Under this new bill, the only rape survivors who would be able to receive funding [for abortion] would be those who were able to prove that their rapes involved “force.” If your rapist drugged you, intoxicated you, or raped you while you were unconscious, you don’t get coverage. If your rapist used coercion, you don’t get coverage. If this is a case of statutory rape — that is, if you are a thirteen-year-old child, raped by someone outside of your family — you don’t get coverage. If you’re an incest survivor over the age of eighteen — if, say, years of abuse only culminated in a pregnancy after your nineteenth birthday — you just don’t get coverage. And if you live in a state that doesn’t distinguish “forcible rape” from “rape,” you might not qualify, meaning that no matter what the circumstances of your assault were, well, sorry: You might not get coverage.
I cannot begin to describe how angry these fucktards make me. They won’t understand, anyway. Men can get raped, true – but they can never be impregnated by their attacker. They don’t have to face that particular hell. And the chances of them being raped in the first place is so vanishingly small that they can’t imagine the fear and the trauma women live with.
I would like to explain it to them. I’d like to sit down in a room with all 173 co-sponsors and describe to them in minute detail everything that happened the morning I woke to a rapist at my door. You know, it’s been nearly twenty years, and I still get sick to my stomach, my hands still sweat and shake, thinking about it. And I’m one of the lucky ones. I wasn’t physically scarred for life. I didn’t end up pregnant.
If I had, and if an abortion had been denied to me because I didn’t fight hard enough, scream loud enough, risk my life adequately enough to satisfy the Cons in Congress, I can promise you something: I would’ve ended up killing myself if I couldn’t abort that baby. They can’t understand, will obviously never understand, why many women wouldn’t be able to face carrying their attacker’s spawn to term. Let me just put it this way: there are worse things than getting raped. One of them is being denied any chance to regain some control over your own body afterward. One of them is being forced to put your body through the further trauma of pregnancy and childbirth against your will. And at that time, in the aftermath of the worst morning of my life, I wouldn’t have had the mental strength to deal with it. It was hard enough putting the shattered pieces back together without a swelling belly and constant reminders of the horror I’d gone through.
But they don’t care about a woman’s welfare. Obviously not. They have some fantasy about rape, which makes them just as despicable as the men who rape. They think there’s some kind of honor to be fought for, that a woman should do everything in her power to guard her virtue rather than survive, and if she doesn’t, then she’s a slut who deserves everything she gets.
I wish I could take them back in time. I wish I could turn what’s in my mind into a film, so I could walk them through the event. I’d like to see their faces when they’re faced with the reality of sexual violence. I’d like them to have to walk in my mind. And I’d like to pause every so often, and ask, “Did I fight enough here? How about here? Was that rape forcible enough, or was it too gentle to qualify as the kind of rape where a woman is granted an abortion?”
I’d like them to have to experience every emotion with me, both during the attack and in the months and years afterward. I’d like them to know just what it is to have control and integrity ripped away from you. I’d like them to walk that fine line, knowing that if you fight too hard, you’re going to get yourself killed. I’d like them to be there in my mind, the moment I realized I didn’t have the physical strength to fight my attacker off, and that no one could hear me scream. I’d like them to share that instant where panic and gut instinct turned into a cold calculation, where I decided it would be a better idea to live.
Do they think I made the wrong choice, choosing survival over a fight to the death? Do they think that making the choice to survive means signing away your right to your remaining bodily integrity? And would they still believe that were they forced to live it with me?
They believe abortion is murder, and yet each and every one of them, should you ask, would likely tell you that killing someone in self-defense is justifiable. Let me try to explain something to them: getting rid of a clump of cells isn’t murder, but let’s play on their field a moment. That clump of cells that could become a human being someday is an intruder. It broke in, it wasn’t invited, and it’s stealing from me. It could kill me. It’s certainly going to hurt me, both mentally and physically. So if you believe some homicides are justified, why do you think it’s not justifiable to kill that intruder?
They need to walk in my mind. They need to watch the months it took, feel the force of will it took, to regain function again, to not hide in the house anymore, to learn how to cope with a terrible new reality. I dropped out of school, because I wasn’t capable of normal function for quite some time. It took years before I could trust people again. I still have bad moments. But I’m nearly a whole human again. I don’t think I would’ve gotten there if I knew I’d been forced to bear my rapist’s baby. And I don’t have words strong enough to describe the visceral reaction I have to the idea. That would have given me a lifelong connection to my rapist. That would have been a level of trauma beyond my imagination. I know my mind well enough to know that bearing a rape baby at the age of 18 would have broken it.
Is that the price I’m supposed to pay for being attacked? According to the Cons in Congress, it is. It’s my fault, you see. I should’ve fought hard enough to keep from being impregnated or died in the attempt. Nothing else will do. They care more for a clump of cells than they do for a living, breathing, thinking and suffering woman.
But I don’t think they’ve thought this through, and that’s why I’d like them to experience what I did. Because then, you see, they could imagine what it would be like if that had been their wife, or their daughter, or some other woman they may actually care about. They may have to look at her a bit differently, and wonder if it’s worth destroying her in order to force her to grow a clump of cells fertilized by a rapist. They might have to ask themselves if they’d really want her rape to be so forcible that it could kill her before they’d allow her the choice of aborting that clump of cells before she gets traumatized all over again.
Because, you see, what the Cons in Congress are saying to women is that if we don’t fight, if we don’t drive our rapist to really hurt us, then we’d better be prepared to have a rape baby. If we’re strong enough and wise enough and lucky enough to survive, we’re to be punished. We’re to have control and bodily integrity ripped away from us once more. And if we want to avoid that second traumatization, we’d best escalate the situation. There’s only one way to respond to rape in their world: fight. Even though fighting could get us seriously hurt or killed.
That’s why, when I sit down in a room to describe what I went through in excruciating detail, I’d also want Robert K. Ressler, John Douglas, and Ann W. Burgess there. Two of them are former FBI profilers, the other a forensic nurse. They wrote a book called Sexual Homicide: Patterns and Motives. They understand fully that a one-size-fits-all rape strategy would end in more seriously wounded and murdered women. Let me direct your attention to the chapter for victims, wherein survival strategies are discussed:
When the amount of rage and aggression obviously exceed what is necessary to force complia
nce, a violent confrontative response on the part of the victim will ge
nerally increase the violence in the assault and place the victim at increased risk for serious physical injury. Gratuitous violence on the part of the rapist places the victim in dangerous, volatile, and unpredictable situations. For that reason, we recommend that the first response to violence not be violent. If direct dialogue does not begin to neutralize the attacker (reduce the intensity of the aggression), then the victim will have no recourse but to employ any means available to object. The offender believes that he is entitled to sex under any condition, and hence has a callous indifference to the comfort or welfare of the victim. Both verbal resistance and nonconfrontative resistance strategies are appropriate. Once it has been demonstrated that the rapist will likely use whatever force neccesary to gain victim compliance, confrontative physical resistance would be unwise unless the victim is confident that it will work.
If the attacker responds to victim physical confrontation with increased anger and/or violence, the victim should cease physical resistance. If he responds by immediately ceasing his aggressive/violent behavior and is willing to engage the victim in conversation, he is also likely to be an exploitative rapist and the victim should use verbal strategies.
For the displaced-anger rapist, the victim is a substitute for and a symbol of the hated person(s) in his life. The primary motive is to hurt and injure the victim. Aggression may span a wide range from verbal abuse to brutal assault. Continued physical confrontation, unless the victim is reasonably certain she will be able to incapacitate the attacker, may only justify the need to “punish” the victim and thus escalate the violence.
This is what the Cons in Congress want. They want us, when confronted with a rapist, to have only one choice: escalate the violence. Because, you see, if it wasn’t violent enough, it wasn’t a rape, and hence we are not victims who deserve the right and the funds to decide what to do with our bodies afterward, we’re hussies who are supposed to live with the consequences of our “decision.” They want to teach little girls that they must fight to the death rather than do everything in their power to come out of a horrible situation reasonably whole, with a chance at a fairly normal life after.
They want us to ignore the sound survival strategies formulated by two FBI agents and a forensic nurse after years of study of violent offenders, because some of those strategies will lead to a not-so-forcible rape, which means the woman obviously didn’t try hard enough to defend her virtue.
You know that I find most everything Cons believe and advocate for these days to be either stupid or despicable. I make no secret of that opinion. But some of their ideas are more odious than others. This is one. When they advocate disgusting legislation such as this, they become victimizers themselves, no less than the original rapist.
So, after I’ve had a chance to take them on a walk through my mind, I have one final question for them: How does it feel to join a rapist in victimizing a woman?
If you find this all as disgusting as I do, take action. And use the #dearjohn hashtag on Twitter to let John Boehner and all know what you think of them.