Tuesday, May 26, 2015

An open letter about rape.

Dear Friends,

As you well know, I've abandoned this legal lego project.  However, this is the only platform I have. So today, I am going to tell you about my experience with rape.

Some background: I graduated from law school nine years ago; I spent the first seven of those years working as a criminal defense attorney. I know the law.  I was damned good at what I did.  I have a knack for story telling and do a killer cross examination.  People fancy me a "strong woman."  I've been told that more times than I can count.  Then I started officiating roller derby and people were like, "Whoa.  We thought you were badass before, but now you are really TRULY bad ASS."

But I don't feel strong.

I was raped.  Twice.

I mean, seriously?  TWICE?  What kind of woman lets herself be raped twice?  I am ashamed and embarrassed by it. The first time happened in 2005.  I had had too much to drink, and had been drugged.  I woke up with his fingers inside me.  "I'm lucky," I thought.  "I'm lucky that he was on coke that night and that's why he couldn't keep it up.  I'm lucky I wasn't raped."

As a second-year law student, I knew better.  I knew that the law doesn't require that some dude stick his dick in me for it to be rape.  Indeed, any penetration "however slight" constitutes rape.  But admitting that I was raped--calling it RAPE--that big-scary-R-word--was more than I could handle.  I didn't go to the cops because I wasn't raped.  I didn't go to the cops because I knew the rape shield statutes in my state didn't protect me enough and that my personal life would be put on trial.  I knew that I would never be able to credibly and effectively do my job as a litigator in my state if I cried rape as a law student.  

I didn't realize that that experience back in March 2005 was rape.  I didn't let myself realize it until about two years ago.  And then, I was raped again.

Again, it was someone I knew.  Again, I didn't think I had been raped.  I mean, we all know that some girls are asking for it.  We all know--especially we who have to cross examine them on a regular basis--we know that one woman's "rape" is just another woman's bad night.

In fact, I was so sure I hadn't been raped that I had sex with him again.  I tantalized him with sexy photos.  I suggested a threesome.  I did all the things that a woman who loves sex (and I do, in fact, love sex) would do. All the things that a woman who was raped would NEVER do.

And it wasn't until more than a year after it happened that I realized it was rape.  I said no.  More than once.  There had been some flirtation and we snuck into a parking lot and it felt wrong and therefore fun, and at 34 years old, I'd still never done it in a car before.  It was fun until it wasn't.  My  body was not aroused, I was physically uncomfortable, and I just didn't want to do it.  "No," I said.  "It hurts," I added.  "Stop.... stop?"  He didn't stop.  "I'm going to make this work," he said.

These days, I think to myself: Was it rape? Maybe he didn't hear me.  I didn't struggle, so he could have assumed consent.  The absence of "no" means "yes," right?  Like, who the hell asks for permission with each new sexual act?  Those affirmative rape laws are patently absurd and impossible to enforce!  I'd said that a million times in the context of criminal defense, hadn't I?

And then there was the alcohol.  I weighed 125 pounds back then and wasn't great with holding my liquor.  But I've never been an obvious drunk.  Despite the four shots of tequila and one cider I'd had that night, he couldn't have known I was drunk.  And the drinking is fodder for cross examination: How many drinks had you had that night? Okay, so you were at the bar from ten until 2, and you had five drinks?  You're 125 pounds, right? In four hours you had four shots and another drink? You don't recall how many times you said no?  In fact, you don't recall saying yes? It's possible that you gave consent that evening, but don't remember it, yes?

The inebriation that makes consent impossible it what raises reasonable doubt.

Jurors see a small woman five drinks and three hours into the evening and they believe that she was looking to fuck.  That's what common sense and life experience teaches us, defense attorneys argue.  This case isn't about the law.  It's about using your common sense and your own life experience.  That's all you need to know that this case isn't about rape.  This case is about a woman with regrets.

I have played this scene over and over in my mind.  To the acquaintance who asked my friend why I didn't file a restraining order, and to the assholes who don't know the full story and tell me I'm overreacting, and to the others who don't realize why so many women choose NOT to report rape.... to all of you, THIS:

The reason I didn't report it is because I didn't want to face a defense attorney even half as good as I.  I didn't want to deal with the humiliation and indignity of going through that process. Enough people already think I'm a liar, a bitch with a vendetta. Why would I want to put that on the public record?

And if I still wonder if it's rape, what's a jury going to think?

Then there's my friends.  They say they support me.  Some of them try, I know they do.  But in both cases--in 2005 and 2013--I missed out on a LOT of things because I didn't want to deal with facing my assailant.  I didn't want to look at either of them.  Back in 2005 I missed parties and cookouts and bonfires.  These days I miss training opportunities, tournaments, and road trips. I have sacrificed friends and experiences and I have listened while good friends of mine talked animatedly about the super-fun shit they did that I couldn't do because I was too busy avoiding my rapist.

The sad part is that it's happening again.  I want to scream at some people: YOU'RE NOT DOING ENOUGH!  I want to yell: HOW THE FUCK CAN YOU LOOK AT THIS PERSON AND NOT IMMEDIATELY VOMIT?  Because that's what I would likely do.

But rationally, I know I can't expect so much from them.  I can't expect them to just GET it.

Which is how I ended up missing two exits on my drive home from work today. This is why I called a friend at the end of my drive, in tears, freaking out. I kept thinking about this.  I kept going over the facts, reciting my most recent rapist's defense attorney's would-be closing argument at trial, and going through all the emotions I've endured silently.  I think about the fact that I've never told anyone all the unsavory details.  They won't respect me if they know I flirted with the guy after (in both cases) and tried to convince myself I was just fine--just FINE--by having sex with the guy after (in both cases).

Rape is something you suffer silently and alone.  Because even if you've been through it, everyone's experience is different and everyone reacts in different ways.

It's been ten years.  And it's been two years.  I'm tired of being silent.

Post Script, May 28, 2015

I had a bad day on Tuesday.  An hour commute gives a person a lot of time to be alone with her thoughts--which is exactly what happened.  A former writer, I immediately got home and wrote about what I was feeling.  If I had thought through the consequences, I would never have posted this.  I violated by own rule, which is: Any time anything is written in anger, wait 72 hours before clicking "send" or "post" or before fax-filing that motion with super-snarky footnotes.

There is a lot I did not write here: The escalation of events, the rumors, the damage to my personal and quasi-professional reputation. I've been stewing in fury for a year and it all came to a head on a regular Tuesday evening.

If I could undo this, I would.  The responses and attention I've received over the past few days is nothing I wanted.  But it's also important to point out that rape isn't the be-all, end-all.  It shouldn't take an accusation of rape to make people pay attention.  I implore you: When people start saying someone is creepy, or that someone touches people in ways they don't like, or that someone threatens them, or that someone says inappropriate things of the sort that induces nausea, please listen to them and consider that they might, in fact, be telling the truth.

It should't take a rape accusation to compel people to action.


  1. I love you and you're wonderful and none of this is easy and thank you for sharing this anyway. <3

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  3. Thank you for sharing this. I know it is hard to do so. I didn't know fingering was rape. I thought it was sexual assault. Either way it sucks being a victim. I thought my assailant was my friend as well as my boss. My therapist made a good point, a friend doesn't do that.

  4. It's never easy to say out loud the thoughts in our heads. You are brave. You are right. And it sucks. Everything you said sucks, but it had to be said. Because there are so many women out there that don't talk about what happened to them. This happens all too often and for the same reasons, we don't press charges or even talk about it. Thank you for speaking out and telling your story #killthesilence

  5. I can't believe what I had read. I appreciate you sharing this and letting your pain hopefully educate others.

  6. thank you for sharing your story. some still don't have their voice.