I was young and rebellious, and trying to find my way in a world where men didn’t love you. My father had left the family, but dutifully picked up my sisters and me every Saturday for 1.5 hours, as per the divorce court order. AT age 13 he beat me with his belt because I refused his birthday gift to me of $13. At 16, he beat me again for refusing to go with him and my sisters on his court ordered visit. At 17, my step-father hit me with a telephone for daring to use it. I ran away from home several times, and finally found myself in California.
After living for about 2 months in Redondo, I moved to Beverly Hills. I shared a space with a young man and his girlfriend. One beautiful warm afternoon, I was walking down the street, feeling free and alive and safe from my father and step-father, when a man on a motorcycle whistled at me and said I looked great. He asked if I would like a ride. I said yes, and he picked me up. Soon we were met by two other men on motorcycles. We went to a bar and had drinks and played pool. Then we went to a restaurant and ate dinner.
Soon after, we left, and suddenly there were at least two more men on motorcycles. I began to realize, too late, that this was a gang. The first young man who had noticed me was excused. I guess he was an initiate, and although I had liked him and he seemed to like me, he knew he had to follow the instructions of the elders. He left, and two of the other members said they would drive me home, but they had to stop at their apartment first.
They drove to the back of the duplex and went to go in. I said I would wait in the alley, but they insisted I go with them. We went upstairs, where there was another man and his girlfriend in the living room. One of the members took me into the bedroom and insisted I give him a blow job. He said I owed him because he had paid good money for my drinks and food. I refused to comply, so he hit me very hard on the side of my face. I saw stars, and thought to myself, “so it’s true, you really do see stars like in the cartoons.” That made me feel better, using humor to protect myself against the pain. I gave him a blow job, and then the other member came in and he insisted on a blow job, too. Then they started to rape me, first one then the other. I was crying, but was afraid to scream. The only other people there were the man and his girlfriend in the living room, and I didn’t feel any safety with them.
When the men were done, I curled into the fetal position and started to scream in pain. I told them I didn’t know what was wrong, but I had a searing pain in my right abdomen. I told them they had to take me to the hospital. I think they panicked, because they decided to take me home.
When I walked into my apartment, my roommate and his girlfriend were there. They could tell something was wrong, and asked if I needed the police or doctor. I said no, and went to my room. I didn’t leave for several days, and they left food outside my door, which I largely ignored.
The pain in my side was real, but not medically induced. It turned out that I was at the end of my period, and had a tampon inside me. The rapists had pushed it up very far, and it took me several days to remove it.
Still, I refused to see a doctor. Back then, the news was filled with women trying to bring charges against their attackers, but the women themselves were made to look as if they had been asking for it. Questions like, “What were you wearing? Did you agree to go with the man? Did you tell him no? Did you tell him no more than once? Did you let him buy you drinks, food, gifts? Did you struggle? Weren’t there times when you could have screamed or run?”
I began to wear loose, drab clothing. After suffering for years from mild depression, I hit rock bottom. I returned home, told no one except my best friend of the attack, and felt guilty, ashamed, and terrified that the rapists would somehow find me and kill me. I started to drink and party.
Within a year, my best friend and I moved to Montreal, where I changed my name. Then I met my first husband. He was a wonderful man, but I was wounded in my soul. Despite our love for each other, my rape kept us from developing as husband and wife. Within 18 months we separated.
Through the years, I have searched for a man who would be strong enough to protect me from my fears, and who would support me and help me regain my own strength. I am now 60, and this year am suffering from a great crisis. After decades of feeling that I had miraculously healed from the wounds, I find myself in a very deep depression that affects my ability to work productively, to make enough money to live in a real home, and even to protect my children from my emotional outbursts. For the past several months I have lived in my car, in a tent in my friend’s yard, and on my son’s couch. I have almost lost my job, I lost my business, and I have trouble getting through my studies to start a new business.
After watching Brave Miss World, I realize just how vulnerable I have become, and now make the decision to get help and get strong. I refuse to allow two men from 40 years ago dictate the rest of my life. I thought I had taken the power away from them by marching on through my life, but now I declare: YOU DO NOT CONTROL ME! THIS IS MY LIFE, MY BODY, MY SOUL! WHATEVER I NEED TO DO TO HEAL, I WILL DO!
I never knew the men’s names, I couldn’t remember where they lived, and I never got the chance to pursue prosecution. They never paid their debt to me or to society. But the only thing that matters is that I now nurture myself productively, so that I can be an example of strength to my son and daughter. I used to think I had to keep putting one foot in front of the other and get through hard times, but I found myself running away more than standing up for myself. Now I know I have to place my feet firmly on the ground and take a stand. I invite all women who have been victimized to do the same. I will help you and I will allow you to help me. Don’t do it alone. Isolation only makes it worse.
Thank you, Linor, from the bottom of my heart.