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A horror that lasts a lifetime

When I was 21 I was kidnapped, held in a small space, beaten, tortured and repeatedly raped. At one point I must have left my body because I looked down on what was happening and told myself that I was going to be killed if I didn’t figure out what to do to get free. I talked my way out of being killed, I had the rapest drive me to a bus station, got the people behind the ticket counter to save me, call the police and they arrested the rapest. Then I was tortured again, this time by the non caring police and doctors, which were all men. I had to stand on a platform so pictures could be taken of my cuts and bruises, try to picture a 21 year old girl who was just kidnapped, tortured and raped having to stand, naked, in front of men so they could take pictures of her beat up body, how cruel is that, to this day I have a hard time imagining it really happened. Male doctors came and did a very impersonal examination, I felt like a slab of meat on a table.

My sister came to the police station, got me and took me to her house.
I wanted to press charges, they had the man. My father told me I should have let the man kill me, how could I have let a black man rape me. The chief of police told me he wouldn’t press charges, it would be too hard to prove, it was the rapist word against mine, and that I had asked for it because I had been hitchhiking and got into a car with a black man.
In the 70’s everyone hitchhiked, I was very innocent and trusting, I was also a survivor, I made it, I was proud of myself for staying alive.

Even in the 70’s I couldn’t talk to anyone about what happened to me, when I did I got some pretty awful comments back, like, ‘why didn’t you just lay back and enjoy it,’ ‘get over it,’ you deserved what you got, you’re a very pretty girl who could tempt any man,’ …I figured there was some way I could use what happened to me to help some other person. I knew that the rapest had hurt my body but not who I was, not my soul. I tried talking to other rape victims, I wanted them to understand that it wasn’t their fault, I wanted to encourage them to get strong, I also wanted to feel like there was a reason this brutal assault happened to me and that I could make a difference.

I learned that people, women and men, didn’t want to know someone who was raped, it didn’t fit into their picture of a nice, safe world so I stopped talking.
I had nightmares and flash backs for years. I took self defense classes, I learned defensive driving, I became street smart. When people said I was paranoid, I told them that I didn’t think that they were being very realistic about the world around them. When I crossed the street to avoid a dark alley or park, my girlfriends told me that I was way too scared, I told them that I’d learned the hard way and wouldn’t be a victim again.
Fifteen years ago I had five random women in my home, two house keepers, one real estate agent and a friend of mine, in the middle of a conversation it came to light that four of the five women had been raped.

Six years ago I got so mad that we, the rape victims, were looked down on, not the men, and that we had to keep quiet about what happened to us, I said screw it, this needs to be turned around, women need to understand rape is the man’s fault not hers and that women have to understand how not to become victims, so I started talking again about being raped.
One young girl who use to hitchhike heard what happened to me and never hitchhiked again, my sister and I picked up a young girl in our motorhome and let her know what happened to me and what a bad decision she had made by getting into a motorhome, let alone hitchhiking, she swore she would never hitchhike again, a friend of mine felt that she finally could talk to someone about being raped by her father, it was a huge relief for her.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for taking up this cause and for helping women.
I was kidnapped, tortured and raped almost forty years ago, I’ve healed, I’m strong, but it took work on my part.

What I want other women and men to understand is that the rapest is the bad person, the damaged person, the victim is just that, the person who was hurt and they can choose to survive and they can choose to help stop violence against women, and men.

I’m so proud of you and I’m so very appreciative of Cecilia Peck for bringing your story to light, for all of us.

Please keep up your work, you both have and will make a difference.


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