I made the mistake during my last year of college of watching a lot of true crime shows on Investigation Discovery. It became a morbid obsession. From that addiction, I developed the nagging belief that everyone in the world that I have not personally met and assessed is a potential a) rapist, b) murderer, or c) child molester. I don't let my kids play in the front yard for the fear that I will be that news story where I "turned away for a minute" and they are gone. I used to keep a very large knife mounted high on my wall next to my front door as my "home security system". I have some pretty extreme issues with crowded places and Chuck E. Cheese freaks me out just as much as it pisses me off. All that being said, the evening news stories just depress or scare the living hell out of me. Unfortunately, that means I now get most of my news from Twitter, The Weather Channel, and Elvis Duran and the Morning Show.
So, no. I hadn't heard about the recent news debacle of demonizing a rape victim and canonizing the boys that raped her in Steubenville. I did see a link posted by Scary Mommy and I went to read it at her request. She is so brave to share her story like this.
It is not an uncommon story. I started writing this post for no other reason than to share her story with others. I didn't start writing this to be brave, but I think I have to.
Because it isn't an uncommon story.
It has varying facets, but it happens all the time.
My facet is different than hers. And it isn't something I have shared with many people. I am 33 years old and I still have shame as I type this. But here goes.
I was 14. I was a virgin. He was much older. Met at a the street carnival for the county fair. He thought I was pretty and I was flattered....and I flirted. I flirted and he pushed my boundaries. Right up until I realized I was in over my head. He was so much bigger than me and when I wanted out of the situation, it was too late. In my head, I heard "You brought this on yourself. Just shut up so he doesn't hurt you." I couldn't tell anyone. Not in that town. Girls that flirt and get attention get what's coming to them. Even smart girls. Even straight A students. It's always the girls' fault.
But it's not. I have lived with this for a very long time because we live in a society where it is the norm to persecute the victim. We live in a society where girls are ashamed to tell anyone that something awful happened to them. It was not my fault. I was a child and he was an adult. But my fear of retribution and scorn allowed him to get away with it. My fear put someone else at risk.
Even now, I am terrified to post this because my parents never knew. I never told them. But this CANNOT continue. This environment of fear and recrimination has to stop! If my story, or her story, can help even ONE GIRL be brave enough to tell an authority what happened to her, then it is worth it. If OUR stories can dispel this gross mistreatment of victims, then my tears at writing it are worth it.
I love you, Mom.
I'm going to go draw a new cartoon and watch horror movies now....