Woman embrace each other during a protest against US President-elect Donald Trump in Manhattan, New York, US, November 13, 2016. REUTERS/Bria Webb
Woman embrace each other during a protest against US President-elect Donald Trump in Manhattan, New York, US, November 13, 2016. REUTERS/Bria Webb

I can no longer be silent. I have remained quiet on social media regarding this election and politics, but after the election of Donald Trump, I simply must break my silence.

What I am about to write requires courage and understanding that after this is published, I may lose people who are near and dear to me.

At the age of twelve, I was violently and brutally raped by four young men who existed in the same small town as me. What started out as, “locker room” talk turned into what felt like hours of cruelty and brutality so great, when it was over, my body felt as if it had been covered in a heavy oil of shame and that I was unable to move it or pick it up from the grass where it lay. The backlash from these few hours has been great.

I have felt pain, shame, and self loathing so deep and unbearable, the only relief I found was in slicing the flesh of my arms, legs, and abdomen; which left scars, that are to this day, still visible. And when the pain of slicing did not work, I made several attempts to end my life. This, the most violent act a human being can commit, to perpetrate one’s own death, I wanted more than anything.

And through, all of this, at no time did I ever feel safe enough with anyone, to tell what had happened to me…for over thirty years.

As I watched state after state on Tuesday night turn the same vivid red of the blood I poured from my arms, I realized that the majority of this country continues to feel justified, entitled, righteous in inflicting this kind of pain on me, simply because I am a woman.

I am by no means stating, accusing, or insinuating that Donald Trump is a rapist, however he does represent, publicly displays, and boast about the culture (groupthink) that allowed those boys to rape me. These are some comments said to me during and in the many years after the rape by those boys.

  • “Just grab her tits, she likes it.”
  • “Look at her crying, fat pig.”
  • “Just fuck her dirty mouth, she’s disgusting.”
  • “Fuck her like a dog.”
  • And for years, decades, I believed every word.

Please compare these comments to those made by Donald Trump.

  • “You have to treat ‘em like shit.”
  • “I’d look right in that fat, ugly face of hers, and say, ‘Rosie you are fired.’
  • In reference to Beck, a breastfeeding mother, he said she was, “disgusting.”
  • “The face of a Dog” written across a photo of Gail Collins.
  • “When you are a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Whatever you want, grab them by the pussy.”

I have not eaten, slept well, nor ever felt so hopeless for my country as I have in the past few days. And what shocks me most, is that people who are gloating, excited to have this man lead our country…love me.

They are my family, my dearest friends, my life and have been a part of my healing, have given me the strength through their hugs, their own tragedies, and their support to come forward and tell my story.

In the days, months and years after the rape, one boy in particular seemed to enjoy throwing jibes at me on and around school campus, parties, and other social events. It became so bad, I would hide, or drink and drug myself into a stupor to numb the experience. About a week after the rape, he started calling me after school, masturbating and breathing into the phone.

Before the days of caller ID, blocking numbers, and other technological advances, my mother and I reported the calls to the police and it took months to trace where the calls came from, but prior to the police even being willing to take a report, we had to track and write down every call, to “prove” it was harassment. When they finally found him, the police knocked on my door and explained to us that, “he was just being a boy” and “boys just do those kinds of things.” They talked to him and “he promised to stop” and asked me to “stay away” from him at school.

He didn’t stop.

Years later, he sent me a friend request on Facebook. Clearly their talk did not instill any long lasting remorse for his actions.

And this, for me, is the very point of this election: I can and will live under Republican leadership. This is not a partisan post. This is about connecting the dots, this is about understanding rape culture and what it means in the lives of women like me. This has been devastating, realizing how deep these attitudes run in my country and my heart aches for the thousands of girls and women who will come after me.

My plea is to them, don’t be silent, walk with me, and you are not alone…in spite of the results of this election…we are not alone.

Jennifer Fenton

Jennifer Fenton is a Licensed Marriage Family Therapist who works in public mental health and the non-profit sector. She recently founded The Equine Healing Collaborative, an organization that provides mental health services through the use of Equine Assisted Psychotherapy.

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