Today, I am going to get personal. More personal than I have been with most of my friends IRL. Today, I open up an old wound. Thirteen years ago, I was the Stanford girl.
Thirteen years ago, I woke up on the floor in the attic of a bar. I didn't know where I was. I didn't know why I was there. I was confused. I was disoriented. I knew that something was wrong...I just didn't know what.
I racked my brain to try my best to decipher my situation. I tried hard to fight the daze I was in to get my bearings. Still, as hard as I tried, I just couldn't remember. I had lost what felt like the entire day and I was scared.
I called a friend of mine to pick me up and he took me back to his house where I slept for almost 14 hours. When I finally woke up I took the longest shower of my life. I wanted to wash off a memory that didn't exist, a dirtiness I couldn't explain. I sat on the floor of the shower and cried. Still, I didn't know why.
As the day went on a started to see flashes in my mind. Flashes of scenarios that couldn't have possibly existed. I have always been quiet and shy, a wallflower who hates being the center of attention. But, in my mind, I was seeing myself willingly do things that were so shameful that I have since tried to block them out. Details that, to this day, no one knows about. Details that still haunt my nightmares. These flashes became more and more vivid as time went on and I finally was able to piece them together to form a horror a movie in my mind. I was raped.
I immediately called my aunt who took me to the hospital. Unfortunately, since I had showered they couldn't perform a rape kit. I did discover, however, that I had Rohypnol in my system. I was roofied. By the owner of the club.
By talking to others at the bar that night and through my own fragmented memories I learned that I had one drink. One fateful drink that changed my life forever.
Why am I telling you this? Why am I opening myself up to every stranger on the internet when I have hid this memory from most of my friends and family for this long? Because today I am taking a stand against the rape culture in this country. Today, I am not ashamed.
The United States has made it acceptable to blame the victim. I am sure you have at least heard about the Stanford rape case at this point. If not, you can read about it here. Brock Turner was literally caught in the act of attempting to rape an unconcious woman. This man is a predator. But how has the media and the public reacted to this case? Outrage. And not outrage that a young woman has lost her sense of safety, her sense of dignity, her self esteem. No. Outrage over the fact that a 20-year-old golden boy's life is destroyed over a mistake. A mistake. Apparently, in our culture, sexually violating an unconcious woman is considered a mistake.
The media has made a point of telling the world that the young woman's blood alcohol level was 3 times the legal limit. How is this even relevant? I have read articles and comments from countless people stating that both parties are at fault. NO. Rape is NEVER, NEVER, NEVER the victim's fault. Never. Even if she "consented," as Turner claims, an obviously intoxicated person is not capable of consent.
According to my rapist, I consented. And you know what, maybe he was right. Maybe 18-year-old me said yes to a 40-year-old bar owner. But I was roofied. Roofies, alcohol, any substance that alters your inhibitions automatically voids any claim of consent.
I know what this young woman is going to face for the rest of her life. I didn't get the chance to face my rapist in court. I had showered. I was an 18-year-old in a bar. It would have been hard to prove and I didn't want to relive it. I wanted to move forward and pretend like it never happened. This woman is so much braver than I was. So much braver than I could ever be. She wasn't treated like a victim. Every life choice she ever made was scrutinized, publicly, on the stand.
But please, let's feel sorry for a well educated, wealthy, white boy because he can no longer enjoy steak. Or because he will never swim in the Olympics. Or because he was kicked out of Stanford. Because he will never be a surgeon. Because he will have to serve an embarassingly light sentence of 6 months in jail--which he likely won't have to serve the entire term.
Thirteen years ago, I was this woman. I know the nightmares that are going to wake her for the months and years to come. I know the feeling of uneasiness that takes what seems like a lifetime to fade. I know what it is like to feel dirty and ashamed and violated. I know what the consequences of having your self esteem and self worth shattered. I know the uphill battle she will face, most likely silently, for the unforseen future. Rape leaves a gaping hole in your soul that makes you judge and second guess every decision you have ever made.
So today, I share my story to take a stand. To take a stand for every woman who is suffering in silence. To every woman who has been told "it wouldn't have happened if ______." You are not alone. You are not at fault. You are amazing. You are worthy of love. You are so strong. You are a fighter.
If you are one of those women, I am so, so sorry. Know that it does get easier. I can go months or even years without being reminded of that night. But then, out of nowhere, stories like the Brock Turner case pop up and it triggers those emotions all over again. That guilt. That shame. Which is why today is the day that I make a point to rise above it. To no longer let him haunt me. To tell my story.
I vow to raise my son to be a good man. To teach him early about consent and respect. I ask you to do the same. We are the greatest influences in our sons' lives. Let the #kidsforchange movement begin in your own home by having conversations that may make you uncomfortable but are oh-so-important.
For resources on how to talk to your child about consent check out some of the links below:
Or, watch this video with your teens.
Copyright ©2015 Emmeline May and Blue Seat Studios