Ask the Rape Victim

I am a 45-year old single woman who has counseled other rape victims, so I have no problem being open and frank about my three experiences. I will offer the cursory scenarios to get the basic questions out of the way.

A little background
I developed very early. My first day of walking into the gym class in seventh grade and I was mistaken for the teacher because I already had a chest. The physical development caused a rash of problems in the form of sexual abuse, molestations, and multiple rapes. My breasts were so large by the age of 12 that boys who believed I was stuffing with balloons would trap me in corners and stick pins in them to see if they would pop. I would walk home from school and have men drive by and try to pull me into their cars. Living near a military base, soldiers on the beach (in public), would take turns holding me down and trying to rip my bathing suit off.

I got to a point where I hated the beach and wouldn’t go, sequestering myself alone in my room with my books and art. My mother would rant that any 15-year old girl would love to live at the beach and I was ungrateful for not appreciating what they had given me. I told my parents about some of the first molestations, a local doctor who continually exposed himself to me (masturbating in his bedroom window, which directly faced my bedroom window) when I was home alone and tried to molest me, but the solutions were to walk home a different way, go to a different part of the beach, and close the shutters of my window.

Rape #1; age 16**
One day, walking home from school, I was raped for the first time. I was about 16. He and I were walking down the street – he, of Hispanic descent, in his military-insignia jacket about 30 feet in front of me – turned around suddenly when we were near an open garage. He grabbed me and pulled me, struggling, into the garage. Petrified and shaking with fear, with one hand he clamped his hand over my mouth to keep me from crying out and with his other hand – with both of us standing – lifted my skirt, and did his deed. In retrospect, the entire act may have only taken five minutes. Much of that actual time lapsed is blurry in my memory. When he was finished, he zipped up his pants and ran down an alley. A local neighbor witnessed his departure and me trembling and crying, with my stockings bunched around my ankles, and helped me home. The perpetrator was captured by the police and ultimately let go due to contradictory identification. While I distinctly recalled the military jacket he was wearing, I thought the jacket ended at his waist and the eye-witness thought the jacket was longer, below his buttocks. That discrepancy let him go free.

Rape #2; Statutory, age 17.
In my adolescent brain, I rationalized that I was more adult and mature than my peers when I began an affair with a teacher. It is commonplace now (I am sad to say), but in the early 1980s, it was quite scandalous and unheard of. My parents found out and the teacher and I ended the relationship amicably and quietly. But he bragged about the conquering (to the principal and vice-principal) and as rumors spread, so did the travesty. He was arrested for statutory rape and proceeded to give multiple television and newspaper interviews that he was being targeted by a “deranged and deluded” student who fantasized the whole thing.

My name was never mentioned in print but of course everyone knew who it was. I lived the Clinton/Lewinski macrocosm in a microcosmic environment. Everyone believed the teacher because he was so well-loved and respected. There were death threats against me and my tires were slashed. Ultimately, the school board voted to just give me my diploma months earlier than school ended; I was not to set foot on campus, not attend graduation or prom or anything. Most of the “friends” I had developed washed their hands of me, believing the teacher’s claims that he was the target of an attack. And my mother did as well; she took to the bottle, claiming it was another lie I was telling (just like the rape) to get attention. The teacher eventually lost his job, pleading no-contest to the rape charge, and paid a $1,000 fine. The principal and vice-principal lost their jobs too; for not protecting a minor. I didn’t know about that until much later.

Rape #3; age 29 - a gang-rape
Working the Renaissance Faire circuit at that point in my life, camping near the site was common practice for participants. Also common practice was rampant drinking, drumming circles, and debauchery. I am sure I was drinking and flirting, however I know I was not consenting to the attentions of two younger men (as I was involved in a relationship) who followed me when I left a rather raucous Scotch-tasting circle of thirty-or so people. My boyfriend-at-the-time was at my side when I said my goodnights; he wanting to stay up a while longer and me, desirous of sleep. It was dark and the two guys left shortly after I did, following me and dragging me into their tent which was very near a large drumming circle. Because of the drums and crowd noises, no one could hear me as I cried out for help. I was slightly intoxicated, but far from drunk however because of the lateness of the evening and terrain, when I reported the incident, I was unable to identify my perpetrators or the location of their tent (evidence led investigators to believe the guys moved their tent shortly after letting me go, so it was impossible to identify who they were).
I’ll leave it at that. Ask away.

When I was 25 I happened across a crying woman walking my direction on the sidewalk and asked what had happened and she said she had just been raped. I stammered and stuttered and recommended that she look up the Rape Crisis Center and go there. (Yeesh, I wish I had at least said something less clinically detached).

If you had been the one in her position what could I have done and how could I have behaved that would have been most helpful?

How did you get involved in the counseling? What kind of organization provided it? Did your organization work with social services or other government agencies?

In senario 1, there was no other evidence at all besides the jacket, no swab taken or a medical examination of any type?

I have to say the investigation team and prosecution service in that jurisidiction need to be shot.

Your courage is an example to us all.

Offer to call the cops for her, if you had a phone or if you knew there was a payphone nearby. Tell her she has to get checked out at the ER, now, to preserve evidence and to take care of any injuries. (Not to mention potential issues with things like impending pregnancy, but I wouldn’t be the one to mention that to her; they can do that at the ER.)

Rape Crisis Center isn’t a bad idea to call, but it’s easier to call 911 (and know what the number is) and get the process kicked off to start collecting evidence and get her checked over.

And to the OP - thanks for talking about your experiences. I was “only” sexually assaulted once, but once is far too often; I can’t imagine dealing with your situation.

I have nothing but sympathy for your unfortunate encounters. Nobody should have to go through that…even once.

I do, however, have a question: Where the fuck do/did you live?! It sounds like things like this are almost common-place around those parts or something.

If she said she had just been robbed at gunpoint, what would you have done? Rape is a crime. You report it to the police.

As Ferret Herder said, you could have offered to call the police or – I think better – taken her to an emergency room.

In my case, I asked the gentleman to take me home where I “cleaned up” and told my mother. She called the police who then came and got me to take me to a hospital. My mother did not accompany us and it was my father who later came and got me.

To answer AK84, I was shown a handful of Poloroids and I picked the guy out based on a handful of extremely similar face shots. Swabs were taken, but this was 1980 and forensics for such things were shoddy at best.

elninost0rm ~ I grew up on the beaches of Oceanside, next to Camp Pendleton. My father was a retired Captain so it was important for him to have his family near a military base for medical care, but I did see a huge difference between the “honorable Marine” of my Father’s generation (he served in both the Korean and Vietnamese wars) and the “jarheads” that were the sort of jailbait idiots that filled the force in the late 1970s. I once again have a great respect for our military, but I believe (and this might be an unsubstantiated belief) that after Vietnam, our military was a refuge for guys who were just short of welfare or jail.

Nava, it has actually been almost twenty years since I have done any counseling. It was as a recommendation from my therapist at the time who suggested it would help me work through my issues by being there for someone else.

My therapist got me connected to a Rape Crisis call center where I answered phones and occasionally would be on call for the Police when/if someone was brought it. More than anything it was to just be a friendly voice and hold a hand to help calm the women down explain why certain tests had to be taken.

I was oddly calm and during the tests, but some victims can be catatonic while others hysterical.

Very basically ‘why you’. Have you had any insight as to why you have had so much trouble in this area. I’m not talking ‘because you are one hot babe’ or something, but more of why you have those particular struggles in life, what is the life lesson behind your experiences?

Also what is your attitude to your assailants?

I apologize for focusing on the legal minutiae, but this account jumped out at me:

How far did the investigation go? Was he charged?

I ask because that’s a very small detail on which to dismiss an identification. Was his blood type compared to the results of the rape kit? In 1980, of course, there was no such thing as DNA testing, but in a criminal investigation semen could be (and routinely was) tested for the blood type of the man it came from. About 80-85 percent of the population have a dominant autosomal gene which controls secretion of A and B antigenic material into their bodily fluids; they thus “leak” their ABO blood type into saliva or semen. A sample of semen from a secretor would likely identify the blood type of the person involved.

Was any lab work of this type done, to your knowledge?

I’ll second the first portion of his question. Why you? It seems like you were harassed sexually on a daily basis while you were in school (not to mention the soldiers on the beach). This just seems appalling to me. Was this kind of behavior accepted? Was it specifically the fact that you were near an army base?

**Kanicbird **~ I wish I knew. I know that I was sexualized far younger than most girls. In the SEVENTH grade, I had a Teacher write in my year book, “You are 12, going on 30…” and it was far more than my breast size. I was reading books far beyond what my peers were reading and already had book knowledge that my peers had no knowledge of. Quite frankly, the life lesson it gave me was that of not wanting to bring a child into this world to be subjected to many of these things which I had to endure.

The attitude towards my assailants? Oddly, more anger against the Teacher who committed the statutory rape. For Rapist #1, I know now that was not a sexual act. For the RenFaire Rapists, alcohol was definitely a factor on their part and the shear atmosphere of debauchery which is so prevalent in that setting certainly was part of the factors involved in that situation. But the Teacher took advantage of a girl who had been violently raped less than a year before; he used his position of authority to create a sense of caring and affection which I wanted to believe. I wanted to have someone care about me and love me and when this man in authority offered that, I let him have his way with me. The fact that when the affair came to light that many of my friends sided with him was a significant hardship on how my life ended up.

Bricker ~ I have no memory of what tests were done at the time. What I DO know is that a year later, when the police became involved with the Statutory Rape case, the Police Chief told me that my first Rapist should never have been let free and that how the case was handled was a travesty.

Ironically, it was years later that I learned how the School Board handled my Statutory Rape was also a travesty and had my parents been litigious in any way, I probably could have had quite a lawsuit. My parents had a “put it behind us” mentality and while I was offered some therapy, I felt little else was done in the way of support.

ElninostOrm ~ When I was 11 years old, my parents moved me from our house in Orange County to a condo in Oceanside. My previous education in Orange County was significantly better and in some subjects, I was years ahead. I had already had two years of a foreign language, had read books in the Fifth Grade that I had to re-read in the Eighth Grade, etc.

Also, kids my age either lived on the military base or “in the valley.” The condo where I lived was mostly for weekend Angelenos (back when it was only an hour drive) so there were no school buses for me to take to go to- and from school. I was “the new girl” and had a difficult time fitting into existing cliques.

So I know now that I probably came across as an elite. Just because of where I lived, I was given the reputation of being a “rich kid” just because I lived on the beach. It was an incredibly lonely childhood, not having anyone my age near by me after school and only visiting adults around on the weekends. But I believe that forced me to grow up early than I should have; my early socialization was by and with adults more than children my own age.

Thank you for starting this thread. I would venture to say that of the few people who feel comfortable discussing their experience of rape in public, even fewer would feel comfortable opening the space up for questions. This is very courageous as a way to demystify rape and I hope everyone conducts themselves so as to justify the trust you’ve shown.

Can you tell us, if you like, a little more about being believed or not believed? What I’ve heard from others is that a huge part of the trauma is simply the fact of not being believed, of having your experience rationalized out of existence by others. Does this hold for you?

In an ideal world – okay, in an ideal world, rape wouldn’t exist, but – ideally, what would the ideal response to the rapes you suffered have looked like? I’m sure we all have an idea, but for you personally, how do you envision it having gone, in terms of the reaction of the adults in your life?

In particular, would you have preferred simply to be supported in how you chose to deal with each assault (you want to do X? okay, let’s help you with that), or would you have liked guidance (it’s really important you do X)?

I don’t know if this resonates with you, but it seems like fate has played a cruel joke on you, like lets give this child a smoking hot adult body, and overflowing with sexual pheromones, but lets make her powerless against being violated physically and again violated by the legal system. I get a image of a child soul who really just wants love, and gets taken advantage of and then tossed aside.

I’m just curious. If you’ve experienced such a life full of sexual violence, why would you choose a user name with “Ho” in it? Doesn’t make sense to me.

I caught that one too

Was it that he took advantage of his authority over you? Here is another possible take on it, and the anger behind it, can this fit?: He did care for you, and when people care for each other a sexual relationship can happen. He started to feel a sense of guilt or fear over the relationship, and in order to save himself and release the burden of guilt or fear he turned against you. It was a violation of trust from someone you did get legitimate love from, and the loss of it that creates a sense of anger over abandonment.