Rape Talk from a Real Victim

 

Its not funnyThis isn’t easy for me to talk about and the recent idiotic statements about rape haven’t made things any easier to even think about, but here goes: I’m a rape survivor.

There’s no point in trying to sugar-coat this or make it sound like some sort of fairy-tale (no pun intended or reference to the Radical Faeries, whom I respect and cherish their beliefs and traditions—thank heaven for Harry Hay, the father of everything good in the world of Faeries!). My unfortunate experience came at the hands of the Portsmouth Police in Portsmouth, Virginia.

I don’t remember the names involved anymore because it happened in 1990 and when you incur the level of violence and brutality that I did then things tend to blur slightly but I will do my best to recall as many details as I can for the sake of telling an honest story.

One summer evening in Portsmouth, a transgender prostitute was picked up by two gentlemen in a pick-up truck presumably thinking she was a woman or perhaps they knew she was transgender (although the word “transgender” wasn’t used back but rather “transsexual” was the nomenclature of the day) and they had plans all along.

Once she was in the truck, they sped toward one of the many tunnels in the Hampton Roads area and threw her out of the truck into a concrete abutment at 90 miles per hour, killing her instantly when she flew head-first into the concrete.

The judge who presided over the trial took their guilty verdict and gave the man driving the truck six months’ probation and the man who threw her out of the truck one year probation.

I helped organize a protest against the judge and the courthouse. On the day the protest occurred we had a turn-out of 100 LGBT people standing on the courthouse steps. We found ourselves suddenly surrounded by 150 police and sheriff’s office riot squad and it didn’t take me long to figure out that almost every one of the officer’s had a picture of me as the primary organizer as the target for arrest and detainment. Everyone else was scattered by tear gas and pushed back by the police line. The entire assault took less than 10 minutes to break the line and I found myself handcuffed, bleeding from my forehead and fairly dazed with a mild concussion.

Before I knew it, I was sitting on a bench in the county jail intake but not with women…I was sitting on the bench with men!

Before I knew it the men were grabbing me in places that don’t require me to describe it in detail, nor does it necessitate much of an imagination in a mature adult to picture in your mind. All the while this was going on, there was a deputy sheriff in a glass booth seeing all this going on and not only did he not act to stop it, he invited other deputy’s into the booth to watch.

This was my “preview” of coming attractions for the next 15 hours.

After about an hour of being pinched and grabbed, I was finally booked. They fingerprinted me, photographed me and informed me I was being charged with an “Illegal assembly” and “disturbing the peace”. Since I had no previous conviction record (I had been arrested when I was younger in other protests but the charges were always dropped) I should have been allowed to be released on my own recognizance, however, under Virginia law is a Commonwealth (when I lived there, we used to joke that the operative words are “Common” and Wealth”, meaning that you are either “Wealthy” or “Common”) so they had a resident “Magistrate” right in the jail instead of bringing you before a regular judge to set bail. The Magistrate decided my bail should be $50,000; excessive for even the crime of attempted robbery much less simple disturbing the peace. I was also classified as a “flight risk”, because I was originally from Florida with less than two years residency in Virginia.

I was immediately and quite brutally escorted to a group holding cell…filled with eight male prisoners. As they threw me in the front door of the cell, the deputy said meanly, “This will teach you to enjoy men, dyke-cunt!”Sex used in violence is no laughing matter to women
I’m now 56 years-old. At the time I was only 34 and fairly attractive. I was a semi-pro volleyball player in college; I could run five miles a day and did at the time. I had taken Karate for 15 years, although I never competed. I took it to defend myself and to stay in shape.

Despite the aura given to Karate in the movies, it doesn’t matter how good you are. You can’t take out eight men by yourself before they get to you. Don’t get me wrong; you can do some major damage to at least a few of them but as I found out, when you do that, the consequences to yourself are just that much worse when they finally get to you.

After I got a few licks in and injured the pride of a few of them, they got down to business by beating me senseless; ripping my clothes off and abusing my private parts until I bled. As they began to rape me both vaginally and anally one at a time, I became aware that deputies had set up folding chair just outside the bars and were eating their sandwiches and laughing at my anguish, degradation and humiliation.

It wasn’t until a friend and fellow protestor brought her minister and an ACLU lawyer to demand my release that I had any concept of the passage of time. I felt like the torture had gone on for an eternity. I barely remember my friend’s Episcopalian minister, a big, burly man, scooping me into his arms (I have no idea whether I actually walked out to that point or whether the guards threw me out) and carried me to his car. My memory for the next few hours flashed in and out like the shutter on a camera opening and closing.

I have a brief memory of my head in my friend’s lap in the back seat of a car while the minister and female ACLU lawyer were talking about what bad shape I was in and whether or not I would live long enough to get to the hospital. The pain was so bad that I the thought of dying actually seemed like a good idea, and then I blacked out again.

The next time I faded back in, there was a team of nurses and a doctor in a flurry of motion and a very bright light in my eyes. I tried to move my arms and found there were tubes in both arms. The nurses grabbed my arms and told me to stay calm and they were going to help me. I saw bags of blood hanging from the stands and going into my arms through the tubes in my arms. My pelvis was elevated and I could sense my legs were elevated in the air as though I was being examined by a gynecologist. Before I passed out again, I saw the doctor’s arm fly up in the air from between my legs with a suture needle and thread in his gloved hand.

Instead of being held in the hospital, they filled my prescriptions from the hospital pharmacy and discharged me even though I couldn’t really walk. My friend took me to her place and nursed me back to health over the next two weeks.

The day after, I found that I had received 157 stitches, most vaginally and anally, and two pints blood. It was very, very lucky in my case that just two years before I had received a total hysterectomy and uvectomy due to the beginnings of cancer caught in the extreme early stages.

If I had turned up pregnant I would have terminated it without batting an eyelash and the only thought that would have been in my mind would have been those men beating and slobbering as they were brutalizing me over and over in that jail cell.

It’s taken me years to get to the point where I can write about this incident and maintain relative control and not breakdown completely but it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t affect me deeply even today. It still wasn’t easy to write about regardless of what less compassionate people might think.

When Paul Ryan had the nerve last week to say in an interview that “rape is simply another form of conception”, I felt no choice but to write about my experiences.

 

If one woman in the nation votes for that poor excuse of a human being then I hope she goes through what I did. I normally don’t wish bad things on people but obviously, a woman who would vote for Paul Ryan and Todd Akin have never experienced the pure terror of rape and maybe they need to? Perhaps they need to find out what all the controversy is about and then they would never want any other woman to experience it for themselves.

Would mothers of daughters who had been raped feel so magnanimous toward teenage boys who raped them and got them pregnant and feel “it was just another form of conception” and welcome the boy into their Stephanie Donaldfamily for knocking their daughter up against her will?

The present day Republicans aren’t just trying to turn the clock back decades, they’re trying to turn the clock back centuries to the middle ages when women were little more than slaves to the men who married them!.

I see horrendous storm clouds on the horizon and they aren’t just Hurricane Isaac.

By Stephanie Donald
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