WARNING; Elephants are heavy, and so is this weeks blog.
I finally saw him; there he was, a very large elephant sitting in the center of the room. Lately I've been wondering why many of you have been tiptoeing around me; then I realized it wasn't me you were trying to avoid; it was the elephant.
At last, a few of you start out a conversation with a question. "Annamarie, I've been wondering..." or "Annamarie, can I ask you something?" Ah-ha, now I can clearly see the elephant and I understand your possible trepidation. Thank you to those friends who stripped away the coverings around this big packaderm and addressed me directly. For those of you who don't know me quite as well, please know I am an open book who enjoys sharing; especially when the sharing will help someone else.
What is this elephant? The elephant is the recent sentencing of the rapist Brock Allen Turner for the rape of a young girl on the campus of Stanford University. I am appalled by the six-month sentence he received. I am further disheartened and disgusted with the news his sentence will likely be served in under three months.
I am in awe of this young woman for her bravery, poise and conviction to tell the truth in the light of the public eye. I honor her wherewithal and ability to withstand the public scrutiny that initially challenged her honesty and credibility. However, from personal experience I know she is not finished. The scars from this attack will be with her forever. I am living proof this experience doesn't have to destroy your dreams or aspirations, but like me, she will need help; she isn't going to heal as fast as some people might expect.
The stigma "against" the victim of rape has thankfully changed since my rape in 1977 but we still have a long, long way to go. As a society, we must learn to absolve the victim of any responsibility for the crime. The way a victim is dressed or their demeanor has nothing to do with the act of violence they endure....EVER. We need to increase the punishment and condemnation of the rapist and communicate to all of society the unacceptability of this act. It is NEVER acceptable.
The statistics for being raped is astounding. It's estimated that one in five woman will be raped in their lifetime and one in seventy-one men. In the military the numbers are one in three women will be raped during their time of service. With these staggering numbers it is no wonder the pains surrounding the scars from a rape are reignited with the assault of another person.
To answer some of the questions I've recently received:
Yes...I twinge with pain for this young woman and with the pathetic sentence this rapist received, I am reminded of the unjust system we have in place to punish this heinous act.
Yes...I can personally relate with this young woman being raped twice. First raped by the attacker and next raped by the system she believed would protect her and provide justice. To this day, I'm fighting the Veterans Administration for the unjust treatment I received only days after my attack.
No...I will never be totally free of the memories from the rape; sadly, neither will she. BUT I know she will persevere with the love and support of her family and surrounding community.
No... these memories will not prevent me from experiencing all the love and joy this life has to offer.
Yes...the elephant in the room can sometimes be very large. Please don't let him get so large you don't feel comfortable to talk with me about anything. If you don't talk with me, it means the rapist continues to hurt me. I won't let that happen.
Please face the difficult subjects in life head on; discuss them with the people you love. Don't let the elephant sit on top of any conversation. Talking openly allows us to connect with one another on a deeper level.
When an elephant walks into the room and you don't feel as though you have enough room to openly discuss something with a friend or loved one; shrink it.