A few days ago New York Magazine posted a cover photo and story about the women who have come forward to tell their story about abuse and rape at the hand of Bill Cosby. The cover photo features a lone empty chair which represents the women who were unable to come forward.
This is important because even in a culture that tells people to be brave and tell their stories, it leaves out the reality that when you do come forward, you will not be believed. You will be accused and victim blamed every time you have the courage to share a bit about what you have experienced.
The empty chair stands for millions of men, women, and children who have faced horrific events at the hands of horrible people. People who are often put on a pedestal in families and society. Often children especially don’t have the vocabulary to describe fully the horrible situations that they are put in, often at the hands of someone who threatens their lives or their families.
The only way that a culture of rape and violence can be changed is if everyone takes responsibility for perpetuating said culture and makes an active conscious choice to change it. That means protecting children at all times and when someone has the courage to tell you about an experience that they had, instead of asking them why they put themselves in the situation(because they didn’t), believe them and take the steps needed so that they can have justice against the perpetrator.
I can’t really explain the kind of memory that I have, it is vivid, it is colorful, and it doesn’t forget. So I can remember what I was wearing on those occasions, I can remember what the offender wore, I can remember what the room looked like. I can remember what was said. I remember that it was wrong and it will be wrong until the day that I die.
But my offenders get to live life joyous and free because they benefit from the patriarchy and men often will always be believed over women and girls. I often think because so many people took advantage of me when I was young that I was pretty much an after thought. What was it that made so many people think and believe that they had the right to my body?
As an adult, I have the experience of going to the police and not being believed even though I had ample evidence because it was unfathomable that I would put myself in a position to be raped. The onus was on me and I didn’t have an answer. I remember telling a guy friend who actually encouraged me to go to the police that I didn’t think it would matter because I would not be believed.
It is because of these events that I knew deep down that even though we were told to wait until marriage to have sex and to honor our virginity, that I would never measure up because my virginity was taken from me before I even knew what it was. Then as I got older, I realized that I would never be sought after or pursued because I wasn’t worth it. So I basically never had a chance. That’s probably also why I made the choices that I did because I knew I would never be desired for the rest of me. So I gave into a lot of situations that were less than because that was all that was available at the time. One of the reasons why I stopped is because I got tired of trying to prove that I was worth something.
I have this ability to be able to tell people things(usually based on past history) about how a situation will go, and so many people don’t believe me. They don’t listen to me. Then when the events transpire, just the way I tell them, there are no apologies given. There are no “Oh, yeah, you totally told me that that is how it would happen and then it happened”. It’s like there is a fear of just admitting that I know what I am talking about and that no matter how optimistic that you may be about a situation, that your optimism is not truth, it is pure delusion.
I don’t have the luxury to live in a veil of delusion, the truth of reality, binds me to the world and I can’t live any other way. That is one reason why I cease to believe in things like love and that good things will happen for me because they haven’t happened for all of this time. It’s kind of like I am living to show people that my life will never turn out the way that they have pictured for me. So every day is this push toward my fate that others refuse to see. It is a pure battle because everyone around me seems to be hyper optimistic as if the sheer force of their optimism can break through my reality and it hasn’t happened. It’s as if I am Sisyphus pushing a rock of other people’s optimism up a hill and it just keeps rolling back down on me. I’m not happy or sad, just somewhere in the middle and some days I just get tired of pushing this rock.