Friday, September 21, 2018

Why I always believe rape victims

On October 31st, 1997, I was raped. I cannot prove it. I cannot provide physical evidence that it happened. I apologize to the internet jury that the only thing I have to offer is my story, which is linked at the end of this blog.

When a woman comes forward accusing someone of raping them, I assume they are telling the truth. Getting hard data reports of rape is difficult, given that roughly 70% of rapes go unreported, but for the 30% of men and women who have the strength to go through the ordeal of reporting their assault, it's estimated 2-10% are false claims. In this scenario, if there are 1000 rapes, and only 30% are reported, 6-30 of those claims might be false. If there are 1000 rapes, and 100% are reported, 0.6-3  of those claims might be false. 

So yes, false claims happen. And the people who have done this has made it possible to accuse every. single. woman. who comes forward with a rape allegation of being a liar. Interestingly enough, this doesn't seem to be as big of a problem for people who report other types of crimes, despite the statistics of false claims being pretty similar:

"The rates for false allegations are no higher than those reported in other categories of crime, yet the victims of other crimes (such as theft or burglary) are not so routinely treated with suspicion as are the victims of sexual violence" - Independent
I would have found it odd that when my dad had his GPS stolen from his car for people to assume he was lying. That the internet would have torn him apart, doxxed him, accused him trying to ruin someone's life, and just wanting attention, money, fame, glory....all the things that happen to every rape victim who speaks out publicly.

Of course, rape is one of the hardest things to prove in a court of law, so if you are the type to have a strong belief in our justice system when it suits your agenda, you can sit back and confidently talk about due process, evidence, and "innocent until proven guilty" and not feel like a complete asshole for not believing women.

In fact, the way our justice system handles rape cases probably helps to propagate the misconception that false rape claims are practically an epidemic.

Graphic demonstrating that out of 1000 rapes, 994 perpetrators will walk free. Out of every 1,000 rapes, 310 are reported to the police, 57 reports lead to arrest, 13 cases get referred to prosecutors, 7 cases will lead to a felony conviction, 6 rapists will be incarcerated.

The page I got this image from goes on to compare the stats on other types of crimes (robberies, assault & battery), and not surprising (to me), justice is served far less in rape cases than other crimes. 

So yes, I do, by default, believe a woman when she goes public with a rape claim - it is far more statistically likely that she's telling the truth than lying. When Bill Cosby's first accuser came forward, I was devastated. I loved him - I grew up with him, he was everyone's favorite TV dad in 80's and also did some killer stand-up. But I believed his accuser. She had to deal with a lot of abuse from the internet jury who assumed she was lying, because "c'mon! It's Bill Cosby! He's a great guy!", but we all know how that turned out. 

Since the #metoo movement, a lot of people I like have been named, and in every single case, I have believed their accuser from the start. I love(d) Kevin Spacey, Morgan Freeman, and Chris Hardwick and definitely didn't want the accusations to be true, but I just don't look at women who do this in the same ugly light that so many other people (mostly men) do. 

70% of rapes don't get reported for many reasons, and one of them (and probably the biggest since the advent of social media) is being judged by the court of public opinion. The same people who attack rape victims by calling them opportunists also criticize them for not reporting the rape immediately. It's paradoxical, and leaves no scenario where the woman can actually feel safe reporting her rape.

Part of  why I hold these views is of course the fact that I am also a rape victim. When a woman comes forward with details about a sexual assault, I can relate. I can also relate when keyboard thugs go after her with the "where's the proof??" nonsense, because I never could have proved my rape in a court of law. I "may" have had a small chance of getting justice if I had acted immediately, but I didn't, and for same reasons millions of other women don't. So when you (general you), attack women who come forward, you may as well be talking to me. You may as well be calling me a liar, an opportunist, and a fame whore. If my rapist was in the public eye, and I came forward 21 years after the fact with my story, I'd be treated exactly the same way as Christine Blasey Ford. 

If you choose to read my rape story and you are the type to instantly assume women like Dr. Ford are liars, it would be dishonest of you to believe me, even if you know me. If your attitude is always "innocent until proven guilty" when the victim isn't someone you know, you're being a hypocrite if you instantly believe your daughter, mother, sister, friend's stories. However, if you do believe my story because you know me, maybe it would be more practical and helpful to society to withhold judgement of someone you don't know in the future.

Disclaimer: Obviously there are triggers in my story. It is mildly graphic, and brutally honest, and was completely draining to put into words. 

My Rape Story

Monday, March 26, 2018

Some of the good guys with guns are rather terrifying

If you've been on the internet this past week, you've probably seen this image:

It shows school shooting survivor Emma Gonzalez ripping up a shooting target on the left (true) and a Photoshopped version showing her ripping up a copy of the Bill of Rights (obviously not true).

I had not, until today, seen the image on the right shared as "fact". Here is a sampling of what some gun enthusiasts said about Emma:

He misspelled "ho".

He's threatening a teenage girl with violence.

He is also threatening a teenage girl with violence

This gentleman called Emma a "failed abortion"

The haulocost is different than the holocaust because of the spelling.

Get it? Because she has short hair? It's funny.

Thanks for the update.

The sentiment of "I don't care if it's real or not! I'm outraged!" was somewhat pervasive in this thread. 

Another transgender joke! 

Yet another man threatening a teenage girl with violence. 

This woman would like to have Emma Gonzalez, who survived a school shooting, lynched for not actually ripping up the Bill of Rights.

Another "it doesn't matter if it's not real" rant, this time with libtards.

Ok, so I keep hearing threats of a "civil war" in response to guns being "taken away", or the idea of 45 being impeached. Who are the two sides in this "civil war"? The gun-enthusiasts against the sensible-gun-law-enthusiasts? The latter is not going to fight you. We wouldn't need to. That's why we have such a massive military (unless you think the bulk of the military would defy orders and join you, in which case I'm guessing you've never served in the military). 

Here's the thing, gun enthusiasts. When you insist  that you're a "good guy with a gun" to the point where you're practically frothing at the mouth and saying we should be damn grateful that you're toting your guns around Kroger and Chipotle, all the while acting like an internet thug and threatening the life of a school shooting victim, I really need you to shut the fuck up and just eat your burrito. 

Emma survived something truly horrific, and it's something that will effect her for the rest of her life. She made a choice to fight back, and I can say with some certainty that I probably wouldn't have had the strength to do the same thing (and no, that doesn't make her a paid actor - it just means that there's no one "right way" to respond to trauma). Do you actually think this is how she wants to be spending the rest of her time in high school? Do you think she wouldn't trade her new-found celebrity in for the 17 lives lost in that shooting in a heartbeat? I don't care if people are annoyed that "kids are making the laws now", but to see this much disrespect towards someone who has experienced something no kid in this country should ever have to go through is perverse. 

The most traumatic thing the assholes in these comments have probably seen is the sweaty mess left inside their toilet after their last trip to Chipotle.

Friday, February 16, 2018

I just wanted to read about cats in Turkey

In a deliberate act of self-preservation, I have been very out of touch with current events for the past several months. Realizing that I don't (currently) have the stomach for activism or the ability to deal with the state of this country has resulted in me living a life that's almost completely free of the internet. Yes, I have the luxury to ignore literally everything. Yes, I feel guilty about it. I do what I can with my pocketbook, but beyond that I've basically been in hiding off and on since late 2016.

Yesterday morning, Madscutter sent me this:

Cat: No f**k given

I wanted to learn more about this cat who gives zero fucks, and someone in the comment section was actually able to identify the location (Turkey!) and the cat. Someone else linked to an article in the Guardian about Turkey's overall relationship with cats (it is grand), and it made me smile.

I glanced at a list of other popular articles in the sidebar and saw a headline about the Florida school shooting. My reaction was:

*heavy sigh*


Then I thought about how different my reaction to this was from my reaction to Columbine. Like many people, I'll never forget watching the news about Columbine and having no words. No one did. This was unprecedented. It was unbelievable. I couldn't really comprehend what I was seeing, because it made no sense. The nation mourned that tragedy together.

Afterwards, the gun laws stayed the same, and the schools responded by widening their "zero tolerance" to include disciplining kids for doing anything even vaguely violent. The murderous snowmen my brother used to doodle during class in the 80s would earn him a suspension now. Repeating the most famous quote from "The Princess Bride" ("My name is Inigo Montoya...") did result in my son being disciplined for behaving in a "threatening manner".

But we kept the guns. We kept the actual danger. In fact, we increased the danger by buying more and more guns. We are at the point that there are more guns than there are people in this country. When I google information on gun stats in this country, I don't bother include "United States" in my search. I don't need to. Most other countries don't have a gun problem. The U.S. is one of only four countries where the right to gun ownership is guaranteed by the constitution, and we have the most lax laws of the four (Mexico, Haiti, and Guatemala are the other 3).

The rest of the world thinks we're fucking nuts. I can't disagree.

Wednesday's mass murder hit me harder than usual. Instead of getting tangled up in the circular meaningless arguments about whether it's a gun problem, mental health problem, or both, I couldn't stop thinking about the 17 sets of parents who lost the biggest part of their world in seconds as a result of one person's indiscriminate rampage.

Then I thought about the survivors, and how they will have to live with this trauma for the rest of their lives.

We do have a mental health problem in this country.

We do have a gun problem in this country.

Every mass murder produces hundreds of new mental health patients suffering from PTSD.

Last night I cried for the victims, their families, and the survivors of the mass shooting. I usually don't. We're so used to this happening in our country, that I'm numb to it all. I don't know why this one was different for me, but it was. Maybe it's because I don't think I could survive something like this happening to my son. Madscutter agreed that it would ruin his life as well. But all we seem to be able to do as a country is fight about it, and change nothing.

Note for Millennials: 

I'm sorry. I'm so sorry the older generations (Boomers & Gen-Xers) can't figure out how to keep you safe in your schools. I'm sorry that our government is so corrupt that passing any sensible gun law is impossible because your lawmakers rely too much on receiving money from the NRA to fund their campaigns. I'm sorry that our government responds to the mental health crisis by making cuts to the programs that may actually help. I'm sorry the citizens of the older generations aren't willing to have their tax dollars go to these programs. I'm sorry that a common response from older people about these mass murders is to cluck their tongues and say "nothing could have prevented this". There is no excuse. We have failed you.

Note for NRA-Owned Politicians:

There were several students in that Florida school who responded to your "thoughts and prayers" platitudes with anger, disgust, and demand for action. Do you realize that every time something like this happens, more and more young people get more and more angry? They're already yelling at you on Twitter. Can you imagine what they're going to do to you when they're old enough to vote and run for office?

Personally, I can't wait.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Party loyalists make me tired.

I've never paid as close attention to party politics as I did during the 2016 election. While I've always considered myself a Democrat, I've never actually given a shit about the party itself or the loyalty to it that I'm apparently supposed to have. After the primaries, I decided that I can no longer call myself a member of any political party (Ohio doesn't allow me to make it official, so you'll have to take my word for it). These days I call myself an Independent Socialist, but this is just a label, and it's not important. My opinions are mine - not some party's that I'm blindly following.

Party loyalty, in my opinion, is a great way to prevent rational discussion and understanding of "the other guy's" viewpoint. For the past several months, I've observed such an insane amount of hypocrisy from both Republicans and Democrats that can only be explained as a complete unwillingness to put country (or more specifically, Americans) before party.

When a politician from "their party" does something questionable/objectionable/wrong, a party loyalist will always find some way to defend them. The most frequent and by far laziest defense is "but the other guy did it too". This is done to prevent having to admit that someone in your party made a mistake. I don't understand blind loyalism. Bernie was my candidate of choice in 2016, and I readily admit that he was not a perfect candidate, nor did I necessarily agree with his entire platform. I voted for Obama twice and don't regret it, but he absolutely did things that pissed me off. This is ok. This is normal. This is healthy. You're not admitting weakness by acknowledging that another human being is imperfect.

Every single politician is flawed in some way. Every single politician makes bad choices. Every single politician misses the mark on occasion. If I'm talking to a Trump supporter who rabidly defends his many trips to Mar-a-Lago but despised Obama for taking some golf trips, there's no real conversation to be had, because this isn't a rational stance. I'm tossing around the idea of starting a series called "Reasons to shut the fuck up". It would be all about the endless examples of hypocrisy from both sides; a situation which leads to fuck all getting accomplished in what is currently the dumpster fire that is our country."

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Trump supporters: why u mad, bros?

Dear Trump Supporters,

I'm having a hard time understanding how angry you are right now. You're angry every time Trump is criticized in any way. You're angry when you feel someone is being "disrespectful" to Trump. The keyboard warriors among you are ready to defend your new leader at a moment's notice, with your very compelling suggestions to "get over it" and "give Trump a chance!".


Why do you care?

You do realize that you won, right? Like, completely won? Republicans literally control everything right now. How are you not excited, deliriously happy, and still celebrating the extremely surprising results of our last election?

When Obama won in '08 and '12, I was happy and relieved. I did not care that a lot of people were furious and scared. I did not need Obama-haters to have a sudden change of heart and "get in line", nor did I expect them to. We're not North Korea - support for our leadership is not compulsory. Do you actually expect everyone to support Trump? Do you realize that will absolutely never, ever happen, very much in the same vein that it never happened for Obama? Our recent history has shown that the severe division between the major two parties will continue to prevent any chance for a middle ground, and a president like Trump is not likely to do anything but further widen that division.

Had Hillary won this election, I would have been relieved. If Bernie had won (my god, can you even imagine??), I'd still be celebrating, and millions of people would be showing him a tremendous amount of disrespect, as is their right. My joy would not have been diminished by the very predictable response from the right.

So why is yours? Why aren't you ignoring people like me the way I ignored people like you when Obama won? Didn't you get everything you wanted? Or is that the problem?

You're not getting what you wanted, are you?

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Conservatives need a safe space to practice their bigotry

NBC News published an article about the "First Amendment Defense Act" (FADA) bill that's making its rounds in the House again (after a failed attempt in 2015), because a Republican-controlled everything suggests that this piece of shit bill could actually pass. In a nutshell, this bill would allow any business to discriminate based on the following:

"(1) marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman, or (2) sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage."

Does that sound insane? Obviously. Will it pass? Probably.

I believe its general intent is to deny gays service because you know...icky! However, the second part suggests that anyone who engages in pre-marital sex can be discriminated against as well. This pretty much leaves the companies who want this bill passed with a customer demographic of the very chaste, and children.

The bill is fucking terrible, but it is interesting to me that bigots can't handle interacting with the very, very, very large gay community so much that they need to pass a law to protect themselves from it. These are (likely) the same people who mock triggers and safe spaces in general. These people are likely white, Christian, and have never been to war, sexually or physically abused, or harassed regularly about characteristics they possess that they have no control over.

I admit I go into insta-rage when safe spaces and triggers are mocked. It's reducing a very serious illness (PTSD) into "whining" and being "too sensitive". This isn't even remotely accurate, and I would venture to guess that the anti-PC group minimized it this much in order to further their fight to be assholes publicly without being criticized.

I can't speak personally about safe spaces, because that seems to be more prevalent on college campuses, though Cracked posted a good explanation of what their intent is (and isn't):

"As for safe spaces, I'll just describe what they were where I went to school. I graduated from the University of Notre Dame, famous for (among other things) being one of the least LGBT-friendly universities in the country. A number of Notre Dame professors display a small rainbow sign outside their offices that simply read, "This is a safe space." It was a sign that told students who were struggling with their sexual identity (on a campus that is, again, not friendly to gay people) that they could talk to that professor without fear. Maybe a minority student could come to that professor when he didn't know how to handle the guys in his hall casually dropping the n-word around him and needed help valuing his cultural identity. That's it. Safe spaces aren't some club where nasty liberals sit around and bash cis straight white people. That's what coffee houses and drama clubs are for. In my experience, they're basically just small environments where students could go to not casually have "n****r" or "f****t" slung in their direction."
I can speak personally about triggers, however. As a rape survivor, it is extremely helpful for me to know if rape is going to be depicted on TV or in a movie. For example, there is a very brutal rape scene in the book "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo". It was hard enough to read, and I knew I definitely didn't want to watch it acted out. So, I didn't (Madscutter fast-forwarded through the scene, and I closed my eyes). That decision made the difference between having a nice movie night with my husband and being in a state of panic that may last for days. This was a trigger that was relatively easy for me to avoid since I knew it was coming. That's all people with PTSD want. They want to know if their trigger(s) are coming. One only needs to warn people out of courtesy. It's not the law. If you think I (and millions of others) am just being a whiny and sensitive libtard, then don't warn me. That is your right.

That's what amuses me the most about this bill. I don't have a law that will protect me from triggers, but Christian conservatives will soon have one to keep them safe from the gays. However, if the bill fails to pass and they're left still clutching their pearls in horror over gay marriage, I might start offering my office as a "safe space" for them.

There's a fainting couch and everything!

Friday, October 14, 2016

Why I’m voting for Hillary (triggers abound)

When I was ten years old, I visited my best friend who had moved to another state some years ago. One night, we were sleeping in the living room and I woke up to see her father sitting next to me, staring at me. I instinctively knew I was in danger, so I shifted my body a bit so he would know I wasn’t asleep. It worked, and he left. I didn’t tell anyone. I was old enough to understand what had (almost) happened, but not old enough to know how to handle it. Many years later, he was arrested for molesting a young girl. I felt partly responsible – would that have happened if I had spoken up all those years ago?

  • 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys is a victim of child sexual abuse;
  •  Self-report studies show that 20% of adult females and 5-10% of adult males recall a childhood sexual assault or sexual abuse incident;
  • During a one-year period in the U.S., 16% of youth ages 14 to 17 had been sexually victimized;
  • Over the course of their lifetime, 28% of U.S. youth ages 14 to 17 had been sexually victimized;
  •  Children are most vulnerable to CSA between the ages of 7 and 13.

In 1992, Donald Trump made the comment “I am going to be dating her in 10 years. Can you believe it?”. He said this about a 10 year girl. He sexualized a 10 year old girl.

When I was 12 years old, a friend and I were at the mall and an older man started following us while rubbing his genitals. We hid in a rack of clothes until he went away.

When I was 15 years old, I worked at a diner. The “regulars” (all old men) used to make comments about my breasts while I was working. I never said anything. I was too embarrassed.

At this same job, the owner’s father grabbed my ass once while we were really busy. I didn’t say anything. I didn’t want to get fired.

When I was 17 years old, I was at the movies with friends when a man in a business suit suddenly sat down next to me and started masturbating. He was probably counting on me being too scared to do anything, and while I was indeed terrified, I couldn’t just sit there and let that happen. So I stood up and loudly announced that I needed more soda, and the man ran away.

When I was 20 years old, I was at a party and an older man asked me to hold his baby for a minute. I obliged, and enjoyed entertaining the little guy. When I gave the baby back, I commented that he seemed to like me, and his father said “that’s probably because you have large breasts”. I was offended. I said something (not to him), but was told to drop it because this person had the power to shut down the party if he wanted to because of the underage drinkers in attendance. I don’t know who he was or why he had that power, but I did as I was told.

In June 2014, SSH commissioned a 2,000-person national survey in the USA with surveying firm GfK. The survey found that 65% of all women had experienced street harassment. Among all women, 23% had been sexually touched, 20% had been followed, and 9% had been forced to do something sexual.

In the second presidential debate, Donald Trump denied ever touching a woman without their permission, despite the leaked tapes showing him bragging about doing exactly that. Here is a list of all the sexual assaults that he has been accused of.

When I was 20 years old, I was raped.

When I was 24, I got too drunk at a bar and my best friend caught some guy trying to get me to leave with him. I don’t know what would have happened if she hadn’t stopped me.

Donald Trump has been accused of raping his ex-wife and a 13 year old girl (stories are included in the link above).

These are all the experiences I can remember. I don’t really have any recent examples (I’m 40) because I’ve formed quite the protective bubble around myself to minimize the risk (as I’m sure many other women have as well). I avoid being alone outside my house. When I walk to my car alone at night, I hold my keys in the way we (women) were taught in order to be able to jab a potential attacker in the eye. When I hike alone in the woods near my house, I have my phone ready to dial 911 when I see someone that gives me a bad vibe. Do you think I’m unique? I’m not. It is not some freak occurrence, or some rare oddity that caused me to spend my youth falling into these unfortunate situations. All women have these stories. ALL WOMEN.  

This is the most time I’ve ever spent thinking about these incidents, and remembering how they made me feel. How scared I was. How “less than” I felt.  How I felt like I had no voice. How I felt like my body was not my own. How simply having a vagina meant that these assaults were to be expected, because this is how men act.

I forget a lot about my childhood, but not these incidents. Never these incidents. They will stay with me forever. I can live with them, of course, and I am generally strong enough to keep these assaults out of the forefront of my brain. Donald Trump has really fucked that up for me. When I see him, hear his voice, read his words, all I can think is that he has made many women feel the same way I have. He has legitimized the practice of marginalizing women. He treats women as “less than”. Constantly. Practically as a rule. And somehow he has made it ok for millions of people to want to have that kind of man as president.

I wrote about my rape after Obama won in 2012 because I spent that election terrified that a GOP win would result in the reversal of Roe v. Wade. The “hot topic” that election cycle was old Republican men wanting to control women’s bodies. I wrote about the impact my rape would have had if I had gotten pregnant and was not allowed to get an abortion. I remember crying when Obama won because I was so relieved that women could remain “safe” (ha) for at least four more years. What’s happening with this election is infinitely worse.

I’m not voting for Hillary because I need for Donald Trump not to be president. I’m voting for her because I need for him to no longer be relevant. His constant presence is a reminder to me of how I rank as a human being in the eyes of many people in power, as well as to those that support Trump and those like him. While he’s still dominating the headlines, I won’t be able to forget the millions of people voting for him despite his truly horrific behavior. While he’s still the focal point of everything, children will be constantly exposed to these terrible words and acts that are suddenly acceptable to say and do because the leader of the free world says and does them.

To be clear, this behavior is unacceptable for any human being. If something like this came out about Bernie Sanders (the only politician I’ve ever given money to), he would not get my vote. Period. I don’t care about Trump’s policies. I don’t care if he would actually make a good president. None of that is more important than the marginalization of an entire gender.