The poster reads:
#1 “You’ve been very bad.”
#2 “The way you move, you can’t possibly be a virgin.”
#1 I was 3½ years old.
I had a cut on my head; he was the ER physician on duty. He ordered my mom and the nurse out of the examining room. They obeyed him; back then, you would never argue with a doctor. He stitched the cut on my head, then sexually assaulted me.
I didn’t tell anyone for more than 30 years.
According to some studies, women who were sexually assaulted as children are 2-3 times more likely to be subsequently raped as adults.
#2 I was 19 years old, and a virgin.
He was the only son of a rich and very powerful family, and wasn’t used to being turned down by a nobody like me. Later, when I told him I was pregnant because of what he did to me, he told me I would have to get an abortion. I refused; I planned to have the baby and raise him. He calmly told me that he would drug me, tie me up, and lock me in the trunk of his car, then drive me to another state, where abortion was legal. He said that his mother knew people on the hospital board there. His family would pay them to do this to me against my will. I got away from him and locked myself in my dorm room. After four days of hiding in terror, I miscarried.
I didn’t talk about any of it for years. Most of my female friends throughout my life have been sexually assaulted. We mostly don’t talk about it. We’re blamed, not believed, punished, and pathologized for it. But I’m talking about it now. As the historian Howard Zinn said, “The most revolutionary act one can engage in is to tell the truth.”
Today I’m a psychologist who treats survivors of trauma, including sexual abuse and rape. As a professor, I teach courses for doctoral students on how to help trauma survivors and advocate against interpersonal violence. Almost 100 male and female therapists in training have taken my classes in the last 6 years.
Photographed in Chicago, IL on September 27th
Click here to learn more about Project Unbreakable. (trigger warning)
I don’t even have words.