“The ultimate choice for a man, in as much as he is given to transcend himself, is to create or destroy; to love or to hate.”
It is an understandable assumption that I am a horrible human being. After all, my name appears on the most shameful “list” known to man. I am a criminal. I am a felon. For the rest of my life, I will have a criminal record. For the rest of my life, I will have a Department of Corrections ID Number (#104403, in case you were wondering). For many (if not most) people, who I was is who I shall always be. Who I am now seems irrelevant when seen in the shadow of who I was.
I am a criminal.
The show I’m currently binge watching as I work my way through the day is Criminal Minds. Brilliant show. I’m only on Season Two, but I love how many of the lead characters, especially Gideon, begin and end each episode with a classic or profound quote. And the quotes from several episodes I recently finished encompass the entire reason why I wrote a book, why I am a public speaker, and why I have voluntarily stepped into the spotlight of shame:
“What we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others and the world remains and is immortal.”
How many years did I spend, living the life of a selfish cheating lying bastard? Too many. I spent the first five years of my marriage caring only for myself and taking my wife for granted. On top of that, I hurt numerous people along the way. Anything I did, I did for me.
As a result, I’m reasonably certain there’s a deep dark room in Hell reserved just for me.
But regardless of my checkered past, I do not live like that anymore. In fact, I’m doing quite the opposite.
Many people who commit evil acts do so because they believe their actions to be contextually permissible.
This, by all means, is not an excuse for why evil people do evil things, but as I say repeatedly in After 3PM, context is everything. It is important to understand this if we want to stop evil from occurring — we must figure out why.
This, however, causes further conflict within me. As I’ve written numerous times, I was raped in 1998 by a guy who was supposed to be my friend. While more-or-less unconscious due to excessive intoxication, I was raped by a guy.
Today, I called the hotline for RAINN (Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network). I guess I’d just reached a point that I needed to talk about being raped. I talked about it in prison, and I’ve spoken to a therapist briefly about it, but my biggest question lingered: Should I report my rape?
I dialed the hotline number, dialing *67 on my iPhone before dialing the number (to hide my caller ID, though I’m really not sure why), and the hotline began to ring. I pressed 1, as prompted by the menu and was transferred to another ringing line. This line rang approximately seven times, but as it rang, talking about my rape became more real, so I pressed the red hang-up button on my phone and sat it down on the table in front of me. I stared-off for several minutes, as though it was an open window into the outside world who would peek in and ridicule my assault. “You’re a guy who was raped by a guy?” they would say with laughter. I just knew they would.
On some levels, I hold a deep respect for the strength it took for my former student to step forward and reveal our relationship. She is a much stronger person than I, because I can’t bring myself to tell the police I was . . . raped.
By the way, in case you were wondering, there is no statute of limitations on rape – and with the way I am struggling with it right now, I completely understand why.
When I was being interviewed recently by the media, I told the reporter that I was fully aware of numerous instances of other teachers at my former school who either had or were having relationships with students. She asked me why I didn’t speak up now and turn them in. Valid question. I told her about my rape, but I told her I also didn’t want to put anyone through the registering life destruction I experienced, whether they deserved it or not. I suppose that’s why I haven’t reported my rapist, so that probably also why I have reported these other teachers. Besides, in the legal community, I have zero credibility, so no one would believe me anyway. But even with that, if I can’t bring myself to report my own rapist, I certainly can’t report someone else’s. Admittedly, this is a serious flaw with me, and perhaps it’s changing.
Should I report my rape? Should I report those other teachers? The guy who raped me has moved on with his life, and I doubt he could care less. And the students of those teachers are long out of high school by now, assuming those same teachers haven’t seduced someone new (which, in at least one case, is likely).
The only people who know the identity of my rapist are my wife and my little sister. But lots of teachers at my former school are aware of which teachers are having relationships with students – it’s part of the hush-hush subculture, the after 3pm underworld which formulated in secret, shadowed by dark hallways and locked doors. It’s the worst kept secret in the educational community, which is why I get annoyed when school officials are “outraged” every other week when another teacher is arrested.
Is anyone “outraged” that I was raped? I doubt it. People probably think I deserved it, regardless of the fact that it happened in the summer of 1998. Should I report it? I don’t know. Would it make me feel better? I doubt it. Would it change anything? No. Reporting my rape would only ruin someone else’s life; it wouldn’t make my life any better — in fact, I’d probably feel guilty for causing someone else’s life to crumble, even though he violated me in the worst conceivable way.
I want to create, not destroy. That’s why I wrote After 3PM, that’s why I give speeches, that’s why I’m an activist against teacher-student relationships. I want to help stop sexual assaults before they happen. However, in the wake of the assaults that have already occurred, there is a battle within myself regarding what to do, how to feel, and how to act.
My whole life is about moving forward. If I report my rapist, I am merely dwelling on the past, trying to alter something that will never change.
That being said, if someone else reported it, I would cooperate fully. A fine line, I suppose, but I’ve clearly given up on trying to figure myself out.
I was raped. That will never change, regardless of whether he is punished or not.