By now you have no doubt read the details of Brock Allen Turner’s rape conviction at Stanford, including the letter his victim wrote. It’s a powerful letter, and I hope you’ll read it.?I took special note of a couple of sentences:
?You took away my worth, my privacy, my energy, my time, my intimacy, my confidence, my own voice, until today.” (near bottom, page 8)?
“The damage is done, no one can undo it.? (near top, page 10)
I believe I understand what she’s saying. Similar sentiments caused me to title my own story “Ruined.” The damage of rape goes to the very question of a victim’s worth, and it is damage that cannot be undone.
At least, that’s how it seemed to me. At age 20 I was raped at gunpoint by someone who broke into the home I shared with friends. When that night was finally over, I felt like my life was over. And in many ways, it was. That particular life was over. I had to rebuild an entirely different life.
Which made me furious. Why should another person’s act — which was inflicted on me against my will — completely change my life? Why should one act have such ruining power?
It shouldn’t, of course. And yet sexual assault has a uniquely destructive power. Our bodies are more than containers for our selves. And our sexual parts, with all their generative power, are at the very center of our selves.
The new life I eventually built for myself included seminary and a career in the ministry. In hindsight I realize that I was pursuing answers to the questions no one seemed able to answer — questions of identity and meaning — questions which are always religious in nature.?Some thirty years later it felt like time to pry those questions open again.?So I wrote a memoir.
What do you think? What kind of damage does rape cause? How can that damage be undone? Or can’t it?