The Sound of Silence

When I was 18 years old, I was raped. In a vulnerable moment of pseudo-consciousness and inebriated confusion, a “friend” of mine — a male “friend” — sexually violated me in a manner that changed my life, forever.

In the news recently, there has been a plethora of sexual assault victims who have stepped forward and identified the individual who assaulted them. This has happened to numerous celebrities, and (I assume) many people who are not famous. I deeply admire the courage it takes to do this, but I will not be one of them.

Only two people know the identity of my rapist: My wife and my sister. And both have promised to keep this secret.

But I will never turn him in. Many people think I should, but I can’t. For one thing, I feel that no justice will actually be served; the only thing that will happen will be the ruining of another life. I don’t believe he is a further threat to others; I believe whole-heartily that he is not the same person now that he was then. Turning him in now would not make me any less raped. Turning him in now would not be Justice; it would only be vengeance.

God knows what he did to me, and will deal with him accordingly. Turning him in would be just one more way I would have to relive it. And although I’ve come to terms with my assault to an extent that I can speak and write about it, I don’t see any viable purpose in naming him now.

That being said, if I genuinely felt that he was the kind of person who would continue to perpetrate upon other potential victims, I would certainly speak up — keeping others from going through what I went through would certainly prioritize higher than my own well-being. However, I don’t believe he is. He’s grown up — we all have — and sometimes the sins of the past need to stay there for everyone’s benefit.

It bothers me that it seems “trendy” now to accuse someone of sexual misconduct; I think this new “trend” minimizes the genuine impact which abuse has on the victim. But unfortunately, a new allegation of sexual misconduct against someone in the public eye is starting to be viewed like mass shootings anymore — “Oh, another one,” we say with indifference.

So why dedicate an entire article in my Ongoing Commentary to saying this? Because I am genuinely getting tired of people asking me why I have not reported him. Whenever I point out that I have come to terms with my assault and am able to write and speak about it, the next inevitable question is, “Why don’t you turn him in?” And the best answer I have is, “I don’t want to, because it will do nothing but destroy another life and tear apart another family — that is not justice.”

I can’t speak for anyone else, but for me, as a rape survivor, speaking-out would do nothing. And in all honesty, I don’t know if anyone would even believe me, specifically in a contemporary public climate where it has become “trendy” to be an accuser.

Please be clear: I do not discredit, criticize, or devalue anything which any accuser has said! I would never say anything of the sort. When I say it’s “trendy” to be an accuser, I am simply referring to the manner in which it is being widely perceived. If a victim feels that he/she should step forward and feels it would be helpful and beneficial (especially if they feel their perpetrator’s behavior will continue toward other victims), then speaking-out is certainly the responsible thing to do.

As I said, I have come to terms with it and can freely speak about it. In fact, during the Question & Answer portion of the speech I gave in Phoenix, Arizona in October, I was specifically asked if I’d ever experienced any abuse. And, to a full audience of teachers, principals, and educational administrators, I said aloud, “When I was 18, I was raped.” And saying it to a giant room full of people on that day was easier than the day I said “I was raped” for the first time, in prison, one-on-one with a therapist. So I have reached a point in my life where I can sufficiently cope with being a rape survivor without needing to name my rapist.

Bottom line: There is no solid right-or-wrong course of action. I am not going to name my rapist because I think it would do more harm than good. With the help of a wonderful therapist and some very close family and friends, I have come to terms with my rape and I do not need to lash-out at the man who assaulted me. But as I said, that is my perspective and it is what I feel is best for me and my family — and (to a certain extent) him and his family as well.

But essentially, my silence is for my benefit — not his.