Tuesday, November 21, 2017

How Many Rapists Do You Know?

All this talk about rape and sexual assault makes me want to tell my rape stories. Some of them, anyway. I’m betting many people have stories like mine to tell but are holding them back. Sometimes, all it takes is one person to get things going and then others feel comfortable opening up.

The first rapist I knew, I met in elementary school. Of course, we didn’t know he was a rapist then. We were kids. The way I remember it, he was nice* but awkward and most of the kids stayed clear of him. When I was in junior high, I discovered that he was spending a lot of time at the home of family friends, who had three daughters around my age. I asked the daughter that I was closest to if any of them were dating him. She said no, he just hung around, and she thought he was mostly there because he needed a mom and their mom was good to him. Worked for me, until they brought him to my house once. I didn’t say anything, but didn’t really want him at my house and that was extremely out of character. I’m the kid who made my father say, “Other kids bring home stray animals but Sandy brings in stray people.”

I was neither surprised nor devastated later when he was arrested for a string of rapes. I don’t remember the exact number but I think it was around twenty. The only shocking part of the story (remember, I was young) was that he was a couple of years older than we were, yet he had been in our grade. It was hard on the family friends, though, since they had taken him in like an extra family member and now they almost had to adopt his shame, too. I did, however, feel what I guess people would refer to as dirty – just from knowing someone who would do that. And, maybe a little bit lucky that I had been around someone who could do that without having anything happen to me.

Later, I wondered if he had abused any of them. They hadn’t said and I hadn’t asked. Much later, my way of thinking has changed enough that I would be very surprised if he had. (Explanation will be evident later.)

In tenth grade, I was invited to a New Year’s Eve party with the guy who would become my first serious love. I was beyond excited that I had finally agreed to go out with him but there were complications when I told my parents. They already had plans to go to a dance and we weren’t drivers yet. The plan was that he and I would walk to the party, I would go home with a female classmate until my parents left their dance, and they would pick me up from her house.

The party was great. I left there probably as excited as I had ever been at that point in my life but the euphoria ended soon.

The classmate and I giggled and talked as we walked around the corner to her house. Upon walking through her front door, everything darkened for me. I didn’t see anyone, or anything scary, but the atmosphere was eerie. She took me straight to her bedroom, which wasn’t especially strange since, at that age, many of my friends entertained in their bedrooms, where parents couldn’t hear conversations. But something felt off. It got worse when she closed and locked the bedroom door.

She must have noticed my mood change because she, obviously also uncomfortable, explained. Pretty good friend didn’t prepare me for what she would pour out. She said I couldn’t trust the brother, who was in the house. And went on to tell me that both her brother and her father sexually abused her, and had been almost as long as she could remember.

I listened, with my insides twisting in knots. I wanted to cry, or scream, or run, or something. She was talking as if she were telling me her list of chores or her favorite foods. I watched the clock hoping my parents would arrive soon.

I knew her brother, too, mostly in school but also at the places we all congregated after school or ball games or teen club. He was a bit odd but popular because he was funny. He did strange things for attention and to look tough. The strangest of these was that he opened the heavy outside door of the Pizza Hut with his head. He would get a running start from across the room, bend down, and ram the door with his head to open it. Everyone else laughed and cheered but I saw him do that and imagining the pain made me sick.  Once, when we were alone, I asked him to stop doing that with his head. I told him it made me sick and that it couldn’t be good for his brain. He just laughed. And he kept doing it.

On the way home, I told my parents. This part seems so unreal now. They said they didn’t want me to go back to her house again, but I could let her know she was always welcome at ours. In fact, if she was in trouble or needed them, she could call and they would go pick her up, anytime, anywhere.

They didn’t call the police or child protective services (I assume that was a thing back then). Not that I know about, anyway. My parents did everything for everyone – honestly the most giving, loving people imaginable. It’s possible that they took some sort of action without telling me. Also possible, though, was that times were really that different in the 60s.

I watched that friend at school and she didn’t act a bit different after telling me about her life. She laughed and acted as carefree as ever. It was hard to even imagine her in that house with the eerie atmosphere.

And, since she did, I still interacted with her brother the same as I always had. Never alone. And I still felt sorry for him because he did weird things like opening heavy doors with his head and molesting his sister.

He, too, was arrested for a bunch of rapes, later. One night the big news was that he had escaped from prison. I was no longer talking to his sister.

We all kept a look out for him. I’m not sure I felt afraid of him. I was definitely afraid that he would return to the neighborhood and I would have to decide what to do if I ran into him, though. Eventually, the police found him – at her house, where she lived with a young daughter. I was sick, trying to imagine how she could allow him to be near her daughter.

He was either a suicide or suicide by police, I don’t even remember which way it happened.

I’ll say here that I never ended up hating or even really disliking either of these guys. I hated what they had done, and was sad for their victims, but I didn’t hate them. They were both people I knew and cared about, and long before I knew what they had done, I knew something wasn’t quite right with them.

When my daughter was a teen, there was a string of rapes in our neighborhood. Someone dressed like a cop and pulled women over, or knocked on their doors and gained entry to their homes, and raped them. Finally, he had grabbed someone a few blocks away, in the parking lot of the grocery we used. He took her away from there to another location and raped her. Local television channels were flashing a picture of him, frequently, asking everyone to be on the lookout and to call police immediately if they saw him. The picture looked like one of my daughter’s friends.

I called my best friend, whose daughter was one of my daughter’s best friends, and asked if she had seen the news. She had. We agreed that he looked like the friend and decided we needed to let the look-alike friend know so he’d be careful that the police didn’t spot him and confuse him as the rapist.

When my daughter came in, I told her about it, that we were worried about him, and also that I didn’t want her going anywhere alone until this guy was caught. She wanted to go to the grocery for something and I said to wait and I’d go with her later. Meanwhile, look-alike friend came in and said he’d take her. I thanked him and cautioned them both to be careful.

He was the rapist. I sent my daughter to the store with the rapist. I. Sent. My. Daughter. With. The. Rapist. Whose picture I had seen all over the news.

I beat myself up over that for a few days. My friend was even more devastated than I was because he had spent more time at her house, sleeping over as her son’s guest, with her daughter there. Finally, we realized that we knew he wasn’t going to hurt our daughters. They were his friends, and he cared about them.

Again, I couldn’t, nor did I want to defend him, but I couldn’t hate the rapist. He was a kid and he will spend the rest of his life in prison – where he belongs.

What bothers me about this one is that neither I nor my friend sensed anything odd or off or alarming about him. I wanted this to be about watching for signs. But I saw nothing. Nor did my friend, who was around him much more than I was. (Now that my daughter is older, she might be able to identify something we missed. I’ll update if she does.)

I know several men who were raped and suspect that there are a couple more.

I have a couple of friends who’ve been raped more than once, by different men.

I have personal near-rape stories. There’s one where I came very close to being gang raped by a group of prisoners. (Won’t say how I ended up in this position but will say it’s why I never wanted to let my daughters leave home without me.) They were discussing who got me first when I was rescued. There’s one where I think I was in danger with a group of guys on the street. And another where I knew someone was on my porch watching me through the unlocked front door and I sat paralyzed for a few seconds planning my next moves because I was sure he would be in soon if I didn’t make a move at the right moment, and make it fast.

The father of a friend came to my home one night for me to help him with a book he was writing. He came in with a briefcase, which I figured meant he had a lot of writing to go over. And dinner, that he hadn’t mentioned. I took a few bites of the food and the room started spinning. There was little doubt in my mind that he had drugged the food and I was trying to decide what to do – or if I could even walk to do anything – when my phone rang. I grabbed it quickly. It was a good friend who immediately knew there was something wrong by the slur in my speech. I purposely responded to everything he said with something that didn’t make sense and he said he’d be right there. The man at my table apparently recognized my cry for help, knew he was caught, and took off out the door, leaving his briefcase behind. He hadn’t brought writing. The phone call saved one of us because, I would probably have had to kill him if I could get out of the chair. I didn’t call the police or go to the hospital. I stayed with my friend until I was okay. Again, today, I can’t imagine that either of us handled it this way.

I’ve heard screams that I couldn’t locate and wondered what happened and was I somewhat responsible for not finding the screamer . . . 

All of this in my experience. One person.

I am 63 years old. I’m an open book and I’ll talk to anyone about anything. I was the epitome of a people person the first forty-five or so years of my life and I’m the kind of person that strangers approach and pour their hearts out to. I’ve talked to a lot of people about heavy stuff. Most (as in more than half) of the women I’ve known have been sexually abused in some way and I don’t count someone resting a hand on their ass during a dance or photo shoot, or kissing without permission, or sticking a tongue out suggestively, or even saying, “I’d like to _ you,” as abuse. I mean either molested or raped or sodomized, against their will, by family, friends, strangers, dates, or spouses.

This is real. And I hate that this is real. I do believe we should all continue to tell our stories, to make people aware, and especially to help people understand what to watch for in order to stay safe. But I think we need to be careful not to go public and name names unless it was an actual crime.

I sincerely hate that anyone has been in any uncomfortable situation, no matter how innocuous. But I really, really hate that anyone was molested, sodomized, or raped more, even if and maybe especially if they are victims of someone that I knew but still can’t hate although I absolutely despise what they did.**

I am asking everyone to not mix or confuse dangerous criminal offenses with inappropriate comments or touches. If we truly want change, I believe we must keep these separate and tackle the big things together. Handle the little things when and where they happen until they are the biggest things left to deal with.

I wonder if it is unusual that I have known three serial rapists. My daughter says she doesn’t think so and that makes me sad. Does everyone know people who have raped and been raped?

And, do others agree that mixing these cases with butt grabs is probably damaging the cases of people who have been violated more violently, and permanently? 

If you would like to publish your story but don’t have or want to create a blog, I will publish it here, either anonymously or with your name, whichever you prefer. Contact me at the top, right-hand corner of the blog page.

*side story here: I think the best advice I gave my daughters is to remember that there’s a big difference between nice and good, and that the worst people (guys, particularly, because they dated guys) will act the nicest because that’s how they set people up to get away with what they do.

**I believe there is a correlation between crime and pain. The worse the crime, the more painful the criminal’s life must have been for them to get that mean or confused. This doesn’t mean I want them to be excused for their crimes or allowed to roam freely and hurt more people. I want them stopped and removed from society but for society to still care about how their existence became so burdened.

Deeper look into my thoughts about how we can be compassionate toward criminals without condoning their actions, wanting them to remain free to harm others, or wanting them in power. 

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Tweeden Tools

In the old days, when people were more apt to read more than the few words that will fit over the top of a picture they are attracted to, I would have dissected my thoughts, reorganized, and reflected, and then I would have carefully selected the perfect words to adequately express my opinion. These days, I splatter my thoughts in tweets and comments on posts that others have made, and they end up spread all over the place, some without any acknowledgment that anyone has read them.

In case you need a picture, or want one to attach to your articles about me being a slutty slut shamer, I'll provide this. It's the closet thing I have of myself during my modeling days.

I collected some of my comments regarding the Tweeden scandal and, more importantly, danger of the 'women always get an automatic benefit' movement and present them here. Eventually, I might come back to this and do the reorganizing and adding that this deserves. For now . . .

I am not going to remain silent while it plays out. I am going to shame every person who is jeopardizing everything that matters because they cannot or won’t bother to think before jumping into traps. If they were the only ones who’d be hurt, maybe. But people can die as a result of their need to jump on every fucking bandwagon even when it’s senseless. They can ignore me, criticize me, block me . . . but if they have consciences, they’ll realize eventually that they were wrong.

Logical assumption: any Trump supporter or Republican pretending she wants sympathy for being abused by a man is full of shit. Things have to make sense and supporting the party that does everything humanly possible to harm women in every way possible, to maintain complete control over every aspect of female lives including our bodies, and protects admitted sexual abusers does not make sense. STOP being tools.

I know that even the greatest guys can do some wrong things, and that everyone will be accused of doing wrong eventually whether or not it’s true. And the worst people will do a few good things along the way, even if by accident or for wrong reasons. Before destroying or redeeming lives, people should step back and look at the full picture. Making a joke that might be considered in poor taste doesn’t- or shouldn’t- destroy a lifetime of being a decent, caring, good person. We are such a sick society when people can be manipulated into destroying good people because a bad group of people are trying to make themselves look less guilty.

I say start with what you know, always. And what we know is that Franken has been a good man, working his ass off for years to protect people while she is an opportunist Republican, who supports the party that does everything possible to destroy women and protect their admitted sexual predator and accused child rapist. I have no problem with anyone posing nude, dancing on poles, screwing everything that walks, prostituting, writing porn . . . but I do have a problem with liars, tools, and people who do those things and then go out and try to SHAME/DESTROY other people who they say were living the same and that hurt their tender sensibilities. Because that doesn’t make sense and demands investigation into the intentions of the duplicitous accuser. One of these two has credibility and believability (Franken) and the other doesn’t and the consequences of letting her slide on this are enormously dangerous to our world.

Men seem to think they must defend sluts instead of allowing them to choose to be sluts if they want.

I think one of the big elephants in the room is very obvious, and I say this with some personal experience influencing my perspective. It appears there are women with untreated PTSD who are unwilling or unable to resist wanting to throw all men under the bus, without any real reason to believe they’ve done anything to deserve it. There is a faction of ‘the woman is always right’ (made up of both males and females). And they are furious FURIOUS with anyone who refuses to participate in throwing men there. It seems to me that they have projected their real or perceived mistreatment from men onto all men. I went immediately for help - got the diagnosis, and recovered. I am sad to think there are so many untreated but the #metoo (think that’s what it was called) campaign is evidence this is very likely real.

Remember guys, you, too can be set up by a GOP tool. And when it happens, I hope the same flock of knee-jerk reactionaries declare that the woman is always right no matter how upstanding you have been and how not she has been. Because, you know, gender matters more than truth, context, laws, critical thinking, and proof.

Perception is everything. That might be the take away lesson in this. I'm actually learning more toward (waaaayyyy toward) her being a lying GOP tool, though.

What Franken did wasn't a misdemeanor. Not legally and I say not ethically, either, in the context of comedy and USO.

You are welcome. I have no reason to not believe you. Actually, I'm taking heat for trying to protect men. I am a humanist first - gender doesn't matter to me but right and wrong does. I'm not as much like my father as you might be. I'm crude by many people's standards, I enjoy flirting - with people and with danger and shock - so, I am also trying to protect humor in all its forms (different tastes for different people). Most of all, I hope to protect honesty. And I don't see a whole lot of that in this story.

I believe Joe, because my father was that kind of man. However, I also know that doesn't mean no one would try to make a deal out of nothing.

I'm not stretching anything. If you have never done any of that, you are unusual (in a good way). These are the sorts of things that people do every day, and that some people who play along are later willing to destroy someone over.

Absolutely. And I'm losing respect for everyone who isn't actively standing up against the tools who are helping GOP.

He admitted to being sorry she was hurt by HER PERSPECTIVE and added a bunch of language to calm the fears of women who might be projecting hatred/guilt onto all men because they are suffering PTSD.

For comic relief: 
I apologize to all of the people who have lied about me, too, because I truly am sorry they are such ignorant and deplorable people. Seriously. No one should have to live with knowing that they are ignorant and deplorable people so if making up weird stuff about me (maybe something like saying they know I wrote that article praising me myowndamnedself because they didn't want to believe someone else actually wrote it) is the only way they can feel good about themselves, I'm honestly sorry for them. I really don't know what I was thinking when I said it really makes no sense to stand by something that I know and she couldn't possibly know since she wasn't me. I'm okay with with just saying so sorry and not explaining myself over something so ridiculous.
I also apologize to everyone who thinks it is wise to try and destroy me in order to protect people who will destroy everyone else. I can't imagine the self-loathing that must come with such poor character so I'm sorry I'm here to remind them of what they could be, if they had been born sorta normal.I think it's time for everyone to apologize to idiots. Feels kinda good.

IF he is proved to be guilty, I will say I was wrong. But I will never say I was wrong to consider him innocent - since everything about him leads to that as a jump off opinion - until proven guilty.

I have been the victim of real abuse. Because I am sane and rational, I know not to project my attacker's guilt onto to every other man. I think the correct and healthy response to people who display symptoms of PTSD by projecting or reliving old injuries is to encourage them to seek professional help. PTSD is treatable.

And, all they had to do was bait knee-jerk, reactionary tools on the left to kill three birds with one stone for them: silence/damage Franken's accurate opposition to their kill more people bill disguised as tax reform and loaded with vile pork, take the heat off Moore, and make Democrats just as bad as Republicans in the eyes of idiots. I am beyond furious with people who refuse to think.

His brilliant wording in the apology covered him from every angle without admitting he did anything. The weight of his apology rests exactly where it belongs - on HER perception.

Exactly, Robyn. I refuse to participate in this dangerous, unwise, PC on steroids mess of turning on a man with a history of doing good and fighting for everyone without any investigation of the accusations made at what is obviously a plotted, opportunistic time.

Anybody else wonder why she said nothing when he ran for office but decided, now, when her GOP is in trouble over Moore and is trying to ram through a deplorable tax scam bill that he has spoken intelligently against, she brings up this ridiculous claim? And, better yet, why knee-jerk, reactionary tools are helping her hurt a good man and help GOP?

Meanwhile, reactionaries have helped GOP hurt a good man, made it possible for him to be expelled from the Senate if they oust their child molester, and wasted a day that should have been spent on their hateful, harmful, slimy, dishonest pretense of a tax reform bill that has enough dangerous pork to kill many.

There’s a huge difference between a man accused by multiple victims and a person accusing multiple men. My gut reaction is to wait for the whole story on one and to lean toward probably on the other but not to blame either side on anything that is new and up in the air, especially when it’s as off-the-wall stinky as this Franken crap.

I must live in a different world than everyone else. I have known women who believe every man they’ve ever met abused them somehow and were willing to hang the ones they hadn’t met because they were convinced that every man alive was a horrible person. Not just a few, either.

I'm sad that men are being put in this position. No, you do NOT have to defend women who make choices to do things that are indefensible, just because they are women. Nor do I have to do that just because I am a woman. Principles should always come first.

I fear that the people who are pressuring everyone to say that women are always right, and that a woman is always better than a man or falling into another huge GOP trap. They will run females against every strong Democrat in office and, sadly, the knee-jerk reactionaries who don't want to rock the boat or take a real stand for fear of being criticized will go along with it.
Do you get yet, that part of my battle right now is with them? It's not making me popular but I totally reject the idea that all women are honest and all men are dogs. I have been fortunate in that most of the men I have known intimately (not in a sexual way) have been good men. I would consider many of them great men - the kind that many women don't believe exist. This reality is high on my gratitude list and I realize it comes from having a great father, who surrounded himself with good people and taught me to recognize and attract great people. I was born privileged. I recognize that and try to pay it back to the world. My goal is not to hurt women, it is to protect innocent men from what I believe is a terrible precedent. I don't think my goal should mean to anyone that I do not see that women have been oppressed in many ways, and I will fight to correct those injustices. I just don't think that assuming all women are honest is the way to go about that.

I agree on your principle and point. A prostitute can be raped and her rapist should be prosecuted. But if she decides after taking the money and doing the dirty that she only gave him permission to touch her left breast and he touched them both, so she’s going to twist that around and call it rape, I am not going to pretend that man is the problem.

The problem is that you think he did something to her. I can accuse you of assaulting me right now because I am unhappy with what you are saying.

Or, if we happened to be in the same room and someone introduced you, my automatic reaction would be to hug you. I hug everyone, always have. If I hugged everyone in the room, including you, and then screamed later that you touched me without my permission and I had been stewing over it for years, would you want people lumping you in with rapists and pedophiles? That’s what is happening, and it is harmful to all men and women and children. It’s especially unfair to real victims of real assault and that’s part of her purpose - to protect Trump from the 16 accusers.

The people who accuse us of slut shaming are the ones calling her a slut for choosing the professions we’re sharing. I have no problem with her being naked or sexually assaulting men. I am hypocrite shaming, liar shaming, Republican tool shaming.