Monday, January 31, 2011

Can We Re-Define ‘Rape’?

This is my story,and I am VERY lucky I did not get pregnant from it:

18 years old.
The Army.
Germany, sent out to the field for the first time.
The only woman and 1500 men.
I was the Medic, they were Engineers.
Alone, in the dark being watched, only I didn't know
Vilseck, Germany after two weeks without a shower, we were allowed to go to Tent city for 2 days.
Much Celebrating. Much Drinking. After showers the partying started.
I was invited.
A cute boy
free drinks
more drinks
Something wrong....
Room spinning
can't walk
being carried
pass out
wake up
can't move
tied up
can't talk
gag in mouth
someone on me
wet between the legs
another body on me
another body
all night
over and over again
how many?
Don't know
too many
over and over again
more laughter
in and out of conscience
how many?
could be twenty
could be a hundred
all ranks
all sizes
all ages
all penises
all thrusting
all sweating
lots of pain
smell of greasy tent
smell of booze
smell of tobacco
smell of man sweat
smell of semen
smell of sex
all thrusting
all groping
all squeezing
all pawing
only one, who when he saw my tears, stopped in his tracks
But he walked out, and another came in to take his place
over and over again
no help
none in sight
all night long
in and out of reality
in and out of dreams
more body's
more men
more thrusting
how many hours?
finally the sweet release of awareness
in the showers
bruises and blood everywhere
oh my God the pain
all consuming pain
my clothing in a pile
water is cold
scrub some more
put on uniform
met at door, by commanding Officer
stern words about MY behavior
told if I talked, it would be MY fault
Threatened with prison for "enticing"
handed orders to be transfered
Told to pack my bags
Transportation waiting
Warned again
If you talk, you die
or worse
watching blindly as the trees roll by
curling up inside of me
hiding the pain
hoping the pain will fade
as the bruises do
can't walk, can't sit, can't take a shit
blaming myself
Others have
so why not me?
it weighs on a mind
remembering what was said
silence it is my friend
lock the pain away
never talk they said
never talk I did
The pain it became my friend
To this day, it never ends.
"House Republicans rode into office on claims that President Obama and the Democratic Congress were promoting a "liberal" agenda rather than focusing on the real task at hand -- job creation. Yet the first act of the new Republican House was a symbolic repeal of health care followed by a focus on the true conservative passion: regulating the sex lives of the most vulnerable and politically powerless women. The latest proposal, which would limit benefits for rape victims unless they could show that the rape was "forcible," reintroduces a distinction that women fought for decades to eliminate -- the notion that "real rape" can only occur when a stranger jumps out of the bushes and holds a woman at gunpoint. Otherwise, the woman must necessarily be complicit in the resulting pregnancy and should be forced to bear the child."

I'd like to sit down in a room with all 173 co-sponsors and describe to them in minute detail everything that happened the night I raped over and over again by fellow soldiers. You know, it's been thirty years, and I still get sick to my stomach, my hands still sweat and shake, thinking about it. And I'm one of the lucky ones. I wasn't physically scarred for life. I didn't end up pregnant.

If I had, and if an abortion had been denied to me because I didn't fight hard enough, scream loud enough, risk my life adequately enough to satisfy the Cons in Congress, I can promise you something: I would've ended up killing myself if I couldn't abort that baby. They can't understand, will obviously never understand, why many women wouldn't be able to face carrying their attacker's spawn to term. Let me just put it this way: there are worse things than getting raped. One of them is being denied any chance to regain some control over your own body afterward. One of them is being forced to put your body through the further trauma of pregnancy and childbirth against your will. And at that time, in the aftermath of the worst morning of my life, I wouldn't have had the mental strength to deal with it. It was hard enough putting the shattered pieces back together without a swelling belly and constant reminders of the horror I'd gone through.

But they don't care about a woman's welfare. Obviously not. They have some fantasy about rape, which makes them just as despicable as the men who rape. They think there's some kind of honor to be fought for, that a woman should do everything in her power to guard her virtue rather than survive, and if she doesn't, then she's a slut who deserves everything she gets.

I wish I could take them back in time. I wish I could turn what's in my mind into a film, so I could walk them through the event. I'd like to see their faces when they're faced with the reality of sexual violence. I'd like them to have to walk in my mind. And I'd like to pause every so often, and ask, "Did I fight enough here? How about here? Was that rape forcible enough, or was it too gentle to qualify as the kind of rape where a woman is granted an abortion?"

I'd like them to have to experience every emotion with me, both during the attack and in the months and years afterward. I'd like them to know just what it is to have control and integrity ripped away from you. I'd like them to walk that fine line, knowing that if you fight too hard, you're going to get yourself killed. I'd like them to be there in my mind, the moment I realized I didn't have the physical strength to fight my attacker off, and that no one could hear me scream. I'd like them to share that instant where panic and gut instinct turned into a cold calculation, where I decided it would be a better idea to live.

Do they think I made the wrong choice, choosing survival over a fight to the death? Do they think that making the choice to survive means signing away your right to your remaining bodily integrity? And would they still believe that were they forced to live it with me?

They believe abortion is murder, and yet each and every one of them, should you ask, would likely tell you that killing someone in self-defense is justifiable. Let me try to explain something to them: getting rid of a clump of cells isn't murder, but let's play on their field a moment. That clump of cells that could become a human being someday is an intruder. It broke in, it wasn't invited, and it's stealing from me. It could kill me. It's certainly going to hurt me, both mentally and physically. So if you believe some homicides are justified, why do you think it's not justifiable to kill that intruder?

They need to walk in my mind. They need to watch the months it took, feel the force of will it took, to regain function again, to not hide in the house anymore, to learn how to cope with a terrible new reality. I dropped out of school, because I wasn't capable of normal function for quite some time. It took years before I could trust people again. I still have bad moments. But I'm nearly a whole human again. I don't think I would've gotten there if I knew I'd been forced to bear my rapist's baby. And I don't have words strong enough to describe the visceral reaction I have to the idea. That would have given me a lifelong connection to my rapist. That would have been a level of trauma beyond my imagination. I know my mind well enough to know that bearing a rape baby at the age of 18 would have broken it.

Is that the price I'm supposed to pay for being attacked? According to the Cons in Congress, it is. It's my fault, you see. I should've fought hard enough to keep from being impregnated or died in the attempt. Nothing else will do. They care more for a clump of cells than they do for a living, breathing, thinking and suffering woman.

But I don't think they've thought this through, and that's why I'd like them to experience what I did. Because then, you see, they could imagine what it would be like if that had been their wife, or their daughter, or some other woman they may actually care about. They may have to look at her a bit differently, and wonder if it's worth destroying her in order to force her to grow a clump of cells fertilized by a rapist. They might have to ask themselves if they'd really want her rape to be so forcible that it could kill her before they'd allow her the choice of aborting that clump of cells before she gets traumatized all over again.

Because, you see, what the Cons in Congress are saying to women is that if we don't fight, if we don't drive our rapist to really hurt us, then we'd better be prepared to have a rape baby. If we're strong enough and wise enough and lucky enough to survive, we're to be punished. We're to have control and bodily integrity ripped away from us once more. And if we want to avoid that second traumatization, we'd best escalate the situation. There's only one way to respond to rape in their world: fight. Even though fighting could get us seriously hurt or killed.


  1. Simply brilliant! I will keep reposting this, I will keep the fight going for you and any woman who has been raped. *hugs*

    You are an inspiration!

    Michelle Becker
    Antigo, WI

  2. Very powerful writing... I have shared this story as it needs to be heard. Its 2011, and its as if we haven't progressed at all. As a double-minority (Black and a woman), even I cant imagine being that situation. You are in my thoughts... and I will fight right along side you.

  3. Mine wasn't to the degree of yours, but I can understand. Dear god, no words can offer comfort to you, but as as fellow female veteran, I understand. I went through the same threats too. And the futility. And the never-ending fear. God bless you. *HUGS*

  4. I don't even know what to say. Let's just say I had to explain the tears to a room full of people as I read this.

  5. This is what I've been trying to say all along, but you said it much better. Thank you.

  6. I only have prayer that we STOP this madness, the carnage of humanity! Listen to the women when they speak. HEAR the pain the need to be really FREE to make the decisions that THEY must make. Ain't it tough enough???

  7. I have been raped as well. It was not by some man that jumped out of the bushes. It was someone I knew very well. No, I too was lucky enough to not become pregnant. I understand this all too well. I too am OUTRAGED at what is going on, yet I am still ashamed. I am not sure what I am more ashamed of, what happened to me, or the fact that I live in a country that has a government that feels this way. I cannot leave a name on this post. Many people do not know this has happened to me and I'm not really keen on it getting out. I have however shared this so people will become aware. I have spoken out as well, just not as a victim. I hope people will understand.

  8. I was -- I hate to use the word "lucky" -- that I was too young when it happened to me to become pregnant. Had it been even a year later, that would have been a possibility. How much fighting back can a 12-14 year old girl really do against a fully-grown man? When you're face down against the asphalt with the weight of an adult on you and both your arms twisted so far behind you that they're nearly broken already, how hard can you really fight back? Is that enough for these asshole cons? Or should every child who survives also be forced to carry their attacker's child, putting them at serious risk of death again? It's better for the girl to end up dead than let her have an abortion?

    I'm proud of you for having the force of will to survive this and for having the courage to tell your story. It's the only way people will ever understand, to hear it first-hand.

  9. I am crying, as a rape survivor myself, as a woman, as a caring human being. Thanks for your story, and I too have shared on my facebook page. As women we have little of the freedom from fear as men do, what right do men have to take away the freedom we have over our own bodies. We have fought long and hard to win those freedoms, how dare they even try and take them away. My prayers are with you for writing this, I am with ya sister.

  10. Thank you for having the courage for posting this. I too am a rape survivor, but I did not get so "lucky". I got pregnant, but fortunately for me I had the choice not to relive the horror by being forced to endure nine months of pregnancy and birth. I could not have lived through that the memories are enough without a physical reminder. I am enraged by what these politicians continue to do. They have no idea or they just don't care about what taking away these rights would do to women in these situations.

  11. I am so sorry for your experience. No human being should ever have to go through that kind of pain. I may not agree with all of your analogies for the fetus, but I absolutely agree with your position. The thought that a woman could be forced to bear a child that was conceived through such a brutal and violent act is sickening. Thank you for sharing your story, and for bringing this ridiculous bill to light. This story will be shared. You are an incredibly strong woman.

  12. This is quite probably the single-most-powerful story of rape I've ever read.

    While I wish it had never happened - I'm glad you posted this. I've reposted it, myself. Everyone should know this story and the consequences of Congress's dreadful, immoral actions.

    (I've made a bit of a study of the military of late; the only conclusion a person can reach is that we now have the world's most-lethal force full of victims of the 'poverty draft' [aka 'volunteer army']; as a result, apart from a handful like yourself who enlisted out of idealism and a genuine desire to serve your fellow American, today's American military is full of Hooterville-bred Red-staters who'd just as soon take their aggressions out on any defenseless human being.

    They're now largely Fundamentalists who believe that nuking half the planet until it glows in the dark is a good way of solving problems - and if they're ordered to turn that lethality on the rest of America, they'd do that too - as long as they could kill Liberals.

    One man with whom I spoke at length summed it up pretty well: "I didn't put this uniform on for you. I put it on for me and mine."

    Today, they're cutting off noses and ears as 'trophies of the day' in Afghanistan - if they're not assaulting 18 year old medics in tents, they're raping Afghan girls for sport.

    We have a lot of blood on our hands as a country - including yours.

    I'd like to put an end to this the day-before-yesterday, complete with hanging the perpetrators in public.

    They have created more enemies - foreign and domestic - than they can ever possible 'sort out'.

    My best to you. Sincerely.)

  13. I can't say I identify with your story, as a man who has never been raped. I can't even begin to fathom how horrible it must have been, and much pain you went through.

    For that very reason alone, I find the actions of the Cons whose only interest is subjugating women to be deplorable. How many of them truly understand even an iota of the experience? How many of them can say they've lived it? And yet they try to impose their own narrow view upon an experience that is entirely alien to them, that they could never properly fathom.

    It makes me sick to my stomach to think that some people would be willing to put their own wives and daughters, and if the fates are cruel, someday even my wife, through something so horrible as forcibly reopening her wounds and keeping her from securing at least some tiny measure of justice and security.

    You're an incredibly strong woman, and you have my everlasting respect. Don't ever give up, you've got both men and women at your back who stand with you.

  14. I admire your bravery and your determination; I am appalled by what you had to endure, both during and after, and I am outraged by politicians' attempts to politicize a woman's right to control her own body.

  15. As a survivor myself I WILL be reposting this. Sadly, there are people that will still defend the right of some cells with the POTENTIAL to become an independant life over the rights of a woman. Let's not forget those that advocate the death penalty, yet want to mark a woman with a scarlet A for getting an abortion. No one should have the right to dictate what I do with my body. If it was up to some I would have had to carry a baby at 14 if I had gotten pregnant. Thank you for sharing and I am sorry you had to deal with any of that!

  16. I'm so sorry for your paid. Very sad - speaks to alot of issues including should women be allowed in the military; should military be allowed to drink? As far as the birth of an unborn child goes, the anti-abortion politicians (including the newest bill) exclude rape, incest, and when the mother's life is endagered from the ban. Get the facts, people!! ~ Julie

    1. Should women be allowed in the military, should the military be allowed to drink? Please.. How about asking why do these men rape? Why do they think what they did is okay? Why are they not all in prison? These men are scum. Women have the same right as any man to serve their country.

  17. Julie you are not sorry for her pain, as a matter of fact on my thread you called her story suspect. You went as far as calling those of us who don't report our rape cowards! Luckily, I don't think abortion will ever be outlawed again, but if it ever is believe me you have saved no one because just as they happened before Roe vs Wade they will continue. All you will have managed to do is shove your beliefs down others throats. How about the novel idea of you worry about your body, and let others worry about theirs. SMH!

  18. I can not begin to even imagine what you went through. I am so very sorry for your pain and what happened to you. I truly wish every male in that room and who are responsible would be punished in public by every ounce of our justice system BUT I do know God will punish them each and every last one of them.
    My mother was raped. She did become pregnant.
    Her first child is the product of that rape. My mother loves her as her first born and always will. I adore and love my sister and can not imagine not having her in our lives and the nieces she has given our family.
    With that said many rape victims do not see that child as a reminder BUT it is the woman alone who can determine if she will view that child in hate or love if she is able to do so.
    I pray God heals you totally and that one day you will be completely whole. As I read I see you are getting there. I wish you all the blessings this life has to offer and I truly pray for your complete healing and vindication. I know you will have it.

  19. I tried to read this out loud to a dear friend&couldn't,because the tears were choking me with every word.There are NO words to describe that pit that forms in your stomach when you read about this,unless like you,I also have been through it.May you be blessed in your Life,you are truly a brave soul,and may the Light of understanding crack through one day,to those Cons of Congress' Stone Hearts so that NO ONE ever will have to pay the price of this&then be mentally raped all over agin by being forced to carry a rape child.There is a VERY special place in Hell for those who would be an accomplice to a rape,by ANY means&the sooner these evil demons masquarading as Servants of God get there,the better.Be well&may you continue to heal.We know all to well just how dark&alone it can be,so let us remind ourselves as you have,to try&be the outstrectched hand that is there for those who are still trying to tread water in that cold dark sea of pain.

  20. Thank you for telling your story. I hope for healing for you. I hope for love for you. I will keep you in my mind as I continue to fight in this war upon women that has flared up again.

  21. Thank you. Thank you. When I was 16, I was raped. I was a virgin. I remember the blood, everywhere, and being sick. For weeks. I DID get pregnant. When I finally told my family what happened to me, they didn't believe me. I was told it was my fault, and that I must have done something to deserve it. They did, however, allow me to get an abortion--a lifesaver for me, as I could only picture my pregnancy as a punishment, a tumor, something malignant and terrible. It's taken years to become a whole person again, but I am whole. Most of the time...but these hateful tactics being forwarded by conservatives make me feel the same pain and powerlessness I felt so many years ago. I'm scared, for me and for all women.

  22. This should mandatory reading for EVERY politician in this country! You should be commended for having the courage to tell your story. I hope you are continuing to heal. Stay strong.

  23. As a husband, father, brother and son I weep for the violence done to women and will continue to stand with women in their fight against those who wish to oppress and subjugate them.

  24. Damned if you do, and damned if you don't. I've lived this story too. Once I was too drunk to fight back (I was passed out and came to in a whole new place, not knowing to this day how I got there) and the next time I was in my own apartment. That's only two of the four stories I have to tell. It kept happening, so it must be, right? Wrong. We live in a pathological world of sexual violence that works for no one and it will not change until we change it. Reposted. Tweeted....

    I'm with you, my sister. <3

  25. Somebody drugs you, ties you up and rapes you and somehow it ends up being your fault? I don't get that. This was a crime and all these men belong in jail, as does the officer for colluding in the crime by protecting them.

  26. So many men in positions of power, any kind of power, think that a woman is there to be used and discarded. They think they will face no punishment, no judgement. But, after all else, they will face the highest judge and that judge will know and then they will face their punishment. I am not overly religious, but I know that there will be a judgement day. These men (and I call them that with tongue in cheek) who did this crime are if anything, worse than some random man on the street doing this. This woman was a medic there to help them in a time of need, to help with accidents, injuries. To think that they did this to a woman in that position, it is just unbelievable. I think she should be handed one of those assault weapons that the Republicans think should be available to all, and have those men lined up in front of her. That poor woman will never have a normal life, or relationship after what she went through. It was unspeakably evil. I am so sad for her.