Open Letter to a Rape Victim

posted by LaDona Harvey - 

A student at Cal State San Marcos was raped yesterday.  She met a man on Tinder, or some app like it, and went to meet him. Unfortunately, she was attacked and is going to have to deal with the aftermath, whether they catch him or not.  

Dear girl, 

I don't envy you, and my heart breaks for you. I've been where you are, and if I could give you one solid piece of advice it is this: Get a counselor now. 

You don't want to talk about it, but you need to, and this is really the only way to get it done. You'll be working through a lot of emotions and you are not in a mental position to do it solo. This can eat you alive, or it can provide you with an emotional foundation to rebuild yourself...choose wisely, girlfriend. Get help. 

It was interesting to read the comments under the story I read online, as well. That's where things got political. Rape culture. Why we march. Slut shaming. Victim blaming. 

It was a launch pad for dissent and nastiness.  

Let me remove the "political"  from this for a just a moment. 

Life is made up of a series of decisions and choices we make. All of us do it. Sometimes we make great decisions and a good thing or series of things happens. Sometimes we make really bad ones and get caught in a spiral of descent. A bad one can cost you everything, even your life. 

I made a really bad decision one night and it plunged me into a nightmare. It started a cascading series of events that landed me in a witness chair in front of a judge. I don't recommend it, it's not fun. 

When you make a bad decision, and you walk away from it with your life intact, you have an opportunity to use that experience to your advantage. It won't make it like it never happened, but it will serve you well in the future. 

You hit a point where you find the line between reckless and daring. I'm a major risk-taker, and I've had to repeatedly keep that line in sight. I know what I'm capable of, and try very hard not to wander over into  reckless territory. I would love to tell you that I am successful all of the time. That would be a lie. But I give it a heckuva try. 

Instead of politicizing this girl's tragedy, what we could all do is, use it as a jumping-off point to teach our girls to protect themselves. We should start when they are very young, because, the world can be a cruel place. 

Let's teach our girls to fight. Let's teach them how to use pepper spray and Tasers. Let's empower them by telling them they THEY are in charge of their lives and their bodies, and that they are allowed to protect those precious things with every weapon at their disposal. 

Telling girls and young women, that they can make decisions that will negatively affect their lives is not victim-blaming or slut-shaming. It's common sense, and infantilizing someone in no way assists them in making good decisions. 

I am so sorry you have to go through this. I hope you know this awful thing will end. The terror will fade, and you can go on to live a wonderful life. The rape will become something that happened to you once. It does not have to color the rest of your life. It is not your fault, but you played a part in a series of events that allowed a very bad man to do something really horrible to you. That's on him...but, to not take a lesson away from this awful thing gives it power over you, and renders you powerless to take charge of the rest of your life. 

You matter. You are important. You have wonderful things ahead. THIS thing is NOT you. 

Sincerely, 

An Older and Wiser LaDona Harvey


Photo Credit: Getty Images



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