24 Hours Later

This was my story at 11 when a family friend held me down and pushed himself against me. I choked on the smell of pot his hands left on my dress, which leaves me 8 years later unable to spend much time around pot smokers. This was my story at 14 with a boy on the football team, four years older than me, who after using my body called me a dirty slut who deserved to be fucked to death. Which leaves me 5 years later afraid to be in a car alone with a man. This was my story at 17 when I went to a party and drank more than I ever have before, and the next morning couldn’t understand my body felt different. Bruised. Which leaves me 2 years later having a difficult time feeling anything at all when I try to have sex.

This was my story on Monday night but this time it didn’t end the same – thanks to all of you. This time it’s not my secret. I still am left with even more baggage to work through to ever have a healthy sexuality, having to cope with debilitating anxiety that makes me vomit before going to parties, a desire to die that creeps in most nights, the feeling that my body isn’t my own, and the ever-present, gnawing fear that no matter how funny I am or smart or beautiful or skinny or talented, that I’m still just a dirty slut who deserved to be fucked to death. That pain is still there, and I’m not sure it will ever go away, but this time I don’t have to carry it alone. Thank you.

The support I’ve received in the past 24+ hours has been humbling and astounding and, frankly, overwhelming. When I made the original post, I had no idea what to expect. I asked for help and you’ve done me proud. I think I’ve received more emails in the past day than I have in the past couple years combined, so if I don’t get back, please don’t assume I haven’t read it or worse: don’t care. I care more than I can put into words and I wish I knew the best way to respond to each person. Due to the sensitive nature of so many of the emails, I really am not sure how to write back, other than to say thank you for sharing your story and offering support. A couple points that have come up multiple times that I think are important enough to warrant a response:

  • “Why don’t you contact the police?” I have no interest in engaging with an establishment that’s built on protecting white male wealth. The police are here to uphold a certain social structure that I disagree with on a basic core level. This is an article that explains the origins and problems of our police better than I ever could, if you’re interested in checking it out: http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/true-history-origins-police-protecting-and-serving-masters-society. And for what? So that TJ Edson gets a slap on the wrist? Remember: the judicial system that is currently in place wasn’t built for me. In my dream world, we would have a vibrant community that works to protect and serve each member. Compared to that dream, I feel like justice has been served (thanks to all of you).
  • To the countless interview requests: I have no interest in engaging with an establishment that’s built on sensationalizing trauma. I feel no need to elaborate.

The last thing that I’d like to respond to is all the hate directed at Edson. I’ve received endless emails from people telling me that “men like TJ deserve to be destroyed,” “burnt alive,” “raped” to “know what it feels like.” Shame on you. TJ is a man who’s lost the essence of what being a man means. His sense of self-worth and personal empowerment has already been destroyed. His suffering must be phenomenal. He is a man that needs to heal, to be taken care of, not a man that deserves punishment and social isolation. Have we learned nothing in all the hundreds of thousands of years of existing together on earth? Fear and destruction rarely lead to growth. We do a very poor job of taking care of one another. Let’s change that so more TJ’s aren’t created. We have to take responsibility for the world we create: a rapist isn’t created in a vacuum. A rapist is created when an individual suffers trauma and isolation and isn’t given the tools to cope.

Revenge doesn’t have a place in this conversation.