It’s been another very, very difficult week for sexual assault survivors in the US, and I’d like to share what this week has been like for me.
I know what it’s like to be held down and assaulted by a seventeen-year-old boy. At a party. With the aid of his friends.
I know it’s been twenty years, and whenever I see pictures of people associated with my assailant, I still spiral into panic, anxiety, and depression. I know that no matter how much therapy I do, and how much self-reflection I engage in, and how much love and compassion I show myself, I am still sick, still transported to the scene of my assault as though it only happened a minute ago.
I know what it’s like when somebody complicit in my assault is a beloved public figure in my community, and I know how worthless it makes me feel to know that whatever suffering he caused me has been irrelevant to classmates, mutual friends, and our town as a whole, and cannot imagine the pain of experiencing that on a national scale.
I know that being held down, groped, and gagged is terrifying. Not terrifying in the sense of watching “A Quiet Place,” but terrifying in the sense that you are traumatized by fear. When a person is willing to violate your body for their own sexual pleasure, there is nothing in the world that can convince you in that moment of fear that they will not also kill you. That when that assault happens with the aid of accomplices, there is every reason in the world to believe that if your assailant kills you, he will have witnesses to attest to his innocence, who will blame you, and help maintain the illusion of your murderer’s innocence.
That is terror.
That is the kind of trauma that lasts a lifetime.
I know what it’s like question yourself over and over again, blame yourself for everything you have ever done or been in your life to excuse the behavior of the person who assaulted you.
I know that attempted rape is assault.
You can’t tell me that seventeen-year-old boys are guileless children. You can’t tell me that their actions don’t have lifelong consequences. You can’t tell me they shouldn’t.
Part of me would love to see everyone involved in my assault in jail. Part of me never wants to have to think of it again.
And my assailant isn’t being crammed through a farce of a Senate hearing so they can spend the rest of their lives serving on the highest court in the land.
I know that the way my assault was engineered, my assailant had dozens of “witnesses” who would have happily attested to his innocence, to my poor character, to whatever he asked them to. I know many of them wouldn’t even have cared they were lying. People are amazing at justifying their shitty behavior. They’re just as good at justifying the shitty behavior of people they like, or people who can benefit them in some way.
You know what this last week has been like for me? I’ve felt helpless, and hopeless, and useless, and used. I’ve felt invisible and worthless and trapped.
I cannot begin to imagine how Professor Christine Blasey Ford has made it through her week, but I salute her. What she is doing is profoundly brave. I am in awe of that woman.
In short, fuck Donald Trump for nominating this piece of shit. Fuck him for being the sort of person who ever– EVER– had it in themselves to attempt rape, and who surrounded themselves at any time with accomplices who would help him entrap and assault other fucking human beings. Fuck everyone who is willing to accept that kind of soulless piece of shit in order to advance their own slimy, dehumanizing, anti-woman agenda.
Fuck all of it.
I’m sorry I’m not capable of being more articulate on this issue. I shouldn’t have to be. I shouldn’t have to be able to calmly and politely explain trauma and sexual violence every time a sexual predator is put onto a pedestal. You know what? No. I’m not sorry. I’m tired. And I’m angry.
And I’m cynical. I don’t believe there’s any hope of keeping him off the court. I don’t believe there’s a single Republican in the Senate who cares more about sexual assault and the lifelong damage it does to survivors and the horrific facts it lays bare about its perpetrator than they care about filling another SCOTUS seat with somebody who loves corporations, hates women, and won’t indict Donald Trump.
How has it been this week?
My faith in America is lost.
My sense of hope is lost.
My belief that I will ever be seen and heard and respected as equally human to a powerful white man is gone. It was naive, I know, but I did believe that.
I don’t know the name for what I feel now. Trapped, maybe? Vulnerable?
The truth is that this is like another weight dropped onto my back, and I honestly don’t know how many I can hold. The truth is that the fight I have most often with my husband is no longer whether Christmas is a secular holiday (it isn’t). It’s what it will take for me to convince him that we have to give up on this country. Not that the moment has come yet, but when a man who is accused of attempted rape, and who has made no secret of his desire to see women turned into brood mares without autonomy, and sits before the Senate and lies without flinching while behind him, his own aide flashes white power signs to the cameras, I cannot pretend I believe I am safe in this country. I cannot pretend I believe my children are safe in this country. And I cannot pretend that I have faith that what the administration is doing to Latinx, trans, Muslim, and LGBT people will stop before it is happening to a bisexual Jewish pro-choice liberal sexual assault survivor in the heartland. I can’t pretend I am willing to accept these things done in my name to anyone else with the caveat that I’m not next on the chopping block.
That’s not how it works. Human rights do not exist on a sliding scale. I am not more human for having pale skin. I am not more human for being cisgender. My rights mean nothing unless everyone’s mean SOMETHING.
And when our next Supreme Court Justice was just a boy being a boy when he held a girl down, smothered her screams, and attempted to rape her, I am nothing.
I wish I could leave you on a hopeful note, but I don’t have it. Today it feels like there is no way out of this, like there is nowhere that is safe, and there never will be.
Read more about my assault here: Names and Nightmares
Read my most recent post here: “But also,” an annual exploration of September Grief
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