I’ve been wanting to broach this subject for a few weeks now. Not because I wanted to weigh in on whether I believe Bill Cosby is guilty of rape or not. What I want to talk about is what he represents. As I was preparing for this blog, I learned that 1 in 4 women have experienced rape or some type of sexual assault. It is one of the highest unreported crimes. I know that men and children also have these type of crimes committed against them, but for the sake of this blog, I am only writing from the perspective of being a woman.
I mentioned Cosby because he looks like that person that no one would ever suspect. He’s like the trusted family member, neighbor, babysitter, teacher, church member that seemingly couldn’t be more honest. But a moment or moments alone with them grants leeway for the unthinkable to happens. I want to talk about this today in hopes that it may help someone who may be carrying the memory of a crime around, and not know what to do about it.
As I listened to the details unfold from the women who accused Mr. Cosby, I found myself thinking that many of them still sound hurt even decades later. It also caused me to remember a situation that I was in when I was about 20 years old. I lived at my parent’s house at the time. I had been dating a guy who had joined the Army. He was home for the weekend and we decided that we would have an official “grown up” date. Neither of us had cars at the time. So, we figured out a way to meet up without catching a ride from one of our friends.
The date was going well, then it began to go a little farther, faster than what I wanted. He began “handling” me in a way that I was used not to. I could see where things were leading. I told him that this was not what I wanted but his desire was louder than my refusal. I realized that if I wanted to get out of this without being hurt other than my pride, that I had better comply. So I did.
Back then, they taught, “Just say no.” They didn’t have the term “Date Rape”. To be honest, I didn’t put a name on what happened until after the fact. I just knew that I didn’t want this. I told him that I didn’t want it and he didn’t listen. I’m not entirely sure how long the “event” went on. I just remember afterward, he was with me in a cab that drove me home. When I got in the house, I went into the bathroom and tried scrub his scent and my shame off of me. I promised myself that I would never tell anyone about this. When I came out of the bathroom, I mentally closed the door to him and what was done. About five years later, the thoughts began to seep up from seemingly no where. I found myself grieving the part of me that died that day. I tearfully called a close sister friend who advised me to either write or tell him what he had done. To find a way to release this so that I was no longer carrying it.
About a month later, my brother told me that the guy was looking for me and gave me his phone number. I took some time, and called him when I was ready to deal with it. I told him what he did. He denied it. Then I explained to him what made it rape. It didn’t matter that he denied it. What mattered is that I was able to release this.
After that, I began a journey of emotional healing mostly through writing poetry. Sexual assault/rape is a trauma to your system. As such, there may be residue that may influence how you date going forward. Whether you are promiscuous or may date someone who is your same gender. You may deal with trust issues, commitment issues. The list is endless. This is why it is imperative to go through the process of healing so that you don’t hurt yourself or someone else.
I can say that I no longer have any emotion behind what happened to me then. Though I have to admit two things. When I told my friend that I was considering writing this blog about this subject, I did surprisingly feel a little emotional. Secondly, this has not been an easy blog to write, because I could see his face as I described the events that happened to me nearly 23 years ago. If I had the opportunity to see him again after all of these years, I would tell him that I have forgiven him. I don’t hate him.
But, that’s my story. If you have a similar experience, then you have to come through your own healing process. Get your own story that you decide if you want to share or not.
I’m writing this blog in hopes that it will help someone to know that they are not alone. If I can be healed from what happened, then so can you. Healing is a process. Why not start your process today so that you don’t go into 2015 still feeling and acting from the affects of something that happened.
As I mentioned, this crime happens to 1 in 4 women. Think of four of your good girlfriends. The next time all of you are together, ask them if anything like this has ever happened. They will likely tell you. I will caution of something, if they decide to open up to you, just listen. Keep your opinions and what you think they should have done to yourself. If you don’t think that you can do that. Then, you may not need to be the sounding board.
The story that she is going to tell you will likely not make sense. I believe this is why many of the crimes of this nature do not get reported. When a person is in a distressed situation, their brain switches to “survival mode”. You make distressed decisions not decisive “in the right mind” decisions. So when the victim tries to play back minute to minute events of what happened, some of the events may not be in sequence. Some of the details may get mixed up the longer she talks. There will likely be blame, saying things like, I don’t know why I went or why I didn’t see this coming. Be prepared for shame, as you may be the only person that has heard what happened. Don’t try to give answers. Just do your best to show support, validation of their feelings and love them through the process.
This link offers help and support to victims of rape http://www.healthyplace.com/abuse/rape/help-for-rape-victims-rape-victims-support/ Be a friend and encourage them to call the National Sexual Assault Hotline. Call them at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673). Let the hotline help toward the process of healing.
You can get through this… I did.
Happy New Year!