I speak out against rape. I may not do it using statistics or by saying rape is bad. I say it in my own way. I can use studies and statistics because I know all the information. I can tell you rape, sexual assault, domestic violence is bad because it is. Facebook, activists, organizations, studies, articles are filled with this information telling you rape is bad and stop victim blaming. We are inundated with this information. I, however, do not see survivors speaking or telling their stories. There are a few, but, for the most part, survivors are silent. We do not speak as a whole, but I will.
I will speak for the multitudes who are silent. I will speak for myself. I will speak for those who have found the courage to share their stories with me. I will speak for my friends. I will speak for my family. I will speak for acquaintances. I will speak for those who speak with me. I will speak for those whose stories I do not know. I will speak for every woman, man, and child who believes they are alone. They are not alone. Many of us are with them. If my story can reach one person and show them they are not isolated, I have done something good.
I was lucky to grow into my story at Cornell College. I was supported, loved, and nourished in a protective, liberal bubble which gave me the strength and courage to speak. I was not blamed, ostracized, shamed, or humiliated for speaking, instead I quickly learned the weight my story carries and how many lives I can influence for the better. Cornell gave me safety to fall back into but the knowledge to go out knowing in some small way I can bring about change.
I have very rarely encountered hostility when sharing my story; this is partially due to the fact I have mostly been sharing with an already sympathetic audience. I have heard an array of sentiments including “God is punishing you,” “What were you wearing?” “Well, that’s not real rape,” “Boys will be boys,” “Just get over it,” “Maybe if you put out, they wouldn’t have to take it,” “Don’t be such a slut.” For the most part, I have had overwhelming amounts of support.
The people who have tried to silence me are those whose support I wish I had the most. They have said the least hurtful things, which have caused the most pain. Recently my father berated me for sharing private, personal information at all, let alone on Facebook. My parents have told me they don’t want to know my past at all. The little they do know, I don’t think they believe. Here in lies a problem society faces. If my parents don’t believe me then why would anyone else? Why would I go to the police for justice, if my personal protectors think I’m lying? Another problem is that it’s not just my father. Society believes rape is a private and personal matter. If we don’t talk about it, it will go away. Rape is a very private and personal matter, but that does not mean we shouldn’t talk about it. It should be talked about. How will anything change if there is no face to the crime. There is no face to the criminal and there are no faces for the victims. We can’t see the damage being done because we don’t know who has been hurt. Yes, my rapes are private and personal, and you need to know about them. I don’t think my father realizes he is perpetuating rape culture, or at least I hope he doesn’t. No one is trying to silence my rapists or even calling them out. My father is shaming me into silence. He is unintentionally blaming me, not for the rape, but I am being blamed for speaking about it. He does not want his friends or his family to find out what his daughter is saying. Maybe it is in part because he doesn’t want to look bad because he couldn’t protect me, and that’s his job. Then again, he would have to believe me first. I truly think part of him is still trying to protect his little girl, but I stopped being his little girl when I realized I was utterly alone in a full house. And I stopped needing his protection the moment a grown man laid hands on me. He doesn’t want this to follow me because it will. This is something I have been aware of for a very long time. Rape survivors will always be followed by their rape. If they are silent, they will suffer in silence. If they speak out, they face the horrors society forces upon them, but maybe someday they won’t have to suffer in silence. I am probably costing myself job opportunities and maybe even my dream career. For a very long time I was willing to be silent in exchange for financial gain and a successful career. After working in corporate America, I am no longer willing to forfeit my voice for prosperity. I will be successful someday, but I will speak. I am no longer afraid of this following me; though, I know it will. After seven years of silence, I will roar. I love my father, but he will not silence me. I will not be silenced by anyone. I will continue to make the sacrifices I have to in order to speak.
For everyone: I have been raped. I have been beaten and abused. I have been silenced by fear, but no more. My name is RaeAnna Rekemeyer, and I will be a face for a story. I am a complicated yet strong rape survivor. I am not a victim any longer. I have survived and overcome. I will speak until the day I die. If you do not like it, leave my life. Share my blog if you think it could help someone. Tell my story if someone will listen. Give my name if someone needs it. Survivors are not alone. I am here and I will hear them. I am a survivor, and I am not ashamed.