I am a rape survivor. I was the victim of a stranger rape where a weapon was used against me. Aside from a rape kit which had no DNA, there is no other evidence of the crime that was committed against me. Because at the time, I didn’t know what happened, the police wouldn’t have even known where to begin.
This is a little something called traumatization. My brain couldn’t process what happened so it shut down any memory of that night and all I remember was walking out my door late at night (maybe early morning) and waking up in my bedroom. It took months for the memory to come back to me and to this day (three years and one day later, there are still some pieces to that night/early morning that are missing).
Symptoms of trauma can take many forms–it doesn’t always have to be a blacked out memory, but sometimes victims may not recall everything perfectly. The details may be skewed. We see this not only with sexual assault cases that are proven to be true, but also in cases of major car accidents, traumatic injuries, even police being involved in a shooting, etc. There is NO such thing as a perfect victim, especially when it comes to sexual assault. EVER. They don’t exist because of the way we as humans, however uniquely, handle trauma.
As far as time is concerned, I see people posting about how Roy Moore’s accusers are just now coming forward after decades of silence.
You know my story, again stranger rape. When women are raped by strangers, people tend to believe them more than when women are raped by people they know. And yet still, society finds ways to victim blame, shame, and otherwise degrade us as survivors. It’s even worse for women who were raped by someone they knew. And that is TODAY, in 2017, even amongst “#metoo” and like movements.
Imagine what it was like 20, 30, and 40 years ago.
Imagine what it is like for a CHILD, NOT AN ADULT, to first endure something extremely traumatizing like sexual assault and then to know the person that assaulted them and know that said person was/is in a significant position of power. Now imagine that person telling that child after they assaulted them, that they were powerful, that if the child told anyone no one would believe them and that they would ruin their lives if they tried.
Guarantee you that as ADULTS, most of you saying the accusers are liars would remain silent, not go to the hospital or to the police TODAY much less back then. You can say “no that’s not true” all you want, but the statistics for reporting are on my side, not yours. Maybe you’d tell a few close people, but that’s it. You’d do nothing else.
Now fast forward a few decades. A vulture–I mean journalist–is looking for a story, their just scratching at the door for one. They speak to many people, and heard rumor that a politician whose currently in the running for a Senate seat in Alabama has a thing for young girls. At this point, it’s just that rumor. They don’t have a story. But they are now hunting for potential victims and finally, finally, they stumble across one of the few that knew about it, and point them in the direction of the victim.
The journalist hounds her. They call, they write emails, they might even make a trip to her house. They are probably really nice and professional, they likely tell her they just want to hear her side and they may make her feel guilty for not sharing more information. “Wouldn’t it be freeing to voice what happened to you? What about the other young women this man might have hurt?” Despite her initial resistance to speaking, she ends up telling them. And yes, it’s freeing. It’s like a burden, a weight being lifted off her shoulders, one that she has been carrying for decades. She tells the journalist everything, people she told, what she knows from following the man that hurt her through the years. And quietly inside, without any doubt, she’s terrified.
Because she knows what is about to happen. Some people will believe her, but many people will not. She’ll receive hate and vitriol. She’ll be called a liar, a whore–they will dig up her past and unleash every. single. skeleton. even if it doesn’t relate to her assault. She knows she’ll never receive justice in a court of law, she knows Roy Moore will go after her. But she finds her peace with it because after 30 years, she’s finally free. He doesn’t hold power over her anymore.
The journalists continue to investigate. They find more victims and witnesses to inappropriate behavior. They compile the evidence, write a story, and it gets published in a national newspaper and becomes the trending topic for days, even weeks. The victims have no control over when the stories get published, they just spoke to the journalist who was willing to find and listen to them, then investigate and write their story.
Washington Post may not have even been interested at all in Roy Moore until the Senate election, then when they started looking into him they noticed he had a shady past not necessarily related to sexual assault (which you cannot deny!)The women may not have otherwise spoken up had it not been for an interested journalist pushing them to come forward. That’s why it took 30 years.
From my own experience with sexual assault, the justice system, and being a public advocate/figure, I understand why the women didn’t speak when it first happened and why they are speaking now.
And you know what? Maybe it’s not true. Maybe all the witnesses to the inappropriate behavior, the multiple victims who spoke up–maybe they are all lying.
I just don’t think that’s the case. It wouldn’t be worth it to lie, nothing could be offered to me to lie about sexual assault in order to ruin a Senate election, only for it to come out later that I lied. It would be a public execution of my reputation, it would inevitably result in a lawsuit that took everything from me, I might even find myself in prison depending on the circumstances. There is not enough money in the world.
Why would these women speak up, knowing the hatred and backlash they were about to face, if they were lying? It’s not worth it. And the witnesses to the inappropriate behavior? What do they have to gain? Nothing.
I believe the women who have come forward and I would hope all of you reading this could put aside politics and believe them too.
Roy Moore should step down from the Senate race and I hope he gets right with God.