I should preface this by saying that I was never raped and I won’t pretend to know what the trauma of that feels like. But raising awareness about rape and relationship abuse, something that I have experienced, is something I care deeply about. Because it makes me angry as hell that it is still happening. Despite all the campaigns, “No means no” and “yes means yes,” and whatever other efforts, it is still happening everywhere and everyday. And there is still so much stigma, shame, and above all, victim blaming. When a girl reports that she was raped, some of the first questions are “was she wearing a short skirt,” “was she drunk,” “was she making out with him?” Rarely do the questions address the perpetrator, who is actually the one to blame. Even close friends may ask the victim these same questions, as if answering yes to any of them is an excuse or a justification in any way. And sometimes, it is close friends who actually commit the crime, which makes it all the more confusing and difficult to speak about. Just like with abusive relationships, there is often almost no evidence, unless the woman gets a rape kit done right away, which understandably, is not the most appealing thing to do after being violated in the worst way possible. And even when the woman does have evidence and prosecute, 9 times out of 10 the perpetrator walks or gets an extremely lenient sentence, as we saw with the Brock Turner case.
We have all heard this before. Everyone knows the statistic that 1 in 4 women are raped. And yet we shy away from saying words like rape and abuse, because they are ugly and dirty. That is why the single word “rape” is the title of this post. Because unless we talk about it, unless we say these “ugly” words, nothing is ever going to change. Victims are still going to be blamed and the perpetrators will never be brought to justice. Like I said, I have never experienced this horrific act of violence, but I know women who have. And it breaks my heart that they feel like they can’t speak and tell their stories. That 1 in 4 could be your sister, your cousin, or your best friend. It could be anyone. And you might never even know it.
Below is a poem I wrote when one day I was finally getting fed up with all the things we have to deal with just because we are born women.
“The cross we bear”
Maybe you’ve never really thought about it.
Maybe you have and you just don’t care.
But whether you accept it or not,
As women, there is a cross we must bear.
It’s when a guy on the street whistles at you,
when you’re only 13
when he calls you a bitch,
for not answering.
It’s when a stranger at a bar grabs your chest one night
And people just look the other way.
It’s when your shirt is a little too tight
And the cops say it’s your fault that you were raped.
It’s when a co-worker tries to sleep with you
and harasses you for 5 years when you tell him no.
When your boss hits on you
when you’re in his office alone.
It’s when your boyfriend becomes aggressive,
just because he can.
When he abuses you over and over
And gets away with it,
Because you’re a girl and he’s a man.
These are the things we must deal with.
Things that people tend to just accept
and never really question.
But listen to me,
It is time to wake up.
It is time to care.
Because enough is enough.
This isn’t right and it simply isn’t fair.
It is time to rise above
The violence and abuse
That happens every second and everywhere.
It is time to create a world
where being woman
Is no longer a cross to bear.