“Oh, so you think rape is funny? Interesting…”

Posted: April 13, 2013 in Uncategorized
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“You said that to him?” I asked. My drink stopped midway to my mouth.

I was proud of her.

“Yes I did. And you know what happened after that?” Nancy asked.

I raised up my hand to tell her not to tell me yet. I needed another sip of my gin-and-tonic. I took a large sip, put it back down on the table and motioned for her that I was ready now.

“He looked at me as if there was something wrong with ME! As if I’M the one without a sense of humor!”

I shook my head. Yes, I had heard that too many times to count. I heard it when I told someone I didn’t think it was funny. I heard it when I cringed at racial slurs and then had it explained, in great detail, why it wasn’t really a slur and I just misunderstood them. I heard it when I had been told to “lighten up” about human trafficking.

I had also been told I was on my period or suffering from PMS.

Yes, of course, it’s always MY fault when I call out an asshole.

I know this and I’ll never get used to it.

“Then he said ‘What do you say to a woman who has two black eyes.?’

I waited.

“Nothing. Some man has already talked to her,” she said and then chuckled. “He actually said that and laughed.”

“I am assuming you left the date right about that time?” I asked and gave her a stern look.

“You KNOW I did, so lighten up. You must be on your period,” she said and started laughing.

It was good to hear her laugh. After all she had been through, to hear her laugh was beautiful

She had survived a gang rape by 6 men as a 13-year-old girl. She knew one of her attackers. He was a friend of her brothers. When he showed up at her house with 5 other boys, she let them in. She was home alone and he said her brother told them to come over.

Before she knew what was happening, a gun was pulled out and placed against her forehead. They dragged her into her bedroom and took turns for an hour. Over and over, they raped her, laughed at her, spit on her, ridiculed her and kicked her anytime she made a sound.

Fortunately her father came home. He heard them and peeked into her bedroom. When he saw what was happening, he grabbed his shotgun and busted into the bedroom.

Let’s just say, he handled it and she got out alive.

The judicial process was another gang rape for her, 6 more times.

Now sitting across from her, knowing how much that must have hurt to hear someone laugh about it, made me teary eyed and proud.

Her scars would never be gone and she knew that. But she dealt with it graciously and effectively. She would talk to me about it and I listened.

“Right! Every time a woman doesn’t laugh about rape or prostitution or a number of other crimes against us, it’s because we have no sense of humor or are on our periods. I forgot that scientifically proven fact,” I said.

She got quiet and I let the silence lay there and nibbled on the stale bar pretzels and looked around. It was a very nice bar in a beautiful hotel. Nancy and I would meet here every few months to catch-up and relax before going home from work. It was convenient and in a nice part of town.

We had attracted some degree of attention from the men, but it was as if we put up a shield around us that said “Approach at your own risk.” We were just two women who wanted to sit back and have a drink together. The fact that we were dressed conservatively didn’t seem to matter.

I made sure not to make any eye contact with anyone but our waitress. It shouldn’t have to be that way, but that was the reality of some. Two women in a bar = looking to get laid.

“I still hear them almost every morning as I wake-up,” she said.

“I know.” The same was true for me. The man who had attacked me was long gone but his face and voice was always in my mind. He seemed to appear between being asleep and starting to wake-up. I called it the “Twilight Zone.” That seemed to be my most mentally vulnerable time. Not quite asleep and not quite awake and disoriented.

“Their voices I can hear. But you know the worse part than their voices?”

“Their laughter,” I said.

“Yes, the laughter,” she said.

I reached over and squeezed her hand.

“I have a theory. It’s just a theory and may not be true, but I think it is for the most part. Want to hear it?”

“As if I could stop you,” she said and squeezed my hand.

“I think that men that joke about rape and hurting women have either done it in the past, and maybe continue to do so in the present, or want to do it.”

She thought about it for a moment. “It’s a good theory,” she said. “You might be right.”

“I don’t know if I’m right or not, but I’ll tell you this. Let them joke and be defensive when we call them out. Let them say whatever horrible things they want to say about us. It shines a light on them and then we know. We know and knowledge is power.”

“Knowledge IS power. You’re right,” she said.

“And you know what else I know?” I asked.

She shook her head.

” I KNOW we need more gin.”

She laughed. It was music to my ears

“Lewis, when you’re right, you’re right!” she said and called the waitress back over.

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Comments
  1. Wow. You know, I just spoke on this topic last night as part of a panel discussion for a viewing of “The Invisible War”. I don’t believe that I was aware that you were a survivor as well. I’m glad you are here to tell the sories, to advocate and to show that guilt belongs with the rapists, not the survivor. Thank you for another courageous story. Much love to you, my friend. This is the poem I wrote for Sexual Assault Awareness Month: http://paulissaisms.wordpress.com/2013/04/01/that-girl/ born of my frustration with rape culture and victim-blaming. Much love to you, hon

  2. Susan Lewis says:

    Paulissa, that is a wonderful poem!

    I’ll send you my story. You’ve read it but didn’t know it was me. 🙂

    I thought long and hard about posting this because of the discussions it could create. I am monitoring all of the comments on G+ like a hawk, as always.

    • Kimberly says:

      Thank you, Susan, for sharing your story. We all need to have the courage to stand up and speak out like that. I’m a rape/sexual abuse survivor.

  3. Thank you for the fearless story. We need more bloggers like you.