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Why a Donald Trump Presidency Proves My Rape Doesn’t Matter
By Morgan Barbour
*Editor's Note: This piece could be triggering and traumatic to some people. Ms. Barbour would also like to acknowledge the great impact this election will have on people with mental health concerns and disabilities. This piece is a follow-up to this anonymous piece published on our site here.
On June 4th I was raped. On November 9 th I woke up to a Donald Trump presidency. In the time between I have spent countless hours reading and listening to the people around me denounce the women who have come forth and accused Donald Trump of sexual assault, cry foul about allegedly rampant false rape claims, and reduce the passion of the women in their lives to hormonal irrationality. Earlier this year I wrote an anonymous article documenting the details of my assault and explaining why I had yet to report my rape. My rape kit was botched. My rapist is a well-respected ‘family man.’ I have made a career off of modelling in various stages of undress and playing lascivious women on stage. I have grown up in a world where I have heard people I respected question what the victim was wearing, how she was acting, what she possibly could have done to have caused a man to toss aside his morals for 'twenty minutes of action.’
I was set to start graduate school and I knew I could barely manage that and my anxiety, never mind the pain a trial would bring on. I’m an intelligent woman and I know how the system works. I am not the portrait of the perfect victim. This system was never meant for women like me.
I don’t want to make this day about me, but it is impossible to separate myself from this election. There are people around the nation and around the world who are grieving, furious, frightened. This vote has spoken to the POC, queer, female, immigrant, non-Christian Americans loudly and clearly: we are not welcome. This is bigger than me or you or any single one of us. The underbelly of an America that has quietly reminded marginalized communities that we will never truly be welcome – despite the mainstream media trying to shove an under-cooked post-racial society down our throats – has been given a voice and a
platform and I promise you, they will speak until their voices grow so hoarse that they cannot make another sound. As the queer granddaughter of a Colombian immigrant I can say that the rhetoric surrounding this election has chilled me to the core and I do not expect it to stop any time soon. I could speak about that in length, and I’m sure over the next four years I will. I
woke up this morning with my fingertips burning with blood and a fresh reminder of why I’ve been writing since I could hold a pencil. You can give permission to bigotry to run rampant but you cannot silence the free press.
But today I want to specifically address this through the eyes of a woman who was drugged and violently raped and still hasn’t reported, because while my identity can be filed away in many ways ‘silent rape victim’ potentially shines the brightest as I wait for a man who has made it very clear he is not my champion, as I wait for a man accused of sexual assault into the double digits, as I wait for a man on the record bragging about getting away with sexual assault because he’s famous be sworn in as the leader of the free world. I hate that word, rape. I’ve spent the past five months avoiding it. It feels dirty and degrading on my tongue. ‘Assault’ is so much sweeter and abstract. But I was raped and I still haven’t reported and this morning I think it’s high time I stop hiding behind the comforts of anonymity and sugar coated words like assault. There is nothing comfortable about what happened to me. There is nothing comfortable about the fact that my story is by no means unique; it is a tale shared by countless other women, girls, men, and boys worldwide. I was raped and have spent the months since listening to the right claim that any woman who came forward with an accusation any time not immediately following her assault was a liar, a cheat, some fame chasing whore looking for her fifteen minutes.
Two months ago my rapist found my Facebook and sent me a message asking me when I would get famous. It’d be so much cooler if he had ‘slept’ with someone famous. Maybe if I was famous my assault would hold more validity, although we saw earlier this year with Ke$ha that fame does not protect women from powerful predators.
Five months ago I was raped and I’ve spent every day since wondering if I’ve waited too long, wondering if I report now if I’m clearly a liar because surely if I was beaten I would want justice, because surely a woman who has been writing and passionately speaking about politics and women’s rights for over half of her life would have the wherewithal within herself to report and see a trial through. I write this with tears in my eyes that I furiously wipe away. I’ve spent a lifetime being told my emotional responses are weakness. I’ve spent a lifetime being told my passion is irrational because I am female. The world’s perceptions of myself are dictated by a uterus housed in a body that was punched so hard that I am now uncertain if I can have children.
Five months ago I was raped and now I look at my birth country from an ocean away and realize that my misgivings were correct. The America I grew up in was kinder to women than some, but at its core it has never been my champion. And now we have elected a leader who has bragged about assault, who has called women pigs and whores, who has publically insinuated than a woman’s passion is the result of her menstruation. America, you do not speak for me.
I’ve been searching for the strength to report for five months and it still isn’t there. But while there is still breath in me I will always write. A courtroom may not be my protector but my mind will always be my greatest defender. As a woman frightened for the future of my birth country, frightened for the safety of my friends and family, frightened by a culture that has made a passionate and educated woman such as myself question if I really did deserve what happened to me, I beg of you to stay vocal and engaged. Courage at the keyboard but apathy in actions are poison. Fight for yourself, fight for POC, fight for Muslims and the LGBTQ+ community and women everywhere. And write. Write articles, write to your community, and write to your representatives. Take ownership of your voice. Do not shrug this off. And then next time you hear someone scoff at a woman coming forth months or years later to accuse her assailant, I ask that you think of me. I promise you there isn’t enough fame or attention in the world that could ever replace what has been stolen from me.
The world is watching, America. Prove me wrong.