Yelling STOP or screaming NO wouldn't have saved me. My Marine Corps training couldn't save me. I've had plenty of time to punish myself by going over that night again and again, thinking of things I could have done differently, to prevent you from nearly snapping my neck or choking me to death so that you could feel like a man. Finally, I realized this wasn't my fault.
Dear Dave Delacruz:
You didn't care that I was molested as a child. You didn't care that another man had previously put a gun to head because he wanted oral sex. I told that ex-con to pull the trigger. I figured he was going to kill me anyway. At the very least, I wanted to die with dignity - with my body intact. (I also didn't think my family would want me if anything had happened.)
There is nothing worse than sexual violation for me. Followed by any sort of wrongful conduct committed to achieve or aid someone else to achieve an end sexual result. Do you know that you disgrace all Haitian men when you choose to represent your culture as one in which a man can rape a woman? (Where do you think stereotypes come from? Are these the values that you were taught by your family?) This is why I am publicly writing a letter to you, the man who raped me. I don't want you to think you can rape American women and get away with it. You violated my body, and now my words will destroy your life.
Did you know that my male running friend said I should be careful of you that day you approached us after a run? I thought he was just jealous, but he turned out to be right - you didn't just want to go for a run sometimes. (I thought: maybe I am too elitist. Not all of the people I socialize with need to have an advanced degree and a stock portfolio.) Did you know I was attacked in my law school by another male before I had even healed from your attack? All of these things matter, but what matters most is how I rebound from the taking and taking and taking of my body and the violation of my rights.
Running is not the happy activity it used to be for me. (It reminds me of you.) I don't give it up because I'm done allowing people to take things from me. (In fact, between you and the law school guy, two men who view women as an opportunity for whatever they feel like consent be damned, there's a group of women - educated, strong, and undoubtedly feminine - brainstorming, networking, training and building a response for the rapists who are still walking or running our streets - we are patiently waiting for the lawsuit against the law school to be decided.)
My military training wasn't supposed to prevent me from being raped. It isn't the intended purpose or design of military training. And my personal constitution will not allow me to be silent. I fearfully awaited tests to tell me if you had robbed me of my life by infecting me with some incurable disease. You ruined my relationship. I couldn't bring myself to tell my then boyfriend what happened. And you just continued to do whatever rapists do when they aren't raping.
Dear Dave: rape is a crime. U.S. service men and women risk their lives so that I can live in a country where women are afforded the same rights, privileges, and freedoms and men. Including, my right to be free of unsolicited, unwanted, not consented to, violent and forced sex.
There is no right way to end a letter to the man who raped you. But here's a heads up: what you did to me will be painfully detailed in a book, so my words will destroy the blissful existence you are not entitled to.
And to the girl who had to be nursed back to health; the girl who had to re-learn to be a woman: you survived. You're a survivor. You're going to keep on surviving. And you're going to be alright.
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