October 4, 2018
Dear Senator Susan Collins, Senator Jeff Flake – Member, Judiciary Committee, Senator Joe Manchin and Senator Lisa Murkowski:
I said NO. Then I screamed NO. Then I BEGGED.
What should have been the happiest moments in my life, college graduation and a dream wedding to my beloved husband turned into nightmare in just one evening. I was raped. I will never forget the smells and sounds in the ER that evening. The flurry of doctors, nurses, policemen and detectives coming in and out of my hospital room, as I lay broken on the exam room table. The physical exam, rape kit, collecting DNA left me shaking and choking back tears. They administered medications to prevent pregnancy and sexual transmitted diseases. My clothes were collected and kept as evidence by the NYPD. I felt as if I couldn’t breathe or move. I was simply BROKEN.
The kindness and care these individuals in the ER provided me that evening couldn’t stop the pain and most importantly the shame which was starting to take hold of me. After the attack, I started wondering if maybe I shouldn’t have had that last drink. Why did I stay out so late? Why didn’t I go home with my sister? I started to BLAME MYSELF. The police questioning and the investigation became too much for me to bare. I couldn’t take it, having to replay that night over and over again made me physical ill. I stopped cooperating and the police dropped the investigation. I put on a brave face and gave an Academy Award performance for years. Like too many sexual assault victims I tried desperately to pretend it didn’t “it” happen.
The first years of marriage were difficult as I tried to pretend “it” didn’t happen. Bulimia took over my life. I had lost complete control. The only control I felt I had was my eating disorder, sticking my finger down my throat became my coping mechanism. My husband insisted I seek help, I did so to save our young marriage. I tried desperately to move on with the help of a therapist, unfortunately truly deep pain and trauma never really goes away. I found others ways to cope with my pain. Yet it was and will ALWAYS BE THERE. It also has a way of popping up, especially when high profile cases of sexual assault hit the air waves.
The 2016 election brought back my pain. The release of the video of then candidate Trump and the half-assed apology which followed made me feel physical ill. I hadn’t thought about that evening in while and then all the sudden there it was, memories creeping back in. I started to wonder about the man who attacked me, what had he said about me in HIS “LOCKER ROOM”. I let the fear, embarrassment and shame control my life again. When the victims started to flood the airwaves after the video was released, watching individuals both men and women trying to discredit these women on national television opened my wounds even further and my bulimia returned full force.
When Trump won the electoral college, thus winning the election, watching a man who had admitted to and had been accused of sexual assault elected to the Office of the Presidency made me ANGRY. It was the first time my pain turned to anger and I finally found my voice. It was always there, hiding deep down, I just needed the right moment. Prior to the Women’s March in Jan 2017 the organization hosting the march asked for feedback as to why individuals we were participating on Facebook and I finally told my story. It was the first time my friends and family, including my own mother heard of the trauma I suffered in college. For 14 years only my husband and sister were aware of the assault, they kept my secret out of respect for me. I can’t imagine the PAIN my mother must have felt reading my post, her own daughter. Sexual assault not only affects the survivors it profoundly affects their loved ones as well. They too carry the weight. I knew how much pain I felt and I was trying to desperately shield my loved ones from feeling that pain.
Sexual assault survivors have the RIGHT to their own time table when it comes to finding their voice and being able to share their stories. Watching current members of Congress and even the President question why Dr. Ford didn’t report her assault or come forward sooner, I point you back to my own story. It took me 14 years to speak my truth. Unfortunately, too many victims will NEVER come forward or report. When the President of the United States openly MOCKS a sexual assault survivor on national television…why would women want to come forward in the future? She was mocked and laughed at by American citizens. This is a dangerous precedent being set, Senators.
Dr. Ford felt she had a civic duty to come forward and tell her story even though she was terrified. I wish I could have been strong enough and cooperated in my own rape investigation. Somewhere in New York City my rape kit sits on shelf and I fear from time to time I will be contacted by the NYPD because the DNA has matched to new victim and I wasn’t strong enough and someone else had to suffer. It’s my deepest fear and it haunts me to my core. I will carry this baggage for the rest of my LIFE.
Sexual assault survivors are part of club we NEVER wanted to join. Yet we will always support our members and we FEAR for our future members. I fear for ALL of Americas daughters and the message we are sending to the victims and future victims and women in general.
This could be another dark chapter written into American history. Yet the story can be changed, this chapter isn’t finalized YET. Senators, each one of you could stop this from happening, REWRITE this chapter. REWRITE this chapter….
I am asking, no, I am BEGGING you to VOTE NO on his nomination to the highest court in our land for AMERICAs DAUGHTERS. We deserve better and WE ARE BETTER THAN THIS. VOTE NO.
Senator Dianne Feinstein, Ranking Member, Judiciary Committee
Senator Kamala Harris, Member of Judiciary Committee
(my representatives in the senate from great state of California)