:: I really didn’t want to. But how can I not? How can I not? Someone has to write about rape.
[CW: Rape, sexual assault, secondary trauma, etc.]
There are so many people out there who can’t write about rape. But I can.
First, I wrote about being raped.
But I wrote it as a short story. Fiction.
The story wasn’t REAL, you know, it was just a story, it didn’t happen to me, no of course not, no, how could you think that. It’s metaphorical. About women in the universal.
Well, that’s also true.
But it did happen to me.
It took years, YEARS, for me to talk about being raped when I was in graduate school. And more years for me to even think about telling anyone about it who might be in a position to do anything about it.
But I did—I reported it to the university where it happened. I reported because I thought there might be a small chance that a school that allowed predators to walk around unchecked would be held accountable if I added my number to the list of survivors. I thought, if that list grew long enough, then change would have to happen. I might the last bit of melt that starts the avalanche. Or not.
I just wanted to be counted. To put one more drop in the bucket full of sexual assaults.
Here, I’m here too. Look at all of us. You can’t ignore us.
As it turns out, reporting being raped was a horrible, horrible experience. Yet, even while I suffered, I had enough critical distance to realize that my reporting experience wasn’t that bad compared to what others go through.
After all, I was a professor on the campus where I was reporting.
After I reported, I wrote about the experience.
But then people asked me: WHY didn’t you report sooner? Why did you wait so long? Think about the people you let down because you waited? Why didn’t you go to the police? Why didn’t you press charges? Why wait from the time you were a student to the time you were a professor to report your rape? If you care so much about making campus safer, why didn’t you…
Why why why?
So I wrote about that, too.
I’ve written so much about rape that I can barely stand to write about rape any more. Those of us who write about rape, it’s like we have a club. We write and we write and we write, and we get sick, and we write some more. Because the thing is, we can’t stop writing about rape. The story of rape is, in journalism-speak, evergreen. There is always another breaking story about rape, always another Baylor or Oregon or Trump or Cosby or Weinstein or Kavanaugh or Trump or Louis C.K. or Trump. Rape never, ever stops.
Read more in the Gold-medal IPPY-award-winning book Even If You’re Broken: Essays on Sexual Assault and #MeToo. Buying my books helps support the writing that I do for free or for very little pay.
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