states, which perhaps makes it simplier to combat.

    • elroyjones says:

      Obama won, so for the moment, we women are safe. We lack the initiative an imagination to protest and demonstrate. It’s disgraceful.

      • Ann says:

        I thought that existing legislation was already clamping down on women’s rights to control their bodies, such as via funding cuts and restrictions to the family planning agency? I find it hard to believe in 2012 that abortion is hard to come by in some states. While Todd Akin may have been defeated, I find it alarming that he could actually continue to run after such ill-advised, ignorant comments.

      • elroyjones says:

        Planned Planning remains funded; there have been some budget cuts but we are in the midst of a global economic crisis. I am sure there are states where abortion is difficult to access BUT our physicians cannot be forced to perform abortions. Mind you I am solidly ProChoice but I do not believe doctors should be forced to perform a procedure that compromises their personal convictions. Todd Akin is a moron who is barely smart enough to breathe. He ran without party support. In elections across the country Americans made their voices heard, Democracy is not for Sale for any amount of money- The People prevailed.

  30. Ann says:

    Fair enough; sometimes it’s hard to see what’s going on in a country from the outside looking in.

  31. Pingback: Saluting the braveness « Sapna's Blog

  32. Great post! Thank you for sharing your story!
    I really liked where you wrote that unless you have been in that position you don’t know what you would have done. I certainly didn’t.
    I wondered that exact thing 2 years ago- how did I end up there? When I protested to the guy attempts to kiss me, I only watched shocked as the other guy in the room who I thought was a friend walked out and locked the door. What the hell was going on? Mind you, I did try to hit him. Few times. But after that only seemed to make him angry, so angry that he broke a chair, I knew I had to find a way to survive.
    So thank you for this story.
    greetings, Atlanta

    • elroyjones says:

      It’s important that we break the cycle of blame and allow ourselves to react in ways that are reasonable to what is a hate crime. Men who rape women hate women; if it can’t be successfully prosecuted as rape perhaps the time has come to try another approach.

  33. eof737 says:

    Ignorance about rape and its impact on the lives of its victims has no place in American society or any society for that matter. Your brave story adds to the body of work that should be required reading for all of us but especially for those who seek public office; politicians, law enforcement and the rest of us. I applaud you for sharing your story… {{{Hugs}}}
    Eliz

  34. Okelle says:

    Thank you for taking the time to share your own story about this important issue. It takes both courage and strength to discuss experiences like these in a public forum and it’s clear that you have both in spades. I feel privileged to be part of your audience.

    • elroyjones says:

      Okelle, thank you for reading. I do not feel that I am particularly courageous but I found a lot of strength in defiance and it has continued to serve me well. I’m always happy to see your comments.

  35. Bashar A. says:

    Eloquently put… I can’t vote as I’m Canadian but I’m sure happy with the outcome.
    You are brave for sharing your story, I hope you’ll inspire more victims to be strong.

    Hugs from San Diego 🙂

  36. John Coles says:

    You and misslisted brought me to tears. I’m researching a book for women’s self defence which uniquely looks at our evolved responses to a threat. Understanding those will, I hope, help us all deal with these issues, in both prevention and control as they now say in injury science. I want to explain that nature endowed us all with a survival mechanism that was selected for in nature because it conferred a survival advantage on an individual. Nature truly loves us and only wants us to survive. Human’s judge, and judge the manner in which we survive, which then results in additional trauma. Human’s judge the manner in which we survive by judging other parties, but more destructively, they judge themselves. I think of the scene in A Few Good Men where Jack Nicholson’s character fired back at Tom Cruise’s character: ‘I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said thank you, and went on your way, Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon, and stand a post. Either way, I don’t give a damn what you think you are entitled to.’ I see Nature as saying that to human’s who question the manner in which we, you, misslisted, survived.

  37. Pingback: Teachable Moment – Rape | Growl for Justice

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