What I Want From My Rapist


(When I’m about to go to a scary mental place, I visit the imaginary house in my head. Here’s a visual approximation, in case you need to pop in for tea while reading.)

(Trigger warning: this post describes two different sexual assaults a degree of non-graphic detail.)


I’m not really good at coming up with hot takes on current issues. As a writer, the amount of time I need to sit with my thoughts and offer conclusions generally exceeds a story’s lifetime in the 24 hour news cycle. But the recent commentary about the Brock Turner rape case in California made me realize that there is a discussion I have wanted to initiate about justice in rape cases, and how we deal with rapists as individuals, for a long while now. I just wasn’t sure how to do it without talking about things that have happened to me; and while normally I don’t hesitate to mine the insanity of my life for reflective essay material, this is one subject where my thoughts are permanently scattered.

I’m going to try to un-scatter them here, though.

I feel sorry for Brock Turner. I feel sorry for him even though, based on the evidence available to me, he is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of committing rape. I don’t give him a pass for being drunk, because I have been drunk often enough to know that you don’t do anything while impaired that you didn’t want to do while you were sober. I don’t give him a pass for being young, or talented, or having his whole life ahead of him, or any of that. I want him to face justice.

Even so, I feel a stirring of pity for him, and here’s why.

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A Dangerous Woman

Tonight I went to my group therapy meeting. It was pretty intense.

There were eight of us, plus the therapist. We were a pretty diverse group of women in terms of age, race, and social background. Some were survivors of childhood sexual abuse, and everyone had experienced sexual violence as an adult.

Just about everyone except me and the therapist cried, I think. It was only the second meeting, and I’d missed the first one, so I was a little surprised by how willing everyone was to jump into the emotional deep end.

I was just at the point of congratulating myself for being so good at keeping my cool when I looked down at my hands and realized that I was doing that repetitive fidgeting thing that I have in common with Bruce Banner in the Avengers movie. Also, I wasn’t really looking at anyone. For most of two hours, I was staring at this one woman’s feet. She wore bright strappy silver sandals and lime green nail polish. It was a cool look.

"Marvel's The Avengers" ..L to R: BRUCE BANNER (Mark Ruffalo) and TONY STARK/IRON MAN (Robert Downey Jr.)..Ph: Zade Rosenthal  ..© 2011 MVLFFLLC.  TM & © 2011 Marvel.  All Rights Reserved.

Bruce Banner: the awkward, traumatized nerd of my dreams.

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