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It's Time: The Story of My Rape -- 23 Years Later

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I told no one.
 
For so many reasons, I told no one.
 
I knew him. Hell, I'd had a crush on him for years. Co-captain of the football team. Swoon-worthy. The talk of mid-night sleepovers with the girls.
 
So I told no one.
 
I'd walked outside with him -- into the dark.
 
I was drunk.
 
When he kissed me, I kissed him back.
 
So I told no one.
 
Because had he not done what he did, I might have. Oh hell, I would have.
 
Had I had the choice.
 
But he took the choice away.
 
And I told no one.
 
Because I thought it was my fault.
 
Yeah, he pulled the trigger, but I walked outside with him, said the voice.
 
Into the dark.
 
When he kissed me, I kissed him back.
 
I handed him the gun, the voice told me. It must have been my fault.
 
I have been following the news this week with a bemused sense of horror. I've been reading every story that comes across my desk. I've been staring at the words as if through a greasy Plexiglas window. I've been listening to the talking heads pontificate about what it all means. I've been hearing them talk as if they're underwater. Their words just don't compute.
 
Legitimate Rape.
 
Forcible Rape.
 
Non-violent rape.
 
There is no word in the English language less in need of a modifier, nor less capable of being modified, than rape. There is no mitigating the violation of the human body and all that comes with it.
 
It's odd what I remember all these years later. It's not the physical pain. It's not the begging for him to stop. It's not the tears nor the shock that followed.
 
It's the ground. The dark, damp asphalt. And the bricks in the wall. And the smell of the dumpster just feet away.
 
But more than anything else what has haunted me this week has been an image of something that I couldn't actually see at the time. A picture that I've created in my mind over time. From a different perspective. One outside myself. Watching it happen.
 
It's his hand. Splayed across my back. Holding me in place. Taking away my choice. My control. My dignity.
 
I told no one.
 
For so many reasons, I told no one.
 
Twenty-three years later, I am still embarrassed. I still feel like it's my fault. I still see his hand, the ground, the bricks, the loss.
 
Twenty-three years later, it's time.
 
It's time because men in suits in Washington, men who make laws about what I can and cannot do with my body, are telling us -- are telling my precious daughters -- that rape is not always violent, that it is not always forcible, that it is not always legitimate.
 
It's time because those who at least seem to have a vague understanding of basic biology are telling us that when we conceive through rape, that when we have choice torn from us in the most violent, violating way imaginable, that it is going to happen again.
 
It's time because they are telling me that I was right.
 
That maybe my rape wasn't legitimate after all.
 
It's time because the shame should not be mine. It should never have been mine.
 
I talk a lot about the words we use. About how they not only serve to represent our beliefs but how they shape our beliefs. I will not have my children, my beautiful daughters, believing that rape could EVER be anything less than violent, forcible and by God, legitimate.
 
It's time.
 
I would like to thank Shauna Prewitt for telling her story and in so doing, unwittingly handing me the key to mine.
 
Jess can be found at her blog, Diary of a Mom.