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Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Day I Forgave My Rapist


This is a blog from about five years ago, and one people ask to re-read or for me to re-post because someone they know could benefit from it.  So I figure this is the perfect post to christen my new blog site.


This was originally posted in 2005, I believe.



This blog is a long time coming, I suppose.  My good friend Jake has been bugging me to write it for a long time.

For those of you who don't know, I was raped.  Though I was raped three separate times, this is only the story of one of those rapes.  Not even a story of the rape, but a pivotal moment afterwards.

Please note that while this is not sexually graphic in nature, this bog will very likely be triggering for many victims of sexual assault.  Please read with appropriate caution and keep yourself safe.

Because this story is not about the actual rape itself, you will only get the details that are absolutely essential to the story.  When I was 18 I was raped by two guys while canvassing door to door for a political cause.  The invited me inside, had me drink a butt-load of Everclear, raped me, and laughed about it with their friends afterwards.

I attempted to press charges, but, as in most cases of rape, could not make it stick.  So they walked.

This is the story of eight years later.

It was July 15th, 2003.  A Tuesday, in fact.

I had agreed, with much grumbling, to drive my best friend to fucking Novato of all places for a job interview.  I had told her I would do it, but would resent it, and she told me that she was totally fine with me resenting her for it, but she really needed the ride.

As we are almost to Novato, she tells me to take the Bel Marin Keys exit. 

"Oh."  I say.  Thinking to myself that Bel Marin Keys is NOT Novato.

Eight years previously, I had been raped in Bel Marin Keys.  There is a BIG difference between Bel Marin Keys and Novato.  At least for me.

Though my friend knew about my rape, she did not know that where she was about to be interviewed was two minutes from where I had been raped.

"When you're done here, there's something I need to do."

"What?" she asked.

"I'll tell you when you get out," I said.

You see, I had been taking a self-development course over the last weekend.  One of the things that I had been talking about alllllllll weekend was forgiving our offenders.

Well, lo and behold, the Universe had dropped, smack into my lap, an opportunity to put my money where my fucking mouth was.  Thanks a lot, Universe.

About an hour later, my friend emerges from the office where she had been interviewing, plops into the car and asks "So, what did you need to do?"

I looked up, astonished and confused.

I had so very conveniently forgotten what it was I had to do.

Trying to brush the subject under the carpet, I muttered out of the side of my mouth hurriedly, half hoping she wouldn't hear, "Oh, I have to go forgive my rapists."

I'll spare you all the details of how the next five minutes went, my friend trying to talk me out of it, me forgetting the way, turning around, needing to stop to go pee.

The only thing worth noting was when she pointed out it was the middle of a work day & no way would they be home.

I answered her, very sure of myself "The Universe didn't put this in my way for them not to be home."

So we pulled up in front of the rapists house.  The garage door was open.  It looked, for all the world, like someone was home.

I took a moment and steeled myself.  I took off my sunglasses, spit out my gum and let down my hair.  All of my defenses, anything I could possibly use to hide, gone.

"Are you sure you don't want me to come with you?"  my friend asked.

"No," I quietly answered.

"Okay," she said, "But I'm leaving the window down, and I'll be here if you need me."

I walked up the driveway, looking cautiously into the garage at all the filing cabinets, green hanging files abundant.  I walked up to the front door and rang the bell.

A man answered the door.  I recognized him instantly.  Yes, he was older, as was I, but it seemed to my eyes he had aged far beyond the eight years that should have showed on his body and face.

"Is Sonny here?"

"He doesn't live here anymore"

"Oh.  Okay.  Well, I don't know if you remember me or not, but back in '95, '96" (I saw him stiffen at this point.  He most definitely remembered who I was.) "you and Sonny raped me."

It seemed to me a sort of calm acceptance washed over him.  Later, my friend would tell me it looked to her as though he thought I might pull a gun on him and shoot him; and that if that was what was to be, he was ready for it.

"I want you to know I forgive you.  And I give up making you wrong for it."

"Sonny's sober now."   Those were the first word out of his mouth.  "We were into drugs for a while, and we finally had to move away from each other – he's in Sacramento now."

"Well, will you tell him I forgive him?"

"Yeah, sure."

There was a very long awkward silence.  The kind you get when you run into someone you haven't seen in a while and you've just finished catching each other up and there's nothing left to say.

"So…" he said.  "How's things?"

"Good." I said.

"You're happy?  You like your life?"

"Yeah," I said.  "I'm happy.  I like my life."

"Good."

Again, a very awkward silence.  It was obviously up to me to either say something, or leave.

"So, as long as I'm here…" I said.  "If you have anything you'd like to say to me, anything at all, whatever it is – I'm ready to hear it.  And if you don't – that's okay too."

In my mind I sat braced, expecting him to say "You asked for it you little slut!" or some such thing.

What he actually said was this:

"I'm sorry.  Things happen.  And I hope you have a wonderful life."

I do not know if I can possibly convey, over the internet, just how powerful that all was.  I never failed to elicit chills & tears when I tell the story in person.  The energy between us could have powered a Nuclear Reactor.

I got into the car, drove away, rounded the corner, pulled over, and sobbed like I had never sobbed before.  It was the best goddamn cry of my life.  I didn't know it at the time, but I was letting go, truly letting go of all the emotional baggage that had come with that rape.

Later that evening, my husband (then fiancĂ©) would tell me how my entire body language changed.  It has remained changed to this day.  People who knew me before suddenly didn't recognize me.

While that part of me that is concerned with social justice and the reformation of sex offenders thinks it was a really good idea to forgive them, and something I think all victims should do, if they can get there, the more important thing is that as a victim, it is the single most important, powerful thing I have ever done in my life.  I could really give a shit how it affected him.

The bottom line is that I stood face to face with that man, and I gave up all the weight I had been carrying around with me.  I stood there, sure of myself, ready for any harsh words that could possibly be slung my way.  Instead, I got an apology, and I saw, in his eyes, the damage of what he had done and how it had worked its spell on him.

In the end, I was better,  I was bigger, and I was stronger.  In the end, I looked evil in the face and did not flinch.  Indeed, I even forgave it.  And in so doing, I relinquished its hold on my life.