When rapes of college students make the news, I notice. I try to avoid reading the news articles, but end up consuming them. I have trouble sleeping, I cry a lot, I get outraged at statements that blame the survivors. And I wonder why after 30 years I can't move on and forget about it.
The most recent case blew out my Facebook. The details were unavoidable. I raged about the rapist's refusal to take responsibility, the father's plea for leniency, the brief sentence handed down by the judge in violation of sentencing standards.
I read the survivor's statement, and I got choked up.
Eventually, I read the piece Joe Biden wrote, the open letter to the woman. I cried.
That night, as I tossed and turned and tried to sleep, I had an idea.
For the first time in three and a half decades, I thought: No.
It wasn't my fault.
It's not that "no" wasn't loud enough, or I wasn't strong enough.
He should not have done that.
That's rape culture.
For 35 years, even though I knew that rape isn't the fault of survivors, even though I was outraged by the people who suggest it was, I believed in my own body that when I was assaulted, it was my fault. I believed in my own brain that I wasn't strong enough.
And then I cried some more, and for the first time, they were tears of healing.