Letter to the editor: Raped by the state

June 24, 2022

On June 25, 2017, three days before my 18th birthday I was sexually assaulted on a camping trip. 

That day I lost more than I was prepared for. I lost close friends, bodily autonomy, and my right to say no.

Growing up I was taught all of the steps of preparedness and de-escalation if a situation like this were to ever occur. None of the steps I was taught prepared me for what was to come.

Advertisement

The idea that if I behaved and dressed in a certain way that I could avoid being raped created a false sense of security.

Why wasn’t my rapist taught not to rape? Why wasn’t my rapist taught that no means no?

I was gaslighted not only by my closest friends at the time but also by myself. I was convinced that sexual coercion wasn’t an act of violence. I discredited my own experience because the culture and systems in place told me I was to blame. 

But if that were true, if my assault did not occur, if it was my fault – why do I still feel the lingering effects of my assault? Why do I feel like I cannot physically withstand revisiting that campground? Why does my stomach roll at the thought of seeing my perpetrator? Why was I never the same? 

Ironically on the fifth anniversary of that assault, this failure of a country has reversed the historical Roe v. Wade ruling that guaranteed federal constitutional protections of abortion rights in 1973.

Thirteen states have trigger bans to prevent abortion in the first and second trimester that will take almost immediate affect now that this ruling has been overturned.  Another 5 states have set the stage to ban abortion as they have already passed strict abortion bans. 

There are no abortion exceptions for victims of sexual assault or incest in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, Ohio, South Dakota, Tennessee or Texas. Mississippi permits abortion in cases of rapes without a specification on cases of incest.

Advertisement

This is a gross violation of fundamental human rights. This legal act of sexual coercion and forced reproduction is an act of violence by the Supreme Court and the states that plan to carry out anti abortion laws. 

This will continue the cycles of abuse experienced by sexual assault, and domestic violence survivors. 

Reproductive choice should not be limited to survivors of sexual violence. Forced pregnancy and childbirth for all is a violation of fundamental human rights.

The removal of access to safe and legal abortions creates so many more victims. The state has claimed legal ownership over bodies. It continues the culture of sexual and reproductive coercion that told me my body was not my own.

Victims should not have to disclose and relive the assault in order to receive medical care and people with uteruses should not be forced into pregnancy and childbirth by the state.

To say I’m angry would be a gross understatement.

I experienced an overwhelming feeling of shame after my assault. I imagined all the ways I could have avoided the situation. I blamed myself for the circumstances. Today three days away from my 23rd birthday I feel no shame. I am a survivor of that night and I am a survivor of the failed American state.

I put the burden of shame on my rapist and those in power who allowed this to happen. 

I am ashamed of this country. I am ashamed that American “democracy” has failed its people once again. 

How can you call yourself a Democratic country when you allow decades of mass shootings to occur without taking action?

How can you call yourself a Democratic country when five of the justices who voted to overturn Roe v. Wade were appointed by presidents who lost the popular vote?

How can you call yourself a Democratic country when you take away self governance over our bodies?

To victims, to people with uteruses, to allies – we will survive this. We have overcome before and we will overcome again. 

I was raped once and I refused to be raped again by the state. 

This country has failed us. The time is now to take our power back. 

The time is now for boots on the ground grassroots activism. The time is now that we refuse to be ignored and abused by this government. The people before us fought for the rights that were afforded to them at birth. It’s time we do the same. 

 

Advertisement

The Daily Egyptian • Copyright 2022 • FLEX WordPress Theme by SNOLog in

Comments (0)

All The Daily Egyptian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published.