A Rape Survivor's Poem
A rape survivor expresses herself in many ways
One of the things I did was to write a poem . which Hallmark is not going to publish!
I'm sharing this poem which I wrote in 1994 because I came across it again recently and really liked it - I like how it expresses my anger, I like how there's some twisted humor in there. I like it because, for me, writing this was a tool used in recovering, even though I kept it to myself for many years. I hope that there are other rape survivors out there who will find some solace in it, though it is more for those who have been raped again by those around them. Maybe somebody can glean something from it... who knows!
There is nothing in this that is sexually explicit - but this is about a rape -- there are a couple of swear words. I did not rate this an "R" because that will stop a lot of people who are not members here from reading it.
The poem was just one of the ways I expressed my feelings, not just at my rape, but at the way others handled it. Some people were very helpful -- they didn't get a poem...just my eternal "Thanks!"
some man in self-defense said "so you're a blamer, huh?"
the shame took over, filling that orifice, the one women have
that some men feel the need to fill.
"it isn't my fault I blame," she wanted to whine
someone has to be responsible.
mostly she blamed herself
and if it seemed the blame could not go back
to her childhood
she'd assign it to a previous life
where she'd done something wrong, perhaps
left a lesson unlearned.
All day she could smell last night,
she blamed the perfume she wore today,
for it made her think of last night and him
and drew her back to that one
November 10 1982
that man, splatters her perfume all over
(she can never use that particular
cannot dabble it behind her ears or
on the soft inner skin of elbows and knees,
skinned knees, like those of a child.)
In the years that followed, she never blamed him
she knew somehow he had a childhood in hell
a previous life with lessons left unlearned
a hollow man, he'd tried to fill his empty spaces
using her three holes
once they determine that she is the problem of
the city and not the county
they say they want her to stay on two extra nights
to sleep in the same motel
that way, no one will have to come into work
the next day
on Veterans Day to interview her and
file the report.
She apologizes for ruining their holiday
but she cannot wait not wait
He'd taken all her money
and her stockings are gone.
She stays only one night more
in the same motel.
so they have to come into work
on the holiday.
Detective Jonathon and
the other one, his partner
(who do they blame for this? who?)
Her interrogation is done in a small room with
the tape recorder there in view
they have her explain it all to them again
she does her best not to cry
but when she describes what he
made her do
she cries, then
pulls herself in like a sorrowful child
Detective Jonathon slides the kleenex across the
table, like a good cop
while his partner
stares at her.
she notices the mug he holds has
fucking happily in different positions.
"You're divorced, right?" he asks, his lips
kissing the cup, his eyebrows up.
Does he think she'd gotten married since
last he'd asked?
Perhaps the fucking rabbits have
infiltrated his brain.
She wants to smash his head with his bunny cup
so the rabbits will fall out.
There are ropemarks still around her ankles
and her wrists.
She crosses her stockingless knees and nods.
Detective Jonathon mentions a lie detector test
"For me?" she asks.
"Of course," he nods.
It's 1982, but suddenly
she's sitting on her mother's lap
on the kitchen floor where
she's done something wrong.
His partner says
"We haven't found the
who else would it be?"
his lips smile
but his eyes do not
as he sips from his
fucking bunny cup.
ALLLEEGGEDDDDD flashes through her head.
"You're divorced, that right?" she knows the man
is still thinking, she knows he has words
flashing through his own head
she asks to go to the bathroom
so she can sob where they
water splashing on her face
she pictures the two partners
in the interrogation room
leaning back in their chairs
casually trying to decide
who's to blame
hey, maybe she plans
to sue the motel chain
maybe this poor sucker was some guy
she picked up in a bar
and he pissed her off.
in the bathroom, she
stares in the mirror and
blindfolded as the rapist
tells her to wash up
she cannot stop it
smack her so hard she surrenders
and cries some more.
Detective Jonathon, the good cop,
would have said,
no, maybe after they did it
she changed her mind or
maybe he went a little too far for her
with the kinky stuff
tied her up.
In the bathroom, splashing clean the tears
she pictures the rabbit detective laughing
in the interview room
hey, maybe he shouldn't have used her
last stocking to
cover his face,
some women get pissed off
at things like that.
[hey bunny man, maybe it was the knife,
maybe it was when he tied her up
or when he taped her eyes shut and
put her in the shower
or maybe it was some of the
things he wanted her to do, or the way he
went through her wallet, her
driver's license, with her home address,
the picture of her kids, and asked
her their names.
Hey, bunny balls, maybe it was the way
he surprised her as she lay
face down on the bed
watching tv, waiting for a phone call
the way he appeared from nowhere
with the knife
and her stockings on his head,
some women just don't like things like that.]
Eventually the interrogation is over.
"We'll be in touch"
Detective Jonathon says.
Eventually she drives herself back to the
motel, leaving them to type
Eventually she packs up and drives
seven hours home alone,
removed from her body,
in a car
with no sound system;
it is still a noisy drive since
she is screaming.
She drives back to her lover
and asks him to make love to her
to remind her there is a difference,
that her body is her own.
Unpacking her suitcase
the smell of the perfume lingers
he'd made her take a shower first
blind-folded and after
splattered her perfume all over
himself and her.
At home she couldn't turn off
the pictures, turning them off
turn them off they won't turn
off turning and
washing dishes walking, trying to sleep
the shower ran on what happened what she
could have done should have done did not do
what if she had
but there was no button to turn it
off the pictures come and go at their will.
she'll get over it
In December he said, "aren't you over this yet?"
and offered to show her what she'd done
with the way she walked and held herself,
the things she did
to cause the man to pick her out,
so she would be safe on her next trip.
In November 1983, she thought it was done.
She was over it, a year gone by.
the rape counselor came
all those miles
They went to dinner and the woman told her
how he'd struck again, the
same MO she'd said, the next town over,
a town where she still drove and stayed
three times a year
It was not a happy celebration.
Detective Jonathon called to tell her
they were closing the case.
(she can hear inside his head
no alleged perpetrator had
ever been found to blame for
her alleged story of
an alleged rape)
and did she want her clothing back?
her blouse, her underwear,
her suit skirt..
She wondered what he thought
she would do with the
wash it and wear it
on her next business trip
stop in a bar and
pick up a man
with a rope and a knife
so she could be tied up again?
if the blouse would
still smell of the perfume,
she always sprayed perfume
on her clothing
to make the scent last longer.
She wanted to tell him where he could
shove her clothing but
she merely said
Years later she would like to
find those men,
the bunny cop,
to explain how she could never
how they took her
and filled her wounded holes
with their bottles of
It was easier to forgive him than it was to forgive my treatment
by the police of Greensboro, North Carolina He was a rapist, a sicko on the low end of the stick even in prison. I was old enough at 32 to understand this was not about sex, but about dominance, control and his own dysfunctional issues. What was their excuse? Or was it really just another example of the same thing, just not as damaged? (I'd like to send out a big Go Fuck Yourselves to those involved - I'm working on forgiveness but it's a long time coming, I'm still angry, as you might notice.)
The story behind the poem
Here's a brief outline - alright, not so brief - but I've left out the details of the rape itself - of the story behind the poem. At the time of my rape I was 32, a traveling sales woman. I talk about my traveling in my other lens - Bookplate Lady.
On the particular day of my rape, I returned early in the day to my Days Inn motel room. I wasn't a drinker -- I take epilepsy medication because of an AVM I'd had the year before the rape (this was not a good period in my life) and don't drink, and that was true back then, too.
Evidently the rapist - a well dressed white man in his (I would guess) late 20's early 30's - had gotten into my room, probably by entering when the room was being cleaned. He was in the bathroom, behind the shower curtain. He was there when I came into my room and kicked off my shoes, put down the papers I would have to fill out reporting that morning's activities and turned on the t.v. He was there while I called and left a message for a friend back in D.C. where I lived. He was there as I took off my skirt so I wouldn't wrinkle it and lay down to watch t.v., waiting for her call back.
All during the rape, the phone was ringing; I knew it was her. She said later she wished she'd figured something was wrong. She kept calling because she couldn't figure out why I wasn't there. "I should have known someting was wrong, I should have called the motel office," she said, as if it was her fault because she didn't. There was only one person who was to blame here, though it seems he was the only one who got off guilt free.
I was there. Lying stomach down on the bed when he emerged from the bathroom wearing a stocking over his face, holding a knife. Later I found out the stocking was mine, he'd pulled it from my suitcase before I returned. The knife, of course, was his own.
I stared at him and went into some instant shock as my brain tried to digest that there was a well dressed man wearing a stocking on his head standing in my room. My throat locked up and though I wanted to scream, nothing came out. He had a dark moustache - that's the only other thing I noticed before he put some kind of duct tape over my eyes.
The details of the rape are not needed here. He had impotency problems, as many rapists do, but he did manage to get what he needed. Humiliation, control and gratification. I was afraid the whole time that he would murder me when he was done. Afterwards he had me shower and I was sure he was going to stab me to death in the shower and let my blood run down the drain but he didn't. He tied me up, hands behind my back, letting me put on a robe when I begged that I was cold. Went through my wallet and took all my money (I did not have any credit cards), made mention of the picture of my two small sons and my address. Told me not to call the police and said he might be standing outside the door, so I should just stay there until morning.
I waited a few moments after I was sure he'd left. I managed to contort myself and twist my legs through my arms so, although I was still tied, my arms were in front of me and it was easier to use the phone to call the motel front desk for help. I have no idea why I didn't call the police directly, maybe because I couldn' see the numbers. They arrived and there was first some arguing among the county and city police as to who should be handling this - the city won. I have no idea if the county would have behaved as 1950's as the city did, but in any case, I lost.
I don't think there was any procedure to take rape victims to the hospital - no offer was made, once they heard I'd showered. The clothing I wore was taken as evidence, leaving me with no stockings since the rapist had taken my only other pair.
That I had managed to wriggle and get my tied up arms from the front to the back worked against my story with the bunny detective -- he couldn't figure out how I managed to get my hands in front of me.
Evidence piled up against me. I was a divorcee (he kept asking me that -- "so.. you're divorced, right?") in a motel room in the middle of the day, I hadn't screamed for help. And the worst thing against me was that I had had my diaphragm in my suitcase, and when I'd realized I was going to be raped, I asked if I could use it - to protect myself from pregnancy. I should have screamed instead.
Are you already thinking I'm making up the rape? God help me, I'm not.
That didn't indicate consent. Not that it's anyone's business but --the reason I had it with me was that my periods were very heavy flowing and I'd found that if I wore my diaphragm and my usual menstrual pads,I did not have to worry about being on a sales call with a customer and then realizing there was blood seeping onto my skirt.
In any case -- even if I was a sexual floozy who was having wild sex with men all over North Carolina (which I wasn't and I wasn't) the fact remains ...I was raped. I didn't say yes, I never saw the guy before he stepped out of my bathroom unannounced. God help those who were victims of a date rape covered by these detectives.
I still feel defensive, I still feel angry at what happened More at the local police and other reactions than at the man - who was obviously sick.
My rape happened on Wednesday, November 10th -- the next day was Veteran's Day, a holiday. The detectives wanted me to stay over and file my report on Friday, so they could have their Thursday off. Really. You know, who wants to work on a holiday.
I couldn't do it -- I couldn't stay 7 hours from home for a 2 extra days in the same motel where I'd been raped. I had no idea if the man was coming back. I wanted out of there. I had to stay one more night, and that was bad enough. The motel was kind enough to change rooms for me and never charged me for my stay.
The next day I went to the police station and filed my report. I'm a first born child, well trained to behave myself and not make a scene. I went over the scene of the day before as best I could, trying to give them all the details they'd need to catch this man. That was, I thought, what they wanted. To catch the rapist.
I hadn't slept much the night before -- I was having flashbacks to the rape, to the man's stockinged face, his voice, his comments on the picture of my boys.
As I went through the details, I know my voice wasn't flat - but I tried not to cry. (The year before when I'd had an angiogram - as part of the diagnosis for the AVM which was why I was now on epilepsy medication - in which tubes were run into my brain I hadn't cried either, at least not until I'd had enough and had to give up my "good girl" act.)
While I tried to be the tough little survivor, working with the detectives on this case, I suddenly noticed one detective was drinking coffee from a large mug that had pictures of rabbits fornicating on it. Somehow that didn't seem right - to be interviewing rape survivors while sipping from a mug of fucking rabbits. But maybe that was just me, I'd lost my sense of humor.
During this interview, this same guy asked me once or twice if I was divorced. Yes yes. What the hell did that have to do with it, was there a special law in North Carolina that said divorcees could not file rape charges? I didn't ask that - I was much too meek back then. As I was later told by a male friend who had a list of the things I did that invited my rape.
They must have asked about my schedule that morning and early afternoon. It would have been easy enough to trace -- I called on local bookstores and would have had an "alibi" - though why the hell I was the one who needed an alibi should have been under question. There was that unexplained 30 minutes no doubt when I did my drive through lunch at McDonald's.
The interview finally ended. I drove the 7 hours home, sobbing - in those days, I didn't have a cell phone or any sound system in my car. It was a long 7 hours.
One more thing.
The night before, after I'd finished with the police - and I have to say, the county police who dusted the place for fingerprints and did a thorough search and were decent to me - I had called the local Rape Survivor Support Group (I can't recall what it was called - this was nearly 30 years ago) and they sent out a counselor who told me a few things.
There was a serial rapist in the tri-city area in North Carolina, which I hadn't known, but these detectives evidently did know, or should have known The rapist was breaking into motels and raping women traveling alone. His MO was the same as I'd described, tying the woman up after making her shower to remove any evidence. Using her stockings, the perfume. As far as I know, he was never caught. And they never mentioned it to me.
He picked motels where there was easy access to the rooms, not hotels where the rooms were entered into in a hallway, but motels where there were windows. In another town in the tri-city area, he had used a glass cutter, rolled the glass he cut down the hallway and put it behind a soda machine, then climbed in.
Nobody noticed the rape that followed. And evidently the police in the area -- Greensboro, Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill - didn't compare notes at that time.
My case was "closed" within 2 years - for a long time I tried to find out if they ever caught this guy - I don't think they ever did.
If I was raped again, would I report it?
I don't know. I really don't -- what would be the point? There's enough to go through, recovering from the rape itself. I'd have to think long and hard on it.
If I'm still angry, it's not at the specific police, it's because
"Rape is the only crime in which the victim must prove his or her innocence."
WTF is that about?
Why aren't you angry too?
Are you ....or do you have.....
a female friend
a fellow human being?
(we won't even go into the fact that
men have been raped too)
Don't you love them?
and more stuff....
- healing from rape and sexual assault
friends and family can read this too so they understand better. And the Detective Bunnies out there.
- About blaming the rape victim
Mine was a mild case -- a MILD CASE - I didn't go to trial -
- Helping a Survivor Heal
..and there's advice for those around the survivor - who often don't know what to do or say..
- Mistreatment by Officials is not Unusual
This happens all the time..all the time.. all the time.... It's not that unusual
Oh, the things people say....
Here are just some of the highlights I remember of things people said.
* The police asking me to come back and take a lie detector test. I did, but when I got to the place where the test was to be given, the woman who was to give the test said I couldn't take it because of my epilepsy medication. It would negate anything. I was with the rape counselor and I burst into tears. I wanted to take it so the detectives would see I was telling the truth.
* My boss asking after 4 weeks (even though it was the Christmas season, when sales people are not on the road) when I would be back at work, because he thought it had been long enough.
* My then boyfriend, after 6 weeks of trying to be 'with me' as I went through nightmares and flashbacks, finally saying "Don't you think 6 weeks is long enough - aren't you over this now?"
* Advice being offered by a male friend on what I'd done to invite the man to choose me - my walk, for example -- not confident enough. It may be true that rapists pick those who look vulnerable or aren't paying attention -- but timing and delivery can give the message that the victim was responsible.
* Advice being offered by a female co-worker who couldn't believe I hadn't fought back, complete with her lecture on what she would have done. You don't know until you are in the situation what you would do -- you do what you have to to survive.
* Going back to work in January - how scary it was,how nobody at my work seemed to realize that. (I never stayed in another Days Inn. I always ask for a room near the office, would check behind the bathroom shower curtain, kicking it open with my foot if I had to. Never staying in the same place for more than one night and never coming back to my room in the middle of the day.
* Several months after returning to work, being asked by a new buyer in the store I'd called on the morning of my rape, "what ever happened to that girl who got raped?" I never told them I'd been raped.... so I suppose it was one of the detectives when they called to verify my "alibi". She was a little shocked when I stared at her for a moment and then said, "I'm fine. Thank you."
*Flashbacks that lasted for months - I'd be doing something that didn't even seem related to the rape, when suddenly I'd hear his voice or see something and I'd snap and start crying. I hate being out of control.
*Anniversary flashbacks - nobody told me about them. They happened for years, and when I got so I'd realize the anniversary was coming and would be prepared, it'd strike me on a different day. I'd realize I was blowing up over things that didn't need to be blown up over, or crying over things that weren't that important - and as soon as I realized it was the anniversary, things would ease off.
* Coming home from work one day and seeing a naked man in the window of the condo next to mine masturbating. I flipped out and ended up hiding in my closet for a good two hours before calling the police to report it.
This was a disturbed adolescent -- a couple of us called the police and he went to trial - "funny" though it might seem, this kind of behavior can escalate if not stopped and can turn into rape cases.
* In 1987 I moved to my same employer's Home office in Ohio. In 1989 or 90, there was some media hype about rape victims who were revealing their names - I was interviewed by a local newspaper about the rape.
My boss - who had not been my boss at the time, he hadn't even worked for the company then - was very upset with my comment about my employer wanting me to return to work after 4 weeks. He wanted me to write the paper and tell them it wasn't him.
Of course, I wouldn't - I reassured him that everyone could figure out he hadn't even worked there then - but it bothered him and over the course of the next few weeks, he kept using the word "rape" to me in conversations.
"Don't let that customer rape you," he'd say, referring to negotiations over pricing.
More than once. Rape rape rape.
I could only shake my head.
-----------It's never too late
to heal from a rape!!! ---------------
Things YOU can do if you've been raped - because it is all about healing YOU!
There are ways to heal from being raped. It is not "a fate worse than death" -- your body might have been violated but your mind and soul are yours! And your body - it's yours too! Take it all back!
- If you choose not to report your rape (and it is YOUR choice whether to report it or not) , tell someone - someone you trust! Rape counselors are a good starting point - many of them know from first hand experience many of the things you will be going through.
- It would be good to be examined by a doctor. Take care of your body,it's still yours!
- Read about the effects of rape so you aren't surprised... I wasn't prepared for the anniversary flashbacks ....knowledge is your friend!
- Write or draw about it -- express yourself... keeping your emotions in, keeps you stuck. Your mind, your spirit, soul and body are all yours!
- Love yourself -- don't criticize, blame, judge what you did, didn't, coulda shoulda woulda ....be on your side!
Reading that might help
Others lenses on this topic that I think are of interest!
- Survivor's Story
Lots of information - a very heady and powerful lens! 5 stars from me!
- Circle of healing
For those who like more lightness than my poem shows! She has some nice and caring things, including a much sweeter poem...
- Finding Angela Shelton
You need to look at this one for an explanation - about Angela Shelton who set out to make a documentary about women with her name and ran into information she hadn't expected to find out - about women and abuse, and about herself. She ended up with
- Google search results - overcoming rape
Many interesting discussions and advices on overcoming rape...