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 can’t help you until you tell me what’s wrong. Stop crying, Sweetie; breathe.”
“I was raped.”
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.