Years after experiencing a horribly traumatic experience, Tarana Burke came face to face with the man who raped her when she was just seven-years-old. At an annual Father’s Day gathering in her hometown of the Bronx, New York, Burke said she saw him and he didn’t recognize her, which infuriated her.
“I don’t know that I’ve felt that kind of rage ever,” Burke told People. “It’s hard to explain what it felt like to see somebody [when it] felt like they’d ruined my life.”
Burke said she was taken aback that he couldn’t remember someone he violated when he has been in her thoughts everyday since it happened.
“You don’t even know me. How dare you not know me?,” she added. “I’ve thought about you nearly every day since I was seven and you have the luxury of looking right through me. It’s just not fair.”
Burke said her mother was an unexpected source of emotional support.
“My mom comes from the era of tough love, of, ‘All right, kids, suck it up. It’s going to be all right,'” she said. “And she didn’t do that in that moment. She just gave me everything I needed.”
When she told her mother that she saw the rapist, her mother said, “No, he didn’t recognize you because you turned out to be a smart, beautiful, accomplished woman despite him trying to take that from you.”
Her mother didn’t know that she had been abused until she founded the Me Too Movement in 2006.
Burke tells more of her about her experiences and how the Me Too Movement was started in her new book, Unbound: My Story of Liberation and the Birth of the Me Too Movement, was released on Sept. 14.
She said that after her mother read her book, she sent her a loving handwritten message that read, “I can only describe you with one word and that’s courage.”
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