I don’t know her name. But she and I have been called the same.
It’s been over 20 years since it happened to me. I’m just now experiencing, at age 37, how it feels to transition from surviving to thriving. I’m not carrying around a big secret anymore. I wrote a memoir. I’m not afraid to stand in front of a crowd. I do it every week. I am not afraid to speak. I sing. It took over ten years of therapy. I’ve had to work through drug addictions and build self esteem. I still have my bad days still when something triggers me and I’m fourteen again and the floor opens up beneath my feet and I spiral down the bottomless pit. Like when I watched the news coverage of Steubenville.
I wanted to die because the whole high school called me a slut. Because the rapist bragged. Because I was the new girl and I had no friends. I cut my wrist. I didn’t have the national news empathizing with the rapist. I didn’t have stupid bloggers calling for a whore registry or saying women enjoy being raped. And so I am reaching out across the internet to tell the young woman that you have my support.
I am saddened that I have not seen the mainstream media report on how rape can effect a woman in her lifetime, or provided resources, but has shown me instead that rape culture remains alive and well. I caught myself thinking, “I’m so glad I never said anything at the time.” (FEMINISTING had one of the most powerful, spot on responses to the verdict and the media’s reaction. Thank you!)
To the unnamed woman: I am proud of you for speaking. For your bravery. You give me courage. You are helping us change the world.