Coming forward at any time to say, “I have been raped, assaulted, or even harassed,” requires a strength you can’t possibly possess until you have to. Sharing that story in the hopes of some sort of justice can hurt more than the assault itself, because survivors are questioned and discounted and disbelieved and blamed over and over and over again.
“Why didn’t you fight back/run away/scream/not even show up in the first place?”
“What took you so long to report this?”
“Who are you to bring such a ridiculous claim against such a good/hardworking/powerful man/student/athlete/scholar?”
“Maybe you wanted it rough and just got upset or felt guilty.”
“It was just passion that got out of hand. Just forget about it.”
“Are you sure it went that way? Aren’t you a little dramatic/hysterical/overwrought/confused?”
“You should be so lucky to have a man/boy/leader/student like that pay attention to you.”
While everyone’s critiquing the politics of the Kavanaugh hearing and the timing of Ms. Ford’s letter, remember that we who have been raped or assaulted are people, human beings. We may speak up immediately or we may wait years to say out loud what our minds still can’t comprehend: I was raped.
As survivors, we have to speak our truth.
When we break our silence, when we tell our stories, we know what’s coming: we’re going to get shredded all over again because you think you have the right to assault us with your words, your judgment, your derision. We have to speak our truth anyway.
You’re going to call us nasty names and suggest we had it coming or we’re lying b**es. You’re going to laugh about us at best and drag our names and our reputations through the mud to protect someone who, be honest, isn’t the great humanitarian/leader/scholar he claims he is. You’re going to dehumanize us and objectify us and spit on us with your death threats and vitriol. We’ have to speak our truth anyway.
You may be a woman, too, but you somehow think you’re above it all, it never will happen to you. You despise women who admit to being rape survivors because contemplating the truth–it could happen to you–is too painful. Better to join your husband/father/boyfriend/brother/boss/grandpa in mocking and disparaging the survivors because you need these men to approve of you and protect you. We have to speak our truth anyway.
When we break our silence, it’s because the silence is killing us and we want to stop dying in silence and start living out loud. We have to speak our truth.
We are your wives, your sisters, your daughters, your nieces, your granddaughters, your girlfriends, your neighbors, your colleagues. We speak our truth with the hope that it stops the rapist from claiming one more victim. We have to speak our truth to gain some sort of justice for a crime we didn’t commit but for which we have been punished for far too long.
You don’t have the right to call us bitches, whores, c**ts, liars, deserving of what we got. You don’t have the right to silence us by questioning our integrity or our morality. You don’t have the right to blame the victim. You don’t have the right to ask who we think we are throwing about accusations we “can’t prove.” We know exactly who we are and so does our God: survivors who didn’t deserve to be raped. We are rape survivors who are loved, cherished, and respected by a Power far greater than you.
That’s why we have to speak our truth.