All Articles Tagged "rape"
“I Never Got A Chance To Heal:” How One Survivor Came To Terms With Being Raped While Her Attacker’s Mother Was In The Same House
When many women create online dating profiles, their first thought isn’t that they will encounter rapists, and yet earlier this year VICE reported that the incidence of online date rape has risen within the past six years because offenders use “the ease of access” afforded by dating websites to lure “potential victims not thinking of them as strangers, but someone they have got to know.” JJ, an anonymous survivor of online date rape shared her account of being attacked by a man whom she met online with us. Read on to understand her story, how the attack changed her view of rape, and what advice she would give victims as she continues on her journey of healing.
MadameNoire (MN): How old were you at the time of your attack?
JJ: I was 22 years old at the time of my attack; it was 24 days before my 23rd birthday. I met my rapist –I seriously don’t remember his name, it is something I repressed so deeply, but I think it starts with a J — on an online dating site, either OK Cupid or Plenty of Fish. We talked for a few weeks, did some casual things, like Starbucks for coffee, before he invited me to his house. He was the same age as me, a recent college graduate, so he was still living at home with his parents.
MN: Can you walk us through what happened?
JJ: The day I came over, his mom was home so he had to sneak me in. We watched TV in his room, he showed me his diploma and college things; it was very casual. We hooked up a little bit but I didn’t feel comfortable doing more. He kept going and I said, “No.” He ignored me and even though I pushed him off, he pinned me down to where I couldn’t fight him anymore. I gave up fighting him. I was terrified. I was too scared to scream, too scared to move so I just laid there and waited until he was done. I don’t really remember what happened after or even me leaving his house. I was so numb and in shock. I just wanted to get home. That’s when my tire burst on the Long Island Expressway (LIE). That whole day was extremely stressful; I’m honestly not surprised that I repressed what happened for so long.
MN: What was your perception of rape before you were assaulted?
JJ: My perception of rape before it happened was largely based on myth and fiction. I watched a lot of Law and Order: SVU and thought rape happened in dark alleys and by abandoned buildings. I never thought it would happen to me. I mostly thought that rape was perpetrated by older men, criminals, and “creepy” guys; it was unfathomable that a rapist could be my own age, someone fresh out of college and who surely dealt with all of the consent campaigns most college campuses had. I know some people looked down on rape victims and asked about what they were wearing, the circumstances, etc. but I never held any of those viewpoints before I was attacked. I always believed the accuser and felt sympathetic. I don’t think I would have been able to live with myself if I held any other notions on rape, especially since I ended up being attacked.
MN: Did you seek legal ramifications against your rapist?
JJ: I did not pursue any legal action against my attacker even though I know could have. At the time of the attack, I was not in a great place mentally. My father was dying at the time and I did not want to stress and shame my family by going through the ordeal of a trial. I also worried that my sexual history would be on display because when I was in college, and even before I started talking to my attacker, I did hook up frequently. I did not want to be judged by anyone or be labeled a slut. I still can report the crime if I want because the attack is within the statute of limitations and I do have proof of the attack — he messaged and texted me apologizing, asking for forgiveness, etc. — but I probably will not because of the time that passed.
MN: Did you share that you were sexually assaulted with your family members or friends?
JJ: It was easier to share that I was sexually assaulted with my friends before my parents. And even then it took me two weeks after the incident to say anything. And I only told my one best friend and a few coworkers at my previous job that I trusted. It took about a month after it happened for me to tell my parents. They were so upset and my mother wanted to know why I didn’t report it, why I didn’t tell them sooner, and it’s awful because I was more concerned about stressing out my family than my own mental health. I told my therapist almost by accident and she was shocked at how nonchalant I was about the whole thing. Only then did I realize the extent of what really happened to me. If I didn’t see her for a session when I did, I most likely would have repressed the whole incident.
Marcie Gerald was your average Midwest teenager. She was a member of the Rainbow Girls, a Masonic youth organization that teaches leadership training through community service. She took dance classes, modeled, acted in her school play, was loved for her humor and was “an amazing little girl.” But all of that changed after she was sexually assault.
At the time Marcie was 14; her rapist somewhere between 28 and 30. Recently released from the Illinois Department of Corrections, he saw the young teen walking down the street one day and her life would never be the same.
“I don’t know how to explain it,” Marcie’s mother, Elizabeth Gerald said. “Before [Marcie] was raped she was beautiful. She was an honor roll student, she was interested in going to Harvard Law. After the rape, she was very depressed; she spiraled down, she would sit in the tub and scrub herself raw. She would have anxiety attacks. It was like night and day. He took her soul the day he assaulted her.”
The day of the brutal attack Marcie sent a text to her mother saying she had been assaulted. “I thought maybe she got into a fight or something,” Gerald recalled. “She told me where she was and when I got there she was crying and she told me what happened.” Gerald called 911 and officers transported the teen to the hospital; her uterus and ovaries were so inflamed she couldn’t walk. When doctors administered the rape kit, they immediately knew who Marcie’s rapist was because he was already in the system. But catching the man who sexually assaulted her didn’t stop Marcie from feeling raped over and over again in the court room when she had to face her attacker during his trial. In order to take his plea deal, the repeat offender had to confess every detail of his crime and, according to Gerald, that’s what made things worse.
“[Marcie] became suicidal after that. [Her rapist] had to tell everything he did and the bad thing about it is to this day, as far as I know, he’s never really showed any remorse. I don’t know if he knows she’s deceased or not but never once did he apologize. He would look at her and wink. He just kept saying, ‘Look at how pretty she is.’ He basically told her that if she wouldn’t have been so pretty he wouldn’t have been so attracted to her and that was why he attacked her and that made her feel worse, to know you’ve been raped because you have a pretty face. He never took any responsibility.”
It was the court room experience that actually convinced Gerald to push for her daughter’s rapist to take a plea deal. During the trial, Marcie would come home and cut herself after hearing her attacker’s testimony. “I said we can’t keep doing this; we have to take the plea and get it over with.”
Marcie’s first suicide attempt took place in April 2014. Her older brother, Hermari, found her lying on the floor of her bedroom foaming at the mouth after drinking bleach. EMTs took her to a pediatric hospital where her stomach was pumped and she spent time in a mental health hospital for a couple of weeks after the incident. The second time Marcie attempted suicide by cutting herself. The third time, Gerald said, was after her daughter’s rapist took the plea and confessed to sexually assaulting her. “She had to relive it all over again and she never got over that.”
Because Marcie’s rapist threatened to have members of the Chicago gang Gangster Disciples harm her and her family, she began homeschooling following the attack. Freshman year she was placed in a therapeutic school and still maintained honor roll standing while getting treatment from the Laynie Foundation, a non-profit mental health agency in Matteson, IL.
“She would have her ups and downs,” Gerald said, “but the last year, 2015, was just a bad year for us because my sister died of cancer in January, then my brother called me crying saying his son had been murdered, one of my best friend’s died. It was just death after death after death and I think it was just too much and it pushed her over the edge.”
July 19, 2015 would prove to be the day Marcie could no longer put up the fight, though by all accounts the day was like any other Gerald said. “That Sunday she had a regular day; we had Sunday dinner, we went to church. Marcie was into healthy hair and her weight so we would go to the health food store and she would get natural soaps and products and I asked her did she need me to do anything for her before I laid down and she said no.
“She did ask me to make her a bath — she liked lavender oil and almond milk bath beads — so I did that and she took a bath and relaxed and I laid down. After midnight she came downstairs and said ‘I love you mommy’ and I said ‘I love you too baby’ and gave me a hug and kiss and she just laid down with me like she always did.”
Around 6 am Monday, July 20, Gerald attempted to wake her daughter and couldn’t. “I said ‘Marcie, get up” and nothing happened and I said it again and shook her and when I still couldn’t wake her up, I grabbed her from the front and said ‘Marcie, Marcie’ and she wouldn’t wake up.”
Hermari told his mom to call 911 and paramedics arrived on the scene within a few minutes and transported Marcie to the emergency room. Gerald threw on a robe and slippers and rode with her daughter in the ambulance. While in the waiting room a nurse told Gerald the doctor wanted her to start calling family members and she didn’t understand why. A few minutes later, the nurse, doctor, and a third person asked Gerald if they could speak with her in a private room and asked her to take a seat.
“At that time the third person informed me he was a chaplain and it still didn’t dawn on me what was going on. The doctor said ‘Miss Gerald, this is one of the hardest parts of my job’ and I said ‘Oh my God, what’s wrong? Does she need to be switched to another hospital?’ and he told me she was expired. He said there’s nothing else they could do. She’s gone. It’s like I could hear it but I started going into a twilight zone.”
At 15, Marcie had overdosed on Tramadol, the narcotic she had been prescribed to deal with the pain and inflammation she’d suffered as a result of her rape.
Though it has yet been a year since Marcie passed, her mother wasted no time turning her pain into action to prevent other people from having to experience the loss she did. “One thing I learned is that when people don’t stay active they sit in the house and they break down. I decided not to let her death be in vain and I started going around spreading suicide awareness and I speak on mental illness issues and rape. That’s what helps me.”
Gerald said it was hearing people repeatedly say “Black people don’t kill themselves” that made her share Marcie’s story with the world.
“The thing is, suicide is the third leading cause of death and I’ve had people say they have lost children, husbands, wives, all types of best friends to suicide but a lot of people don’t want to come out and say it was suicide. They’d rather say it was a natural cause or accidental death because of the stigma in the African American community… We brush it under the rug; it’s a secret.
“Since I’ve been going around talking on sexual assault and bullying I’ve had women and, believe it or not, men tell me they were molested as children and their mothers would say ‘What goes on in this house stays in this house’ and they never got treated.”
It’s those stories that keep Gerald motivated, and though suicide and sexual assault are personal to her, she has a message for the Black community at large.
“One of the things we have to learn to do as African Americans is we have to learn how to love and be kind to one another. We’ve got to unite. We’re the most religious race, but were also the most dysfunctional; we’re the most separated. Men call women hos, thots, B’s; women think it’s cute to be a bad B. We’ve got to come together. We’re the only race that doesn’t come together and the stuff that happens to us we don’t hear about, and the stuff that does make the news is the homicides and gang shootings but it’s just as many suicides as it is homicides. I’ve lost three nephews to gun violence and I lost my step-son. I tell people, the pain is the same whether it’s a homicide or a suicide because they’re not coming back. We’ve got to come together to save our youth and our adults because mental illness is real in the Black community.”
Gerald is also doing work on the legislative front to get a bill passed that would impart severe consequences for individuals whose actions tangentially lead to another’s suicide.
“I feel like if a person causes a person to take their life, whether it’s assault, bulling, taunting, domestic violence, sexual assault you should be charged for that person’s death.”
Such a law would certainly affect Marcie’s rapist who was only sentenced to eight years behind bars after coping his plea deal. He will spend the rest of his life on parole.
“Marcie just had a sweet 16; her birthday was January 3 and because of this man I had to take flowers and balloons to a cemetery,” Gerald said. “She should have been here, but she’s in peace; her pain is over.”
The students at Howard University are making their voices heard after the school failed to address two separate sexual assaults that occurred on campus.
According to WUSA 9, more than 100 Howard students gathered earlier this week to protest the university’s handling of the two rape allegations. Both at the hands of the same student, a former Residence Hall Advisor (RA).
According to D.C. police reports, the first of the two incidents happened in May 2015. The second in February of this year. Both incidents were alleged to have happened on campus property.
Tori Elder, one of the students who helped organize the protest said, “It’s an outrage to know that we live in a building with a rapist. I felt like my safety is gone. I don’t feel safe at all.”
The most recent alleged rape, according to police documents, happened on February 8 in a residence hall.
The university’s handling of the cases all came to light this week, when one of the alleged victims tweeted her disgust that her alleged rapist was still on campus.
howard protects rapists and lets them roam freely within the student body but you didn't hear it from me cause their image on the line
— J Millz (@_Liahhhh) March 22, 2016
When other Twitter users questioned her about the assault, she said, “my coworker raped me and got me fired.”
Another user said, “If you want to protest/stand up against CHS/Howard I’m with you. You aren’t the only girl who this has happened to this year.”
WUSA confirmed that another incident was reported in October, detailing a rape in a parking garage at Howard University Hospital, across the street from the same residence hall where the second rape was reported.
Recent tweets have been posted regarding the alleged sexual assault of a Howard University student by another Howard student. The University administration took immediate action as soon as we learned of this matter. While we are not able to discuss the specifics of any ongoing investigation, we are and have been actively investigating all reports that have been made to us. These cases cannot be adjudicated through social media without compromising the integrity of the investigation.
Howard University takes matters of sexual assault very seriously. As part of our commitment to a safe campus environment, we continue to refine and enhance our Title IX protocols and procedures consistent with best practices and federal regulations. This is further supported with ongoing prevention education, collaboration, training and campus engagement.
During the protests, students shut down part of 4th Street NW and could be heard chanting “No means no!”
This RA hasn’t just been accused of rape on Howard’s campus. A woman from UCLA forwarded a letter, allegedly from officials, which stated that the man had been banned from campus after he was accused of distributing revenge porn of a female student.
The protestors released a list of demand.
— The Pearl Goddess (@Savage_Glam) March 22, 2016
You can take a look at coverage of the protest in the video below.
So often when we hear about rape and sexual assault cases in schools, we think about students on college campuses. But these issues aren’t limited to dorm rooms and frat parties. Rape and sexual assaults are happening in middle schools as well. Sadly, just like college campuses, the instances aren’t always handled properly. And it’s usually the woman or young girl who suffers more than she did initially.
That was the case with a 13-year-old, Haitian-American girl in Brooklyn.
BuzzFeed detailed the story and interviewed the girl who they identified as G. (She was identified only by her middle initial to protect her privacy.)
Last year, during her spring break, G.’s mother and friends noticed that she had stopped eating and sleeping. She was having panic attacks and complaining of excruciating pain. When they asked her what was wrong, she refused to say. Later, that same month, April, a video surfaced that would explain everything.
A boy in G.’s eighth grade class at Spring Creek Community School, a middle school, filmed himself penetrating G.’s mouth and anus. G. claimed that she was raped, while the boy said he sex was consensual. The video was shared throughout Brooklyn.
G. said, “It was the most awful thing. It was bad enough that everyone knew what happened. But knowing that they had seen the video was that much worse.”
Her classmates didn’t just watch the video, they taunted G. with their opinions about it. “They said I allowed it to happen to me. But I had no ideas what I was supposed to do.”
When G. reported her rape to the Spring Creek’s principal, things went from bad to worse. While Title IX regulations require that schools that receive federal funding have to thoroughly investigate claims of sexual harassment and assault; and that students can’t be denied education based on their gender, that’s exactly what happened to G.
According to a complaint filed by G.’s attorney in November, the first administrator she told did not report the incident. Another one asked her why she hadn’t fought the boy off. Finally, the principal sent G. home indefinitely while the school tried to handle the situation.
While G. was missing school, no one ever referred her to counseling or legal services. In fact, they didn’t even send her homework home. After four days, the principal told G.’s mother that she had arranged a “safety transfer” to another school. She also said there was nothing more Spring Creek could do.
In reality, the principal didn’t even do what she said she would. There was no safety transfer put in place. G.’s mother had to take matters into her own hands. After about a month, with the help of sexual consent litigation attorney Carrie Goldberg, G. was transferred to another school.
The Title IX complaint is currently being investigated by the federal government’s Office for Civil Rights.
During her interview with BuzzFeed, G. said she can’t understand why she was being punished for telling the truth.
“Everyone was blaming things on me. It was so much pressure. I couldn’t take it. At times I felt like giving up on my life.”
G. said that before she was raped, she’d never had sex. She’d never even had a comprehensive sex education class and she wasn’t comfortable talking to her mother about sex, which is why she waited so long to tell her.
But her mother sensed that something was not right.
“I knew something was wrong with my daughter. I could feel her pain in my body. I hurt too.”
According to her Title IX complaint, G. said that the incident took place near campus while she was waiting for the school bus. The complaint also describes how the boy videotaped himself penetrating her before sharing the video online.
The principal’s decision to send G. home was so that her presence wouldn’t “make things worse.”
When police and administrators looked at the video they concluded that it was consensual sex and then dropped the investigation.
The police convinced G.’s mother not to press charges and then asked G. why she didn’t fight him off of her.
According to BuzzFeed, the school was more interested in accusing G. of dishonesty. The complaint alleges that even if the sex were consensual the fact that it was recorded and circulated, it’s still a crime, child pornography to be specific.
While there is a lawsuit in motion, G. is happy at her new school but she still doesn’t feel comfortable around boys. She says she still has flashbacks of what happened to her last April and worries that everyone believes it was her fault.
She said, “Things have gotten better but what happened is still such an impact on my life. Sometimes I still feel like giving up.”
You can read the full story here.
Rape is so much more than just a violation of your physical body. It’s the toil it takes on your psychological and emotional well-being, your sense of self-worth that can be the hardest to heal. Survivors will reach that healing in a variety of ways. Some people talk to confidants, some seek therapy. And many others seek to regain the agency that was taken from them on the night of their assault. The creatives out there know that often, the best way to express yourself is through art. Nearly two years ago, we told you about Emma Sulkowicz, the Columbia student who resolved that she was going to carry a mattress around with her on campus as long as she and her rapist attended the same school.
And while we would like for Sulkowicz’s story to be an anomaly, young women are often raped and violated on college campuses throughout the country. Sadly, that was Karmenife Paulino’s story too. According to Mic.com, just before her 18th birthday Paulino ran away from an abusive household. She thought she’d found refuge on the Wesleyan campus. But after being there for just two months, she was raped in the basement of a fraternity party.
Paulino thought she would find a haven in Wesleyan, instead she found herself crying in class. making efforts to avoid her rapist, studying the university’s sexual misconduct policies and filing reports and attending hearings.
Eventually, during her junior year, the man was expelled.
Recently, Paulino, now 22, a graduate of Wesleyan, returned to Wesleyan to assert her sexual agency and power in a photoshoot called Reclamation. In it, Paulino poses as a dominatrix in front of the very fraternity house where she was raped with men wearing chains, gags in their mouths, donning shirts that read “Frat Filth.” (In an effort to maintain an environment of consent, the male models had safe words and hand signals if they wanted to let Paulino they were uncomfortable with something she asked them to do.)
Paulino said the dominatrix outfit is particularly special to her.
“I’ve worn that outfit before many times. It’s what I feel the most powerful and the most vulnerable in and I wanted to wear it because women who are sexually confident are always demonized in these spaces and in society in general.”
But the photoshoot also contains a bit of levity.
“There’s something really powerful and beautiful about dominatrixes and just to be in front of these frat houses and to have these models kissing my feet and worshiping me — there’s an element of humor to it.”
Then on a more serious note, Paulino said she’s tired of Black respectability politics and people of color’s bodies being viewed as vulgar and ‘too much.’
Respectability politics played a huge role in her fight for justice as Paulino had to overcome the initial feelings of turning in her rapist, a Black man.
“When we speak we have to represent the entire community, which is horrible,” Paulino said. “Because my rapist was black it was really difficult for me to call my rapist a rapist. I felt like I had let my community down and like I was enforcing stereotypes.”
In addition to fighting for her own case and the photoshoot, during her last semester at Wesleyan, Paulino started a Survivor Support Network to help sexual assault survivors like herself. She said the campus was largely lacking in those type of resources. She called for more “safe spaces” on campus.
“Spaces are everything, especially on college campuses,” responded Paulino. “We’re not asking to be ‘coddled’ — we’re asking to be safe.”
Since leaving Wesleyan, Paulino has relocated to New York City, where she hopes to work with survivors of color.
“I needed to take these spaces that had so much power over me, over my community, over everything, and then have that power completely switched and have it rest on my shoulders.”
You can check out all the photos from Paulino’s shoot, here.
After This Woman Was Killed For Rejecting A Man’s Advances, Is Street Harassment Officially Out Of Control?
Heard of “Las Hijas de Violencia”?
I hadn’t heard of “the daughters of violence” until I ran across a story from Al Jazeera Plus about the group. They reside in Mexico City, a place that the Huffington Post reports was No. 1 for sexual violence against women in 2010. Things have gotten so bad that there are even women-only modes of transportation to combat the reports of groping going on during rides in Mexico City.
The “Hijas” face the men they see harassing women on the street and hit them with another form of harassment. That includes shooting confetti guns in the face of the men and blasting a song called “Sexista Punk” that they take a microphone and sing along to in front of everyone.
The point of all this? To get disrespectful men to stop it and women to speak up and make their voices heard when they have to deal with, well, a “sexista punk.”
I enjoyed watching the men be mortified by the spectacle being made of them. As one “Hija” screamed in a mic, “You talk to me as if you were going to rape me,” I could only cheer them on as the men tried to run away. But once it was over, reality hit: I could never do some sh-t like that here. I don’t think I’m brave enough at this point.
Not when women are being yelled at for not accepting compliments from hostile men.
Not when women are followed and asked “Did you hear me?” when they fail to respond to compliments about their legs.
And not when women like Janese Talton Jackson are being shot and killed by men just for opting against giving them the time of day.
I was talking to a friend about the video and why such instances like Jackson’s, where a man approached her multiple times outside of a bar making sexual advances, only to shoot her in the chest when she didn’t comply, have left us in a place where we don’t know how to deal with street harassment.
So we just smile and take it.
“This dude was hella suspicious talking to me on the train platform,” she said to me. “But I was like, in an effort not to get slashed or killed, I’m going to smile ’til my mouth gets tired.”
I relayed my own encounters with men with her. Times where I would try and find the most prim, proper, and polite way to say, “Get the f–k away from me” and still stay safe.
“Girl, I’ve been like that since I moved here,” I said. “If I were driving it would be one thing, but as someone always walking and vulnerable, I’m out here like, ‘No thank you, but I appreciate the compliment, good sir.'”
All that fluff because simply ignoring people doesn’t seem to be the safest option anymore.
Have you ever truly feared for your safety or your life in general when dealing with street harassment? I have. Twice. Once on the street after being followed and turning around to scream at the guy over it. The second time wasn’t on the street, though.
On my way to see my then-boyfriend about two summers ago, I had on a blue dress with a little cleavage out and some sandals on. Clearly, this was summertime in the city.
I was minding my business and just needed to go three stops on the train. But during that time, a young guy and his three friends approached me as I sat in the corner of a sparse train car. I can’t really remember too much of what he had to say, aside from him making mention of my toes and my beauty. My focus was more so on his friends standing and sitting around me, staring at me as the guy tried to kick game. I didn’t know if I was going to get pulled off the train or groped, so I just tried to stay calm and pleasant, waiting for either my stop or someone to enter the car and rescue me.
He asked me if I had a boyfriend and when I said yes, he didn’t believe me. Hoping to set myself free, I said, “I’m actually on my way to see him right now!” as if to ask, “Would you like to try me and catch an a– whoopin’?”
Thankfully, as I approached my stop, the guy allowed me to pass. It was one of the most uncomfortable experiences I had during my early years here in the city. It was also yet another example of how people think they’re being cute, funny and harmless when they’re with their boys, but actually making the woman they set their sights on feel not only uncomfortable, but at times, frightened.
So confetti guns are cute, but that’s about it. And with some men, that could backfire and turn into a story on the 10 o’ clock news ’round these parts. But I will say Las Hijas de Violencia have the right idea about trying to take back our power and speak up. Still, when such tactics are ending more and more dangerously, it sometimes feels impossible to do anything other than put your head down and walk faster.
“Every Time I See The Police, I Don’t Even Know What To Do”: Daniel Holtzclaw’s Victims Speak Out After 263 Year Sentencing
Just six weeks after being convicted of four counts of first-degree rape and other heinous offenses (forcible oral sodomy, sexual battery, procuring lewd exhibition and second-degree rape) while on duty, ex-Oklahoma City police officer Daniel Holtzclaw has been sentenced to 263 years in prison, CNN reports.
The staggering yet well deserved sentence resulting from the 18 of 36 counts he had been facing was announced on Thursday (Jan. 21), with the jury expressing that it would be best if Holtzclaw served his terms consecutively, essentially meaning he’d never be free again. And according to the Associated Press, District Judge Timothy Henderson fully agreed.
However, now that Holtzclaw has been sentenced and will spend his entire life behind bars, the many black women he attacked and preyed are still suffering from the traumatizing and horrific experience.
“Every time I see the police, I don’t even know what to do,” one of the teenagers who was raped by the officer on the front porch of her mother’s home told the AP. “I don’t ever go outside, and when I do I’m terrified.”
Another victim also spoke out after Holtzclaw’s sentencing, opting to reveal her identity. “The stress of the case and fear of being sexually assaulted again has caused an increase in my blood pressure,” said Jannie Ligons, a grandmother of 12, who was pulled over by Holtzclaw for swerving, “which was untrue,” and then made to perform oral sex. “I so desperately want my life back.”
Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater also shared his thoughts on Holtzclaw, expressing that he wasn’t a law officer who committed crimes, but instead “a rapist who masqueraded as a law enforcement officer.”
Victim Blaming From The Victim: R Kelly Waited Decades To Discuss His Sexual Assault But Finds Cosby Accusers’ Silence Strange
I’ve never denied R Kelly’s musical genius. Though I can no longer listen to his music in peace, I can’t deny the fact that the man had jams, many of which characterized my childhood and adolescence. But as the saying goes, or as my father would like to say, “Genius ain’t free.”
It often comes with quirks, eccentricities and in the case of R Kelly, [alleged] perverse sexual desires. In his recent, three day interview with GQ‘s Chris Heath, titled “The Confessions of R Kelly,” we see both sides. We learned of the boy who looked at the Sears (now Willis) Tower and vowed to become great and formidable like the structure itself. The child turned man who couldn’t and still struggles to read, spell and solve math problems. And a man who, despite these deficiencies, is quite clever with analogies.
In describing his own mind, R Kelly said:
“If you look around, you see cars rolling down the street all the time, but if you ever see a floating car, you gonna be like, ‘Whoa! Whoa! Wait a minute, what is that? I’ve never seen that before.’ You can’t figure it out because you don’t know who built it, you don’t know who created it, you don’t know who came up with the concept, you don’t know the blueprint of it, you don’t even know how it works, but you love it because it looks so sweet, floating down the street. And that one car, if it has any type of feeling in it, is gonna feel alone, because it’s not understood.”
It makes sense. He is different.
And for all of his strengths, including his musical giftedness, unique mind and ability to overcome growing up without a father, illiteracy, being repeatedly molested; the interview also showed Kelly’s often warped, disturbing, cringe-worthy thought processes. There are moments when he seems to speak about the affection and connection to his family members in strange terms. Like being “in love” with his grandfather and “in a son/mother way having a serious, serious crush” on his mom.
There was his discussion of his relationship with Aaliyah (the very little he would say about it) where he, a 27-year-old, when they met, talked about being her “best, best, best, best friend.”
Most notably, he went into detail about the sexual abuse he experienced at the hands of an older female relative from the time he was 7-8 until he was 14 or 15. Until his 2012 autobiography Soulacoaster, Kelly had never told anyone about it. Not his wife, not his mother. No one. He told Heath it started as oral sex and then became forced intercourse. When he tried to confront this woman, as an adult, eight or nine years ago, he said she:
“Didn’t want to talk about it. Didn’t own up to it. Told me, ‘Sometime when you’re kids, you think you’ve been through something, or did something, that you didn’t do, probably was a dream.’ Things like that. But it was definitely not a dream.”
And then interestingly enough he talked about forgiving this woman for perpetuating what he considers a generational curse.
“I, well, definitely forgive them. As I’m older, I look at it and I know that it had to be not just about me and them, but them and somebody older than them when they were younger, and whatever happened to them when they were younger. I looked at it as if there was a sort of like, I don’t know, a generational curse, so to speak, going down through the family. Not just started with her doing that to me.”
It’s a curse Kelly says he has broken. Then the interviewer and author asked Kelly if he wished that this woman were held accountable for her actions.
“Back then, too young to judge. As I’m older, I’ve only learned to forgive it. Was it wrong? Absolutely. But it’s a family member that I love so I would definitely say no to that one. To be honest, even if my mom, I saw her kill somebody, I’m not gonna say, ‘Well, yeah, she definitely should go to jail.’ It’s just something I wouldn’t do.”
Let’s put a pin there and we’ll return to it in a minute.
When talking about fatherhood, R Kelly likened himself to the Bill Cosby. The Bill Cosby we once knew as father figure Heathcliff Huxtable from the show. Naturally, choosing to evoke that name, Heath had to ask Kelly what he thought about the allegations lodged against him.
His answer was very interesting.
“I can say is that it was a long time ago. And when I look on TV and I see the 70-, 80-, 90-year-old ladies talking about what happened when they were 17, 18, or 19, there’s something strange about it. That’s my opinion. It’s just strange.
“[interrupts] It’s strange. Strange is strange. I can’t explain strange. That’s why strange is strange. Because it’s something we can’t explain.”
But don’t you think that if they’re telling the truth, it doesn’t matter how long ago it was?
“If God showed me that they were telling the truth, I would say that’s wrong. I don’t care if it was a zillion years ago. But God would have to do that, because God is the only one can show me that. No man can tell me that. No woman can tell me that. And when you wait 70 years, 50 years, 40 years, to say something that simple, it’s strange. You know why I say that is because it happened to me, and it wasn’t true.”
R Kelly is not the only Black person to proclaim Bill Cosby’s innocence. He’s not the only man or woman to question why the women waited so long to report the incidents of sexual assault. He’s not the only famous person to question whether or not these women are after fame or notoriety.
But being that R Kelly is a survivor of childhood rape who waited decades, 38 years to be precise, to talk about the experience, it is incredibly hypocritical for him to question these women for coming forward years after their alleged assaults with Cosby. The same shame, guilt, confusion he felt as a child might have been the same feelings these 50 + women dealt with as well. Not to mention Kelly’s relative was not famous and powerful like Bill Cosby was. Clearly, he’s viewing the situation from the lens of a famous Black man, accused, time and time and time again, of his own sexual deviance.
Which brings me back to the comments he made about his relative. R Kelly talks about eventually coming into the knowledge that what happened to him was wrong. But he doesn’t believe his relative should have been held accountable for her actions because he loved her.
Listen, I’m all for love; really I am. But love doesn’t excuse wrongdoing. It seeks to correct it and make the loved one better. And if you want to talk about breaking generational curses, his relative being punished for sexually abusing him would have gone a long way in accomplishing that both psychologically and symbolically. Children and adults need to see that their bodies and their feelings are so valuable, that there is punishment associated with the violation of them. You don’t cease to love someone because they’ve been punished for inflicting bodily, emotional and psychological harm on someone else. You hope it makes the better and prevents them and even the victim from perpetuating that evil onto someone else. Maybe if R Kelly had seen those type of consequences, it a might have helped to hold him accountable for his own predatory relationships with young girls.
Perhaps R Kelly feels like he’s broken the curse because his victims, for all we know, are not family members. But romantic and sexual relationships with girls, children, is not breaking the curse. It’s continuing it on a grander scale, with the money and access to not only feed his proclivities but cover them up and evade punishment as well.
I could be completely off base; but the same forgiveness R Kelly is issuing to his relative might be the same leniency he’s extending to himself. In one part of his mind, he realizes his behavior is not right. But in another, he excuses it by saying it happened to him. And since he’s loved and adored by fans and was exonerated by the justice system, he feels he should be excused.
But it’s just not true.
What R Kelly needs is to be honest about his past, his patterns, (a couple of other things like his mother’s death) and seek to really break the curse through acknowledgement, therapy and then reform.
If you haven’t already, carve out some time to read the entire interview. It’s very well-written, well constructed and very telling.
Four of the five teenagers arrested on the charge of raping an 18-year-old young woman in Brooklyn’s Osborn park have all been released.
The District Attorney’s office could not meet its deadline to secure indictments against the teenagers charged in the gang rape.
Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson told the New York Daily News he agreed to their release saying “Because we are determined to get to the truth about what happened in that park, we need more time to investigate this complex case and gather more evidence. Therefore, we consented to the defendants’ release.”
They were all released without bail. The one suspect, whose family paid bail already, will have their money refunded.
The fifth suspect, the 15-year-old will remain in custody for a prior arrest in October for assault and fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon. Authorities claim he did not abide by the conditions of his agreement to attend an alternative incarceration program for young offenders.
According to the Daily News, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, detectives are reviewing a 10-second cellphone video, taken by one of the accused teenagers, that shows the victim smiling. Reportedly she is not wearing pants in the footage.
The Daily News also reports that neither the father or daughter could make pick out any of the five teenagers from multiple lineups.
Earlier, we reported that two of the five suspects, when arrested, said that the father was having sex with his daughter in the park when they approached the two of them. He denies the accusation. When the Daily News asked him his thoughts about the suspects being released from custody, he said “I have nothing to say.”
He maintains his story about what happened that night, telling ABC 7,
“One of them put a gun in a my face, telling me to run. And all of them had their way with her.”
The results from the rape kit have not been made available yet. But investigators did say that the victim showed bruising and scars consistent with someone who had been attacked.
In an interview with ABC 7, the young lady said that she did not know the teenagers who allegedly raped her.
When asked how she felt when her father left her in the park, she said:
“I was just real scared. I didn’t know what to do and I was in panic mode.”
You can check out the ABC News story, including the brief interview with the father and daughter, whose faces are not shown, in the video below.
If you thought the story of the gang rape of an 18-year-old woman in Osborn park was disturbing. The latest developments surrounding the case take the story from bad to worse.
As at least a few of you suggested, there seemed to be some details missing from the story. And testimony from the five teenagers who raped the young woman, neighbors and the authorities, might be filling in some of those holes.
Police sources told four separate newspapers that two of the teenage boys charged in the rape alleged that the victim was having sex with her father in the park when they arrived.
As we reported earlier, four of the suspects had been apprehended. Two were turned in by their mothers, after the surveillance video from a deli was released, two were found by the police and the fifth, a 17-year-old, was arrested while at school.
Officials told the Post, the New York Daily News, the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, that in separate interviews two of the suspects said when the saw the father, 39, and his daughter they were having sex on the playground.
One of the suspected attackers said, “Can we have some of that?” to the father. Another source told the Wall Street Journal, one of the boys said, “We’ll take it from here.” The two suspects said that the sex between the father and daughter appeared to be consensual.
The victim told authorities that she was drinking a beer with her father in the park when the five boys approached them. There is a discrepancy about whether or not the victim corroborated her father’s story about one of the boys carrying a gun. One report says she does. And another says she doesn’t. She does consistently say that they forced her father to leave before sexually assaulting her. She said she was raped by at least one of the teenagers, forced to perform oral sex on two and all five touched her breasts.
An attorney for the 17-year-old alleged attacker, Spencer Leeds, said that Mayor de Blasio’s remarks forced authorities to bring charges against the boys without properly vetting the case.
“Apparently it was the mayor who kind of forced the police’s hands, putting it out there that the community was at risk when they’re not at risk.”
Attorneys asked that the victim’s father also provide a DNA sample.
According to officials, the father hasn’t had custody of his daughter, the victim, since she was two-years-old. She was adopted and grew up outside of the city. The two recently reconnected and the young woman came to live with her father and another woman over the summer.
The father testified that after he left the park to go seek help, he returned two minutes later throwing a bottle at the group. They chased him off. When he returned 12 minutes later, with police officers, the teens were gone and his daughter was there half-clothed.
Earlier, the father noted that when he ran to a Bodega to call the police he was turned away by the workers. They said that they refused to let him make the call because he was so intoxicated they couldn’t understand what he was saying and he never mentioned that he wanted to call the police.
Neighbors told The New York Times that the man is a known alcoholic who often leaves his younger children unsupervised and would knock on doors to beg for spare change and cigarettes.
While one of the suspects claimed that he had consensual sex with the victim, authorities say she had cuts, bruises and abrasions consistent with being physically attacked. They also stated that it could take 7-10 days before the results of the rape kit will be known.
The teenagers are facing charges of rape in the first degree, criminal sexual act and sexual abuse. According to The New York Times, the two 17-year-olds will be charged as adults because by New York law, people 16 and older have their cases tried in adult criminal court. Prosecutors will determine whether the cases for the younger suspects, (all under 16) will be tried in Family or Criminal Court.