The Personal is Political: The Transformative Power of Women’s Art,
Self Portrait: Trapped in Freedom by Andrea Harris

When I was 25 years old I was raped.
I fought back
My eyes were blackened
My lip was split
My ribs cracked and broken
My hair was ripped from my scalp
I thought he was going to kill me

Afterwards I was subjected to hours at the police department as I waited for a rape test to be administered.  they didn't take me to a hospital, a doctor came with a little black case, and a police woman stood watch.....and then they took pictures of my body.

I was sent home to wait for the justice system to do it's job.

I was given a lie detector test
I went before the grand jury
I had investigators hired by the rapists asking questions about my personal life and taking pictures of me as I went about my life.

then six months after the rape and beating I was called to the District Attorneys office.
He told me that I past the lie detector test, and that the Grand Jury wanted to go forward with a trial, but he was sorry to say his office had decided that I wasn't a good victim....
no one would believe it was a legitimate rape.


He asked me to understand I was a hippie chick who was living in a commune with a lot of other hippies, and under the same roof as my future husband...
and before that I had lived with a former boyfriend for 3 years...

The DA's office had judged me, and I just wasn't credible as a rape victim.
The DA told me I had suffered severe enough injury that they were going to charge the rapist with gross was a consolation prize.

I don't know if you can understand how confused and ashamed I felt....
I had been raped and beaten...
the experience would change me forever....
and the man behind desk, with a statue of justice behind him 
was telling me I wasn't a good enough rape victim to attempt justice for me.

This man had forced his penis into my body.  
There was sperm.
The problem seemed to be that the rapist was a business owner, a husband,
 a father of 6 kids, a church goer, 
belonged to the right clubs and had money.
And I was not a virgin.

He got probation and went back to his life...mine was changed forever.

Seven years later, I was watching late night news and heard his name.
He had raped, and beaten,
 and shot a woman to death before turning his gun on himself..

It took me years before I allowed the anger I felt over my rape to surface...
I had to do hard work and  a lot it to let go of feeling less then..

but forgiveness falters when I see us moving backwards as a country.....
when I hear the kind of things that politicians and 
religious leaders are saying about rape it makes me ill and angry.
Rape, any kind of rape, is a violent act with sex as the weapon.  
It has 
nothing to do with desire and everything to do with control and hate..
and doing harm. 
 I've felt it.  I know.  I was terrified....
and so many other women have felt that terror.

South Dakota's Republican Senator Bill Napolis spoke on an evening news show about his idea of a legitimate rape victim, one who might be eligible for an abortion under legislature he voted for...

"A real-life description to me would be a rape victim, brutally raped, savaged. The girl was a virgin. She was religious. She planned on saving her virginity until she was married. She was brutalized and raped, sodomized as bad as you can possibly make it, and is impregnated. I mean, that girl could be so messed up, physically and psychologically, that carrying that child could very well threaten her life."

Anything less than that is not illegitimate rape?
what message are young men and boys getting?

That kind of talk is scary to me.  

These men saying these things are misogynists and they are writing laws....
rewriting what rape is...
are we becoming a culture where  rape is sort ok?  
is this really a rape culture?

and of course money is involved.

an interesting read....


Snowbrush said...

Yet people vote Republican. Julie, I don't have words, but I don't guess words are to be had...

I am glad you shared this. It makes me feel respectful of your courage, and it makes me feel protective toward you. I wish right now that I could hold you in my lap like you were a little girl and I was your father, and I wish could make this horrible crime and the nightmarish knowledge that it taught you about the state of justice in America all go away. I am so very sorry, Julie. I am also grateful for the gift that is this post.

julie said...

Thank you for this touched my heart...xo

Snowbrush said...

Well, this post combined passion, good writing, and an interesting true story. Your pain was so palpable that I don't even want to read about it again. Would you mind if I mentioned your post on my blog, or at least forwarded a link to it to some friends?

Anne Manda said...

Julie, thank you for writing and sharing this! It is important and very brave of you. I am so very sorry this happened to you but your message is grave and urgent. xo

julie said...

Snow, thank you for the kind words...and I don't mind at all that you share what I wrote here...I want people to understand...maybe feel something new around this issue. xo

Thank you Anne, and it was difficult to push the publish button. But the issue is grave, you're right...xo

The Elephant's Child said...

I am here via Snow. I am so sorry. I don't have the words - there are no the words. Rape is rape is rape. And only a mysogist could think any differently.
You are in my heart.

Caryl said...

This saddens me SO much. In similar vain... I tried to have my abusive ex husband prosecuted for domestic violence that physically and emotionally nearly destroyed my life.
When the story came out that I had been in a previous abusive marriage... which often happens by the way... I was asked... who is the common denominator... YOU.
Yes I grew up with domestic violence, yes I married two abusive men.. but was there any consideration as to my shocking self image for me to think I didn't deserve better after being molested by a step father at the age of 7. When will these professional people get that women are not punch bags and sex toys !

I didn't wait until I had unconditional love... I left to save myself and my children.. and it took 6 years for that 'unconditinal love' to happen.
I didn't wait for the unconditional feelings to come.. I learned how important it was to love myself unconditionally.

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