I really have made a concerted effort not to follow the coverage of the Ohio rape case, but it has become very much a part of the main stream now. I cannot even fathom how the media has covered this case. Is this our society? Reading the response on FB has been interesting. As has been the discussion between my partner and I. I do not agree with the media releasing the victim’s name. That just took it all too far. However, to take any of the above quotes individually doesn’t really work. It is true they lost their athletic careers (promising football players), or that they lost their freedom (both incarceration, and carrying the label of sex offender), and it may well be true that the girl was drunk. Means nothing. The media gives it weight. What I do agree with is that these kids made a mistake. Teenagers don’t think as it is. They are young, impulsive and reckless. Throw alcohol or drugs into the mix and it is throwing fuel on an already burning inferno. Does that mean they should rape someone? no. I am just stating the obvious. So, while I have watched none of the coverage, I can say this happens all too frequently. It dovetails with the admonishment from my mother for running alone in remote areas, or Beatrice’s concern. We live in a world where we are prey. Sad isn’t it. We live in a world where we look at those around us carefully. Was that glance a moment too long? Is he lingering too close? Am I being followed? It wears at us. Over days, weeks, and years. So many of us get worn down. Fuck it, I’ll do what I want, when I want, wherever I want. It is a dangerous path to stray down, but it is born of frustration not stupidity or recklessness. I spent the better part of a year running alone sometimes in extremely remote woods, never once thinking about the obvious threat. It has just been recently, maybe because of the nonstop press about rape that it found its way into my consciousness. So there I was, way out in the park, lost again, and thinking what if. Not a good thing to be thinking about. Why I happened to cross paths with a guy out there this weekend I’ll never know. I needed it reinforced in my brain, just how alone I am out there. So what is the answer? I’m disarmed, so that isn’t an option. so it is down to pepper spray, since tasers and stun guns are illegal in NY. It is unfucking real. You have to purchase pepper spray from a firearms dealer, and fill out paperwork. What the fuck? Why do you need to know my height and weight to sell me something to protect myself with. Unreal. Anyhow, I am now armed. Does that make me safe, nope. Not even close. Does it make me feel any better? nope. Does it make my mother feel better, yeah probably. It doesn’t change the reality. I don’t think it has anything to do with much beyond being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Why did I step out onto my front porch that night to let my dog out, just as a sex offender was walking down my street? There is no answer. There is only fate. Or shall I say ill fate. Why did the man I worked for at the zoo in FL take a weird liking to me? I’ll never know. Why did someone walk into the commissary just as he had me completely pinned against the refrigeration units? Chance. Luck? sure. It was luck. I got away. I learned a lesson and kept myself in proximity with others all the time. He never caught me alone again, try as he might. It was just the way it worked out. In the hospital that night nurse got close enough to stop Stewart. I can still see the look of irritation in his face as he withdrew his filthy fingers. His desire so clearly evident, yet he knew he was going to get caught. It was fate. I wasn’t meant for me to be raped that night. Was I assaulted, yes, but it wasn’t his night. I walked away. Shaken, and terrified. I had learned a valuable lesson about how unsafe hospitals can be. It had not dawned on me yet that it was just as unsafe outside, as it was inside. Truly, in my heart I think it is either going to happen or it won’t. Do I think that means be stupid and take risks, no. But I will not cower and stop living my life. I won’t lie down and take it. I’m sorry. That just isn’t what I am going to do. I have lived thru countless brutal moments, moments I will never ever forget. Moments that shaped my life, and my development. They will not define me. I can say I am a victim. That is true, by definition, I am. I have seen the basest of behavior, and have looked into the eyes of another human being as they stripped me of my dignity, my sense of self, and my innate belief that goodness existed in our world, all to fulfill their desire and need. To stagger from those encounters and find a way to stand back up, is about survival, not victimhood. It wasn’t easy. I can say the nights in the shadow of an assault take on the most endless quality, it teases at your sanity and causes you to question everything your brain is telling you. To be unable to control your mind’s reaction to stimuli leaves you exhausted and storm-tossed. The exhaustion is mind bending as you struggle to keep vigilant. All that is what awaits in the aftermath. It doesn’t matter if you are raped, in the true legal definition, or if you are assaulted. The mind reacts the same. The world becomes unsafe, and it is all about survival. With time, and work, and space there is a place of peace. It does not take away the reality. Those rapes and attacks will be with me forever, but they aren’t WITH me in the sense that they once were. Sure, I still fear a lot of things, and I truly understand the risk we take as women, every time we walk out the door. I could easily allow my past to define my future, and even my present. I will not. I do not agree with Beatrice when she says I could not withstand another round of trauma. I could. I have already overcome so much. I never want to be in that position again, don’t get me wrong. But I will not lay down. I will not stop living my life. TO stop living my life would be no different from spreading my legs. There is a powerlessness when you withdraw. That park is my sanity, and my peace. I will not avoid it. I chose to live my life completely. That is my choice. I am a survivor, not a victim. No, I will not lay down and god help the next soul that looks at me as prey. I can tell you they won’t walk away. I am done being a victim.