Speak Loudly: My Story

I want to start by saying I find the banning of books abhorrent in every way. Along with so many others, this is a post I never thought I’d write. In fact, I almost decided not to after reading the other posts. So many have gone through such harrowing experiences, so much more awful than my own, my heart has broken reading them many times. But then I realized, if I did not write this post, Wesley Scroggins wins a small victory, he has kept one person silent – that is simply not acceptable. So… I am a rape survivor.

I don’t like to use the word victim when referring to my experience. Victim in today’s society has some connotations I’d rather stay away from, and there is the current trend to blame the victim – I am not to blame. I am a survivor. It may seem strange to say, but there are several things I am thankful for with my experience. I was an adult at the time it happened. It was a single occurrence, and not a ritual molestation by someone who was supposed to love and protect me. The person who violated me wasn’t someone posing as a friend. My memory of the act itself is hazy.

My experience happened in the home of a friend of a friend. A group of us got together and went out to have a little fun and when we came back to the house, everyone crashed…or at least that was the idea. I was on medication at the time which caused me to sleep heavily. Apparently, someone fully clothed, sleeping on a sofa bed in the same room was enough of an invitation. By the time I awoke, it was too late.

Even as an adult, my first instinct was to keep quiet. I wasn’t physically hurt, so no one had to know. Then, after a few days, I got mad. He didn’t have the right to take advantage of me, he didn’t have the right to get away with it, and if I didn’t speak up, he would do it to someone else – and I couldn’t live with that. So, knowing too much time had passed, knowing the physical evidence was gone, I went to the police. My reason? I wanted them to know so there would be a file against this guy to help corroborate the claim of the next girl he assaulted. And I went back to the place it happened, knowing he would be there and confronted him directly. (I took a friend with me for back up.)

At first he denied, told me I was crazy, and then uttered the words which proved the sickness of his mind. “But you wanted it.” By the way, confronting your attacker is not always wise, and I don’t recommend it, except for in protected circumstances – hopefully when the attacker is in custody. Confronting him was what enabled my healing to begin. The embarrassment went away, I was able to tell people what had happened and not feel like I had to defend myself for being asleep. I sought out counseling to further help me deal with the situation. And by confronting him, and letting him know I had been to the police, maybe it would make him pause before doing it again to someone else.

One of the things which angered me, and still does today, is how I became a statistic. And the statistic is too high. I grew up knowing my aunt was part of that statistic, and always told myself it wouldn’t happen to me. But it did. My mother also suffered from the ritual abuse by a close relative, and I have gone through the experiences with her because she suppressed them as a child, believing she always talked her way out of it. It wasn’t until she was an adult and the memories could stay suppressed no longer that she realized she didn’t talk her way out of it.

I will always be thankful that my mom believed in allowing me to read widely and didn’t censor any of my reading material. Because I read of girls who had been raped (although Speak was not out prior to my experience) and knew they were not to blame, because I read about their reactions to the experience and those of their peers, and because I have always been able to discuss anything with my mother without fear of being judged, I was able to deal with my experience from a position of better knowledge. Does it mean that I came through unscathed? Absolutely not. No one who has been violated remains unscathed. But I was able to understand the feelings and issues as they came up; the embarrassment, the “if I’d only…” cycle of regrets, the anger, and most of all the feeling of guilt. And beyond understanding, I was able to deal with them. Without books, like Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak, I would not have been able to deal with the situation as well. And no girl or boy should be deprived of the opportunity to read and learn because of someone else’s limited personal opinion.

I’m going to guess that Wesley Scroggins doesn’t have personal experience himself, or a loved one, with rape. Because if he did, then he would understand how important it is to keep the issue in the schools. To show the kids that bad things can happen and they need to speak up and speak out. Or maybe he does, and this whole vendetta against letting parents make the choice for their own children is because he is afraid to speak.

Read Laurie Halse Anderson’s post on this issue and below is her poem of the responses to Speak

For a list of blog posts related to this issue, visit the Reclusive Bibliophile.

18 Comments on “Speak Loudly: My Story”

  1. LK, thank you for sharing your story. I know it is not easy, but you are obviously a strong person. I am thankful that there are gifted and talented people like you who are open and able to share for the greater good. I’m so sorry you had to live through such a horrible experience. I, like you, am a survivor. Your strength inspires me.

    1. Thanks for stopping by and sharing. I am inspired by anyone who comes through the experience and can share, as you just did. It is only by sharing that we have a hope of getting the rest of the world to understand that silence does not help.

    1. Thanks Frankie. It’s one of the reasons I get so irate when the topic of book banning comes up every year. People have horrible experiences, and yet others want to deny them the validity of what they have experienced.

  2. Your post literally brought tears to my eyes. It may not be as violent or sad as the other posts I have read, but it is every bit as affecting. Thank you for refusing to remain silent! =)

    1. Thank you for stopping by to read it. I was unexpectedly moved when writing it. I thought I had put all of the emotion behind me, but it still came out and grabbed me.

  3. Hugs, hugs, hugs, LK.

    For me to have gotten past my experience as well as I did was hugely dependent on three things: my mom figured out pretty fast that something was going on and she said something to the kid’s mother, she made it clear nothing about it was my fault, and she let me know that it’s okay to say no.

    So for an educator, no less, to go around saying (he gets to speak) that people who’ve experienced sexual assault shouldn’t speak, that we should bury this book about someone learning to speak–well that really fries my shorts. He’s asking for silence from the wrong party.

    1. And hugs back to you. I think the part about this whole thing that does tend to gripe me the most is that it is an educator that has decided to take something off the shelves that can be beneficial to students. For those who did not have a mom as awesome as yours, books like this help to show them they should not feel ashamed, and they are not at fault. And hopefully to show others what is NOT OKAY to do to another person — EVER!!

  4. I’m so sorry this happened to you. *Big hugs* Thank you for sharing your healing process.

    We need to keep these books in our schools! And even then they should be widely shared, not taboo.

    1. I’m absolutely with you 1000%. The books which hold up a mirror to life and allow us to live it vicariously and therefore gain understanding of those around us are vital and need to be kept in the schools, on the shelves, and shared as much as possible.

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  6. (((hugs))) to you honey! I’m so proud of you for being able to speak up and claim your place as a survivor of a horrible crime that was committed against you. Stories like yours really make the need for books like SPEAK incredibly clear.

    There is so much I want to say here but I can’t seem to find the words because my throat is tight and my fingers are clumsy right now. I cannot speak. No one ever told me it was “okay”. No one ever told me that it wasn’t my fault or stepped forward to protect me. I’m 36 years old and I still can’t SPEAK.

    THAT is why this book is so important. Books like SPEAK can do so much to help young people recognize that they are not at fault in these situations and that they can reach out for help without shame. Because more women deserve to be like you my friend. You have been injured but you have not been broken.

    1. I wish I were close enough to give you a hug that would go on forever. And if no one ever has told you… it isn’t your fault, you did nothing to bring it on. If I could, I’d go back in time to protect you, but I can’t. I can, however, be here as your friend for whatever you need, when you need it. And I agree, books which help people recognize they are not to blame for being the person hurt are important and need to be available, not locked away somewhere, hidden and unread.

      Speak when you’re ready. Until then, I’ll keep speaking for us both.

  7. I wish I had beautiful words of wisdom to add to this poignant and honest post and the video attached. But as I dry my eyes, I am speechless….again.

    I burned my clothes.

    He hung my underwear on the college dorm window as proof that he had taken a virgin.

    There was no question it was rape. But none of us spoke.

    Thank you for everything you do. It is not a poem- it is the truth of my story and the most I can say at this time. XO G

    1. As always when I hear of someone else who has been victimized, I am saddened and angered. My heart goes out to you for your experience. Thank you for sharing it here.

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