I’m reading the book Know My Name by Chanel Miller. In case you aren’t familiar with her, you should be. She is the Emily Doe from the Brock Turner case in which he was convicted of 3 felonies – 2 counts of digital penetration of an intoxicated or unconscious person and one for assault with the intent to rape, yet was only sentenced 6 months and served just 3 months. Her book is phenomenal; it is the most accurate depiction of a survivor living in rape culture that I as a fellow survivor have ever read. It wasn’t an easy read for me as it brought up many emotions, thoughts and triggers. I had to set it aside several times to breathe through and parent myself for a time before being capable of continuing. She articulates the incredulousness and sense of abandonment survivors, especially women, feel when we realize how little we matter – in the judicial system, in politics and in society.
I did a session of EMDR in therapy yesterday. It was about my abandonment issues. Not only within my family of origin but the abandonment I feel as a survivor. How I sometimes feel like I have no judicial system, no government, no country, no community. How I feel like I’m forever clawing and scraping to get out of the hole of unworthiness survivors are cast into and just as I’m beginning to stand, some other event in which a survivor is reminded how they don’t matter pushes me back in with blunt force. I lay gasping for breath within the hole again mustering everything within me to get up and climb again. In the meantime, I am desperately working to fill in the damn hole for myself. But I’m one of the lucky ones. I have time. I have resources. I have privilege. I am stubborn. I am resilient. I keep getting back up even though it is exhausting. Even though it feels pointless. There are so many others who don’t have any more strength to rise. Their necks being stepped on. Held down and suffocating. Until they simply stop resisting.
I’m an analytical person by nature. I have two degrees in Accounting. I worked in Finance for almost 20 years, so naturally as I dissected and processed this book and Chanel’s survival story and examined the correlation with my own survivor story, I found myself wanting to apply percentages to the questions racing through my mind to help me make sense of something that makes absolutely no sense. I’m sure this is a subconscious coping mechanism for me. To formulate questions as a math equation so I can keep my head above water and not drown in my anger, my terror, my pain, my grief, my anxiety, my depression. To find order within chaos. To avoid succumbing to emotions threatening to overtake me. To avoid suicide ideation. To approximate the realities of being a female survivor. To forgive myself for my rape all those years ago. To forgive the others who didn’t believe me.
Some of the math problems currently racing through my head:
How many women’s stories does it take to equal believability?
How many survivors does it take to outweigh a man’s potential?
What is the percentage of survivors who consider suicide?
What is the correct number of hours between when a rape occurs and a survivor reports it to receive justice?
How many witnesses are needed to corroborate a survivor’s story where prison time is actually handed down to a rapist?
What percentage of accused rapists are convicted?
What percentage of convicted rapists actually serve time?
What expression explains how much more a man’s word counts than a woman’s?
What is the total amount of rape kits sitting unprocessed in the US right now?
What is the total amount of reported rapes where charges are never filed?
What is the percentage of survivors who were told it is their fault?
What is the percentage of survivors who believe it is their fault?
What is the percentage of rape survivors who have been re-victimized by the judicial system?
What is the percentage of survivors who have found fame and fortune by reporting rape?
How much more time will pass before survivors actually matter?
What is the appropriate number of past sexual partners for rape survivors to be considered believable?
What is the percentage of survivors who never report because they see how rapists are not held accountable, unless they are black or brown of course?
How many more times will survivors see another example of a (white) male not being held accountable?
How many presidents have “grabbed them by the pussy?”
How many women voted for a president who admitted to sexual assault?
What is the percentage of survivors who have heard “well, she shouldn’t have worn that” or “she shouldn’t have been drinking” or “she shouldn’t have gone with him” or “she should have been more careful” or “she’s just a gold digger” or “why didn’t she just leave” or “why didn’t she scream” or “why didn’t she report it sooner” or some other bullshit victim blaming statement from their partners, family and friends regarding (themselves or) other survivors?
What is the percentage of people who use the same old tired arguments such as inflating the number of false rape accusations when victim blaming?
What is the percentage of people who realize they are contributing to rape culture?
What is the percentage of daughters, sisters, mothers, aunts, cousins, girlfriends, wives, partners who hear their loved ones victim blaming and decide that they will never speak their truth or really trust those people again?
How many survivors have slept with men they didn’t want to but decided it was less terrifying than saying no and being raped again?
What is the percentage of survivors who believe they are worthless?
What is the percentage of survivors who are promiscuous after their rape?
How many survivors are on anxiety/depression medicine or drug addicts or alcoholics or sex addicts?
How many survivors have woken up to their partners having sex with them and not said anything?
What is the percentage of survivors who have been raped more than once?
How many years does it take to recover from PTSD?
How much money does it take to recover from PTSD?
What is the percent of women who have not fulfilled their potential because of their rape?
What is the approximate amount of time before this won’t hurt anymore?
I don’t know the answers to these questions, and I’m not sure I ever will. Does anyone know the answers to these questions? Why aren’t we all asking these questions and demanding the answers? Why is this epidemic not treated as an epidemic?
Until then, I will stand up again each and every time I am knocked down. I will look in the mirror and stare at my face and tell her she is not what happened to her. I will tell her she is loved. I will tell her she matters. I promise her I am working to become invincible because I am healing myself. I tell her someday it will change. I tell her that her daughters will be okay no matter what. I tell her she is not alone, that there are others silently fighting every day to not give up. I tell her there are others who have planted their feet and are screaming their truths and will not shut up about how incredibly wrong this is. I tell her I am one of those people and I will do it for the others who can’t.
Sending love to the survivors. I see you. I honor your pain.
I MATTER. YOU MATTER. WE MATTER. WE ALWAYS HAVE.