I know I just published a piece, my first ever, addressing my rape in 2004 but I feel that in the aftermath of the Brock Turner sentencing that I need to speak out. One person commented on my previous piece that it was not personal enough, perhaps that is because I didn’t go into great detail, because divulging each detail is painful and reliving an attack is not something anyone should have to do. The pain that is felt when you have to discuss the details of your attack, combined with the pathetic punishments that judges like Aaron Persky give to rapists, makes fighting for justice seem like more trouble than it is worth.
Just like “Emily Doe”, my attack occurred at a college party. I was at a house party in Oakland, PA in 2004. I went with a few girls from my college but we got separated once at the house. I remember music, I remember talking to a few people, I do not remember drinking, next thing I remember is waking up in a dry and filthy bathtub. I looked over and saw a 20-something male who immediately looked scared and just said “No, you don’t know what happened, it wasn’t me it was him” and pointed to the door where another male was leaving. I felt dizzy, disoriented and scared. I stood up and ran out of the house and called a friend of mine for help. When my friend picked me up he did not take me to a hospital, he did not take me to the police, he just took me home because I refused to talk about it… it didn’t seem like there was anything to talk about, I didn’t even know who he was or who the other man in the bathroom was… and I didn’t have to courage to go back and find out. All I wanted to do was shower, to wash away the pain, to try to block it out and move forward.
I wondered to myself, if I was able to identify him, would it even matter? If women who know their attackers cannot get justice, why would anyone take me seriously? I don’t remember drinking and yet I feel like I have a hangover and don’t even know how I got upstairs, no one will take me to be a credible source. Just like Emily Doe discussed in her letter to the court I would have had to listen while others filled in the blanks, let an attacker and his friends explain why what happened wasn’t what it seemed. I would have to hear that I wanted to be in that filthy bathtub and that I consented to all that was done. In the end, what would come of it? A slap on the wrist? Six months in prison with time off for good behavior? Rapists like Brock Turner and judges like Aaron Persky who exonerate them are the reason why many of us never report our rapes. They make accepting that it happened and that this is the world we live in, seem like the best choice and this needs to change.
This cannot be the future we set up for our children. I encourage you to share your story and let everyone know that rape is so much more than just “20 minutes of action”, you are never the same after an attack and people need to pay for their life altering decisions. Though I know that the time has passed for me to face my attacker I can still make an impact by sharing my story, and so can you. If the justice system is going to continue to fail us we need to band together and demand a change. People like Turner and Persky want us to accept it and move on but I think better still we should address the issue and move forward.