All Articles Tagged "sexual assault"
“You Got The Right One, Honey” Woman Confronts Man Masturbating On Train, Mom Turns Him In To Police
You live In New York City long enough, you’re bound to stumble upon some behavior that will make your stomach turn. And most the time, it’s not even done in a clandestine manner. Most of the egregious things you see, happen on public transportation, the subway to be exact. That was the case recently when a woman noticed a man masturbating while seated on the train.
Most women, confronted by such a disturbing scene, turn their heads, move train cars or try to avoid eye contact. But not Deanna Carter. When she say a man, later identified as 23-year-old Kevin Cuffe, masturbating, she did not cower.
Instead, she asked questions.
“What are you doing? You over here rubbing your d*ck?! What the f*ck are you doing? Get f*cked up on this train. You want to do that freaky sh*t, do that sh*t off the motherf*cking train. Do it again and I’m getting up out this chair and Ima bust your *ss on this train. Do we understand each other?”
Carter told Cuffe that on this particular day she was in one of those moods. And afterward, she told Cuffe that at the next stop, he needed to exit the train.
“I don’t give a f*ck if this ain’t your stop. You get off this train with that freaky sh*t. Get up! With your f*cking crazy ass. Get the f*ck off this train. Sitting here rubbing on your penis, are you serious.”
Then she told Cuffe and the entire car that she was the one they’d been waiting for.
“You got the right one honey, because I’m a crazy b*tch. Please believe me.”
Even though Cuffe must have been some kind of off to masturbate on the subway, he knew better than to stay there and test Carter. He did exactly as she said, grabbed his book bag and got off at the next stop.
And while the story ended happily enough with this video, there was more. Apparently, three days after the video went viral, Cuffe’s mother turned him in to the NYPD. He was charged with two counts of public lewdness and later released. Sadly, this is not the first time Cuffe has been caught, on tape, behaving like this. The same thing happened back in December, with using a bag to cover his penis as he touched himself. He is due to appear in court next month. The NYPD says he has a criminal record but it’s been sealed.
Fox Searchlight seems to be a little shaken up. After their $17.5 million investment into Nate Parker’s film The Birth of a Nation, it seems that they could possibly lose some money if audiences are unwilling or unable to forgive him for his past “indiscretions,” to put it lightly.
In case you’ve missed it, 17 years ago, Nate Parker and Jean Celestin (the man who co-wrote The Birth of a Nation with him) were accused of rape. Celestin was actually convicted but the case was thrown out when the victim refused to testify a second time. But Parker was acquitted because he and the young lady had had consensual sex before. If you read the transcripts from a conversation with the alleged victim and Parker, it doesn’t paint a pretty picture. And the testimony of another man who was there at the time of the incident paints an even worse one. Not only were they accused of rape, afterward they spent weeks antagonizing their accuser, following her after classes, to her dorm room, revealing her identity to fellow students.
Then in 2012, after a couple of suicide attempts around the time of the incident, the woman finally succeeded in taking her own life.
These days, though Celestin is credited as a co-writer for the film, Parker has chosen to distance himself from him. Even though according to testimony, it was Parker who summoned Celestin into the room, with the alleged victim back in 1999. And Parker has said that Celestin was the first person he ever told about his Birth of a Nation idea.
Today, he says: “I wrote the screenplay by myself,” Parker said, adding that no one helped him on the first of 40 drafts he’s worked on since 2007. When pressed about Celestin’s contributions, Parker said obliquely: “I just did a lot of research. I hired a lot of people. I had researchers. I had all kinds of people. I just wanted people to feel whole.”
The emergence of all these details had many wondering whether or not they should still support the film. I’ve said that I could not. And there are others, perhaps most notably, writer Roxane Gay, for The New York Times.
In a recent article for Variety, sources close to Parker reveal that he is a bit surprised by the reaction.
Likely because the facts of his rape case have never been hidden. It’s been featured on his wikipedia page for years now. According to Variety, a source who has been in close communication with Parker says that “he’s in a low place…He vacillates between thinking the case is resurfacing now after 17 years because of a Hollywood conspiracy against him or just bad luck. He’s disappointed over the backlash on social media and that the African American online community hasn’t been more supportive. And he’s even mad at himself, for underestimating the public’s interest in a court case that happened so long ago.”
Well, I won’t speak for the whole African American community, but I’m disappointed in Nate Parker. I would have loved to see The Birth of a Nation. But it’s his actions that, albeit a while ago, that are distracting people from what I’m sure was a beautifully made, game-changing film. And while we’ve all made mistakes we wouldn’t want drudged up and made public, I’m willing to bet that most of our mistakes didn’t forever alter the course of someone’s life. As I’ve said before, it would have been convenient if this rape scandal presented itself at the beginning of Nate’s career, so he could have moved past it by now. But that’s not how karma works. It comes when it’s ready. And it’s something like poetic justice that Parker finds himself disappointed and low, probably in the same ways the young lady did when he and Celestin were taunting and harassing her after she reported the alleged rape.
As much dissent as I, and a few other vocal people online, have expressed. I doubt that the film, if it is released as planned, will suffer. Instead, I’m sure that there are plenty of Black folk, mostly men, who believe, like Parker, that this is some type of twisted conspiracy to keep the Black man down. Even after the White man put $17.5 million into the project. I’m sure there are those who are able to separate the art from the artist.
We’ve all done it at one time or another. Woody Allen is nominated for an Oscar every other year, even though he married his ex wife’s adopted daughter. Marv Albert sodomized someone and NBC makes sure that he eats very well. R Kelly’s track record with little girls is disgusting but he’s still touring, selling out venues. Bill Cosby still, after 50 + rape accusations, has people who swear he’s Heathcliff. And even me. I love me some Al Green and James Brown, though they were both notorious for abusing their wives and girlfriends. Even my beloved Prince, God rest his soul, had a questionable relationship with Mayte, most likely before she was of legal age. There is a lot the public is willing to forgive, especially if there is art or entertainment value attached to the person. Who knows where their heads will be in a few months, when it’s time for the movie to come out. Maybe then, we’ll all have forgotten, rationalized, dismissed, or completely ignored our disappointment for Nate Parker’s actions 17 years ago. I wouldn’t be surprised if Nate Parker is a little less disappointed in the Black community come October.
Veronica Wells is the culture editor at MadameNoire. She is also the author of “Bettah Days.”
Late last year, we reported that Nicki Minaj’s brother Jelani Maraj, was charged with raping a child.
Today, new information was released that doesn’t seem to be working in his favor at all.
According to an exclusive on our sister-site Bossip, prosecutors revealed that Maraj’s DNA matches the semen found on the 12-year-old accuser’s clothes.
The Nassau County District Attorney’s Office said that Maraj’s DNA profile was more than a billion to one match of the semen on the victim’s pants.
“…A DNA profile, a partial profile matching the defendant or consistent with the defendant, your honor, to the point in the hundreds of billionths of chance of it being any other individual, was discovered in the…pants of the complainant in this case, and also tested positive indicating the presence of semen,” Anthony Pirri, the assistant district attorney told the judge at a hearing July 26 in Nassau County Supreme Court’s sex crimes division.”
The victim told police that Maraj raped and sodomized her from April 1 to November 30, 2015. He was arrested the day after the alleged rape.
A grand jury later indicted Maraj on felony child rape charges, including predatory sexual assault against a child and first degree sexual conduct against a child.
Prosecutors offered him a deal of 15 years-to life, the case is still set for trial in November.
Before Maraj, who has worked for his sister, was indicted, the District Attorney’s Office offered him seven years in prison in exchange for a guilty plea to the sexual conduct against a child in the first degree change. But Maraj rejected the offer.
During the hearing, Maraj did not testify. He only spoke to confirm his name and that he understood that the next hearing would be in August.
He still pleaded not guilty and is out on bail.
I don’t care how much money he or his sister has, a child molester should not be free to roam the streets. Period.
According to ATTN, a new study found that bisexual women are more vulnerable to campus sexual assault than other groups.
The study, which was published in the journal Violence and Gender points out that approximately two in five bisexual women reported that they experienced sexual assault in college while one in four heterosexual women reported that they were sexually assaulted in college.
“Sexual assault is a very underreported crime for a wide range of reasons, and it is underreported when it occurs on college and university campuses as well,” forensic behavioral specialist and Violence and Gender EIC, Dr. Mary Ellen O’Toole, explained in a statement. “To really understand the breadth and depth of this problem, it is critical to understand the victimology of sexual assault, and that it includes all students, not just heterosexual females.”
Kate Estrop, co-founder of the Bisexual Resource Center, told Refinery 29 that bisexual women are often viewed as promiscuous or “easy,” which only adds to the problem and also increases the likelihood of victim blaming in the wake of an assault.
“Bi folks are seen as greedy, sex-driven, unable to form committed relationships, and prone at any moment to change their minds about their attractions,” she explained. “[A survivor’s] bisexuality is just another reason [people think] she should be blamed and offenders should be pitied as not being able to help themselves,” Estrop noted.
Just when you thought it was safe to drink in public, research tells us that people are still out here looking for ways to spike your drink.
According to a study from the journal Psychology of Violence, out of 6,000 students surveyed from multiple colleges in the United States, 462 of those students (1 in 13) said they found themselves in situations where their drinks were spiked. That eight percent of young people said they’d dealt with roofies, Xanax, and a lot more alarming drugs being slipped into their beverages. And while those behind the study don’t actually have proof that these individuals were drugged (as in affirmation of such an incident by a doctor), for so many to say they’ve had their drinks tampered with is scary.
But to make matters all the more frightening, 83 people in the study actually said that they did spike a person’s drink. The most popular reason cited for men to mess with people’s drink was because it’s “fun,” while women stated that the most common reason they thought people did it for was sex or sexual assault. A few others said they “didn’t know” why exactly they did it, and it was also mentioned that trying to get “more drunk or high” and to get someone to “relax” was common.
For women, the effects of being drugged were often quite negative, including being sexually assaulted, blacking out or just getting sick. But a small number of men actually claimed they “enjoyed” being drugged.
Suffice it to say, quite a few people clearly don’t see how serious using and forcing other people to use these drugs really is. It’s all “fun” and games to drop stuff in people’s drinks–until the police are called.
“If You’re Willing To Put Out, We Would Be Willing To Put Up The Money” New Doc Explores Sexual Harassment
As women, the issue of sexual harassment comes up quite often, in our lives, and as an editor for a women’s site, in our work as well. And being that this month is National Sexual Assault Awareness Month, it only makes sense that we highlight and feature the work of other women who are fighting the same fight. Angela Hutchinson is one of those women. The write, producer and director produced a documentary titled “H.U.S.H. (Hollywood’s Uncovered Sexual Harassment).” The confessional style film seeks not only to highlight a very real issue within the industry but also to show the resilience of women.
See what Hutchinson had to say about the film below.
How did the idea for the documentary come about and why did you feel you needed to raise awareness for this issue?
About a year and a half ago when I kind of first got wind of the Bill Cosby issue. A couple friends and I were talking about it and it was kind of interesting because half of us, at the time, didn’t necessarily really believe all the women. Then, there was another group of us that thought, ‘Well, you kind of know what you’re getting into in this business. If you go take a meeting with someone who’s married at their hotel, what are you really saying?’
And then I thought it would be an interesting topic to explore because Bill Cosby is not the first and certainly won’t be the last instance of men, powerful and even not so powerful men, in the business, victimizing women, unfortunately. There’s so much of it and I’ve experienced a lot of it myself.
So, I thought it would great to bring light to this issue. Not to get into male bashing but really more so to help other women who are coming into the business. A lot of the situations I think my colleagues have experienced, they would have handled them differently, if they were not blindsided by the industry itself, like understanding this is a part of it and this is how you deal with it.
Did you and your friends’ opinions change about Bill Cosby and when did that happen?
I think it was as more and more women started to speak out. At first it was like, you’re innocent until proven guilty. It’s supposed to be you’re innocent until proven guilty. But it just became such an extreme amount of women coming forward. That’s similar to situations that we’ve experienced. I might say something about a producer and they’re like, ‘Wait a minute, what’s that guy’s name?’ And I’m like, ‘Oh, it’s so-and-so.’ And they’re like, ‘Oh my gosh, the same thing happened to me.’
A lot of times women aren’t going around saying ’It happened to me, it happened to me.’ But once someone does speak up about it, the situations are so similar. Because people have an m.o. They have certain characteristics in how they approach women.
So, over a period of time, at least for myself, I definitely grew to have a different point of view about the women as opposed to just thinking ‘Oh well,’ you know what to expect.’
Tell me about your own experiences with sexual harassment in the industry?
One of the first ones that I experienced, which I talk about in the documentary H.U.S.H. I had scheduled a meeting with a big time production company executive. And I was so excited to have the meeting. We were going to talk about my script. The meeting was supposed to be an hour. We ended up there being there an hour and a half. And I kept trying to bring up, the script but he would keep going back to ‘Am I dating?’ trying to give me advice about the business. He always kept circling it back to my personal life. I would try and reel it back in and he was like, ‘We definitely would be willing to buy it. If you’re willing to put out, we would be willing to put up the money for it.’
I just looked at him and thought, he’s joking to see how I’m going to react. I just kind of laughed it off. But he was straight-faced, he was not laughing, it was not a joke. And I was like, ‘Oh, well the only thing I’m selling here is my script.’ And he said, ‘That’s what they all said.’ I’m like, ‘Ok, well this one really means it. So, thank you for your time.’
Then I just left the meeting. He continued to send me e-mails with all these sexual innuendos and he was doing it from company e-mail. It was ridiculous. But he was so bold to do that, which made me know, this is not the first time he’s done this. At one point, he said to me, ‘The script is on my couch if you want to join me.’
Finally, he stopped. That was when I first moved to Los Angeles, that was 10 years ago and that was a wake up call for me. Because I was exposed so early that every situation, thereafter, I’ve been a little more guarded and went into things different than I would have been normally.
Recently, I was trying to find a distributor [for one of my scripts.] and I met a guy, who’s a producer. He’s done ten movies, very legitimate guy, I know his life as a colleague. And he said, ‘This is a man’s business. I can help you sell this better than you can.’ And he said, ‘I need the dvd’ I said, I’ll get it to you on Monday. He said, ‘No, I’m going out of town you have to drop it off tonight.’ It was really late already.
Because so much had happened, I had a girlfriend run with me to downtown Los Angeles. And she’s like, ‘’It’s 11’o clock at night!’ I said, ‘I know but this dude wants me to drop off this DVD.’ And we get down there and I said [ to his concierge] ‘I want to leave this for so-and-so.’ And he said, ‘ He specifically told me that I can’t accept anything from you. You have to take it up.’ So I’m thinking this dude he’s really got some balls. So I told my friend, ‘If I’m not back in 5 minutes, call the police.’ She was like, ‘What?! That seems so dramatic.’ I said, ‘I know it seems dramatic but trust me.’ So I went upstairs and put the DVD on the bottom of the door and just knocked on his door and then just walked off. And by the time I got almost to the end of the hallway, he had opened the door and said, ‘Hey Angela, come back. Come back.’ He was literally dripping wet. He had a towel on, just on his lower. And he’s like, ‘My wife is gone. Why don’t you come in and have a drink.’
And I’m like, ’No I’ve got to run. My girlfriend’s downstairs. She’s in the car waiting for me. I gotta go.’ And he was like, ‘Alright, ok, it’s like that?’
And I said, ‘It’s not like anything.’
He was a very legitimate guy and actually did watch the movie. He said, ‘It was a great movie, I’m going to try to hook you up.’ And it got some offers in. I ended up passing on them; but still, he did what he said he was going to do. And I think that’s why it gets difficult. You know, we always hear the examples about the crazy people trying to get stuff from you and can’t do anything for you. But then there are some situations where the person can actually help your career, or elevate you in some way, whether it’s financial or opportunity and so it becomes a challenge.
When something happens to a woman, the tradition is to blame the her instead of attempting to correct the man. Does the documentary address that?
The documentary is a confessional style so it doesn’t speak on it head on. But I think indirectly it does. One of the women, who is a model, experiences that. So she speaks on that. When she says no to a man, he said ‘Well, why are you a swimsuit model?’ And she’s like, ‘What do you mean, why am I a swimsuit model?’ What does that have to do with me not wanting to have sex with you?’ So we definitely address that issue indirectly in the documentary.
Tell me about the process of putting this documentary together.
Start to finish, this was the first project I was able to complete from concept to it airing on a network, within a year. The process went very quickly. The hardest part was finding women who were comfortable doing it and being on camera to talk about it. Because when we first announced that we were doing it, I had 200 e-mails from all over, New York, Chicago and back. But a lot of the women weren’t comfortable talking on camera, they just wanted to tell me their stories. They’re just like, ‘I’m glad you’re doing this because this happened to me.’ But they said, ‘I don’t want to go on camera, I don’t want to talk about it. I want to work again.’ And I understand that, so I think it took a lot of courage for the women who did want to do it.
Shooting it was a lot of fun. A majority of our crew was male…when I would be like ‘Cut.’ It was silent. The men were just so stunned by what they had heard. They were so apologetic on behalf of men.
What do you believe men can do to support women as it relates to sexual assault.
I think one of the biggest thing is when they hear about a situation—because guys talk—and they kind of laugh it off. I think what they can do is not do that. When a male friend of theirs is doing or saying something to offend a woman, they should speak up and say ‘That’s not really appropriate.’
When men hear from a woman, telling you, this is what happened to me and this is how it affected me, they might take a second look. You think just touching her butt is no big deal. But it is a big deal and it has an affect on how she views her self worth. Is that what you want to do to women? Would you do that to your guy friends? No, you wouldn’t.
Angela’s documentary H.U.S.H. airs tomorrow, Saturday, April 30, on Los Angeles’ KLCS, at 9 p.m. and again on May 1, at 10 p.m. on the same channel. It will be available in other parts of the country later this year.
“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.
We often talk about the criminalization of Black youth, being processed into the justice system at an early age, for minor offenses that often don’t require more than a slap on the wrist. The latest example of this injustice comes from Newnan High School, in Georgia, with 18-year-old Xavier Jones.
According to WSB-TV, Jones’ friends told her that her ex boyfriend posted a nude video of her on the group chat app Kik. When Jones saw him at school, she poured her drink on him before cussing him out.
Afterward, a teacher took Jones to the principal’s office and suspended her for a day. That would have been a reasonable punishment for her actions. But administrators weren’t finished. They called Jones and her mother back to the school the next day. The young lady was placed in handcuffs and arrested.
Jones said, “They told me to stand up and he put the handcuffs on me. Then I started shaking and crying.”
Deputy Police Chief Rodney Riggs said the only crime that they were able to determine was disruption of schools. He said, the confrontation between Jones and her ex-boyfriend drew a large crowd of students and it took several officers to eventually make the crowd disperse.
A witness alleged that Jones threatened to kill him.
But the two attorneys, L. Chris Stewart and Gerald Griggs who took on Jones’ case for free, believe that if the police believed her threat was serious, they would have charged her with more than disruption of schools.
Stewart said, “(It’s wrong) to put a young girl in handcuffs over defending herself and standing up for being violated.”
Griggs said, “I characterize it as the victim getting victimized, and that’s exactly what happened in this case.”
The case seems particularly unfair seeing as how Jones’ ex admitted to posting the private video. He claimed he deleted the video before police could collect it as evidence. Despite his admission, he’s not facing any charges. Jones faces a misdemeanor charge punishable with up to a year in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.
Her attorneys want all charges dropped.
Griggs said, “Clean her record so she can go to college.”
When my father feels strongly about something, good or bad, you’ll hear his opinions about that thing for years, even decades to come. And he felt very strongly about a particular scene in Tyler Perry’s film, Madea’s Family Reunion.
For those of you who have seen the movie, it’s the part where Joe, (Madea’s older brother, also played by Tyler Perry) sees a young girl, his relative, walking past in a rolled up shirt and short shorts. Not only does he oogle her body, commenting on it to the rest of the men at the table; he takes it a step further, calling the girl over to him to ask her to bend over into a barrel to retrieve cool drink at the bottom of it. Clearly, it’s a ploy to get the young lady to bend down and expose her behind to her elderly family members. Joe isn’t the only man who requests a beverage, two others do the same.
If you don’t remember it, you can watch it here.
The entire scene is supposed to serve as comic relief. We’re supposed to find Joe lusting after his own niece to be funny. You know, on some, even seasoned old men will be boys type of humor. And his behavior is just supposed to be shrugged off. Shake your head and keep on moving.
But doesn’t just shaking our head and walking away kind of excuse the behavior? Even worse, doesn’t laughing at this type of behavior cosign it even further?
That was a rhetorical question, but let me help you out, yes it does. There’s really, very little funny about sexual harassment, particularly when the perpetrator of it isn’t held to task for his or her actions, as is the case for the Tyler Perry characters. The scene is even more interesting, considering Perry’s own history with sexual assault. Sill, the prevalence of men preying on young women, even women in their own families, is so commonplace, we don’t even recognize how dysfunctional it really is.
It’s not just Tyler Perry.
It’s quite a bit of us.
Just today, I found this meme on Facebook.
Thankfully, the person who posted it, noted that while the initial creation of the meme was for humor, we have to stop looking at our “creepy uncles” as punchlines.
And that’s the truth.
There are very real, life-altering, lifelong lasting effects of being assaulted, violated and raped by family members. And these secrets are so often swept under the rug, particularly in the Black community. And while humor can often aide in discussing real issues, that’s not what’s happening here.
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.”