It was the summer of 1976.
When we got to the house, there were about fifteen or so people, all scattered on couches, chairs and through the kitchen. My date, a military man who both outranked me and who had been an instructor of mine when I was enlisted, guided me into the living room, his hand on the small of my back. Pushing me forward.
He greeted everyone warmly. I remember that I was being eyed with approval. I was barely 23. My date was in his mid-thirties. Charming, energetic, sweet, respectful. Up to this point, I had trusted him. No reason not to.
Bad mistake on my part.
As soon as we entered the living room, someone dimmed the lights. In a flash, the woman who had been sitting on the couch stood up and whipped her dress off. She was naked underneath.
What the FUCK?
Seconds later, everyone else had done the same. In the dim of that room my date turned to me with an expression on his face that you could only describe as feral. He was grinning. He slapped my hands away when I tried to re-button my blouse. He got rough. You are going to do this.
I was frozen in place. This guy was my ride home. The year was 1976. No cell phones. He outranked me. I stood there in shock as he swiftly removed my clothing and handed me to the first in line. That man threw me roughly over the couch and went after me with all the delicacy of a battering ram.
I bled. The pain was indescribable.
What followed could only be described as a gang rape. I was handed to one man after another to do with as he liked. I clearly didn?t have a choice in the matter. My date, right in the middle of being serviced himself, whispered to me that I couldn?t tell anyone, because, the man in the process of having his fun with me without my permission was a prominent Denver television newsman.
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The ?entertainment? doesn?t get a choice in the matter, in other words. How dare I endanger the career of a popular Denver newsman.
I felt completely trapped. I was so shocked that all I could focus on was survival. I had no idea what was going to happen next. Whether things would get violent. If I was even going to live through the night.
I was stone cold sober. I have no clue if these people were either drunk, or high, or both. You cannot reason with drunk rapists. Or any rapist for that matter.
The women were no better. As I was held down on the couch for one guy, the woman who had disrobed first planted her pussy on my face with the full expectation that I was to perform.
She stank of the sperm of multiple men. I gagged until she unseated herself, disgusted with my lack of enthusiasm. I dry-heaved while the bastard continued to pound me, oblivious to my condition.
Every time I tried to run to the toilet and hide, someone else would manhandle me back into the fray. I wanted to scream but screaming would have done little good. This group would simply have put a hand over my mouth. In the dark I had no idea where my date had stashed my clothes.
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Nobody used protection. Nobody asked permission. They?d assumed that if this captain brought me in, then I had signed on for any damned thing that might happen.
You can?t make this stuff up. AND NO. I SURE AS HELL DID NOT ?ASK FOR IT.?
The man who shoved me into this feeding frenzy was a respected officer, a man of considerable popularity and standing where he worked. He had a very high-profile job. I knew that had I gone public with this story there was no way anyone would believe me over him. He had singled me out with absolute confidence that I had nowhere to run, nor did I have anyone to run to. Predators are very good at that kind of pre-planning.
I was a nobody. At that moment, I was a nobody provided for anyone?s pleasure.
Hours later I was hurt and bleeding. The date retrieved my clothes. I dressed, still in shock. This cretin of a captain- a divorced man with two young boys at the time- cheerfully drove me back to his house where he proceeded to force me into additional sex. I was raw and in terrible pain. He couldn?t have cared less.
He kept babbling about how these were such ?loving? people.
Forty- three years later, this week, this memory came back in all it?s lurid detail.
Interestingly, when this ugly incident churned its way to the surface, I looked up this monumentally evil POS on line. He?d had to file bankruptcy, and the few yelp ratings about him were vociferous about his illegal and dishonest business practices. In bankruptcy court, he had lied about his holdings. Not a smart move. He ended up owing seven figures.
In other words, his fundamental character as a rapist was well-established. He had gone on to rape his clients, and had tried to take advantage of the courts. At some point, he tried to rape someone who could, indeed, bring the house down on his head. That judge would have none of it.
I could make similar analogies about a certain new Supreme Court judge, but I?ll withhold. It?s obvious enough. If you?ve got cancer within your character in your twenties and thirties, baby, you are likely set for life. It tends to spread.
But I digress.
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What on earth would make such an ancient memory rise just a few days ago? Why would something buried for 43 years land in my lap on a pretty Colorado spring morning?
When the Kavanaugh hearings took place, that brought up the military rapes that I had suffered four decades ago. I wrote about it at the time because I had such empathy for Blasey-Ford. In many ways I was Blasey-Ford, only I didn?t pay the price she has paid for her courage.
Ever since, like millions of other women in America, other ugly memories have been surfacing like stinking corpses rising to the top of a restless sea. They will no longer stay submerged. I had no idea there were so many of them from my own life. I had done such a superb job of ?soldiering on.?
Sexual assault is all too widespread in healthcare. When you add the privileges of rank to the issue, such as in the military, it?s even worse. I seriously doubt the military will ever climb out of the sexual assault sewer that it has forever inhabited since the beginning (kindly, rape and pillage have always and forever been considered among the spoils of war, including those who share your foxhole). Just ask Senator Martha McSally.
Even at our most prestigious academies it continues to rise even among those who like to claim the highest honor and privilege. Rape is considered a sacred right. Kindly ask those of us who have had the ?privilege? of being raped, attacked, abused- and then tried to get help for it. Or, more commonly, simply tried to pick up the pieces, sew ourselves back together and move on, because the institutions that were set up (largely by men) to protect us are intent upon blaming the victim. The same way the world loves to blame the sex worker for tempting a man, even though as a child, she was sold into sex slavery. Ever so much easier to blame the victim for your own crimes, isn?t it? Poor Robert Kraft. He was just a victim of these evil, awful, predatory children.
In a terrible, true way, we are all Blasey-Ford. We are all Senator McSally.
When someone possesses the valor to face her demons, publicly, not only in court but the brutal and vicious court of opinion, she sets us all free.
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The challenge of that freedom is that, for people who have long harbored memories like a pack of ravenous hyenas, we must also face our fiends. During those hearings, I heard plenty of stories from friends who had horrific tales much like mine. It?s as widespread as the common cold, ladies and gentlemen, so common worldwide as to overwhelm the senses. When one person is willing to air her abuse, it gives the billions of the rest of us permission to speak. According to this article, 35% of the world?s women, and folks, that?s just the reported statistic, have been raped. Billions more have been, but are likely to say nothing for fear of death or reprisal. A generous guess is that rape is 80% under-reported.
Do the math. Just, do the fucking math.
If we do not possess the courage to name the disease, it may overwhelm us all.
Including the world?s good men. I repeat. There are many. I might posit, not enough. Not yet. At least in power, and therein lies a fundamental problem.
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We all harbor such hellhounds.
We may not choose to take them public. But we must face them or forever run with their teeth at our heels. Women have the lion?s share of depression, mental illnesses, anxiety-related diseases. Dig a little deeper. My guess, the sheer numbers of those of us who have been sexually assaulted would be a more honest assessment of what is wrong than some bland lie about a chemical imbalance.
What is imbalanced is the person who attacked, assaulted, abused her. Her symptoms are the brain?s coping mechanism in response to horror. The trusted uncle who made nocturnal visits to his favorite niece. The big brother who decided that little sis was ripe for picking.
I?ve lived with similar horrors for nearly 45 years, although much of it was deep underground. Many of them I didn?t even realize I carried until I was in my late fifties. Sometimes I think that such things lie dormant until you are strong enough, as one commenter says below, look your dragon in the face.
Frankly, I am not sorry if our stories trouble your belief in a just world. The world is NOT just, particularly to women, children, and especially to those least able to fight back. So of course, it must be their fault, so the argument goes. That argument perpetuates the predator.
I don?t need to take my tormentor public. At 77, he has created a legal, ethical and personal morass that ruined his life. I didn?t need to do that. Character will out, one way or another, for the Kavanaughs of the world. This shitheel knows he?s a shitheel. Eventually that comes home to roost, if in no other way than internal rot.
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There are many-too many- who have attacked the #MeToo movement as out of control. There are, of course, dishonest accusers. There are always such people, opportunists, at the fringes. The problem is that the truth is far, far worse. If every victim of an attack, an assault, of abuse rose up as one, the entire world order would collapse under the weight of our collective horror stories. Every church, every police station, every educational institution, every military academy, every single organization created by men for men would have to fall.
Because they have all failed their women and children, and they largely still continue to protect men?s right to rape.
As for me, my demons keep landing at the door. I let them in. And I am dealing with them face-to-face.
How? I don?t hate men, because there are far too many good ones for whom such stories are appalling. Because, let?s be fair, here, some one in six men have also been assaulted (exhibit one: the Catholic Church and other religious institutions). Rape is an equal-opportunity offense. It is far less about sex than about I win, you lose. Rape is just a time-honored instrument of domination.
In fact, rape is so common, it?s banal. In the same way that school and mass shootings are no so common they no longer have the ability to shock , reports of rapes at universities or attacks in building stairways are met with a numb ho-hum. We are immured to the violence that visits- and exists within- all of us. Until, of course, it strikes our family. Then we?re appalled by the tepid response to our tragedy. Yet we can sure care about Biden?s misplaced, thoughtless and unwanted male attention.
If that?s so goddamned important, how did we end up with an Offender-in-Chief? There?s no question that it?s inappropriate. But where have all those angry folks been when story after story is shoved aside because it?s not grisly enough to grab a headline?
I don?t hate the man who led me to what was effectively a gang rape. That gives him far too much power. He was, still is, sick. As are all the others who would visit such viciousness on another human being. I am free the moment I have compassion for those who are servants of their own internal evils. What troubles me is our collective deafness to the size of the problem, and that so many go right on to do further damage.
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So what can I, will I do at 66?
What I will do is love myself enough to forgive my innocence, forgive the misplaced trust, forgive my inability to run naked and screaming down a strange street, in the middle of the night, in a strange neighborhood, risking being picked up as a probable prostitute during a time when marital rape was still perfectly legal. ( You might want to revisit what few rights we had back then, and in many cases, still don?t possess. Or are currently under fire.)
Forgive myself for not reporting a popular officer for dragging me to a sex party without my permission when I knew that my career would be ruined.
Forgive myself for not reporting a rapist psychiatrist at a time in the military when enlisted women were little more than an available smorgasbord for senior officers. They could, and did, simply boot them out with a dishonorable discharge for having taken a stand for their own rights, their own bodies.
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I need to forgive myself for being female in a world where for the most part, nobody wants to hear the truth. For not standing up for myself in a world where a woman?s truth, like Blasey-Ford, is career suicide. Not for the POS who attacked her, but for this unbelievably brave woman who said NO MORE.
Blasey-Ford, and all the extraordinary women who took their attackers to task, deserve far more than just their day in court. They deserve our undying gratitude. Because only with that kind of courage are we ever going to heal the festering wound that is the right of bad men to rape in the world. Only with that kind of courage will the ugly memories rise so that we can face them, deal with them, heal them.
Bad men- and the horrifically-misguided women who support them- have to deal with the horrors of #MeToo, which is why there is such enormous resistance. Nobody likes being forced to face their own evil. Or being complicit to that evil. My husband could never do that. Um, yes, actually, he can. He did.
So a few years ago when I first went to our local Golden clinic, I was assigned a counselor. I asked for a woman. When I walked in, a man greeted me. This is the kind of sensitivity that the VA has to women?s needs, our requirement for safety. My last military psychiatrist was a rapist. The VA remains a system designed by men, run largely by men, and managed largely by men and is still, in 2019, largely blind, deaf, dumb to women.
Are there good military men? Damn right. I?ve known plenty. My DAV representative is a lifelong and trusted friend. Thank God for men like him. Not the three-star general who bent me over his desk, fully expecting a little afternoon delight.
The multi-billion-dollar boondoggle that is the new VA Center in Aurora, Colorado, has open booths where you discuss your body and your medicines while any man can lean on the wall behind you and enjoy the conversation. Then, sidle up to you later and discuss your intimate details with you. I?m not the only woman this has happened to at the VA. Not only is this a HIPPA violation, it?s also a deeper violation of many women who have already been violated enough. We can?t even heal in private.
Blind, deaf, dumb, criminally stupid.
When we write our stories, trolls attack us, including here on Medium. I had a few contest the veracity of my story. The audacity, the arrogance, the self-righteousness of such people takes the breath away.
#MeToo is barely the tip of the iceberg. Because for every Blasey-Ford, for every Senator McSally, there are millions more who, like me, have had to negotiate a truce with memories that refuse to die, and the fact that the men who committed those crimes get away with it. They also rise to the highest office in the land. Where they can attack the accuser. Of course he did. Because to do anything else would undermine the Brotherhood in precisely the same way that bringing a pedophile bishop to task would undermine the Brotherhood.
The truth is far worse than anyone can possibly imagine. #MeToo is all of us.
Look, I am sorry there are people in the world who torture puppies. But they exist. I am sorry there are people in the world who set baby elephants on fire. But they exist. I am sorry there are people in the world who torture for fun. But they exist. That these things deeply offend me is meaningless.
My wish to deny this horror does not make it go away.
I am sorry there are men in your golf club who would be only too happy to deflower your twelve-year-old daughter. But they exist. They are everywhere. Somewhere in America a woman (or child or man) is raped every two minutes.
So if it took you fifteen minutes to read this article, some thirty souls were raped.The sad fact is that very likely it could have been someone you know. Someone you love. Your baby girl. Your little sister. Your wife. Your son. Now they?re too terrified to tell you about it. I never told my parents either. I was too terrified of their disapproval about something I could not possibly have known was going to happen. Nor that I had any control over whatsoever.
Nobody I know wants to be another Dr. Blasey-Ford. The assaults were bad enough the first time around. Public denial and attack is simply another rape in a different venue.
That is why it?s so terrifying.
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