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Steubenville Rape Trial and the Memory of My Own Assault

Posted Mar 19 2013 3:25pm
Folica Top 10 Flat Irons

I’ve been following the details of the Steubenville Rape Trial on various social media outlets and websites.  Quite honestly, it’s very difficult to read about.

And yes, I might be the 176780789 person who has written about this subject, but it’s taken me awhile to get my nerve up.

I am angered.  Enraged.  Saddened.  I’m furious and sickened at the details I have read,  the lack of help from “friends”, and specifically what the defense has called consent .

But this event also brings back some horrible and deeply hidden memories of my own.

I was Jane Doe in 1995.

I was 19.  In a college fifteen hours  away from my family and home.

I met up with a boy I liked at the time.  He had seemed nice.  And he seemed to like me too.  We were going to watch movies at his place.  I was excited that he was interested in me, and I hoped we might even have our first kiss that night.

I was drinking.  We were both drinking… heavily.  We started drinking early, and I cannot recall how many drinks I actually had that night.  I was nervous, so I drank more.  And I was 19!  I was in college! I was carefree!  And drinking wasn’t a new thing for me.

By midnight, I was incoherent and heavily intoxicated.  We did have that first kiss I had been thinking about, it turned into a sloppy drunken groping session, and  he wanted more.

But I didn’t.

I just wanted to sleep.  I wanted to lay down and close my eyes and sleep.  I was too drunk.  I wanted to go home.

 

But I couldn’t speak up clearly for myself.  And I couldn’t fight him off.  You see, he was intoxicated as well, and despite my slurred pleas to stop- he wouldn’t.

Would he have been so forceful if alcohol had not been involved?

I will never know.  Because I never spoke up.  To anyone.

It took almost 10 years for me to speak about what happened that night.  I filed it away in the lowest depths of my being.

I know at one point I remember that I tried to push him off from me and I was whimpering and saying no.  I could say no- but I couldn’t yell or scream or form a coherent sentence other than that.   The words weren’t sounding right, my voice didn’t sound like my own.  My tongue wasn’t working properly.  I felt that I was having an out of body experience, because surely this wasn’t happening for real.

I was incapable of forcefully defending myself and fighting back.   But I was barely conscious and vaguely aware of what was happening.  I just wanted it to stop.   Is that consent?  

I don’t believe so.

And what happened during that night led to a series of downward spirals for me as a young adult.

I blamed myself.  I was ashamed.  I felt I should never have been in that state of mind with a boy I barely knew.

I felt that if I admitted to what happened, others would blame me as well.  

So I never spoke a word of it to anyone.

And that blame and guilt led to years of bad decisions and self loathing.  And depression.  I felt undeserving and worthless.  I was unable to finish school.  I dropped out not long after.  I almost failed every single one of my classes, where before I had been a great student.  I moved away.

I pushed away my closest friend and roomate at the time who was such a kind and caring person.  She had been worried about me going to see him in the first place.  I just couldn’t say the words out loud for fear that I would be judged and blamed and labeled a slut.  Or easy.  Or a whore.

Because that type of shaming happened back then just as much as it happens now.  Except we didn’t have twitter, or facebook, or text messaging.  Or access to the internet.  We just had word of mouth.

I was unable to find the strength to accomplish my dreams and goals I had envisioned as an excited 19 year old young woman embarking upon her life’s journey.  I had wanted to become a journalist.

Instead I lost my way.  My focus.  It was years later that I would get it back.

My sense of self worth was demolished.  I just didn’t care.  I acted out in other ways because I just couldn’t process the humiliation I felt inside.

That humiliation is a disease.  A black hole that swallows you up- drowning your spark and killing your spirit.

Jane Doe is a strong woman.  At the age of 16, she is able to push aside that fear, the shame, the absolute horror and gut wrenching acceptance of that fateful night and face her rapists and make sure they are prosecuted.   And they will be.  Although not harshly enough, in my personal opinion.

It is because of her strength, I can come forward with my own story.  I am 36.  She is 16.  And she is inspiring women all over the world by standing up and fighting back.

At 36, I am just now able to talk about the events that ended up shaping almost a decade of my young adulthood.

At 16- she has taken such a difficult and amazing step towards saving herself.

I am amazed at her strength.  And I send so many positive thoughts and prayers her way.

And I want to tell her…thank you.  Thank you for standing up.  I can imagine how difficult it was to make this public.  I can imagine the pain and humiliation you endured upon realizing exactly what happened.  And I’m sorry you had to go through that.  But thank you for being strong.  For fighting back.  And for inspiring others.

I have a daughter.  This story has opened a vault of painful memories for me, yes, but I feel I need to share it for my own daughter’s sake, for my family, my sisters, and for all of the young girls who make the decision to drink too much and may find themselves in an unfathomable situation where they cannot defend themselves from an assault.

Drinking irresponsibly is a bad decision, yes.  And it can lead to bad situations, sometimes.

 

But it does not allow consent for anyone to be violated.  Assaulted.  Raped.

Just because a girl dresses a certain way, acts a certain way, dances a certain way, kisses a certain way, or drinks a certain way- does not mean that she is consenting to sex in any way.

 

It is not your fault.

Brooks Running Pure Project : Feel more with less.

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