A Letter to Professor Dawkins from Victims of Sexual Assault

Thank you to Bug Girl for suggesting this. If you are a survivor and wish to have your name added to this letter, let me know, either in the comments or by email (see the sidebar for my address). If you wish, you may reprint this letter in full elsewhere, as long as you link back to this post for the full list of those who have signed.

If you need background on this, try this post. If you want to argue about this, and you are not Richard Dawkins, go there or get your own blog. Comments here will be moderated as I see fit.

Dear Dick:

At your request, we write to you to tell you what it is that you do not understand about elevators, invitations, and sexual assault. Who are we, and why are we in any position to tell you anything? We are atheists and skeptics, but more relevantly, we are victims of sexual assault.

There are two important things to note about Rebecca Watson’s experience. The first is that she had spent much of her evening telling the people around her, “Please don’t hit on me,” and finished by saying she was done talking and wanted sleep. This was ignored by the man now widely referred to as Elevator Guy. (Yes, it’s been established that he was in a position to hear her. Yes, it’s been established that he followed her out of the space in which she’d been saying this and got on the elevator with her.)

She had said, by unequivocal implication, “No.” He ignored this and did what he wanted to. This is important.

The second important thing to know is that her response was to say publicly, one more time, “Please don’t do that. It makes me uncomfortable.” That’s it. That was her entire response to Elevator Guy beyond telling him she wouldn’t go to his room.

For that response, Rebecca came under considerable fire. This is also important.

The entire drama-filled discussion came about because Rebecca asserted her right and the right of other women to say, “No,” and be heard. It happened because she asserted that men, as well as women, have a role to play in maintaining that right.

Then you spoke. Then you, widely regarded as one of atheism’s leaders, one of the Four Horsemen, decided you needed to say something about this.

You didn’t have to do that. If you felt, as your comments seem to indicate, that too much attention was being paid to this event, you could have simply declined to add yours.

However, that wasn’t what you did. Instead, you said that Rebecca, who was voicing our concerns, was thereby telling other women with other concerns that they were whining. Or perhaps that the rest of us who supported Rebecca when she was criticized for expressing her preferences were accusing these women of whining.

Even if you had stopped there, this would merit an apology. Not only has Rebecca spoken out loudly against female genital mutilation (drawing the ire of those who told her she wasn’t paying enough attention to the boys) and other religion-driven wrongs against women and girls, but her demand that women’s self-determination be respected is exactly what needs to spread in order to prevent the ills you mention. If this is an issue you care about, instead of a distraction from Rebecca’s point, you should be thanking her for her work instead of emphasizing the “chick” in the name of her organization, diminishing her stature.

Then, in response to complaints about that, you told us all that what happened to Rebecca–having her clearly and repeatedly expressed preferences about being hit on ignored–was “zero bad.” It should be clear by now why that requires a correction from you. It also calls for another apology, whether or not you knew the facts above when you wrote your comment. If you didn’t know, you weren’t in any state to lend your position and reputation to any characterization of what happened, much less the mischaracterization you used.

That is where you injured us, the victims. You have made one more space blatantly unsafe to us. We don’t mean safe as in free from any kind of sexual interest. We’re not asking for that, and we don’t want it. We mean that you, a leader in our community, made free with a woman’s experience and rewrote it to suit your own ends.

You decided you knew better than she did what had happened, and you were comfortable explaining it to everyone else. That is part of how communities are ruined and ultimately shaped to support sexual harassment, sexual assault, and rape. That is how offenders operate and how they are excused. That is how the world that hurt us was built. And you have added to that.

That is why you owe us an apology as much as you owe Rebecca. When may we expect it?


Stephanie Zvan, survivor of teen sexual assault
Bug Girl, survivor of a date rape in 1980
Abigail Marceluk Parker
Chris Tucker
Elyse Anders, rape survivor
Dana Hunter, raped at age 18
Megan Wells, survivor of teen sexual assault
Tracy Walker, raped at 15
Danarra Ban
Paul Mannering
Andrea Gatley, sexually assaulted at age 14. In an elevator in a hotel.
Carol Levesque
Anneliese Bowman
Debbie Hadley, lucky to have fought off two sexual assault attempts by men who didn’t believe no means no
Cori Frazer, survivor of childhood sexual abuse
Leilah Thiel, sexually assaulted at age 16
Helen Krummenacker, victim of repeated schoolground gropings
Edie Howe, assaulted at 7, 9, early teens, by both husbands, by strangers three times
BeardofPants, survivor child sexual abuse, age 7
Julia Heathcote, survivor of sexual assault by her PhD advisor
Rebecca Dominguez, survivor of sexual assault and date rape
Monado, survivor of groping (age 13), rape threats for refusing one of those innocent invitations to go for a ride (age 16), partner rape (age 35)
Doubting Thomas, gang raped at 18
Anarchic Teapot
Amanda W. Peet, date-raped at age 25
Alice, raped at 16, assaulted at 19
Melanie Mallon
Susan Silberstein, survivor of husband and stranger rape
Stephanie Zierenberg, victim of acquaintance rape at 24
Janice Clanfield
Kelly Sexton
Lynn Wilhelm, date raped in the 80s
Robin Buckallew, victim of childhood sexual assault, age 7
Catherine Ann, date-raped at age 30
Shoshana Kane, biologist, atheist, skeptic, rape survivor
Solvei Blue, survivor of sexual assault at age 19
Dr Fiona Wallace MB BS(London), MA, assaulted age 14 when babysitting – by the child’s father
Nicole P., repeatedly raped by ex-fiance
Dorothy M., victim of kidnapping, assault and rape, daughter of a victim of child molestation, mother of a victim of date-rape
Sandy H., survivor of childhood sexual assault
Anne Marie Newman, victim of acquaintance rape, sexual assault by a “friend,” and sexual harassment at work
Alianna B., stalked and sexually harassed for 3 1/2 years
Calebandrew, rape at the age of 15
Catherine Schneider, sexually abused by father from birth to age 14; raped by teen boyfriend age 15-17; gang raped by acquaintances age 22
Skepticalbunny, date rape survivor in 1982
Emily Dale, raped at age 16
Professor Anonymous_Female_Voice_Specialist, BS, MA, first sexually assaulted at age 3 or 4 and several times thereafter, at various ages
Nichole Filbert, sexually assaulted and raped in the process of leaving abuser
Nikoel Stevens
Carolyn, raped on 30th birthday
Maggie Champaigne
Sarah Killcoyne, sexual assault survivor
Emily F, rape survivor
Dianne K,
molested at age 9, groped on the bus at 14
Kate W., molested at age 14, groped by multiple strange men, assaulted at age 25
WMDKitty, survivor of domestic assault
Jan Bunten
Bethany Baker, sexually assaulted at age 14
Wilma Janssen, assaulted multiple times, first time at 17
Chris Rhetts
Lee Ruby, survivor of childhood sexual abuse
ChristineCCR, raped, stalked, and sexually harassed
Jennifer Forester, raped by multiple partners
Lynne, raped and multiply assaulted
Cafegirl1995, raped at 13, assaulted at 14
Gwen Olson RN, sexually assaulted by a coworker
Lia C., molested at age 10, groped and ejaculated upon while riding the train at age 19, and date-raped at age 26
Katherine Ann B., survivor of multiple partner sexual assaults, two assaults by strangers, and kidnapping and assault by ex-partner
P. Adams, date raped at age 18
ephymeris, raped and molested repeatedly as a child, raped as a teen
CathyC, survivor of childhood sexual abuse and multiple sexual assaults
Sue Williams, date raped at 20, assaulted multiple times
Jennifer Haden, molested as a child and recently drugged and assaulted
Alexandra B, drug-raped at 18, other various sexual assaults
FranW, raped at age 25 by partner’s contrivance
Jafafa, sexual abuse victim ages 11-14
Mrs. Carol King, first sexual assault at age 7 with more following
StarsEnd42, sexually assaulted on very first date ever, sexually asaulted again at a conference
PixelFish, sexually harassed, verbally and physically, by fellow students and coworkers
Cripdyke, incestuous rape at age 10, domestic sexual assault ages 21-22
Rune C. Olwen, survivor of a Catholic abuse family and repeatedly attacked since;
one of the women who invented women self-defence
Whiteman, sexually abused by father from the ages of 12-15
Rebecca G., survivor of childhood molestation from 5-7, date rape at 16 and at 17, and sexual assault by a colleague in grad school
Nepenthe, repeated partner rape at age 20
Claire D, survivor of repeated and regular rape and gang rape between the ages of 12-15 and date rape at ages 16 and 18
Kate A., survived rape at 19 & multiple assaults
Jenny W, raped at age 14
Ellid, assaulted twice by her own husband in her own home
Sarah, survivor of molestation at 3 & 5, rape at 5, and threats of sexual assault from classmates from 8-17
Aimee McDowd, survived rape at 8, 12-13 repeated molestation and rape again at 15, escaped attempted abduction at 16
Can’tSayWho, raped by friend of 10 years
Kristin, survivor of sexual assault, age 4 and 20
Cynthia Wood, groped by a teacher at 12, raped by a boyfriend at 15
Kay, raped by a partner, groped countless times
Brigitte Hentschel, raped twice, once by a casual acquaintance, once by an ex-boyfriend; sexually harassed and groped countless times
Margaret L, sexually assaulted at 13, raped by a coworker at 22
Elizabeth C., molested as a child
Sarah Rean, molested from infancy, raped at age 18, and assaulted
Michelle, sexually abused by grandfather 4-12
Juliet, sexually assaulted at age 17
Rae, stalked by someone everyone insisted was harmless until he stabbed a stranger
Dr. Dory Green, sexually assaulted at 21 by a casual acquaintance in an encolsed space after politely turning down his advances
Jessa, drugged and raped at age 12
Tamsin, sexually harassed in elementary school with the help of a teacher
Alumiere Sg, sexually abused age 13 – 17, raped as an adult
Melissa Faulkner, sexually abused by stepfather for almost a year, age 12
mouthyb, BA, MFA, PhD (in progress), molested at age 9, raped multiple times
Allison, molested ages 13-14, raped at age 22
Sarah J., molested at age 7, assaulted in 2009
Rob, raped at ages 11-13 by a school official
Kathi, raped at age 12
Faith L., sexually assaulted at 11 and 12, raped at 16, assaulted at 18
Gayle Peterson
Jane P., sexually abused at age 6, raped at 8 and 13
Marley, raped at age 16
Heidi H., raped age age 16
Anonymouse, sexually assaulted at age 17 and groped by a college professor age 18
Demetria, survivor of sexual assault July 10, 2009
Joey Nichole Thomas, survivor of child sexual abuse between the ages of 5 & 6
Ms. Lilithe, sexually assaulted at age 6
Melissa Gay, drugged and raped at age 18
Erica Nash, sexual assaulted by acquaintances and repeatedly raped by ex-boyfriend
KateSi, raped at 18; harassed, groped frequently even now
Grace Feldmann, survivor of attempted rape at age 17 and acquaintance rape–in hotel–at gunpoint age 18
Kendra, assault and rape survivor
G Davy, assaulted at 13

A Letter to Professor Dawkins from Victims of Sexual Assault

177 thoughts on “A Letter to Professor Dawkins from Victims of Sexual Assault

  1. 6

    Mike and Josh, the letter is specifically from victims. I deeply appreciate any and all support in the comments, but I don't want to add any names to the letter that don't fit that criteria. Correct me if I'm wrong that you don't fit.

  2. 14

    For the little support it is worth, I think Dawkins is in the wrong.He (and many others) seem to be misunderstanding the situation and reacting more to the reactions than directly to what Rebecca actually said, which was almost a footnote to an aside in her video honestly. The fact that it has gotten so much attention really only serves to highlight Rebecca's concerns, in my view.However rational we try to be we still find oceans of emotional irrationality and cultural inculcation in our thinking. Keep pointing it out.

  3. 15

    I support this 100%.Shame on you, Dawkins.I'm not sure if I was raped, but I was in a situation where it could have happened. I slept for 17 hours straight and don't remember much. The person I was with that night did, in fact, drug and rape a woman 2 days later.

  4. 17

    Please know that I support you 100% and that I find Dawkins to be completely awful on this topic. He shows a complete lack of understanding of the issue.

  5. 18

    I was, luckily, not raped, but not for lack of trying. I do not fit this criteria, not literally or exactly, and I am, for that, quite thankful. I was attacked in the street when I was 18, and though the attacker was known to the police and did the same to 4 other girls (some suffered worse fates than mine), I was lucky enough to survive with merely physical bruises as he ran off. To say that I am with you in heart is a poor understatement. To say that I support and commend your bravery just sounds shallow to me, too shallow, but I have nothing else I can say without sounding too simplistic.So I will say this: What you are doing is important. More important than I could ever relay in words. Your voices and your eloquence give all women strength that they are not alone, even when many don't understand where this "alone" exists sometimes.Your voices also give those who are stuck in a glass bubble the opportunity to crack through and see what the real world is like, whether they like reality or not.I am with you.For a better future,Moriel Schottlenderaka mooeypoo / smarterthanthat.com

  6. 19

    I'm very disappointed to learn that Dawkins is such a Privilege-Denying-Dude. Thank you for this post. He has clearly either ignored or misunderstood the numerous other posts and comments that already answered his question; perhaps he will pay closer attention when he reads this one.

  7. 21

    Please add me on as well – I do hope he listens – I think it's really important to change the prevailing culture in some of the atheist/skeptic groups. Sexual assault, age 16. – Leilah Thiel

  8. 22

    Helen Krummenacker, victim of repeated schoolground gropings that were excused by adults on the basis that "Boys will be boys" up until the point where one girl was almost gang-raped. That got 3 boys expelled, but the daily gropings continued. No, I will not tell myself that I am safe alone with a stranger in an enclosed space at 4 AM.

  9. 24

    When I was 17, I had a boyfriend who I trusted "playfully" try to pull my pants down while alone at their house when they were my only ride home and had to be told "no" more than once before finally getting it when I got visibly scared and flipped out. Although appropriately contrite afterwards, from then on I knew the fear of "am I about to be raped?" and that is not something anyone should have to experience let alone the physical act itself. I have deep sympathy for anyone who has experienced a sexual assault or rape and I thank you all for sharing so openly about your experiences (everyone who has commented) in the hopes that this will help people understand that rape is not a rare issue that (of course) hasn't happened to anyone *they* know. That is a fairy tale.

  10. 26

    Last summer, at a bar (pretty much alone), a man reached over and snapped my bra. I was terrified of what could happen next. I grabbed him by the throat and screamed at him and at his friend, saying I do not let men treat me that way.The bouncers just stood there and watched. I grabbed the groper's throat again and almost slammed him to the ground. He and his friend took off running.I yelled to the bouncers about what happened. They just sat there and stared.

  11. 30

    Survivor of groping (age 13), rape threats for refusing one of those innocent invitations to go for a ride (age 16), partner rape (age 35).

  12. 31

    1979. 18 years old. The Army. Germany, sent out to the field for the first time. The only woman and 1500 men. I was the Medic, they were Engineers. Alone, in the dark being watched, only I didn't know Vilseck, Germany after two weeks without a shower, we were allowed to go to Tent city for 2 days. Much Celebrating. Much Drinking. After showers the partying started. I was invited. A cute boy Fun free drinks more drinks Something wrong…. Room spinning Dizzy can't walk being carried pass out wake up can't move tied up can't talk gag in mouth voices someone on me wet between the legs laughter another body on me tears another body all night over and over again how many? Don't know too many over and over again thrusting sweaty pawing pain tearing more laughter in and out of conscience how many? could be twenty could be a hundred all ranks all sizes all ages all penises all thrusting all sweating lots of pain smell of greasy tent smell of booze smell of tobacco smell of man sweat smell of semen smell of sex all thrusting all groping all squeezing all pawing only one, who when he saw my tears, stopped in his tracks But he walked out, and another came in to take his place over and over again no help none in sight all night long in and out of reality in and out of dreams more body's more men more thrusting how many hours? finally the sweet release of awareness awakening naked in the showers bruises and blood everywhere Pain oh my God the pain all consuming pain my clothing in a pile scrub scrub scrub scrub scrub scrub scrub scrub water is cold scrub some more scrub scrub scrub scrub scrub scrub scrub scrub put on uniform met at door, by commanding Officer stern words about MY behavior told if I talked, it would be MY fault Threatened with prison for "enticing" handed orders to be transfered Told to pack my bags Transportation waiting Warned again If you talk, you die or worse watching blindly as the trees roll by curling up inside of me hiding the pain hoping the pain will fade as the bruises do can't walk, can't sit, can't take a shit blaming myself Others have so why not me? Guilt it weighs on a mind remembering what was said silence it is my friend denial lock the pain away never talk they said never talk I did The pain it became my friend To this day, it never ends.

  13. 33

    I signed with my google account and it did not sign my real name, but instead it signed my "internet name".I am a woman, and I was brutally raped at a young age at the hands of men I thought were fellow soldiers and honorable men. That taught me to never trust men again. I am soon to be 50 years old and still have nightmares about that night 30 years ago….Thank You Dana, for not only vouching for me, but also for pointing me to this link.

  14. 34

    you criminalize a guy TALKING to a girl? Straw man (criminalize) and misrepresentation of facts (talking).I have been groped by pedophiles twice, once in a busy cafeteria queue of all places. In front of his own wife! He still tried to stop me getting away from him.By your criteria, it must be alright as he wasn't even TALKING to me.Add me to the list of sexual assault survivors.

  15. 35

    No one is criminalising talking. Rebecca said "please don't hit on me when I've spent all day talking about how I don't want to be hit on and I've just announced that I'm tired and going to bed." That's it. "Please don't." That's like saying that if a student says "Please don't change the assignments right before they're due" they're criminalising their teacher's behaviour. They're not. They're asking for some small manner of respect.Chris Miller – domestic abuse survivor (from someone who frequently mischaracterised the things I said to argue with strawmen)(Note, please, that I'm not drawing any parallels between bad teaching and sexual harassment, I was just trying to think of something with a power differential and a lack of respect for the person in the weaker position, particularly something that wasn't one of the usual tired and flawed analogies.)

  16. Amy

    I've never been physically sexually assaulted, so my name doesn't belong on the list. However, I did have a man expose himself to me while I was walking home from elementary school. He coughed to get my attention; I turned and saw him, then hurried on my way when I realized what I was looking at. I never saw his face. I was probably 8 years old or so. I support this effort 100%.

  17. 37

    @Doubting Thomas, I cannot begin to imagine the amount of strength it must take for you to write so evocatively about such a terrible night. Thank you for finding that strength and helping us all understand the consequences of our victim-blaming, rape-friendly culture. And for whatever it's worth (not much from some random guy on the internet, I imagine), I am so sorry that such a thing could happen and then go unpunished.

  18. 38

    Please add my name (as Zandperl). It took me years after my assault to even understand that it was one. He performed sexual actions on me against my will, but because I was too terrified and shocked to actively protest, and because I actively had a crush on him at the time, for years I convinced myself it couldn't have been an assault.

  19. 42

    Add me as well. I'm am a friend and relative of several women who've been sexually assaulted (probably more than I realize, but several that I know of).

  20. 43

    Stephanie, please sign my legal name to the letter. Unfortunately, when young women and girls are victims of sexual predators, they tend to be re-victimized. It's as if we have a neon sign on our foreheads that reads "ideal victim." I was raped repeatedly as a child, including being drugged and gang raped at the age of 17. I do my best to keep going every day but I will never recover. One day, when the time is right, I will kill myself. Until then, I'll try to find peace despite the severe PTSD, the shame, the self-loathing.

  21. 46

    I'm a muslim and I support this 100%. I don't usually comment on blogs, but this blog entry and the people signing, moved me enough to do so. I cannot imagine what you all have gone through and I wish you all peace.

  22. 47

    Add me, please. I escaped from what would have been a gang rape at age 13. In college, a boyfriend's roommate attempted to restrain me during a party. I fought back and escaped that attempt as well–and spent the rest of the party locked in my boyfriend's room.Kelly Sexton

  23. 51

    I have tears streaming down my face … 31 women signed their name to this post.20 of them are victims of sexual abuse.Almost two thirds. I'm beyond devastated. Michael Watts.Husband to a rape survivor.

  24. 52

    Mike, all the people whose names are on this letter (including the two who identified as men) are survivors of sexual assault. Some of us have just specified more detail.

  25. 57

    This. Very much this. Please add my name, as you have so perfectly expressed how I feel, but did not have words to share. For all the times and all the various ways in which I have been blamed for being a victim – from going in a mosh pit and getting strange hands inside my clothes to trusting the wrong guy to date, and any of the places in between.

  26. 58

    Solvei Blue. Yes, that's my real name. Yes, it's unique, so I'm taking a risk by putting it out there. But I've already been harassed on the internet for trying to organize a SlutWalk in my town.I was sexually assaulted at 19 while I was traveling abroad. I didn't find it terribly traumatizing, because the two guys stopped as soon as they realized I was conscious. The worst part was when I got back home and my then-boyfriend treated it like I had cheated on him. "YOU hurt ME," I remember him saying over and over again. Richard Dawkins is one of my favorite science writers and a very smart man, which is why I expect better of him.

  27. 59

    Add my name:Dr Fiona Wallace MB BS(London), MA.(Prof Dawkins probably pays more attention to people with academic qualifications, sadly, so you can stick those in there, too)Emergency PhysicianPreviously worked for the North Sydney Sexual Assault Service.Assaulted age 14 when babysitting – by the child's father.

  28. 65

    If it isn't too much to ask, could you please add my older brother to the list? I don't think anyone has ever publicly admitted what happened to him, but it hurt our whole family and it might make both of us feel better if his pain counted somewhere?Larry G.: molested by at least one man and one woman from the ages of 6 through 10.

  29. 66

    Linked this on facebook. With tears in my eyes.To the brave survivors who have signed and posted their comments here. Thankyou. Such a netwide astonishing explosive reaction to an individual just saying : "Word to the wise, guys, don't do that. It makes me incredibly uncomfortable." In this day and age. Wow.

  30. 67

    Never been raped or sexually assaulted so I can't sign the open letter – I'm thankful to say. I know that too many other people cannot say the same. Disgusted by Dawkins comments here. Unbelievable. You have my full support.

  31. 69

    Improbable Joe, I'm not comfortable adding your brother to the list without knowing he agrees with the content of the letter. If you've talked to him about it, just let me know. Thanks.

  32. 71

    "You decided you knew better than she did what had happened, and you were comfortable explaining it to everyone else."Thank you for speaking up to Dawkins with such brilliant clarity. His comments on this topic were so offensive.

  33. 72

    I am not comfortable adding my name at this point, but please know you have my support.Anonymous – molested by substitute teacher at 6, raped at 11 by father, child of sexual abuse survivor, first woman in countless generations NOT to have been involved in domestic violence.

  34. 73

    Please add my name. Sexually abused by father from birth to age 14; raped by teen boyfriend age 15-17; gang raped by acquaintances age 22; physically abused by every man I ever dated except my husband.

  35. 74

    @Doubting Thomas – That sounds so unbelievably awful I can't even begin to imagine how you must have suffered. Please know there are some of us out there who care and want the best for you in your future. That shouldn't ever happen to anyone, and under no circumstances should it be acceptable. I am really sorry, and I know how powerful it can be when you finally talk about it. Know that there are things you can do, ways you can help yourself heal. I hope you can. I want you to.

  36. 75

    Lynn, I'm willing to give Dawkins some time to make sure he's responding instead of reacting. I hope he's aware just how much nastiness is going on and assuming his support in the meantime, though.

  37. 78

    I am only commenting to offer my support – I've survived ridiculous choices, but not – thank God – sexual abuse or assault. To all the brave signing on to this letter to Dawkins – you are heroic, whether you are using your full name or not. Sharing trauma like this is unthinkable to me – unless one realizes you can bring strength to others, too afraid to speak up or get help. And so you light up the world.

  38. 79

    Why not add me, too? And yeah, since apparently education matters to MR. Dawkins…Professor Anonymous_Female_Voice_Specialist, BS, MA – first sexually assaulted at age 3 or 4 (guess what, it's one of my first and clearest childhood memories). several times thereafter, at various ages.Sexual assaults happens regardless of education level, class, location, personality and/or clothing.

  39. 80

    Add me to the list, please.-Nichole Filbert, survivor of emotional, psychological and physical abuse. Sexually assaulted and raped when I was in the process of leaving him.-Lou, friend from high school. She was assaulted by a mutual friend (date rape). Later, the attacker tried to convince me it was "make-up sex". Thank you for doing this.

  40. 81

    Just in case my previous comment with the wish to sign the letter is still in moderation.I no longer wish to sign it due to circumstances/information I was previously unaware of. Thank you, lost control.

  41. 84

    I don't know how many times.I don't even know which crimes to include in the list. Do I mention everyday occurrences such as being painfully groped in the subway on the way home? How many dozens of times would that be over the years?What about the time I thought I was picking up a guy I thought I knew pretty well at his building before going out, which turned into going up the elevator to his apartment because he "forgot something", which turned into his roommate being there as well and the conversation slowly turning until I realized that there was no way I could get out of that apartment and back down to the street unless they let me. Which they did, for a price. They even admitted to having herpes.Or what about the half dozen or so times that I thought I was saying goodnight at my door after a nice date, only to find my door forced open and…well, you know the rest.Or what about the times I've been groped or pushed up against the wall in an elevator? Even a few times in nice office buildings during a normal work day?There are no police reports. My friends and family don't know. I wouldn't want to be considered a whiner.

  42. 88

    Add my name: Kate W., molested by oldest half-brother for a year at age 14. Groped by multiple strange men on subways, buses, in bars. Assaulted in the vestibule of my apartment building at age 25.

  43. jon

    not a victim, but a physician. i hvae had eyes in my head since my teens, and seen what happens to children. quite often as well. later in life i have treated several women and men with severe chronic reactions, and as a public health officer i have collated vailable info in my communities.it is, on the basis of this, my estimate that approximately 20 % of children are mistreated, som sexually, som with violence, some through neglect, some because of chronical unsafe conditons for the family as a whole.there is a marked overrepresentation of various diseases and inappropriate behaviours in ths large group, it may well be that we are looking at 60-80 of the load on the health systems.i am deeply disturbed by dawkin's attitude, as expressed her.

  44. 98

    Please add me to the list.Raped by ex-boyfriend who broke into my bedroom. Sexually harassed since the age of 12. Stalked by three men who wouldn't respect "no."

  45. 99

    I don't know if it is too late, but you can add me. I was cornered by a man who attempted to assault me at fourteen and then raped by two different partners when I was seventeen.

  46. 100

    Raped by an ex-boyfriend at 16. Assaulted by friends-of-a-friend twice as a teen. Grabbed and groped on buses or at bus-stops on multiple occasions throughout my life. Add my name.

  47. 103

    Survivor of an attempted kidnapping and beaten at age 14 by a stranger while walking home from school. Sexually assaulted by a doctor/co-worker in the hospital cafeteria at 30. Even though there were many witnesses and he had a prior history of this behavior, neither the hospital administration nor the police would come to my aid. He got off without any acknowledgement of wrong doing. Sign my name–Gwen Olson RN.

  48. 104

    You can add me too. I was molested at age 10, groped and ejaculated upon while riding the train at age 19, and date-raped at age 26.

  49. 105

    Add me to the list, please:Katherine Ann B., survivor of multiple partner sexual assaults, two assaults by strangers and a vicious assault which involved me being taken from my home on Christmas Eve by my attacker (an ex-boyfriend) and held captive for about 10 hours, until the police found me.

  50. 106

    When I was 10, a friend of my father's "felt me up". I got away before he could do anything else, but it scared the crap out of me. I knew my parents wouldn't believe me, so I never told them. When I was 11, a man exposed himself to me while I was on my way home from school. I was terrified and traumatized. I have avoided men like a plague since that time. I've never had a sexual relationship with anyone and I turned 51 this year. IMO, I'm not missing anything but pain, so it's a win for me.

  51. 107

    I fully support the content of this letter. I have never been the victim of sexual abuse, but as a good man who has made a drunken mistake with someone I loved dearly…a thousand times this. I think about it every day, and I can't imagine the pain of being a victim. I'm sorry.

  52. 108

    Lost my virginity at age 18 to blind date. He was the nephew of the small town Baptist preacher, and a good friend of mine who went to that church wanted to find him a date while he was in town. He overpowered me in the car and raped me. A few months later I was raped by a college acquaintance. Very messed up view of my own sexuality after this to the point where I didn't even bother saying no. Any guy could do what they wanted with me. Thank goodness I married fairly young and got out of the dating scene.EVERY female friend of mine has stories like this to tell. Without exception they were all raped at least once.

  53. 109

    Oh and my adult daughters have also been raped. One took it to the police but it went nowhere since the man claimed it was consensual and the police told her there wasn't enough evidence to charge him. The other just cried.

  54. 110

    Please add my name to this letter.Raped and molested repeatedly as a child by a family member.Raped at a friend's house by her uncle as a teenager.I still have anxiety when alone with a strange male, yes elevators are uncomfortable for me. I avoid eye contact and try not to talk. I still feel like a paralyzed deer in the headlights when someone crosses one of my boundaries.

  55. 111

    Not sure if this counts, but I'll relate it anyway. Came over from PZ Myer's Blog who just posted a link to here.I'm a guy. As a freshman in high school. 30+ years ago when I was 14, my best friend, also male, asked me for homosexual sex, several times. I said no every time.It bothered me. I should of went to my parents, I didn't. I should have went to a teacher, I didn't. I should have gone to the counselor, I didn't.Instead, I made one of the biggest mistakes of my life and told a 'friend'.You know how rumors spread and changed. Especially in High School. Suddenly the rumors had it I said yes, and that I was gay at a time when gay was the worse thing someone could be. I was shunned the rest of my High School life and had very few friends.The worse time was when my brother asked me if I had done it. My own brother.The fact I'm not a raging homophobic amazes me.I'm sorry I can't give my real name, It is still too painful, I have tears in my eyes as I right this. And nothing even happened, beyond the accusations and rumors. I can't imagine what I would feel like if he had raped me.All you women and men who have been sexually assaulted and/or raped have my deepest sympathy and my utmost respect that you continue living on. I don't know how you can do it.

  56. 112

    Oh I should add. Even though I'm not gay (and happily engaged to a wonderful woman). Because of my experiences I belong to the "It Gets Better" campaign.

  57. 113

    Age 13, approached by pedophile in park, he took my picture and tried to lure me behind the bathrooms.Age 10 – 21, my brother-in-law was flirtatious, then progressively suggestive until he came right out and initiated sex.Age 12, while walking home from school followed by a man in a car. Age 26, breasts groped by a Tuareg at an oasis in the Sahara desert.Told by husband not to say anything.Age 27, butt grabbed by drunk man in African outdoor market.Age 28, at train station 3 men teased, grabbed and harassed me while a woman looked on and laughed. No police.I never want to travel again. can you blame me??

  58. 114

    Let's see: Date rape at age 20 by a fellow classmate I knew for months before the incident – he didn't take no for an answer when we were alone — and I thought he was a really great guy. Who can really tell?Groped several times in different situations – first at 12, then at 13, and then at 25 by a stranger in a large department store who bumped up against me, shoved his hand under my skirt and panties, his filthy fingernail almost ripping my skin there. My best friend in college was a victim of incest for most of her pre-adolescence and adolescence. Her father paid her so that he didn't feel guilty because she was just a little whore. Another friend in high school was gang raped by a group of our male 'friends' when she was too drunk to effectively fight and was the last girl at the party. During university, I worked with kids who were developmentally disabled as a result of sexual abuse — they were all under the age of 5. One boy was abused by his grandfather so much from infancy that he only knew how to interact sexually and we had to be so careful with him — he couldn't ever sit on anyone's lap. Imagine that — a 5-YO who could not be touched because some monster abused him from infancy.I did research on this in university but became so depressed by the unending horror and mundanity of it, and how widespread and commonplace it is, that I switched majors. The vast majority of men are decent caring loving people but those who are rapists and abusers and jerks make many women's and girl's and children's lives one of constant vigilance and bad memories you try to forget but can't. That's why many of us get creeped out at 4am in the elevator when some guy hits on us. Maybe the elevator guy didn't mean to creep her out – maybe he imagined that she was as interested as him maybe he was a geek and socially inept, or just a jerk, but unless a woman has been showing active interest in you, it's generally unlikely she's going to consent to going to your room to have sex out of the blue. That's only common in porno flicks and those women are being paid.I mean, maybe 1 in 50 strange women you hit on late at night in an elevator at a skeptic convention might say yes, but the other 49 might be creeped out by it. Is that one worth the other 49?Sue Williams

  59. 115

    You may add my name. I was molested by my father as far back as I can remember, until I had the courage to tell my mother at 14. Just last month I was drugged and sexually assaulted in Vegas. It could have very well have been rape. Likely he would have raped me if I hadn't woken up sooner than he expected. I could not move my body at all, but I was conscious, and he seemed hesitant to rape me when I could identify him. He was content, however, to shove his fingers in me over and over despite my protests and use that to jack off. It took about 5 hours for me to be able to move again, and he repeated the process twice more before I was able to get away from him. And hey, wouldn't you know it? This happened in a hotel. I'm 23, and have two bachelors degrees (one in biology, hey!). Not sure if that's relevant, but there you go.

  60. 116

    Add me too please. Drug-raped at 18. Other various sexual assaults.And also, all my deepest respect and empathy for the other survivors on this thread. Kia kaha 🙂

  61. 118

    I have no story of rape or sexual assault to recount, but I've been a volunteer in a local rape/DV shelter, and I'd like to express my support for this project.I'd like to see this letter delivered in person to Dawkins along with a copy of I Never Called it Rape at one of his next speaking engagements.

  62. 119

    You can add my name. Might not be good, since I've been walking around with a blowtorch about this issue on the net and I may be disregarded as unbalanced.I was also a sexual abuse victim ages 11-14.

  63. 120

    Please add my name to this list as well. Mrs. Carol King. First sexual assault at age 7. More followed. I am dumbfounded and very disappointed with Professor Dawkins.

  64. 125

    Add my name:Rune C. Olwensurvivor of a CATHOLIC abuse familyand repeatedly attacked since.One of the women who invented women self defence in the 1980ies.

  65. 127

    Please add me too: Survivor of childhood molestation from 5-7, date rape at 16 and at 17, and sexual assault by a colleague in grad school. Thank you to everyone else for your courage in sharing your experiences.

  66. 129

    My name is Claire D, please add my name- survivor of repeated and regular rape and gang rape between the ages of 12-15 which was covered up by my Catholic school in the UK. Also was "date" raped twice at ages 16 and 18 by two other men. Like most of the other people on this list I imagine, no-one was ever prosecuted- I never even reported the crimes. I'm not proud of that. I'm 34 now.

  67. 130

    Please add me.Kate A. Survived rape at 19 & multiple assaults.Several started with interaction similar to that reported with EG & with the same behavioural 'red flags'.The rapist was half a lifetime ago, yet I am rarely off-guard – will never be unscarred; because street harassment and/or unsolicited and inappropriate sexual advances keep happening.

  68. 132

    Add me in: Ellid, assaulted twice by her own husband in her own home, and too brainwashed into thinking that it was a sign of love to realize what had happened until 15 years later.

  69. 133

    Add me: Sarah, survivor of molestation at 3 & 5, rape at 5, and threats of sexual assault from classmates from 8-17. I'm now a black belt in three martial arts (I've studied a total of 7), but I still make sure I have 3 different escape routes at all times, and I never let myself be enclosed in a room alone with someone I don't trust with my life.

  70. 134

    I am with you here. I survived rape at 8, 12-13 repeated molestation and rape again at 15, escaped attempted abduction at 16. All different men. Thats the world we live in, where it's just not safe to assume a strange man is safe – hell, can't even be sure of frie ds or family members. It's inappropriate to hit on a woman in an closed space like an elevator, and devastating to me that people have reacted the way they have to this situation.Aim McDowd

  71. 136

    With ex-boyfriend turned platonic friend for over a decade. Drank too much during innocent conversation; resisted, resisted, resisted, finally realized that silently no longer protesting was the easiest and quickest way to get it over with. Devastated my partner when I "confessed" my "crime."

  72. 138

    I've gone back and read all the submissions from beginning to end.What I've noticed is this: Your story is my story is her story is his story.There are too many of us to ignore, too many lives ruined or forever changed for us to be silent when anyone tells other people to shut up about being afraid to be alone, in an enclosed space, with a stranger who is making unwanted sexual advances.We live in fear because our society tells us it's up to us to prevent assaults on our persons, then shuns us when they feel we haven't done "enough" to prevent the actions of someone we have n control over.Dawkins, I hope you read this. I hope that for the rest of your life you are confronted every day by survivors of sexual assaults who take you to task for your patriarchal bullcrap. I hope that every day and every night you are forced to have to think about all the women you've attempted to marginalize, humiliate and dismiss with your careless, callous, ignorant and hateful comments.

  73. 141

    Brigitte Hentschel. You can put me on the list. Raped twice, once by a casual acquaintance, once by an ex-boyfriend. Sexually harassed and groped countless times. Was groped just last week on a crowded bus.

  74. 144

    You can add me: Sarah Rean who was molested from the age of 9 months (no that's not a typo) until the age of 7 years by my godfather (Reg Phillips) and his son (Richard Phillips) and who was raped at age 18 by a "friend" (Jordan James Kidney). I've also had an erect penis pressed against me in a crowded train and been dragged into an alley while on my way to work (fortunately someone responded to my screams!)

  75. 145

    Anonymous"One day, when the time is right, I will kill myself."If you do that, they win. You're too valuable to let some pissant morons who were so afraid of you they felt they had to rape you.Every second that you live is a kick in the face to the asshats who raped you. {{{hugs}}} from one survivor to another.

  76. 146

    Anonymous wrote: "One day, when the time is right, I will kill myself."And one reply: "If you do that, they win".I understand your sentiment but I don't think "They" win, whatever the outcome for Anonymous. I hope Anonymous does not end their life but I would hardly call that a victory for rapists – rather, I would add murderer at that point for setting into motion those events.All we can do is express our support and hope for the millions of Anonymous' out there.I don't know what the right thing to say or do is beyond that but that's my take on it.

  77. 147

    You can add my name – Michelle – I was sexually abused by my grandfather from 4 – 12, when I finally gathered the courage to tell my parents. He was never confronted because they were afraid he would kill himself.

  78. 148

    Add me. I was sexually assaulted (and probably narrowly escaped rape, due to my attacker's inebriation) at the age of 17, during my first semester at college, by an acquaintance.It took place in an enclosed space that was difficult to escape, and he blocked the door several times before I successfully got out and locked myself in my room.

  79. 149

    Please add me – Rae; no last name.Stalked by a creepy sonofabitch everyone insisted was harmless until he stabbed a stranger, for no reason, in broad daylight.Rebecca's experience, and Dawkins's reaction to it, hit home HARD.

  80. 151

    Please add my (pen)name:Jessa: drugged and raped at age 12By my friend's older brother and his friends while at a sleepover at her house. In the 25 years since it happened, I've never felt truly safe.

  81. 152

    This exact same B.S. goes down in the Open Source community too. Then all the l33t h@xor guys get to think that there aren't women in open source because teh chix are too dum. Yeah, that must be it.

  82. 153

    I don't know if I count but I'd like to show my support. When I was 9 a boy in my class started announcing to all and sundry that I was his 'special friend', invading my personal space, etc. Our teacher thought it was 'cute' and encouraged him, moving him to sit beside me when he was disruptive in class, etc. His friends (and he was popular) also tesed me about his 'affection' for me. When he cornered me in the stairs and seemed to be trying to kiss me I freaked the fuck out, shoved him aside, and ran for it. He wasn't discouraged. Later, when I was holding a door open for the class to file through, he leered at me and made kissing faces.Earlier this year I was waiting at a bus stop when two strange men sidled up to me and, with mock African-American accents, started telling me how sexy I was. I sort of froze; it didn't occur to me to be scared until after they lost interest and left.I come from a very priveleged background; I'm lucky, and yet even I am uncomfortable with strange men in enclosed spaces, or walking outside after dark. Richard Dawkins's ignorance of what women face even in their day to day lives is deeply disappointing to me.If you want to add my name, it's Tamsin.

  83. 155

    God these comments are heart-wrenching. And you can add me to the list: Melissa Faulkner, sexually abused by my stepfather for almost a year, age 12. My mother still hasn't divorced him.

  84. 156

    Please add me. BA, MFA, PhD (in progress). Childhood survivor of child abuse (for Autism spectrum behaviors including the inability to quickly and correctly parse nonverbal cues in emergency situations without extensive rehearsal, questioning religious authority and gender non-conformity) resulting in multiple sprains, concussions, and a broken rib, among other things. None of these ever saw medical attention. Molested at 9 with tacit permission of family by son of preacher, raped over 10 times. Survivor of domestic violence. I've lost track of the groping and comments. I have physically fought off three additional assaults, but those were all of the 'stranger jumps out of the bushes' kind. Nearly all of the rape attempts which were successful started with grooming behaviors which I find difficult to 'see' until later because they make little sense to me, including following me, answering for me, refusing to listen to refusals, isolating me from others and insisting on my intoxication in social situations which quickly became nonsocial situations.I just had to start a new career because of my advisor.

  85. 157

    I'm not comfortable leaving my full name, but you can sign me as Allison.Between the ages of 13-14 I was frequently molested by the man renting the basement of our house. He grew increasingly bold until one night he tried to drag me into the basement. I managed to somehow resist and get him talking instead, at which point he described in great detail all his many sexual fantasies about me. My mom came home, so he couldn't rape me that night. The next morning I ran away from home because I knew it was only a matter of time before he raped me. A friend convinced me to tell my mom what had happened and I lived with family friends for three months while my mom worked on finding us a safe place to live.When I was 22 I was raped by my boyfriend. I had just arrived home for Christmas after a 12 hour Greyhound bus trip – no sleep or shower for at least 24 hours – and he offered to pick me up at the station and drive me home. I just wanted to shower and sleep, but as soon as we got in the door he pushed me into the bedroom, pulled my pants down, and raped me. I had to beg him to let me take off my jacket so I wouldn't overheat while he raped me. It took me a few years to fully realize it was rape, since I had intended to have sex with him while I was home – just, you know, when I wanted to, not because I was being forced to.For the record, I find being in enclosed spaces with strange men – even public spaces like elevators or public transit – very unsafe. As several other women have stated, I tend to look for escape routes, just in case.I was also raised as a very conservative Christian, and it was The Ancestor's Tale that introduced me to evolutionary theory. Dawkin's writings have been very influential in my gradual journey toward atheism, so it's sad to find myself respecting him a less because of his recent insensitive comments.

  86. 158

    Yeah add my name to the list. Sarah J. Molested at age 7. Assaulted in 2009.I don't need my safety mansplained to me by someone who doesn't understand how often women are assaulted and then blamed for it. No matter where we are, what we are wearing, what we've had to drink. We don't owe anyone anything.

  87. Rob

    I'm sorry and ashamed that I am not brave enough to post my full name but the stigma of being a male rape survivor is too much for me.I was raped repeatedly for a little under three years by the head disciplinarian at a catholic school (cliché already, I think)I was a good student but a bit shy: the geek who gets beat up in the bathroom. That was me. I believe that my insecurities were a big reason why I was picked by my attacker.The first time was when I was 11 and at the start of my last class of the day. The guy came to the classroom and asked for me. I was confused, never having been called before. We went to his room, he locked the door and told me that my parents were worried that there was something wrong about me. That part is actually true unfortunately. My mother, years later, told me she did ask him for help. As I said, I was very shy and I didn't have a lot of friends. My parents were worried and asked for the guy's help.He started talking about sex and that my parents wanted me to ask him anything I would like to know about it. I didn't want to. So he started asking. He wanted me to explain how sex was done, what other names I knew for "penis" and he finally said he had to see it because they (my parents and him) thought there was something wrong with it. He touched and asked me if I could already "get it hard." That was it for the first time. Not much, apparently, but it was scary as hell. He left to ring the bell and I went to my classroom. I remember that it seems that everyone knew what had happened. I felt like they were all looking at me, laughing.These "sessions" started happening weekly and then more than once a week. He also eventually started raping me. The first time I spent three hours hiding in the woods. I didn't want to go home. I was terrified because my underwear had blood on it and how could I explain that to my mom? I threw the underwear in the woods and went home to put on another quickly.Why didn't I just tell my parents? It now seems so simple. But at the time I was terrified. The guy always told me how everybody would know I was gay if I let people know. And I had to be gay, right? I had had sex with a man! I was absolutely certain that my father would throw me out of the house if he found out.It only ended when my mother suspected something was wrong. My grades had always been good but I was now flunking everything. She then worked to move me to a different school.

  88. 160

    I was flashed by a man at a very young age then at age 12 I was raped by the boy I was supposed to be babysitting… apparently he needed no babysitter!

  89. 161

    The first comment I made, I left out stuff because I didn't want to be "that girl". Here's the truth:Faith L. Sexually assaulted at 11 and 12, raped at 16, assaulted at 18

  90. 162

    Sexually abused at age 6. Raped at age 8 by my cousin. Raped at age 13 by my uncle.Used my middle name because my family don't know.

  91. 164

    Thank you for this wonderful letter. Sign me to the list.I've endured street harassment since I was 11. I've been flashed in broad daylight multiple times since I was 16. I've been verbally sexually abused by a boyfriend. I've been sexually coerced by two boyfriends. I've been stalked by an acquaintance and by a stranger. I've had 3 men admit to peeping through my windows. I've been groped multiple times on public transportation. I had a guy jack off while staring at me while riding in the back of a near deserted public bus at night. I had a guy grab my arm as I got off the bus after work at 1am asking if I wanted to "party", got belligerent when I said no, and who then followed me to the entrance of the 24hr grocery store next to my apartment where he hovered around for 10 minutes. I was raped at 16 by my then-boyfriend, after repeatedly telling him for months that I was a virgin and did not want to have sex. Afterwards he told me I knew I wanted it. My name is Heidi H. and I am sick and tired of having to listen to men who should be allies belittle, demean and silence me because they don't want to believe that the men before them have given me so many reasons to fear men.

  92. 166

    Professor Dawkins, Your appology is inappropriately worded. Gum chewing? Date rape, 1974. Attempted date rape 1977 – he didn't fair too well. LOL. I have 2 sisters, one was molested by a priest, one by a relative. I worked with sexually abused children as a volunteer. There are lots of them. As a female we know we are supposed to be able to trust relatives, authority figures, and should not treat casual encounters with suspicion, but if we don't we get raped. Women and children need to be cautious. Rebecca ADVISED the males at the conference that hitting on/propositioning/inviting a woman to your room at 4:00 am was ill advised. It is. You need to appologize for your failed apology.

  93. 169

    After my aunt left her ex-husband, he stalked her for two years before shooting her and her kids– her for leaving him, the kids to keep them from talking about how he had been touching them.Recognizing that you are limiting the list to victims, would you be willing to add something along the lines of "The family of Kim A. and her children Lindsay and Juri, who are no longer here to speak for themselves"?

  94. 171

    6 years old. Playing on jungle gym in the middle of a condo complex. Alone. Dusk. Man walks up, says there's a fire, wanna see? Sure! Little girl excitement and fascination. Takes me to a walkway between two buildings. Only bathroom windows on both walls, no one can really see down here. Grassland across the street, looking down long walkway.Where is it? Over there, he says. Where? not seeing. Look where I am pointing, I turn to see pus coming out of his penis as he strokes it. I didn't know any better. Said I have to go home now. Blamed myself.It was daylight, middle of people's homes, windows onto the original scene – and nobody saw.Yeah, an elevator at 4 am would creep me the fu@k out, too.

  95. 173

    Please add my name to the list. Megan Haynes, raped on 21st birthday by a friend of 14+ years who thought me trying to get out from under him and repeatedly saying stop, no, get off me was "hot"; two years later was violently raped and beaten by a severe borderline personality alcoholic with whom I was in an unleavable, incredibly abusive relationship at the time.

  96. 177

    Please add my name – G Davy – Assaulted at 13 by trusted local shop-keeper, narrowly avoided 'date rape' by work colleague (including being drugged), various other borderline incidents ever since. I never take lifts (elevators) on my own in hotels in case a man gets in, worry when walking home at night, and so on. I should not have to even think like that.

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