Like molasses, it sucked me in. I watched the anger grew to hatred, then immediately to pain. Then, I watched myself shake violently in front of a tv screen as I imagined hurling myself through the box set and doing something, really- anything to help the person behind the glass.
I remember my exact outfit. The Limited Black Pants, work pants. Sleeveless tank, size M, that came up to a crew neck and was longer- tunic style; with red and black checks. It was perfect with or without a suit coat, the clerk assured me. I wore strappy heels and I felt, gorgeous.
Somewhere, there is a picture of me in the exact same outfit going out to the bars years later, and not even realizing the deadly combination I had put back on my body. He raped me in that outfit. To this day, my memory fails to explain to me what happened. I remember the floor, the scream and the tears. I remember my face, as I looked in the mirror, pulling my pants back on, wiping my mascara, and I climbed down stairs, and out doors and the campus security officer that came to take me to safety.
Someone once told me that if we didn’t stand for what we had gone through, we would slowly fall amongst the masses that decided to crumple after the weight of what had happened. The anniversary comes and goes every year. In true form, until about 2 months later, I forget and realize and slowly come to my senses. In the college days, (and after,) I spoke out often about what happened. I keynoted at several “Take Back The Night” protests. I protested, rebelled and eventually joined a rape and abuse crisis network. I folded to the belief that rape would always happen, so I could be a part of the clean-up process. Tell me, that’s not WRONG.
She wore a tight, red, dress. That’s what the patrons of the restaurant stated as they watched her ‘manager’ put his hands on her, demean her and physically and verbally assault her in front of the customers. When the host, (John Quinones,) asked a woman why she didn’t bother to speak up she said and giggled, “It wasn’t MY daughter.” She laughed while she said it, (though I assume the embarassment created the laughter to null her true senses.) It was part of a segment, “What Would You Do,” that aired tonight at 8pm central.
The shattered glass of my iced-tea erupted as the remote hit it, full force and the tears came quickly. Restaurant patrons excused away their behavior with the usual phrases, “She was wearing something entirely inappropriate.” ”She was asking for it.” ”She looked vulgar.” Three people spoke up while tens were silent. If counted, the number had to be less than 10%. Staggering, isn’t it? Less than 10% of people cared that someone was degraded or treated differently simply because of how she was dressed, though- she showed no skin, just a tight, red, jersey fabric that clung to her body and heels. Maybe someone told her once that it would look great under a suit jacket, or maybe she listened to society’s message that the more skin she showed, the more tips she would make. What’s okay in Hooters, isn’t okay in other establishments. (Yet, why is it alright in Hooters at all?) I wondered then, if a Hooters waitress walked out after work and was accosted on the way to her car. Would the same people have said, “she was asking for it.”
I certainly wasn’t. My boyfriend who went to Iowa State was devastated, and I thought that the boy from the party’s kind reply to walk me home meant that my choice to only have one drink meant I was intelligent, and brave against the peer pressure. It just meant that I was chosen into victimhood, and later, scribed into survivordom. Demons create a willingness to rise against: We’ve all become phoenixes to our earlier selves.
It wasn’t HER daughter, so there was no need to stand up and protest at the injustice that happened that night. How many times have you found yourself thinking, “It’s not MY duty to become involved!” If someone had pulled my arm gently or asked why I felt so sick after one drink we might have figured out that it wasn’t just vodka, and he wasn’t who he said he was.
Ask me why I care and I will tell you: Because I am SOMEONE’S daughter. My worth is not higher if I am in a room with people I know or complete and utter strangers. The world is that restaurant. How we treat even the perceived-lowest of those around us is really, how we are teaching people to treat our own children. If no one stands up for us, how will we teach each other to stand for THEM?
It’s shameful, what we do to one another. What’s worse is what we choose to ignore. The time for being tolerant of other’s destructive behavior against human beings should have ended, though I doubt it ever will. What makes each of us human isn’t our capacity to reign over one another or destroy each other; what makes us human is the power to bring each other forward.
We failed on a pretend tv show. What does that say about our culture?
Because every, single, day is April 8th, 2000 for me. Visit: http://www.rainn.org/ for more information on how you can stop sexual predators, assaults and abuse from happening around you.