Everywhere I turn I cannot escape stories about Brock Turner, the rapist. Let's be really clear - that's what he is. He isn't a "good guy" who made a "mistake", he didn't have a "lapse in judgement" - he raped an unconscious woman, was caught in the act, and still tried to claim innocence. The story is everywhere. If it isn't mundane news, it's the pagan community banding together to hex him. They don't even call him by name most of the time. It's the "Stanford Rapist" - as though it was a ghost. Not him, but some quality of that place that destroyed her life. They act like it's her fault. That she should let it go. That she's destroying his life and she should be ashamed of that.
When I was five years old - I was raped.
My parents were abusers. And they made me vulnerable to other abusers.
I recall hiding under my three year old cousins bed and her saying "Shhhh..." as the man strode into the room. I only saw his shoes stalking into the room. He laughed, as though it was fun, and exclaimed "come out come out wherever you are" - to this day that phrase makes me want to vomit.
He sounded so... happy.
A hand reached blindly under the bed and grabbed my wrist.
After that, I only remember pain. I don't even remember the mans face. I do recall being crushed against the mattress. The sound of it squeaking in time with him. His stubble scratching my face. The smell of him. The sound of his voice. My skin ripping. The blood.
After it happened - my Aunt - who gazed at me during the attack through the open bathroom door across the hall - naked, and high on drugs - told me that if I told a soul they wouldn't believe me.
I worked up the nerve to go to my parents, crying and in pain. My father (busy at the time with other matters) barely acknowledged me. "What are you crying about? I'll give you something to cry about if you don't hush." My mother - Told me I was a liar. Then said I was a whore. Then asked what I did to tempt the man. Told me it was my fault. Said that I had to forgive him because that's what Jesus would do. She told me to never tell anyone, because I wasn't a virgin anymore and nobody would want me.
I didn't know what any of that meant.
Three days later at the age of five, I attempted suicide for the first time by swallowing a bottle of heart medication that I'd been told was dangerous. I was in a coma for four days.
In my entire life I've told six people.
One laughed and called me a whore.
One called me a liar.
One supported me and led me to the fourth - my therapist.
One - a friend who listened with love in their heart.
And only this week I shared with my daughter.
Today I tell the world, and I don't know what that will mean for me.
But that friend, she told me, I needed to not act like people didn't want to hear about it. That it was hard, but people needed to be reminded that horrors like this exist in the world. That they do happen.
I'm going to stop acting like this makes me unlovable. Like I should act like it didn't happen. Or hide it. I'm going to stop gazing out my bedroom window in the direction of where it happened. I'm going to stop looking at the scar on my labia from where my skin ripped like it makes me ugly. I'm going to stop letting people tell me that it didn't happen that way, or that I was at fault, or that I should forgive.
I was five years old.
I was raped.
I'm saying that now for all the victims of the world who are treated like they're somehow to blame. You aren't. And you are loved. I am standing with you today, broken and fearful just as you are. I know those memories will never leave you. It won't be easy, but you will be able to trust again.
It does get better, bits at a time.