Editor’s Note: This post reflects where I was at in my learning and understanding of sexual violence at the time I wrote it. So, I leave it as is. But in the years since, I have learned and I know that a victim’s only job is to survive and find the best way to go on for them. Pressing charges may have helped spur my recovery. But that path is not for everyone, nor should it be an expectation.
Last night, I attended a work event. I again had an experience where someone I just met inquired about my Italy experience. She had read up on me recently. That’s perfectly fine. No issue there. Again, I decided to do the article so people would talk,discuss, debate, become aware, take what they wanted from it. It wasn’t her, but her husband, who asked me, “So, what is your message through all of this.” Hmm. I had to pause. I don’t know that I had a particular platform. My motives for prosecuting Marco were not predicated on developing a message or a movement. But this is what I told him, and in the hours that have passed, I stick by it:
Women should prosecute – at least file a report – if they are sexually assaulted. If they can. That’s my message.
Why? Because it will help you heal by finding purpose in what happened to you.
Because it allows you to turn the table on the person who assaulted you, and there is an undeniable power in that – power that he took from YOU to decide what happens to you. I LOVE that for two years, he was on the ropes for a change, wondering what his fate was. I consider that my kick to his crotch for all the women he hurt before and including me.
Because it’s the right thing to do for your fellow woman. Men who rape – if they are successful – often rape again. I have no doubt that Marco was left to me by some other unfortunate woman before me. I know it in my gut. It’s why he was so cocksure and arrogant during the assault.
Let’s be teammates. I know, I know. There are times when we let our fellow woman walk headlong into other situations without a warning. For example, if I could attach a flashing light above the head of my most recent ex that said “Run, run fast. This will not end well. He is BAD news,” I would. I wish he had had that sign above his head when I met him. But that’s different. There are certain experiences in life that must be, well, experienced for growth. And my unfortunate dating experience could be another gal’s dream (bless her). But rape? No. This is not something we should leave to others to experience.
I cannot say this enough: You did nothing wrong. The person who assaulted you is disgusting and must be shamed, not you. Put the shame where it belongs. Pursue, prosecute, kick his ass. Try. Just try. That in itself is a huge victory and why you are so, so awesome for getting through this.
Editor’s Note: As mentioned in my three-part series of posts, self-defense courses are something I believe in quite strongly. And I encourage each and every woman to take a class. Give yourself the best chance to get away or survive an assault.