These last few weeks have been hard, and I’m not even sure I realized the extent of it until today…I find myself exhausted and furious, ready to do something but also paralyzed, existing in a state of disbelief, and reliving my own trauma what feels like hundreds of times a day.
I didn’t say anything when the #metoo movement started because it didn’t feel like the right time. And I didn’t jump on the #whyididntreport movement either…because I did report. I spent the better part of an entire day in the emergency room, retelling my own story over and over…first in triage, then the nurse, then a police officer, a doctor, crime scene detectives, and finally a Special Victims Unit detective. I should mention that all of them were men except the nurse, who I think was an actual angel…none of them (except the angelic nurse) treated me with anything close to care or concern, and definitely not with even an ounce of respect. My story was questioned, my husband was pulled out of the room for questioning by the detective…to get his version of what he thought probably happened and did he think my story was credible or was there another explanation. The doctor advised me against taking HIV-preventative medication even though my attacker was a known IV drug user…he actually looked me in the eyes and said that if I was his daughter he would not recommend the medication. Medication that could prevent HIV. He thought I was horribly confused…imagining things, making things into something they weren’t…definitely mistaken, even though my attacker confessed to the crime. I was dismissed. By the doctor. By the detective. By every single man who walked into the room that day. Over and over.
So if you want to know why women are so fucking furious it’s because we are tired of being automatically dismissed. We’re tired of the men in our lives dismissing us. And we’re tired of not being taken seriously by men in positions of power. Surely we asked for whatever happened to us. Or surely we’re mistaken about the details. We were too drunk/tired/stupid to remember what actually happened.
And let me be very clear…it’s not just powerful men who are protected. My attacker was a white man, diagnosed with schizophrenia and unmedicated, homeless, a felon. I’m a white, upper middle class woman with a Master’s degree and not even a parking ticket. But I’m a woman. And he is a man. And the injustice of it all has never before been more clear to me than it was that day in the emergency room. I’ve never felt smaller or less protected or more vulnerable than I did that day.
This is why women don’t report sexual assault. Because when we do we are automatically dismissed as stupid or selfish or accused of merely trying to ruin a man’s reputation. In the nine months that followed that day in the emergency room, while we waited for the DNA results to be processed, my attacker raped two more women. He finally admitted to those crimes, but pled to a lesser charge because the women “weren’t credible witnesses.” Let me repeat that: HE ADMITTED TO RAPING TWO WOMEN AND WAS NOT PROSECUTED BECAUSE OF THE CHARACTER OF HIS VICTIMS. And, had anyone believed me on day one and arrested him, those two women would have been safe.
This is why we’re furious. It’s why we collectively couldn’t breathe when Dr. Ford was questioned for hours. Because even if we haven’t been the victim of a violent sexual assault, we know someone who has at the very least been the victim of sexual harassment. So do you, and if you aren’t mad as hell that women in this country are experiencing this kind of treatment, then please just be quiet while the rest of us fight like hell to fix it.