Browsing Tag

rape

Black Lives Matter, Guest Posts, Voices for Change

DEATH BEFORE DISHONOR?

August 4, 2020
dignity

By Tianna Bartoletta

I hope you’ve never been raped.

But one in five women, and one in 71 men have.

And so odds are, you know someone who has been…even if they haven’t told you.

And if you still think you don’t know anyone who has been…allow me to introduce myself.

Anyway…

there is a moment… a moment when you know you’re about to be violated where you make a split second decision.

Well, it’s more like a rapid fire question. Do I fight? Or do I acquiesce and survive?

But fighting is risky. Fighting escalates an already out-of-control situation.

On the other hand acquiescing also comes with its own side effects.

For me, I was left beating myself up for NOT fighting. For essentially allowing myself to be violated, for giving my rapists permission to do what they wanted with my body. For sacrificing my dignity on the altar of survival.

The altar of survival…

I don’t usually sit around thinking about my own history of abuses, assaults, and violations but I watched a traffic stop of yet another black person getting pulled over and I thought for a split second, “just shut up…get home”

Yes sir.

No sir.

I’m sorry.

Thank you.

Okay.

Sandra Bland died in police custody almost five years ago. Initially pulled over for not using her blinker…

I watched the traffic stop via the Officer’s dash cam, and a bystander’s recording. And for a split second I thought again, “girl, please…just comply…can’t you see he’s looking for a reason to fuck with you?”

For a split second.

And then for some reason I had a flashback, my subconscious made the connection for me.

I heard myself saying, “thank you for not hurting me.”

Yes. I, Tianna mutha fuckin’ Tashelle thanked my rapist once upon a time, for not “hurting” me.

And all at once I understood that what we often see as “non compliance” or “resisting arrest” when watching this footage are people clinging to dignity.

Clinging to the vestiges of dignity that people who look like me have NEVER had in this country.

Black men, emasculated in front of their significant others and their children.

Black women, dragged out of their own cars simply for being irritated about being stopped at all.

These are human rights violations.

These are traumas.

They are lose-lose situations.

And one doesn’t simply get over them.

I got pulled over by a cop in college, who admonished me for not paying attention because I was “bopping along” playing my music too loud like “you people do” even though my radio had been off for my entire ride, I wasn’t speeding, and got no ticket. It was just a good day to be harassed.

I remember knowing on a cellular level that I needed to appease this Knoxville sheriff so that I could get on with my day and my life.

I remember immediately going into “yes sir, no sir” making no eye contact, both hands on the steering wheel.

I remember pulling away shaking in my skin, happy to be driving away, disgusted that I cowered to another human being that way when I had done nothing wrong.

The tragedy, when people say things like “stop resisting”, or “just do what they say,” is that a part of you dies when you knowingly and voluntarily submit to the violation of your human rights.

Your body keeps the score and it will never forget the time of death.

Like rape.

I will always know the sound of those voices, the smell of that body, the cadence of the breathing.

I will always wonder how things-how I- would have been different if I made the decision to fight for my life and my dignity,

And yet- when it comes to traffic stops and cops I choose survival.

I choose, again, to sacrifice my dignity on the altar of survival.

It’s not just a traffic stop.

It’s never just a run-in with the police, not when you look like me.

And, although our plight is fading from the news cycle, protests are getting less coverage, and hashtags less trendy this is still the daily dilemma.

Dignity?

or Survival?

And I ask you, straight up, what kind of choice is that?

Tianna Bartoletta is an American track and field athlete who specializes in the long jump and short sprinting events. She is a two-time Olympian with three gold medals. Follow her online at tiannabee.com. Tianna is also on Instagram and Twitter.

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#metoo, Guest Posts, Sexual Assault/Rape

Why We Don’t Tell

December 6, 2017
telling

CW: This essay discusses sexual assault. If you or someone you know has been assaulted, find help and the resources you need by calling the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673, or visit www.RAINN.org.

By Teri Carter

Monday afternoon, I got blackout drunk.

I did not intend to get blackout drunk. I did not intend to drink at all, but I emerged from my home office to see Beverly Young Nelson telling her Roy Moore story and holding up her high school yearbook.

I poured a glass of wine. It was 4:00 in the afternoon.

By 5:30, I’d re-watched Ms. Nelson’s presser several times, tossed the first bottle in the recycling bin and opened another. I don’t remember much after that. I vaguely remember breaking my wine glass and being pissed that my husband was trying to clean up the glass before my dogs, including our 4 month-old, black lab puppy, got into it and got hurt.

I remember my husband leaving for his school board meeting, angrily saying, “I’m afraid to leave you here by yourself, maybe I should stay home,” and me being defiant, belligerent. “Oh my god, I’m fine, go!” I remember being relieved to see his car pull out of the driveway so I could keep re-watching that press conference, and keep drinking.

Looking back, it was the way Ms. Nelson talked about her neck — the way she described Mr. Moore putting his hands on her head and her neck, the force and the fear she felt from him — trying to push her face into his crotch. Continue Reading…

#metoo, Guest Posts, Sexual Assault/Rape, Surviving

A Vacation from Your Brain

November 29, 2017
brain

CW: This essay discusses sexual assault. If you or someone you know has been assaulted, find help and the resources you need by calling the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673, or visit www.RAINN.org.

By Whitney Bell

I wish I could forget his scent.

When I moved there the air smelled of salt and thick heat. Citrus sometimes, beer others, the dichotomies of fresh and clean, smoke and sweat, coconut lime. Perfect for an adventure seeker.

Live music poured out of bars, boats floated out for sunset sails, restaurants served the catch of the day, crab legs, lobster tails.

I got a job by the beach waiting tables, and rented a cute little bungalow with a front yard jungle. I read by day, drank wine by night, sang karaoke, and danced. Met new people.

I can’t tell you why I trusted him, other than I trusted people. He reminded me of my friends back home. Friends I’d slept next to and always been safe.

I can’t tell you why I hung out after the bar closed, other than I worked second shift, drank until 2am, and that was my lifestyle, the after-party.

I can tell you I didn’t know about boundaries. I was new in town and lonely. But where I was from, inviting someone over wasn’t a sexual invitation. Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, love, Mental Health, sisters

Piece

July 28, 2017
beaten

CW: This essay discusses sexual assault. If you or someone you know has been assaulted, find help and the resources you need by calling the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673, or visit www.RAINN.org.

Note: most names have been changed.

By Noreen Austin

Gere’ December 1993

My sister Gere’(Jer-ray) has been missing from her North Hollywood, California group home for several days. Raoul, her counselor, a stocky man, coiled with a black belt in martial arts, has the skills to survive in this socioeconomic oppressed part of town. He cares for the mentally disabled. His home is a place of refuge in hopelessness. But he can’t keep Gere’ safe after all, and he files a missing person’s report with Los Angeles County.

My father calls me in my Northern California home from his apartment in Southern California and explains, “She was badly beaten.” The police had interviewed Gere’. They told Raoul they had never seen anyone so severely beaten and still able to walk.

“She wasn’t taken to the hospital?” I ask.

“She bolted before the ambulance got there.” My father says.

Gere’ is 29-years old, has Tuberous Sclerosis, a gene mutation that causes tiny benign tuber-like tumors to grow onto the ends of the synapses in her brain. Autism, learning disabilities, hyperactivity, anger and defiance behavioral problems, ash-leaf shaped skin pigmentations, and seizures are a few of the symptoms of this condition. Some people with TS don’t have seizures. But Gere’s started when she was eighteen months. Each seizure causes brain lesions, which contributes to her cognitive decline. It’s easy for me to understand her confusion. The police are there to arrest bad people. The police are talking to her. It’s when the police leave the room to get some information from Raoul that Gere’ runs. Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, Sexual Assault/Rape, Tough Conversations

English Club: A Story of Gang Rape, Trafficking, And A Dragon

May 21, 2017

CW: This essay discusses rape and sex trafficking. For survivor support, contact RAINN for confidential online and phone support, https://www.rainn.org/get-help.

By Katie Ottaway

For three years all I remembered was the tea. The tea wasn’t even that good.

I was abroad teaching English, and planning a summer of pre-dissertation research.  My classes were in the evening, and it was not uncommon for my students to bring friends to audit.  In the few minutes before I commenced my advanced English class, I overheard a conversation that a handful of my male students were having in their local language.  I didn’t catch it all, but I understood that they were talking about me, and my class, and falling asleep.  They were discussing whether or not I would make the cut.  There was some discussion of numbers.  At the time, I naturally assumed that they were critiquing my pedagogy, maybe discussing if their new foreign teacher was hot or not, and talking about finances as most students do.  I didn’t like the fact that they were talking about me within a few feet of me, thinking that I couldn’t understand, so I spoke to the class in their language for the first time.

After class, one of the students approached and asked if I had understood their conversation.  I bluffed a little, and replied that I had understood enough of it.  His eyes widened, and he assured me that they were talking about a different class and a different teacher.  He only returned a couple times, and never made eye contact.  His friend, G, who was privy to the conversation maintained good attendance, and even became somewhat of a teacher’s pet. Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, Sexual Assault/Rape

A Funny Thing About Rape: A Video Essay

April 9, 2017

CW: Discussion of rape and sexual assault. Sexual assault is not your fault. If you need to talk: 800.656.HOPE, , .

By Mary Jo Smith

There’s been a lot of talk about rape lately.
As someone who was raped, I thought I’d join the conversation.

So, there’s been a lot of talk about rape lately. Because, you know, we just had a presidential election. In which we elected a president who likes to grab women by the pussy. Ok, wait. To be fair, I don’t want to paraphrase what our President said, because the media does that kind of stuff all the time and then you form an opinion about somebody based on what you think they said, but it’s not really what they said. So, let me be clear. What our president really said was, quote:

“You can do anything, grab them by the pussy.”

Oh, that’s what I said. OK.

Now, a lot of people got really angry, on Facebook, about what our President said. And I’ve been thinking about it, you know, cause I’m a woman, so I’m supposed to have opinions. So, here’s my opinion: Everybody needs to calm down. I mean even our shiny, new Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, when asked, if what our president said constituted sexual assault said:

’I don’t know.’ Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, Sexual Assault/Rape, Writing & The Body

Livor Mortis

March 29, 2017

By Megan Collins.

My first husband wanted to pee on me. I kid you not. He wanted me to dress down to my skin and lay in that cold vessel of a tub with the drain stabbing me in the head so that he could piss all over me. Can you imagine? I did. I could die. My tombstone a metal faucet with an inscription in scum, ‘Here lies girl who once was. Wild. May daffodils grow in her stead’. I tell you this so that you know what the face of death looks like when she’s staring at you from across a cafe; the grocery store. What the separation of body and a spirit look like walking around in human skin. It is a body covered in piss owned by a man you despise, with the life spirited away.

 

For the record, I told him I would not. That even the thought of it made me feel dirty and disgusted. So he told me I was a stuck up cunt and that the reason for his late night voyeurism of underage Asian girls and naked, male, jock on jocks with throbbing veiny dicks was because I was stifling his sexual exploration. Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, parenting, Sexual Assault/Rape

The Conversation We’re Not Having With Our Sons

March 26, 2017

By Amy Hatvany

I don’t remember my parents talking to me about sex, other than making it clear that opening my legs to a boy before I got married was a sin. What I do remember is thinking that I was a lesbian because I masturbated—I knew girls who touch other girls were gay, so if I touched myself, didn’t that mean the same thing? I was confused, ill-informed, and scared, so I shoplifted a Penthouse Letters magazine when I was in middle school, desperate to understand my own body and if the raging, hormonal urges that sometimes took me over were normal. But instead of validation, what I found were graphic stories of women who submitted to men’s forceful, probing mouths, fingers, and dicks. These women protested at first—some of them even said no—but soon found themselves swooning, powerless to resist the “pleasure” of violation.

Years later, I would wonder if what I learned about consent from these descriptions—that it was a man’s job to make a woman realize what she really wanted; that her “no” was simply waiting to be turned into a yes—was part of what kept me from telling anyone about the boy who unzipped his jeans and jammed his erection into the back of my throat when we were sitting together in the front seat of his car. I was on the edge of fifteen, and he was older, someone I knew, someone I’d had a crush on, and so I didn’t fight, I didn’t try to stop him. I only endured, waiting for the pain and paralyzing terror of what he was doing to loosen its vice-like grip on my chest. Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, Self Image, The Body

One Twenty Three

October 10, 2016
body

By Beth Cartino

Obscene.

This is the word I hear in my head whenever I catch a glimpse of myself in the reflection of a car window, bathroom mirror, or full body photograph. I sometimes freeze in disbelief. I have no idea who this reflection belongs to.

A dress, seemingly tasteful and flowing on a smaller body becomes obscene over the dimpled creased lines of mine. My body always seems as if it is trying to burst out of my clothes. I wonder how I live with myself sometimes. I wonder when my body betrayed me. I wonder when I betrayed by body and why have I made the distinction between myself and my body. I am two separate beings inhabiting the same skin and we are at war. We are mortal enemies. I am the Hatfield’s and my body the McCoy’s. I am Irish Catholic, my body Protestant.

There can be no peace between us.

I am my own body terrorist. Continue Reading…

Abuse, Guest Posts, Sexual Assault/Rape

Revolutions Have Started this Way.

October 9, 2016

By Heidi Hutner

 

Since the release of Trump’s leaked and lewd bus tapes, the Internet has been abuzz with the topic of misogyny and violence against women. Amid Friday night’s Twitter conversations, author Kelly Oxford shared the story of her first sexual assault and then requested others to share theirs. By Saturday evening, more than 9.7 million women tweeted their first sexual assault tales, according to Oxford.

One of these was mine:

My sister’s 19-year old boyfriend (naked in my sister’s bed) told me to take off my clothes. When I refused, he bullied and shamed me. I was eight.

 

While woman continue to tweet #notokay, many Clinton opponents on the left argue across social media that the eleven-year-old Access Hollywood footage of Trump was leaked “just” to divert attention from the recent Wikileaks of Clinton’s emails. Many claim, Trump’s behavior, while deplorably sexist, pales next to Clinton’s bad deeds.

 

These opponents state, however, that their dislike of Clinton has nothing to do with the fact that she’s a woman or that she’s old—yes, ageism and sexism go hand-in-hand. As Washington Post columnist Petula Dvorak writes, “A woman her age is supposed to be invisible. But Hillary Clinton, who is 68, refuses to disappear — and there is no shortage of people who despise her for it.” Many Clinton opponents say the ‘feminism question’ on all counts—whether about Trump or Clinton—is just a diversion from more important issues.

  Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, Sexual Assault/Rape

The Thing About Being Raped

October 9, 2016
raped

TW: This essay discusses rape. 

By Perveen Maria

The thing about being raped is that for most or the rest of your life, you believe in your skull and feel in your heartpools like you don’t have a choice in certain situations or with certain people. You think you have to do this or you should do that because when you tried to say no before you were overpowered and shut down and yelled at and screamed at and hit with drunken hands and pinned down with a manbody who believed he was king, but was really a nobody who stole my virgin ring.

When you are raped, you have a rage inside that demands to be heard and recognized and appreciated and valued, but this rage inside can’t be visible on the outside because this is why girls and women are raped. Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, Surviving, Young Voices

The Aftermath Of Assault Leads To A Call For Help

October 4, 2016
assault

TW: This piece discusses sexual assault and its aftermath.

By Ashley N. Doonan 

I am a doctoral student in Rhetoric and Writing at Bowling Green State University. I teach Freshmen English as well as take courses within my program. I come from New England, and I have only been in the Midwest for about a month and a half. Unfortunately, my experience here has already been tarnished.

On September 1st, 2016 I was robbed of a vital piece of myself. The violation—the shrieks, the moans, the blood—all as I was forced down and pressed into the carpet rhythmically against my will for what seemed like hours. After that day, I resorted an old coping mechanism of mine—that is, not eating. That numbness, that lapse back into my eating disorder sucked me in almost instantaneously.

Things started to decline quickly, and there’s no doubt that one cannot maintain an eating disorder while simultaneously succeeding in a Ph.D. program. Therefore, I have sought out a dietician who is highly supportive and specializes in the treatment of eating disorders. However, she does not accept insurance and the standing rate for the comprehensive six-month package costs $3,250. “Begin WELL” was the program suggested to me based on my assessment (more information on that can be found here).

As a graduate student, I simply don’t have that type of money nor do I have any financial support from my family. As of today, I have a second job, however, my university limits the amount of hours that graduate students can work. I am extremely uncomfortable asking others for assistance but I know how much I need to be seeing this dietician in order to stay in school and avoid a higher level of care. My dietician is willing to work with me via monthly payments versus paying for the entire package at once.

During my eating disorder in past (you can read more about that here) I found that hunger stole my voice. The year wherein I was too afraid to go to class, when I’d come up with any and every excuse not to go out with friends—I refer to that period of time as “the silent years.” Little did I know, my sexual assault and subsequent relapse into my eating disorder would pull me back into the realm of silence. The work that I do currently involves discussing the rhetoric of mental health—a topic that will likely become my dissertation. I believe that advocacy for mental health issues is one of the most vital things one can do; for me at the current moment, that means vocalizing my story because I know that I need assistance to make it through this. Moreover, I hope to reclaim my voice because I refuse to let my trauma and eating disorder rid me of it.

Even the smallest of donations would be appreciated, as I am doing everything that I can to stay out of the hospital. My GoFundMe page can be found here.

Warmest wishes,
Ashley N. Doonan

 

Join founder Jen Pastiloff for a weekend retreat at Kripalu Center in Western Massachusetts Feb 19-21, 2016. Get ready to connect to your joy, manifest the life of your dreams, and tell the truth about who you are. This program is an excavation of the self, a deep and fun journey into questions such as: If I wasn’t afraid, what would I do? Who would I be if no one told me who I was? Jennifer Pastiloff, creator of Manifestation Yoga and author of the forthcoming Girl Power: You Are Enough, invites you beyond your comfort zone to explore what it means to be creative, human, and free—through writing, asana, and maybe a dance party or two! Jennifer’s focus is less on yoga postures and more on diving into life in all its unpredictable, messy beauty. Note Bring a journal, an open heart, and a sense of humor. Click the photo to sign up.

Join Jen Pastiloff at her Manifestation Workshop: On Being Human in Dallas Oct 22. Click the link above to book. No yoga experience needed- just be a human being! Bring a journal and a sense of humor. See why People Magazine did a whole feature on Jen.

 

Check out Jen Pastiloff in People Magazine!

Check out Jen in People Magazine!

Guest Posts, Surviving, Young Voices

Broken Hospital Bracelets

August 17, 2016
trauma

TW: This essay discusses rape and trauma.

By Ashley Doonan

“It has been a pleasure working with you,” Dr. Leslie says as he hands me a cab vouch to North Station, “we’re here if you need us.” The taxi drives down McLean hill and I gently loosen my hospital bracelet. “This is it,” I think to myself, “this is learning to walk again.” I breathe deeply and stare into the sun.

Three weeks prior, it was raining. I stood in the Clinical Evaluation Center, second-guessing why I was there. A nurse spoke gently, “we’re sending you to the Trauma Unit.” The semester prior, I had finished my Master’s thesis on a subject matter related to trauma—I knew all of the signs and the symptoms, the causes and the effects. Still, identifying myself as a sufferer remained alien to me. It couldn’t possible be me, I thought that day, how did I become this fragile? I often find myself wondering what are the evolutionary mechanisms that cause intrusive thoughts after a traumatic event occurs? Perhaps it is for safety, but the pain that is produces emotionally seems utterly unproductive. Even the trauma specialists lack the answer to this underlying question. Thus, we sit with these thoughts day after day, desperate for a means of escape. Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, Sexual Assault/Rape

Rape Weight

June 14, 2016
rape

By Jacqueline Evans

During the summer after my high school graduation, I was raped.

It hurt, and while it was happening, I was terrified. I recall every single strange thought that went through my mind during those few minutes. I remember wondering if I was going to die. I remember thinking that this wasn’t how rape looked in the movies, and shouldn’t someone be making more noise? I remember starting to make some noise, a tiny and pathetic cry, and my rapist’s hand clamping tightly over my mouth. I remember closing my eyes and randomly wishing that my dad would come and save me. Mostly though, through the terror and pain, I remember a strong feeling of ownership and blame for what was happening to me. What echoed through my mind was clear:

“I put myself here. I deserve this.”

The 16 years that have passed since that night have held a lot of change. Unlike certain parts of that experience that will stay fresh in my mind forever, the girl I was in that time of my life is a distant memory, a far cry from the woman I am today. At the time of my rape I was a budding alcoholic. It wasn’t long before I was the real deal, with an insatiable need to “feel good,” no matter what the cost. I used alcohol to try to fill a vacuous hole inside of me, and sometimes it worked. The problem was that sometimes it didn’t. Continue Reading…