April Letter From the Publisher: Recovery and #Rape

*Content Warning: rape, violence, fear

This month Open Thought Vortex is dedicated to recovery. Recovery is an ongoing process for me. Throughout my life I have been in various stages of recovery, relapse and what often seems like  resurrection. What I can tell you is simple: Recovery isn’t just about addiction. No one is exempt. Addiction doesn’t discriminate. Rape does not discriminate. Mental illness doesn’t discriminate. Life will hit you hard. You know who does discriminate? The people in power who stand between those of us who are trying to heal and those of us who are on the road to recovery or maneuvering  our way to healing in order to recover.

 Unfortunately, the tide seems to be pointing at the heart of our nation. I cannot stand by. I will not remain idle or cower  while the strong destroy the weak. I will not ignore those being silenced because others shame them or blame them. I will not look away as attempts are made to silence them by questioning the crimes against them or trying to in some way place blame on them.

I have a story. It is one small piece of why On the Verge is looking at recovery in April.

I thought my story was unique. Maybe I was paranoid. Maybe I was to blame for the coercion and shame that was placed upon me. I was terrorized. I was blamed. It took the collective voices of many victims to help me in my story. My own family did not believe me. My predator was smart, organized and ready to ensure that anything I reported would sound like the claims of a desperate 15 year old girl . I will tell that story but not now.

Right now. . . I ask you to do what others did for me. Raise your voices, share your stories. In order for justice to be served all of us must stand to together. All genders, all ages, all demographics put aside the stigma. Tell your story. Helping even on person could put them on the road to recovery. Help them when they are down.

Dr. Luke and Bill Cosby are only the most recent examples of men in power being favored over their female victims. OJ Simpson got away with what he did because he was famous. He was stronger. His wife was scared. The hurt was buried and the story lives on playing out on our televisions. This dynamic is not new. Trump. I don’t have to say much on that . . . Do I?

When a woman reports an assault she is either lying, drunk, asked for it or didn’t say no enough. I don’t care if she said yes then changed her mind. I don’t care if she was high as a kite. That does not give a single human- being permission to rape her and threaten her or anyone for that matter.

Don’t get me wrong here. Many people of all genders are accused of crimes they did not commit. The judicial system is failing many. Our government is failing us. Our society  is better than this yet we continue down a path which could reverse all the good accomplished by “We The People.”

If We continue , We will not Recover. We will not Survive. We will not be Alive.

Any person who is  frightened due to an assault should have protection. Should be heard. Kesha is but one of many examples. She had a hit song with Pit Bull then disappeared at a high point in her career due to her fear of working with a producer whom many others in the industry with nothing to gain by supporting her have spoken up– and I am only making an informed guess but I feel confidant I am correct. I do believe he violated her in some way. Other’s in the music industry have spoken up or  ignored it  all together-a hostile workplace is not ok. Kesha spent quite a long time in rehab and recovery.  Her claims of being manipulated, coerced, drugged and, to be fair I must use the word “allegedly,” raped by a music producer: Dr. Luke should be investigated properly. Her sobriety does not matter with regards to this.

Sony should be happy to release Kesha from her contract if she is in fear. Why force her to stay? The only obvious answer is that Sony wants her talent; They gave something to gain.Releasing her from the contract does not convict him nor prove his guilt or innocence. That is for a criminal court to decide. What it will do is allow her a measure of comfort . Ultimately, releasing her could help her recover.

Instead of torturing her for monetary profit, Sony should be supporting her. Even more artists should be rushing around Kesha to hold her up by boycotting Sony.  Sorry gentleman that means you .Taylor Swift, I am sorry. Demi Lovato is right.  You are respected. You are an icon and social figure with a wide reaching voice. Donating $250,000( t0 her legal fees) is not what will help Kesha- your peer. Taylor Swift you have a  platform , a  powerhouse voice that you should raise. Donating funds simply put is nota  real show of support. I love you  Taylor Swift–You have power, now use it.

Erin Andrews, I admire this woman. Everyone thought she spoke up just to sue for money. Attorney’s claiming she gained fame from a video taken while she undressed in the privacy of her hotel room. She had nothing to gain. I am happy the Judges decided in her favor but the reality is she was judged harshly by the media. The reality is it wasn’t about money. The attorney was spinning the story, whipping it like master chefs making the perfect custard of condemnation. Her win was standing up for herself. Sharing her story. Reliving that experience. Entering a court knowing that video would be played into evidence. Knowing she would be watched again, nude, bare all  in order to make a difference. She put her story out there . Why? Because she knew that her story would shine a light bright enough to provide everyday people more safety in those private situations. What if that were a child recorded through that peep hole?

I can speak from personal experience as I watch my husband’s face turn crimson red knowing what I am writing right now. I know that he will endure my pain, my anxieties and fears as I speak of my past. I know he feels shame. I know that on some level he is hoping I won’t reveal too much. I know he won’t want me to share this on my personal page. Imagine what Erin Andrews went through as she endured her trial. The truth is right now as I write he will learn new details  of my story that will shake him to the core. I understand his fear. I understand his apprehension. I share it.

Men and boys get raped. I know. I saw it happen as an 11 year old girl. I had stopped by a friend’s house. What I saw is an image forever burned in my memory.  Her much older brother; a teenager in high school was raping a male friend of mine who lived a few short blocks away from me. I quickly ran away. Not knowing what to do or what I had seen I told my best friend .  He tried to help by talking to the boy -our peer-our friend- but he was to ashamed to admit it. He began avoiding us. He did not recover.

Taylor Swift was able to write a press release about a fart that maybe was heard on the MTV Award & an open letter about musicians being paid for music. Jennifer Lawrence wrote about unequal pay for women in Hollywood. But Kesha is stuck in a contract with an “alleged” rapist and E! News hasn’t covered it aside from a little breaking news blip or a few mentions. I record E! News. They have covered the Kanye ” I made that bitch famous”  comment in a rap lyric about Taylor Swift more than Kesha’s story. Why?

I am calm on the outside manic on the inside. I can’t cool off. This happened to me. I was silenced. I was blamed.

I woke up at 4 am with nothing but expletives in my head when that story broke. I have never wanted to scream so badly in my entire life. If I had laser vision I would  have bored a hole in the wall. At one point I had 62 browser windows open looking up similar stories thinking what the fuck is wrong with this world?

Trump, Rubio, you name them–they think that women are the weaker the sex. We aren’t weaker. We are strong. We are constantly told that if we share our truths or faults that we are whack jobs. If a female candidate said the things Trump did  – in general or at all, she would have been finished.

We want to talk about other countries oppressing women? Why do we care? Trump, a tried and true misogynist, has a real chance of becoming president. Perhaps The Walking Dead is not wrong after all. Perhaps we are The Walking Dead because look at this carnage.

If we cared about women’s rights, or social justice or mental health our political climate would not look like this–to dismiss a person’s experience, silence someone and tell them it’s not real, tell them they are liars…just no. Stop it. Be the change damn-it!

You didn’t report it…um …what not soon enough? So what? Still blaming. The road to recovery is not easy. Speaking up is even harder. Reporting it isn’t getting any easier. I know. The detectives questioning me made me never want to speak of it again. Truth is I didn’t speak of it till I had to. Let me come clean here. I would not have told my husband had my infertility issues not been related to sexual assault.

I was repeatedly raped and to many  it would have seemed like I was willing.  WHEN YOU BELIEVE YOUR LIFE IS DANGER AS I DID. . . your fear can debilitate your ability to protect yourself.  I was told to tell my friends I was okay.

I was not.

I was forced by a 37 year old  man who selected his victims according to the statutory rape laws.

I was not willing.

Even if I had been willing he was a predator who threatened me.

Threatened my family.

Threatened my friends..forcing me to be good, cooperate or bad things would happen to people I loved.

I BELIEVED HE WOULD HURT MY FAMILY.

HE HAD A GUN AND WAS IN A GANG.

SEVERAL MEMBERS OF HIS FAMILY WENT TO OUR SCHOOL AND HAD BEEN SHOT.

DID I BELIEVE HE WOULD  SHOOT ME? YES I DID.

HE WAS AN ACTIVE GANG MEMBER FOR FUCK’S SAKE.

HE HIMSELF HAD BEEN SHOT.

HE WAS ALREADY A CRIMINAL.

I will not be silenced. I will not be oppressed by the WORLD WIDE HATE machine. I have spoken up before and I will continue to speak until power is granted to those who need it instead of those who have it.

Read my story on RAWr Words. 

Believe survivors who speak up enough to listen to their stories thereby granting them the power to be heard. Believe instead of doubting so that this country can support our healing. Support us as we stand. Hear us. See us.

RECOVER US.