Dear Congress, Don’t Invalidate Me Further

Photograph by Hayley Rose, Copyright 2009

I never thought I’d speak publicly about the details of what happened to me but now I know I may have to in the name of rape-victims and future rape-victims everywhere. Ten years ago I went to watch the Super Bowl with two older males who I considered friends. The last thing I remember was the pattern of the tiles on the ceiling, as the game began. They had put something in my drink. When they were both done having their way with me, they drove to my house and tossed me out of the car, leaving me on my front lawn like garbage. I was fifteen years old when it happened, and I never went to the authorities. This was the second unreported rape I’d experienced in my lifetime. Does this mean I wasn’t raped? Maybe to the 170-plus people in this room who want to vote in this bill, it does, and you wouldn’t be the first people to take it upon yourself to judge me and invalidate my claims.

As a sexual assault survivor, I have found that for some reason, many people like to invalidate rape victims. I refer to these individuals as rapist-sympathizers. There are some common excuses they like to use,

“She was dressed provacatively,”

“She has a history of promiscuity,”

“If she didn’t fight back or say ‘no’ then it wasn’t rape,”

If you have used any of these terms, you may be a rapist-sympathizer, or you may be uninformed. Even the most educated people often think of rape as a sexual act. This is a common misconception. Rape is a violent crime in which sex is the weapon. Even the former republican Governor of my home state, Jodi Rell was quoted on the subject of rape crime saying, “It is violence of the most personal and devastating kind, as brutal in its own right as murder.” She is indeed correct. The only difference between rape and murder is that when someone is murdered, after the crime has been committed, the victim’s friends and family are left to bear the excruciating pain of losing a loved one. When you are raped, it is like a part of you has been murdered, and you, like the friend or relative of the homicide victim, are the only one initially left to mourn this loss.

I don’t understand how anyone can be in favor of slyly incorporating the redefinition of rape through this bill. As an outsider to the political process of congress, I know that many of your votes are financially motivated, and not always in the favor of the people you are here to represent, but I cannot justify in my conscious that this is your only motivation. Perhaps there are people in this room who have gone to a bar and gotten a woman inebriated with the intentions of wearing down her inhibitions so you could have sex with her that night. Perhaps you’ve done this more than once, perhaps with several women. Perhaps you have adult children you are try to protect who you know engage in this predatory behavior.

Regardless of the reason, protecting rapists by changing the definition of rape does not change the fact that they are still indeed rapists.  It does however do a disservice to the one and six women and one in thirty-three men who will be sexually assaulted in their life times. One in six women is a scary number. I’m sure if you gathered your circle of girlfriends, one or two of them might admit that they had been sexually assaulted or abused at some time in their life. It’s not something we sexual-assault survivors  like to talk about because of some of the people who share similar ethics with the 170-plus people in this room who are going to support a bill that will redefine the definition of rape for the worse. Let’s go over that definition for a moment:

The term rape originated from the Latin word Rapere, which had no sexual connotation, and meant “to seize or take by force.”  Ladies and gentlemen, rape means to steal, and if you are someone or you know someone who has been raped, you can testify that this definition is still applicable to this verb. I hope that your daughters and sisters will never have to experience sexual assault, but with such staggering statistics some of them will.

A lot of men who write in to my column have trouble putting rape into perspective and in order to empathize with my articles put into perspective how they would feel if their sister or mother was sexually assaulted.

I know there are a lot of Christians in this room, some of you might even consider yourselves good-Christians. If you good-Christians and vote for this bill in the name of limiting federally funded abortion coverage, don’t think for a second going to church every Sunday is going to absolve you from the destruction you will be causing the rape victims that will indefinitely be affected by this bill. It has always amazed me how conservatives against abortion often support less stringent gun regulations. Columbine. Virginia Tech. Tucson. These recent and infamous events in American history are just a handful of events that represent gun massacres and violence that were procured with legally purchased weapons.

I think that we as American’s have lost our sense of community. I think that we have stopped looking out for each other in favor of financial self interests, and I think voting for this bill, a bill that wrongly redefines the terms and definition of rape in the name of your private personal gain (whatever that may mean to you) is the epitome of kicking a person when they are down, and I will close by reading you the following statistics of what happens to a man or a woman after their world has been shattered by one of the most violent crimes known to man:

“Victims of sexual assault are:

3 times more likely to suffer from depression.

6 times more likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.

13 times more likely to abuse alcohol.

26 times more likely to abuse drugs.

4 times more likely to contemplate suicide,” (Taken from RAINN.org)

Do we really need to invalidate these victims and survivors by voting for this bill? Can’t we as American’s find it in our hearts pull together to protect these wounded souls who have already been through so much?

Please sign this petition to prevent congress from further invalidating rape victims and taking away their rights by redefining the term “rape.” This deplorable notion has been snuck into a piece of legislation to limit federally funded abortions further.

I forwarded this post to moveon.org, my senators, and my state rep.  I just got off the phone with my state reps office. The woman I spoke to told me that if there are other people who are as infuriated by this as I am, that I should encourage them to also  contact their state rep and senators. You can contact your state rep here and your senators here. If you feel as angry about this as I do, please make some noise for the one in six.

Thanks,

Hayley

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