As I was reading the brave and wrenching letter a woman read to her rapist at his sentencing, I started feeling sick. I began to curl up into myself as I read how she regained consciousness after a drunken blackout to find herself in the hospital where she began piecing together how she got there and what had happened to her.
I couldn’t stand to read it all, but because she was so strong and honest in relating her pain, I had to get strong too. I owed it to her to read it. All of it. Even the parts where her assailant never admitted to what he did to her. He raped her.
I have been cycling through sick, sad and mad since I read her words. Since I read that the rapist’s legal team, after realizing that she had blacked out and had no memories of the attack, decided on a strategy to continue attacking her. And, once again, she couldn’t defend herself because he could create a bullshit narrative that she honestly could not deny. Double-fucking-whammy.
Since I read that his “remorse” was for drinking too much and being sexually “promiscuous.” Neither of these are against the law, by the way. Rape is. That’s what he was convicted of.
Since I saw reports that the rapist’s father said that his son doesn’t eat his favorite snacks like he used to. Contrast that with the victim who “wanted to take off my body like a jacket and leave it at the hospital with everything else.” God, that hurts. So much. Worse than not having an appetite for pretzels.
Since I read that the judge in the case didn’t want to punish the rapist any further because he might have maybe gone to the Olympics (!? that’s a reason?! and he’d outswim Michael Phelps?), and that “a prison sentence would have a severe impact on him.” You think? Isn’t that the point, Mr. Judge?
Since after being convicted by a jury of eight men and four women, with a recommended sentencing floor of two years and a possibility of fourteen years in prison, the judge gave him six months in the county jail. Even though the judge said that the rapist didn’t actually acknowledge his crime; that the convicted rapist continued to say that the woman was conscious and consented, despite the jury findings. Mr. Judge said that’s okay because he’s not convinced that the rapist’s “lack of complete acquiescence to the verdict should count against him.” I mean, he said he was sorry. For something. Not the the rape he was convicted of, though. Seriously? The judge said that? Yes. He did.
Since every news story about this convicted rapist includes a clean cut photo of him, either from his yearbook or standing in a blue blazer next to his loving parents. You can’t find his mug shot from his arrest that night. A Google search will deliver mugshots of Reese Witherspoon, Charlie Sheen, Lindsay Lohan, Mel Gibson and zillions of other people who get arrested. Guess his lawyers are working to protect his image. You know, his future THAT HE RUINED BECAUSE OF WHAT HE DID.
Since “he’s been punished enough” and “they were both drunk” tropes continue to pummel the victim who the rapist’s attorney blames for not remembering the color of her cardigan or making a phone call. Again, for those of you watching at home, let me remind you that drinking to the point of blacking out is neither a crime nor a substitute for consent.
Since I’ve pieced a night back together after drinking heavily. So I felt like I was punched in my stomach, and my throat, and my head, and in my vagina when I read how she learned about what happened and how the bastards used that against her.
I’m sorry. I’m incoherent here, but I’m back on mad. So mad. So, so mad.
And yet, despite all the assholes, I am impressed and grateful and lifted by the courage of Emily Doe. She reminds us all–graphically, honestly and humanly–of the multiple layers of dehumanization and accusation that victims of sexual assault bear.
And, most of all, I am giving hugs to the amazing Emily Doe, and every Emily Doe. And I pray that she, and her sisters, can find peace.