Thursday, June 9, 2016

A Lifetime Sentence

Twenty-eight years ago I was raped. That may seem like a long time ago, a lifetime perhaps. But it's not. It's not when you are inundated with news articles and social media posts about rape. It's not when twenty-eight years later we are still trying to figure out a way to blame women for being raped. It's not when we discuss how a young rapist shouldn't have his life ruined because of "twenty minutes of action." That twenty minutes will echo and reverberate through that young woman's life. It will echo in her memory twenty-eight years from now, when you and I have forgotten this particular news story. Twenty-eight years from now when that young rapist has a career, a family and an entire life that has enabled him to forget the twenty minutes that he preyed on an unconscious woman behind a dumpster—she will not be so fortunate. That twenty minutes will resonate every time that she is in a situation where it feels as though something is being done to her against her will. It will resonate and come roaring back at the most unexpected moments. In meetings at work. In conversations with friends. In disagreements with her husband. When dressing her six-year-old daughter and she is suddenly seized by the fear that someday, someone will seize upon her daughter's unconscious person and violate her in a way that will haunt her and stalk her and prey upon her for the rest of her life. Her precious daughter. Her precious, fragile body. Her wiggly, joyful person. How could somebody do that to her? To me? To you? To any of us? No, twenty-eight years is not a lifetime ago because it comes roaring back to me all the time, at unexpected moments. I am seized by a fear so visceral I feel it in my guts. My hands shake as I reach for the Xanax that will calm me and help me to not cry, or scream or run. But twenty-eight years is a lifetime. It is a lifetime sentence. One that I pay every day and one that my rapist will never know.

19 comments:

  1. I'm outraged by this man's light sentencing. I'm grievously offended by the term "20 minutes of action", as if this repulsive and thoroughly reprehensible situation equated to something less than rape. That maybe if we call it something less, it'll change the way the public thinks about it...and perception is reality. By saying this rapist raped only once and therefore the court should go lighter on him makes me want to scream, "The victim was raped only once by her attacker, but now she's being raped over and over again by her examiners -- doesn't that mean the court should go lighter on her? Doesn't that mean that she should get justice? Doesn't that mean her rapist shouldn't be out of jail in 3 months on a 6 month sentence?"

    I'm furious that the court system sentenced a rapist to such a short sentence, as if rape isn't such a big deal. It's nothing short of criminal on the part of the judicial system. That wasn't justice for her. It wasn't even close.

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    1. I wish I could channel my rage as eloquently as you just did yours.

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  2. Holy crap, Mandy! Is this the first time you have come out about this? I am so sorry that this occupies any space in your brain at all but I know there are some things that scar forever. I know our rape culture patriarchal justifications for violence against women on every level does not help you feel any safer. You are so brave and so generous to share this.

    I hate that we still feel unsafe but I’m glad that this insensitive judge’s actions has caused almost universal outrage and probably done more to change minds than anything else could have. The victim in the case is, like you, an eloquent writer which has given me the glimmer of faith that change may come.

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    1. Yes. It's the first time on my blog or publicly. I have told some people privately or in smaller conversations, but not often and not without a lot of discomfort.

      The victim in the Brock Turner rape is a powerful woman and I admire her so much. I read her letter the night before I wrote this. It actually took me a while to even read about this case, because I just figured the whole thing would be traumatic.

      It is traumatic. But we have to talk about it. We have to tell our stories. We've got to throw off this mantle of shame.

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  3. Thank you for being such a strong voice about things that are often unspoken. I love you.

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    1. Thank you, Michelle. You know I love you too.

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  4. This should not have happened to you. I'm so sorry it did. I'm so angry it did. And you're right--survivors carry a life sentence no matter what. I am livid about this judge, and this boy and his father and his friend. Rape apologists, every single one of them.

    You're a brave woman, Mandy.

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    1. Thanks, Katherine. I'm livid too. And maybe that's a good thing. The anger made me overcome my shame.

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  5. Well said. Thank you Mandy. Sending love to you.

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  6. Mandy, I'm so saddened by your experience and admire your courage for sharing publicly. While my story is not yours, I have found that when I share vulnerable moments where much emotion and pain is involved, I have found more healing. And...I have found that I can help others know they are not alone.

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  8. I'm glad you shared. As a woman, it's painful to comprehend that almost all women are age have been affected by rape, whether themselves sexually assaulted or we knowing someone who has sexually assaulted.
    You're a strong chick.

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  9. I applaud the strength this took to share. You are brave and not alone. *hugs*

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  10. Your post exposes the long-lasting effects of rape. At the same time, it keeps you in victim mode. If you are unfamiliar with EMDR, please look into it. Many therapists offer it, but you don't want to tale a risk byu going to someone less than qualified so look on emdria.org.

    I have been raped more than once. You can be healed...and, with EMDR, you can be healed by August.

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  11. Sorry to hear about this.

    To blame the victim or shame them is wrong on so many levels. The justice system is broken and has been for some time. Its reasons like this that so many that are truly guilty 'walk' and live among us as if they did nothing wrong. Sad

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