The Speech (Trigger warning)

What is below lies a trigger filled attempt at a speech. I am going to give a speech about Rape. I have considered titles which are wholly inappropriate, filled with bravado, and would be more triggering and devalue my own experiences, such as “Rape, it’s What’s For Dinner.” Instead, I think the title may just be, “Rape.” My goal with this speech is to educate law enforcement officials and others about the facts of being raped. I also want to use this speech to reach out to survivors and victims, so that they can begin to heal. I think at this time my updating speed for the blog will be once a week.

I also want each of you to know I could not do this without knowing I have support from my readers. I do, and therefore I know I have a safe place to write. Thank you for that. Between paragraphs I am checking the spam folder on comments, I find it a bit frightening that all of them are for Viagra and Vibrators. Those comments didn’t start piling in until I began to write about rape. I am blessed to have a good spam filter, but, that is a terrifying association.

“Rape”

Rape is often used in the media for drama, there to add tension. The Fear of rape is something that most people have felt at one time or another. Rape can be defined in many different ways. There is date rape, statuatory rape, and then the simple category of rape. The words seem simple, yet, there is a strong reaction to each category. Some people are blamed for their rape, some are told they do not matter, and others manage to fight for prosecution. All of the victims of rape are simply that, victims. Rape could be classified as a hate crime.

What makes a person rape? Most rapists know their victim. The rapists get in close, they are trusted, and often it is an act of domination. It is an act of power. I have been raped. What power does a small child have? I do not know. Perhaps it was the power of life. My biological father was the first person to rape me. He brutalized my body, he tore me to pieces, and then he left me fearing that no one would believe me. My mind suppressed the memories of the worst attacks in order to survive. For years, I dealt with a monster in my bed. I would have rather had the monster under my bed, a figment of my imagination. I did not have the luxury of unfounded fears as a child.

In my journey for healing I began to remember, and due to the law at the time I could still prosecute him. I went to the police. I discovered the horror of being devalued. It is important to support victims of rape, instead of turning them away. The then Albuquerque District Attorney told me, “Your case is just not compelling enough. It won’t matter no one will care that you were raped.” Compelling enough? I still do not understand his choice of words or actions. Why does a case need to be compelling? Justice was lost that day. I was left with the horrible realization that he didn’t care enough about me to do anything. I cried for weeks, for I had wanted to protect other people from my father. I didn’t think he would stop just because I grew up.

I was silent for years after that about being raped. The years of silence festered in my heart. I took the blame onto myself. I presumed I deserved it, because why else would no one else care? It wasn’t until I reached adulthood and began to study law that I understood. My case wasn’t one that would get him political attention. My rape wasn’t important enough to him because he had no basis for what damage could be done. If I had been his sister or mother, he would’ve been enraged. A small and defenseless teenager? He could do as he wished with my rights. I had no way to fight him. I decided then that I wanted to become a lawyer advocating for children, especially those who were sexually abused. Although that has yet to happen, it is still amid my goals.

Another facet of rape came into my awareness as I was forced to confront disability. Bodies that are not as physically able or minds that are not cognizant of the world around them are more likely to be raped with less action comitted to the effort. I have been lucky as a woman with a disability, in that I can still defend myself. I had a “friend” try and rape me a few years ago. I was vulnerable, hurting, and had just found out my back was broken. He made excuses after the attempt. It was only through knowledge that I protected myself. I retained the use of my arms and used the bits of martial arts I could still perform to keep him back. He still hurt me, but, the violation of my body was prevented.

In any country people with disabilities are more likely to be raped. Many people believe the myth that a person with a disability cannot be devirginized, and as the myths pervade about disability and sexually transmitted diseases this leads to thousands of people becoming infected. I have run into the police even locally refusing to enforce any laws that protect my human rights, as a disabled person. They do not listen, and women without disabilities have to fight just as hard to have validation legally. Doing so just after a brutal attack is not just difficult. It is as impossible a task as Climbing Everest.

At the risk of triggering memories for any persons who have been raped I am going to try and describe the emotions involved in being raped. Helplessness. You cannot stop them, you are not strong enough, fear. Are you going to die? There is pain, emotional and physical. The sense of violation doesn’t wash off, even if the evidence of the rape can. You can never wash away the feeling of fingers, hands, and other parts of your rapist entering you. Time might dull that sensation but, the knowledge that you could not stop someone from entering your body is always there. It haunts you, it chases you. Empty rooms, dark nights, and hallways all become places where you might think you hear their voice, or a breathy little laugh that sounds like your assailant. It becomes harder to function, harder to go out. Sometimes it is impossible to stay inside. You want to flee. You want to scream. Some of the victims of rape do. Usually this ends with a brutal beating. Some are too afraid to make sound, and are left to wonder, if I had only screamed would I be saved.

Forever, you carry the burden of wondering what could have prevented this. Some, who know their attackers may not press charges out of fear for their lives. They are left knowing that their rapist is right there, able to harm them again and again if they so desire. Everyday activities become moments where you fear, where you must protect yourself. Even when you don’t know how.

If you are able to try and get police help you must relieve at least a few times the assault, with as much detail as possible. You must allow a stranger to see if they can find evidence inside of your body. You must also wait. What if they do not agree you were raped? This happens often. The police don’t bother with a rape kit, or they decide a person is unrapable. “You are too ugly to be raped.” This sentence is used to justify a denial of justice, to justify mocking a victim, and to justify the excuse that fewer people are raped than the statistics say.

The famed statistic states that one in four women is raped or faces an attempted assault. This might be accurate but with rape there is a huge gap in information. There are no accurate statistics for rape of the disabled, the rape of men, and the rape of women. These statistics try to compensate for those who do not speak up, those who cannot speak up, and yet without actual numbers they fail the victims and potential victims in many ways. The room for error leaves room for disbelief.

The second person who raped me was also someone I knew. I was in Elementary school and this boy decided that he needed to prove to me I was worthless. It didn’t matter that I had no faith in my self or my right to exist. It didn’t matter that we were friends. He pulled a gun out at his fathers house and held it to my head while using my body. I did not handle this well. I was positive no one would believe me. My mother didn’t, I did try to tell her. I had a history of behavioral issues that directly stemmed from the abuses I dealt with as a child. I took my own revenge. I was the one who was punished. I broke the windows in his parents cars, his house, and then I beat him with a metal pole. This course of action landed me in juvenile detention. He never was punished legally. I paid for my crime and his.

I am not finished healing from the experience of rape, but I am sharing with you the facts that I know. If a woman comes forward saying she is raped, she needs the benefit of the doubt. The rape culture in the United States teaches us that she must have deserved it somehow, that ugly women do not get raped, and it teaches us to shame the victim. The media perpetrates this, and despite the best efforts of parents, teachers, and even some of their peers, children do absorb these subconscious lessons.

Rape is a very real crime. It is painful, and it can change the way the victims of rape see the world. Many develope Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, their minds taking triggers from even a smell, and plunging them back into the memories of rape. Many choose to push people away, becoming angry. Some decide they deserved it and throw themselves into dangerous behaviors to try and not feel their pain anymore. Every victim of rape is effected. There is no set response to rape. Some victims may be quiet, appearing calm, others may scream and rage, and still many more may choose actions that include suicide.

If you or someone you know has been raped, or you suspect that a child is being abused please support them and assit them in contacting the police and the local rape crisis center.

At this point I will have my Person hand out little cards with the local crisis numbers listed on it. I do want feedback. I will rewrite this a few times, publicly too. I lost the spark part way through due to my cat jumping on me and spilling juice everywhere. He also deleted a page of vital statistics so I am off to find them.

When the Fantasy is Reality

I had to just sleep after the Toastmasters contest today. My chair, not working with my body since the chairfall, caused seizures. Again. I felt frustration and kept bouncing between one of the conference chairs and my scooter, pretty much between every speech. I felt paranoid about that but decided in order to judge and properly evaluate I had to try for the comfort level that was necessary. It did work, it was just obnoxious.

After the contest I had people asking me if I was me. I haven’t seen some of these men and women in seven years. Not since I was the one up on the stage giving a speech. I think it was about the importance of feet. I had to explain the chair to these people, but, instead of revulsion there was only acceptance. My brain rejected this.

Most people with disabilities, upon their disability becoming apparent face a world so full of revulsion that it is impossible to find a place with acceptance as the norm at first. It is common for persons with disabilities to face stereotyping, because of course if we want access we are just angry disabled people. If this isn’t what is thrown at us like daggers, then it is that we are stupid, or just not worth the time.

Today there was no question of my intellect, acceptance, and indeed I looked around the room and felt that sense of family again. For me feeling love and contentment with people is very rare. Today was the reminder I needed to reground me, not every place or every person is full of disablism. There will be people in Toastmasters who are, and perhaps places that are in accessible but in this case the majority is acceptance.

It does help too, that I am far from the only person with a disability in Toastmasters. There are a lot of people with hidden and not so hidden disabilities in this organization, some of the more prominent are those with disabilities. Some might argue this is because we have more time, which of course is scoffed at. A portion of disabled people still hold down traditional jobs. The rest of us do not work either because employment is difficult to find or our bodies do not work well enough for employment in a traditional field.

I myself fall into that last category. I do not work at a traditional job because I couldn’t function with in the first two days. My body requires more rest, and does not recoup energy as quickly or consistently. This could be Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, though my doctor and I agree it is merely a reflection of the energy it takes for me to balance, hold my body in place, and to work past the pain.

I am on rationed pain meds, saving them for when I cannot breathe or think until April unless I run into more disablism. Still, the realization of what I have merits trumpets and shouting from accessible rooftops. Toastmasters is my place, I can network there and I can help others. They help me too. I am going to compete in the Fall, during the next round of contests. Not just for the glory of competition, but, for the joy of being involved and active.

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