This post originally appeared September 13, 2013 on Truthout’s SpeakOut.
I find the concept that any underage girl can be culpable in her own rape absolutely disgusting. The damage to the individual girl is deadly, as evidenced by Cherice Moralez, the 16-year-old Montana rape victim (and others) who committed suicide.
The damage to our society from allowing pedophile rapists to get away with this type of thinking, and the impact of victim blaming and slut shaming on our young woman, is incalculable.
Decades ago, a pedophile rapist went free because I was afraid to tell anyone what he tried to do to me. I sincerely believed that it was my fault. I was too young to even know what rape was, but I blamed myself for the predicament in which I found myself.
I didn’t look my age. My first bra, at age nine, was a B cup. My mother had to bring my birth certificate to the movie theater to get me a child’s priced ticket. At 10 I looked 16. At 14 I was buying booze at the local grocery store for my older friends in a state with a 21-year-old minimum drinking age.
I also qualified as “older than my chronological age” in other ways. I learned how to read before I started school. I had no use for the children’s section of the library, but could navigate my way around the adult stacks blindfolded. I had more education, a higher vocabulary, and a better understanding of history, sociology, politics, etc. than those whose physical age I resembled, never mind those just entering their second decade. Anyone told how old I was accused me of lying.
But at 10, I knew nothing about sex. Nothing. I didn’t even know that tab B goes into slot A and I certainly had no comprehension about the emotional impact of sexual contact for a prepubescent (or even an adolescent) child.
Searching for a stray pet, I was lured into a stranger’s house because he lied and said he had a similar animal in his possession. The man pushed me onto a bed and held a pen knife to my throat.
In retrospect, I’m somewhat grateful I didn’t know what was going on. I thought he was trying to kill me. The adrenaline kicked in, as did the muscles acquired from my first year on the swim team. The man had neither the bulk nor the strength to hold down a young, athletic girl in fear for her life.
I ran. And I hid. When I was sure he hadn’t followed me, I found my way home and concealed my emotional trauma from my family. And, I never told a soul what had happened. I had disobeyed the “stranger danger” admonitions delivered by parents and teachers and I feared additional punishment for doing so.
This is what we teach our little girls: that if you make a mistake, if you believe a liar, if you dress the way Madison Avenue encourages you to and something horrible happens to you, it’s your fault.
I do not know if the man went on to rape others. Quite possibly he succeeded the next time he tried. After all, he suffered no consequences from his actions.
I didn’t figure out until years later what had actually occurred that day in a stranger’s house on a rural dirt road leading out of a small Alabama town. Until something triggered my memory of the event, I suppressed it. But, recognizing what that man’s intentions were has become indelibly seared into my psyche.
Even though I no longer blame myself for what happened that day in Alabama, although I have shared this story with a few friends and now with you, I still haven’t told my mother.
I can imagine how horrifying the experience would have been, how violated a 16-year-old girl would have to feel to take her own life rather than face in court the pedophile teacher who defiled her body and her trust. That teacher, Stacey Rambold, should be charged with manslaughter as well as rape, for he is responsible for her death.
Any conversation that portrays Stacey Rambold as anything but a pedophile rapist, that invents the slightest excuse for his despicable behavior, is revolting. Stacey Rambold deserves to rot in jail and suffer the abuse of prisoners who have less regard for child molesters than those in society at large. And rape apologist and pedophile enabler Judge G. Todd Baugh should be removed from the bench immediately and prevented from further victim blaming.
This post was reprinted December 13, 2015 on what was then
PDXX Collective (now Visitant). At the time, I added this update.
Update: Since this piece was published, I’ve learned that I wasn’t as successful in concealing “my emotional trauma from my family” as I believed. When we were visiting my mother recently, she said something to my submissive when I wasn’t around and he informed me about it after we returned home. She told him she didn’t know what she had done wrong, but something had changed in me when I was 10. I had become withdrawn, angry. I behaved differently.
The next time we visited, I sat her down and showed her this piece. We cried together. It was good to let her know that she wasn’t to blame for the changes in me, a burden she had carried for almost fifty years.
Even I hadn’t realized how different a person I am as a result of that one traumatic event. And although they hadn’t known about it, that event negatively impacted my mother and the rest of my family as well.
The scars from sexual assault at any age are horrific. But little girls are especially vulnerable. And no society should in any way ever condone sexual abuse of minors for any reason.