Sunday, February 26, 2012

Faces of Rape - Part 1

The following post is sexual in nature and rather graphic. I was personally involved in both events and am relating them to you as best as I can recall. I am doing this to put some real faces to the term "rape victim" which is tossed around in our culture without full regard to the people it represents. If you are sensitive about this subject, consider yourself warned.

She was 8 or 9 years old, the age of ponytails, dog-ears, and braids. She had rainbow-striped suspenders and some off-brand jeans because the real stuff like Lee or Wrangler was too expensive for her parents to afford. She had come to this little church with her pastor, his wife, and the youth group for a kids' program. It was fun to get out once a month and see the other churches.

The program was over and refreshments had been served in the kitchen. After enjoying the Kool-Aid and cookies, she went outside to play with the other kids. Hide-and-seek was her favorite game; she had been born knowing how to hide. But tonight's game was chase. A bunch of older kids were chasing the younger ones around outside, laughing and having lots of fun. She joined the group and began playing along, hoping that the adults would stay inside and talk for a long time.

The older kids gave them a slight head start and the little kids were off again, running in formation to keep away from their pursuers. As the line of children turned right, she veered left, down the hill, and into a small clearing. No one would notice, she thought, and she would easily get away.

But as she ran down the dirt slope, she realized that two boys had broken off in pursuit. As the other kids ran faster and disappeared over the hill, she slipped on something and fell flat on her back. Before she could get up, both boys were on top of her. One grabbed her from behind and forced her arms above her head. The other was at her feet trying to hold them as she kicked at him fiercely. It was still a game to her. She didn't understand.

The boy at her back pinned her arms back and started pulling her shirt up. She was embarrassed and alarmed - this wasn't part of the game! Her mother had always told her that certain parts were dirty and should never be shown. Now this boy was pulling up her shirt so that he and the other kid could see her small body. This was horrifying! She struggled and fought against that hand, trying desperately to bite or do anything that would prevent him from exposing her still undeveloped breasts. But her struggles ceased when the other boy rammed his knee into her abdomen, causing her to gasp for breath and making her wet her pants. She had never been so ashamed in her whole life - lying there in the dirt with one boy touching her and the other one unfastening her jeans. She didn't understand what it meant but she knew it was wrong. She knew her mom and dad were going to be furious. All she felt was shame and pain.

At that point, she saw the full moon in the sky and let her mind drift up to it. She no longer felt anything they did to her. She didn't know - didn't need to know - what was happening to her body. Some time later, she came to her senses and was lying alone and exposed on the ground behind the church. Nobody saw her. Nobody came to help.

She didn't say a word to anyone about what had happened. She went home that night and, claiming she was tired, went straight to the bath. She didn't put her dirty clothes in the hamper. She hid them until her parents went to bed. About midnight that night, she stuffed the dirty clothes in the bottom of the washer and hid her soiled panties at the bottom of a full trash bag. No one would ever see her shame. No one would ever know. She did not have the words to describe what had happened to her. She did not know what to call it. All she knew is that mom and dad could never find out. No one must ever know.

A lot of people think that nothing like this could ever happen to them or their children. They think assault and rape only happen to scantily-clad sluts who are asking for it. They are wrong. I was born into a good, Christian family. I went to a good church. I was a good kid. Yet this happened to me. I am that girl and I was sexually assaulted.

Fortunately, I was too young to get pregnant or to even understand that there might have been a risk. Fortunately, I didn't have to worry about whether I could get emergency contraception or an abortion if I needed one. But there are real women out there who do have to worry about it. To take away a victim's choice is indeed to rape her of her rights all over again. If you haven't been violated like that, then you don't understand no matter how much you might think you do. You don't get it. 

Rape is not about deciding who's the saint and who's the sinner. It's not something for you to sanctimoniously play around with while declaring that the victim needs to just smile and bear her rapist's child. It is a violent crime perpetrated against the young and the old, the thin and the overweight, the beautiful and the plain, men and women, people everywhere. It's a crime against humanity - not a talking point to sell modesty or virtue. Most of all, it is not a platform for you to build your forced birth case upon. 

Rape begins with an idea - the notion that a woman has no sexual freedom and can be forced to perform as one wishes. In that regard, the physical act of rape differs from the forced birth policy in a manner of degree, not kind.

(to be continued...)