Thursday, September 17, 2015

It Was 45 Years Ago Today

For today's post I had been planning to copy and paste a post I wrote ten years ago. That post is called the Anniversary of the Worst Day of My Life. When I wrote it ten years ago, it was the thirty-fifth anniversary. I've decided not to copy that post here, I'll just offer the link. I will say this for those who are wondering if you should read it or not, I am a survivor of a rape by a stranger. It took place on Thursday, September 17, 1970. If you choose not to read it, I'll put one verse here from the poem I wrote:

On a vastly beautiful fall day
I become a witness
to the state laws
he breaks with my body
A photo of me taken in 1971
I have thought over years that I would like to read a transcript from the trial, but I don't know if that's possible. I do remember that the cross-examination was so insulting and horrible, that I got up off the witness stand, walked out of the courtroom, and locked myself in the bathroom. I had no idea I could be held in contempt of court, but was reminded by someone who the DA sent to knock on the door, trying to get me to go back into the courtroom. I was so flummoxed by the whole experience that the defense attorney actually called me at home to ask me to be a witness for the defense. Seriously. I told him in no uncertain terms and in rather colorful language to never call me again. Yes, I was questioned about that on the witness stand the very next day. I learned firsthand how innocent victims are shamed and blamed. I was only 18 years old.

I am a gray-haired woman now with so many wonderful joyous life experiences between that day and now, but I have learned there are some things that can never be forgotten.

I am a survivor.

PS: When we first started blogging so many years ago, we used Haloscan for our comments. They stopped hosting blogger comments in 2009. We have all the comments from those days, but they are in a mostly unusable format. I did go through those 23 huge files and find the comments that had been left on the original post. I posted those in the comments on the original post.

25 comments:

  1. Sorry to hear that no doubt it is something you can never forget and I feel you are not alone in how you feel as people say the same over in the UK. Rape victims are treated badly and made to feel like they are to blame. It should not be that way.

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  2. Heartbreaking story of both the crime and the way you were treated afterward. After recently reading what happened to the girl who wasn't supposed to be able to own a BMW, I don't think much has changed unfortunately. Something must be wrong with human culture and it's not just the US. It's human nature :(

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  3. Sorry I called you "Julie", Robin. I had just clicked on from a different blog!

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  4. I remember the story. And I fear the same story repeats itself now. What a shame.

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  5. Bill-- Thank you so much for your thoughtful and kind comment.

    Rain-- We are strange beast, we humans. I wish we could all treat each other with kindness, but that doesn't always happen. Sigh.

    Unknown-- There is no comment here from you where you call me "Julie." Makes me wonder where you might have left that one.

    NCmountainwoman-- It is a shame. I wish humans really used the consciousness that we have evolved to have. Sigh.

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  6. My heart just aches for that innocent young girl and her family. What a travesty of justice during your trial but thank goodness that disgusting man was finally punished. Sadly even today, the blame always sticks to the girl and it is assumed that she "asked" for it. The cops question to you made my blood boil. I understand why a lot of rapes go unreported.
    I think your account should be required reading for all cop trainees.

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  7. Your story is one that needs to be honored again and again because it is a story of surviving several levels of brutality and not only surviving but thriving and being a light in the world while living with things that cannot be forgotten. Your light shines, robin andrea.

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  8. Arkansas Patti-- I was absolutely shocked by the way the police talked to me, and it was only shortly after I had been assaulted. I jumped out of the car and was running down the middle of the canyon road when a car with two young women pulled over and picked me up. They took me straight to the police station. Interestingly, it turns out that the two girls were in my sister's senior high class, so they were called as witnesses. I agree this story should be required reading for all cop trainees.

    am-- I always think it is important to remember that people have suffered incredible indignities. We need to treat each other with kindness because we have no idea the kind of roads our friends have traveled to get here. Thank you so much for your kind words.

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  9. And the battle continues on college campuses to this day, to put the onus upon aggressive young men. And elsewhere... the male of the species gets away with rape.
    I often wonder how little distance humans have traveled from their primitive past.

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  10. isabelita-- Yes, the battle rages on. It amazes me that women are still blamed for the unconscionable acts that are done to them. I often think we humans have taken a crazy path away from what could have been, and there is no going back.

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  11. I couldn't bring myself to re-read the post. I remember that it is staggering in its horror. Why are rapists given a pass? Do the men (it's usually men) in the "justice" system fantasize about raping women and thus identify with rapists?
    The flaw in the human species that makes so many violent will only speed our extinction. We'd be way better off if we lived by kindness and compassion.

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  12. I had no idea, Robin Andrea (I wasn't following you ten years ago). I'm so sorry. The incredible insensitivity of the police and authorities when it comes to cases of rape continues to astonish me. It really makes me wonder what the heck is going on in their heads.

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  13. CCorax-- I don't know why rapists are given a "pass" or why it was incumbent upon me, an 18 year old, to defend my hitchhiking and my private life. I have a very sad view of humans, and I can only hope we will drive ourselves to extinction before we destroy the rest of the planet and the other innocent lives that exist here.

    Scott-- It is not a story I often tell, but it is a story that has been with me for all of these 45 years. I will never forget the experience-- that of the assault, the police, and the courtroom. Each an act of thoughtless aggression on an innocent teen. I believed the world was a kinder place until I stuck my thumb out that day. Lesson learned.

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  14. First, I wanted to heed your caution and not read the original post. But I eventually had to. It brought back the sharp memory of the day I was assaulted (not raped) by a man I thought I knew well. I was 21.

    Then, I still believed that it would be only matter of time before the world would become a safe place for women, surely we all knew what to do, we were feminists and pacifists - ironically, he was in those days quite a famous person involved in radical pacifist activities.
    And even later, during the years I raised my daughter did the strong (so very very strong) wish stay with me to make the world safe for women, to reclaim the night.

    But somehow during all these years I have lost it, the belief that it is all down to increasing awareness, a "good" battle to be fought etc. Too many horrific stories, news travels fast these days.

    Still, thank you for sharing this and thank you for being so strong and level headed about it.

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  15. kathy a-- I have been thinking of asking you if you know how I can get these old transcripts of the trial from Los Angeles County. Is there a way? The trial was a very long time ago.

    Sabine-- I think we all had the same dream that somehow we humans would wake up, that on the biggest scale there would be no more war, on the personal scale we could feel safe and not be raped, on the planetary scale we would protect our earth. Hah! Boy did we have that wrong wrong wrong. So many women are survivors of assault. So many. So sad. Thank you for reading the post. It's good to tell our stories.

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  17. I remember that post. Some things can not be forgotten and being Scots/Irish------forgiven, but having lived such a long life and had so many amazing and nurturing events unfold, I discovered that by some magic the energy leaves the outrage and there is found some peace. My event happened at the age of 9. Peace to you dear friend.

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  18. MandT--I have found peace, and I have not forgotten. I am so sorry you had an event as well. It never ceases to amaze me what some humans do to others.

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  19. Leah and I are both horrified and outraged by your story. It's incredible that a crime victim is victimized yet again by the police and then, yet again, by the court system. For what other crime is the victim blamed?

    We admire your courage for telling the story. Of course we know you only through your writing, but we feel like we know you, and it seems to us that you have also shown courage in being able to continue to find joy in the world. I think maybe you embody the old George Herbert quote: Living well is the best revenge.

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  20. Mark and Leah-- Thank you so much for your kind words. I don't really talk or write much about that experience, but I think it's important to sometimes remember and tell the story. There are so many victims who stay quiet and suffer. I did years in therapy to work through my fears, sadness, anger, and self-blame. And yes, living well is the best revenge, although I wouldn't mind hitting that horrible old predator with a baseball bat. LOL!

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  21. I have read this blog post in the past, but once again, it makes me furious just to think of how you were assaulted and then badly treated by the police and the court system after. What also makes me furious is that it seems as though things have not changed much in 45 years. I always thought that there would come a time when men would evolve to such a point that these kinds of assaults wouldn't be happening, but it almost seems that things are getting worse. It's always amazed me that I and so many of my friends have been assaulted, molested, and violated. It's no wonder that so many women are nervous about going places or doing things alone. That we have to waste so much of our energy and awareness on sizing up situations, trying to evaluate dangers, and can't just be free to live and enjoy the world around us. Will this never change?! I don't know. In the meantime, we all suffer from the lack of freedom -- that we can't go everywhere we want to go, when we want to go, because we might run into yet another goddamned predator. Living alone, loving to travel and camp in remote places, I'm keenly aware of that reality and it infuriates me to have to suppress my own fears in able to do what I most love to do. I tell you, if there was some monstrous wild creature that sprang out and attacked people in the numbers that women are attacked, the public would long ago have exterminated the thing! So, why do we let this continue?

    Anyhow, I'm glad that you have been able to go forward and not let this episode slow you down and mess with your life, although I understand the toll it must have taken to do so. It takes great courage to write about and discuss what happened and bring injustice to the light of day. I understand what you mean about there being some things that can never be forgotten. Our minds are very good at keeping a trip line strung between present and past events. Robin, you have my respect and admiration for your courage.

    Namaste.

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  22. Bev-- Thank you so much for your very kind and thoughtful comment. I have often wondered how hard it is to travel alone, but then I remember you have two dogs with you. I think it makes a big difference. Their companionship is a powerful thing when you are out in the lonely wilds. I will say there is hardly ever a time when I am not a little bit vigilant. That is the sad outcome of being a victim.

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  23. Robin - Yes, it's hard to travel alone - even with two large dogs. I couldn't do it without them. I trust them to keep us safe. A couple of trips ago, while I was stopped at an interstate rest stop, I was approached by someone who drove in after me. When I drove in, there was an elderly couple getting into their car. They left while I was there and then I was alone -- a very unusual thing. I park far from the rest rooms as my dogs get upset by people coming near the van (they protect it as if it was a house). While I was filling the dog's water bowl, a car pulled in -- but I did not see it. Suddenly this man came around the back of the van and startled me. He said he needed money for gas. He didn't see the dogs inside the van because the windows are very darkly tinted. The man came up far too close to me. Sage saw him and jumped into the doorway, letting out a vicious sounding snarl and showing her teeth. The man jumped back and then left. I have no idea if he was a bad person, but his behaviour really startled me and I did not like the look on his face. Anyhow, that's the kind of situation I dread and sometimes have to deal with. I try to be sure the dogs are always "with" me when I'm stopped places, or that the van door is open so that they could jump out to protect me if needed. I have had few scary encounters, but enough to know that it's not very safe for people to travel alone without dogs -- probably for men as much as for women. It is best to stay vigilant and to expect the unexpected.

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  24. Bev-- You describe exactly the kind of experience that makes me so cautious out in the world. There's a state rest-stop on Highway 101 that is a bit off the road and not visible from the highway. Roger and I stopped there once, but its remoteness really unsettled me. We have not stopped there again. At the rest stops here in California I have noticed signs that say the restrooms are recorded on video for our protection. How is that we find this acceptable? Not that they are videoing us, but that they have decided that's how unsafe we are. It's quite disconcerting. This is our world.

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