A PICTORIAL LETTER TO MY RAPIST


"My Innocence ≠ Consent"
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Can be viewed at Fluxx Gallery January 12, 2013 
for Drawn: A Denim Day Fundraiser.
"Artists helping to end sexual assault"

26 comments

  1. I know this is a heavy subject, but addressing it is crucial to my healing. When I was asked to contribute a piece to this fundraiser, I knew I wanted to do something about my personal experience.

    I'm working on shedding the shame, and assigning responsibility and taking control of my feelings is my first step. My innocence and ignorance of sex was not an invitation to take advantage of the situation, and I offer a big "fuck you" to the perpetrator.

    My hands are scratched, cracked, dry, and imperfect but they say what I can't.

    I hope we can all talk about the serious. Its one way out <3

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    1. My innocence was taken away too. I applaud you for shedding the shame! It took me over 12 years before I could make peace. I hope you find healing!

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  2. This is just amazing. THANK YOU standing up and speaking out.

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  3. Jes, this is amazing. You are so strong and I have so much respect for your courage to do this.

    Unfortunately, I know too well how difficult it is to talk about personal experience of rape and sexual abuse. I wish I had your courage.

    Becky
    xx

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    1. Thanks becky. Talking about this kind of stuff is really good for me, even though I still harbor a lot of bad feelings.

      One step at a time:)

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  4. This is such a strong and powerful image. I think you will have helped and inspired a lot of women, and men, today with this image. xo

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    1. I really hope so. Its an untouchable subject, and I was a little nervous to share it on such a public forum.

      <3

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  5. Uber powerful Jes. Your bravery is amazing and so inspirational. I hope this image gets passed around a lot so other people will be inspired as well.

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    1. Heres to hoping. We need to be more open about the scary.

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  6. Wow, I'm blown away. Thanks for being so brave.

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  7. OK buddy. I'm about to get real on your blog. And be kind of a downer-- but here it goes.

    I still can't talk about what happened to me. I was sexually assaulted, and I am terrified to even write that down. Its been almost a decade, and I don't talk about what happened to me. Ever. I am so ashamed and embarrassed about it. I know it wasn't my fault, but its so hard to feel any other way. When does that stop? And the reactions from who I thought were my closest friends were so terrible... I wouldn't dream of being in a picture that confronted that event. How do you do it?

    These are totally no words when I say, I wish I had your strength. I need to find some.

    And I love you.

    Stephanie
    www.bassability.blogspot.com

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    1. Steph, I totally get it.

      It wasn't until this year that I realized that it was rape, and not my fault. For 6 years (and because of my "friends" who condoned it) I held on to the shame that killed me inside.

      I started reading "full frontal feminism" and got to the chapter where she addressed exactly that... and I sobbed. It shook my world so much that I still havent gone back to the book yet.

      I've been mulling it over and over again, and even last night I questioned my responsibility... thats how fucked up our culture is. Its fucking disgusting.

      The reality is that he shouldn't have. Plain and simple.

      And I was just the ignorant, innocent, drunk bitch that got the shitty end of the stick on that one.

      It's fucked me up, and I'm working through it and it sucks. This art show is downtown and he was one of the "cool kids" downtown and I wan't so badly to out him and hold him responsible... but my shame wont let me. So I guess my point is, that it's a process.

      I was honest with my therapist about the details and she confirmed that it was what it was, and when I question myself I lean on that.

      Its so fucking unbearable that we need to fight against society and ultimately, the person society has made us in order to see our situations as they really are.

      You can always email me if you need to let the festering out.

      And I love you too.

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  8. This image is absolutely incredible.

    There is only one "real life" person who knows that I was sexually assaulted by my first boyfriend. I never told anyone, but another girl whom he dated before me reported him to the police for rape, and she was bullied & harassed out of the school she attended because, "how dare she damage the reputation of such a good guy". Eventually she dropped the charges because her mental health was suffering so badly.

    Sometimes I still want to scream what he did from the rooftops, but I'm not ashamed anymore. I was a child, who was manipulated & taken advantage of - and that's nothing to be ashamed of.

    I admire your strength, and I hope that your healing keeps going well.

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  9. This post is so powerful. I sometimes feel like the unluckiest person ever in the sexual assault arena. I was sexually molested by my then step-father-who-adopted my sisters and I and who was a pastor. And then, because I felt so dirty and ashamed, I hated my body and myself that I lived a pretty hard lifestyle - full of partying and bad decisions, twice being in compromising situations involving drugs or alcohol. I still feel the guilt and blame, but I learn each and every day that it was NOT my fault to be victimized, even if i did make bad choices. Anyway, I am pretty sure that I want to create my own version of this, something creative that can say very affectively what my lack of words can't. Thank you for your bravery - in ALL your posts, not just this one.

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  10. I was sexually assaulted by someone I have known my entire life. He grabbed me, pinned me down, choked me and tried to remove my clothes with his hands and teeth. When I said no, over and over, he told me he thought it was hot.

    I told my boyfriend, who instantly called my parents and the guys parents (he was out of state). I took refuge at an ex's house, stayed with him for a month. I learned that many people didn't believe me, and that my own father was going around slandering my name. He called my friends, my boyfriend, other family members to tell them I was a slut and a liar.

    I never pressed charges- if so many people who know me don't believe me, why would total strangers believe me?

    I'm not ashamed of myself, but I'm resigned to the situation. I'm sorry that it happened to you *hugs*

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  11. Wow. You are all so damn inspiring, even if some of you don't see it yet... <3

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  12. On a side note... I was molested when I was 5 by a neighbor who was in a wheelchair. His wife, yes I said his wife, would lure us in with promises of candy which they kept in a box on top of the fridge. When he was done mowling us she would give us candy and send us off. There were a few of us kids who came from 'troubled' households that were targeted. Anyway, lets just say that it opened up a lot of sexuality for a little kid and some odd experiences for about 8 years until I was a teenager, but it could have been a lot worse. I was a child who came from ugly living conditions and I was a fighter from birth, so when I realized that we were moving (Yay) I knew that that last visit would be the last time I would have to fear these 'people'. In an act of rebellion and plain old 'fuck you assholes' I wore the tightest, pair of pants I owned. They were pink polyester with 4 little gold plastic buttons and the waist. They were so tight that they hurt my tummy and when I was sent in to 'visit' the asshole I stood there and dared him to be capable of getting in my pants. He couldn't. I left feeling powerful and I still believe to this day that this is why, although angry and disgusted at these people I never blamed myself and when I was really old enough to look back and make some sense of it all I was not wounded by it. I never allowed it to define me once I hit my teens. Anyway, by then I had adult men trying to get to me but I knew how to protect myself by them. For all this I have an uncanny ability today to not only smell a predator from across the room, but I can read a wounded person and why they are wounded like it was my own experience. These are good things that came from a bad time and for that I am thankful! I will always be thankful for that little kid with the fuck off streak and those pink polyester pants.
    Much love...
    M

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  13. I stumbled across this today and just want to say thank you. Though reading through the comments made me incredibly sad, I know we are not alone. It is beyond tragic to see story after story where a rapist gets away with this horrific act because we are ashamed and in many cases called a slut or a liar. I reported my assault and yet dropped the charges due to the police, whose sole job is to protect, acting like I was a burden to them and that I wouldn't have much of a case since alcohol was involved. Looking back years later I am most angry at the authorities handling my case for persuading me to not press forward. I hope more women find the strength to speak out so we can end this horrific cycle.

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  14. Thank You~My current subject matter with my therapist, unburdening myself of responsibility for being raped as an 11 year old. Very moving.

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  15. I just found your blog! In the last 15 minutes, I have read a million things that I want to listen to on repeat until the day I die. I had to finally comment on this picture because it brought me to my mental edge of the cliff. You told someone who did the ugliest thing they could that you are innocent, always and forever, because you are not like them. You also told them that innocents are not weak. Physically, they tried to claim you as their own. After reading your blog, I feel like your body is more your own than anyone I'm ever talked to. You have the self-confident attitude of someone who knows the goddess she can become. I love you. I don't have the self-confidence to say that I want to be you when I grow up. Instead, I pray that I can raise my daughters to be like you when they grow up.

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    1. This comment means so much to me... thank you.

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  16. Hi Jes, I have been reading your blog for a few weeks. Firstly, I think you are a fabulous exemplar of a committed, compassionate, knowledgeable, self aware woman, who is brave enough to bare her soul to the world. I am a 54 year old who was raped by her father when she was 12. I hate the term sexual abuse, I consider it a cop out trope used by adults to minimise the crap perpetrated upon unknowing powerless children. 42 years later and the memories remain with me, and the old bastard rapist is still alive. I have had an interesting and fulfilled life thus far, but hold him responsible for my inability to maintain intimate relationships and make good choices in partners. I made an informed decision to be single at 50 and it has been a relief. I feel peaceful. Kia kaha.

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  17. Hi Jess and all the people leaving their mark here,
    I have never been raped and so I may be naive, but I hold each of you dear, because I'm horrified to see that some of you question their agency in a rape situation. I'm a woman myself with my own fears and insecurities, and I hope all you become aware that you never were, never are, and never will be at fault for what happened--no matter what your friends or family tell you.

    And I wanted you to know that I read this, because I care--even if I don't know who you are, even if you think it's embarrassing or that it doesn't matter--because I believe in you, in me, and in all the women who are struggling everyday just to be who they are.

    You all go out there and be your fabulous selves, because other girls care, and someday some of them will come to you for help. By then, I'm sure you'll be able to support them, and ultimately make them break the silence. Be strong ladiiiies!

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  18. Hi Jess and all the people leaving their mark here,
    I have never been raped and so I may be naive, but I hold each of you dear, because I'm horrified to see that some of you question their agency in a rape situation. I'm a woman myself with my own fears and insecurities, and I hope all you become aware that you never were, never are, and never will be at fault for what happened--no matter what your friends or family tell you.

    And I wanted you to know that I read this, because I care--even if I don't know who you are, even if you think it's embarrassing or that it doesn't matter--because I believe in you, in me, and in all the women who are struggling everyday just to be who they are.

    You all go out there and be your fabulous selves, because other girls care, and someday some of them will come to you for help. By then, I'm sure you'll be able to support them, and ultimately make them break the silence. Be strong ladiiiies!

    xox-
    Farah

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  19. And yes! To this as well. The shame I still feel is enough to make me feel like I am still having the nervous breakdown I had right after it happened. I don't talk about it to many people today because it wasn't really "rape" because it wasn't forced upon me. I must have consented because I didn't directly say no. Never mind the fact that had I known he was going to use, and then tell me he did it so I'd "get over myself" minutes after I lost my virginity to him, I definitely would have said no. But hey, it's not rape if you decide you want to say no after the fact, right? I loved him, and he knew I loved him, but he insisted he could not ever love me back because he felt no "chemistry" for me. The sex we had was a mistake, but it was mine as much as his, he told me. And when he acted disgusted with me the morning after, well, that must be my fault too.

    Yeah, I know I wasn't "raped" because that's what I've been told. But my question is, when you are manipulated into giving up your virginity to a man who actually finds you disgusting, but who failed to mention that BEFORE the sex, what is it? How am I supposed to feel about this? Am I just supposed to accept that because I'm stupid that it's all my fault and not his?

    So yeah, I don't talk about this, because even as I am writing this I am afraid you will read it and dismiss me like other people, because I wasn't "raped." I only feel that way, but that's totally not the same difference, right? :(

    I'm glad you will admit it in a blog post. I sure as hell won't ever be able to say such things on my Wordpress blog.

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