“You have to take responsibility for being raped”.
These are the words spoken to me by a friend when I suffered an emotional breakdown years after being raped.
I was reminded of that truly painful memory when I heard Joy Behar of “The View” call Bill Clinton’s victims of rape, sexual assault, and sexual harassment “Tramps”. Behar joked that Hillary’s response should have been, “I would like to apologize to those tramps that have slept with my husband.” The audience had a good laugh over that.
Rape is no laughing matter. Neither is molestation or sexual harassment. I know because I speak from a place no girl or woman should ever have to experience.
At the age of 15, I was sexually molested by a neighbor. He was an old guy (65ish) with a fast boat. My parents arranged for him to take me waterskiing. I loved having an opportunity to be out on the water. I certainly did not entertain any fantasies of old men and never expected that he would violate me.
One day we were out with a couple of little kids. He let me drive the boat. Silently he moved behind me and put his hands down my bikini bottoms. I told him to stop but he didn’t. Then I threatened to go full throttle, which would have dumped him out of the boat. He backed off. He did this with two kids present. I suppose he thought I wouldn’t risk embarrassment in front of them. I felt completely ashamed.
For weeks after that, he had the gall to cover over and invite out on his boat again. My mom knew what had happened but felt helpless. This was in the mid 1970’s and we had no clue how to deal with these issues. What do you do when a parent tells you, “You are very pretty and guys are going to try all kinds of things, so you better get used to it”. (Years later my mom told me at least 100 families had come forward to report molestations from that man. He was run out of town and never prosecuted.)
Back to “The View” where the “ladies” minimized Hillary Clinton’s part in ruining a 12 year old girl’s life. Kathy Shelton was brutally raped by 41 year old Thomas Alfred Taylor. Clinton claimed the rape victim, Shelton, had a tendency to “seek out older men”. Hillary put the responsibility of the rape of a child ON THE CHILD! Hillary can be heard on audio laughing about getting Taylor out of jail.
I didn’t go to college. I opted to get a full time job. My first real job was for a large law firm. My goal was to become a paralegal. Within a few weeks of working in my little cubicle, I had my bosses reach over the top with long grabbers to pinch my breasts. It happened several times and I protested loudly. My bosses laughed with glee at my attempt to simply do my job with respect. I had never heard the term “sexual harassment”. My protests finally caught the attention of one of the law partners, who had been unaware of the behavior outside of his big double doors. When he discovered the behavior of his staff, he found a new job for me immediately.
You can imagine my delight when I realized my new boss was gay. I felt completely safe from roaming hands and sexual overtures. He and I ran a non-profit membership association for Human Resource professionals. Our company coordinated and held large conferences throughout Southern California. That is where, at age 19, I met The Monster.
The Monster followed me around for two days during a conference weekend. He begged me to go out with him. He was 32. I politely informed him that he was way too old for me to date.
He called my office for several months after our first meeting, asking me out. “Hey, I just want to take you to dinner. That’s all. Go out with me one time and I’ll never ask you out again”. Against my gut, I accepted.
The Monster picked me up at my folk’s house. He was polite. He was a gentleman. My dad asked what time he would bring me home, and he answered while looking directly at my dad. We drove away in his sports car.
The conversation was very guarded on my part. “I don’t sleep around.” “I’m not on birth control.” “ I don’t go to men’s houses.” “ I am not going to sleep with you.” “This is dinner only, as you stated.” Clearly, boundaries were set by me and I had been promised respect.
We drove down toward the beach for dinner, which was almost an hour’s drive from my house. As he exited the freeway miles before where the restaurant, he told me that he forgot his wallet at his apartment. “We will just stop by quickly so I can get it.” I remember gulping and my heart starting to pound in my chest. I told him I wasn’t getting out of the car.
The Monster calmly said, “I am so sorry, but this is a very dangerous neighborhood and I don’t think you should be out here alone. Just come upstairs and wait outside the door. You don’t have to come inside my apartment, I promise. But just come up to be safe. We will only be a few minutes.”
Honestly – I was really afraid of the neighborhood and doubly afraid of the dark – something I’m still dealing with.
I followed him up the stairs to an indoor hallway. He unlocked his door, told me he would be right back, and I waited.
The door opened moments later and I found myself staring into the barrel of a pistol. I’d never seen a gun up close.
Fear overtook me.
He ordered me to not make a sound as he grabbed my arm and yanked me into the apartment. I remember being so dazed and confused, but a scream started to come out of my mouth. That’s the first punch came. He punched my stomach so hard that I lost my breath. He tossed me over his shoulder, carried me into the bedroom, all the while holding that gun.
There was brutality. There were many punches on my body. There was a violent rape. And there was what I believe to be a letter opener. If I fought, he punched. So eventually my mind shut down and I went into full survival mode.
After he was done, he handed me a towel and told me to clean up. There was blood and there was pain.
He walked me back to his car and helped me to buckle in. I sat in the car with my head against the window. I was shattered. I was ashamed. I was afraid. And the gun sat between us as a reminder that he had the power.
As we pulled up in front of my parent’s, he held that gun up to my face or my neck (I was in shock) and told me that if I dared to tell my dad, he would kill him. If I dared to tell my mom, he would kill her. And then he would kill me.
He walked me up to the door. He greeted my parents and then told me he would pick me up the next night at the same time.
“What a nice man, Debi”, my mom stated. “Yeah mom.”
This went on for 2 weeks. Hell. I lived in Hell. I contemplated suicide to save my parents’ lives. The hopelessness was overwhelming. I told no one. I was 19 and completely alone in Hell.
There was a day when The Monster called me at work and told me that “we” were moving to England and he was coming to my office to get me. That was my breaking point. I told him I wasn’t going anywhere and in fact, I would never see him again. He threatened to come to my office and kill me. I believed him. I locked up the office and took the next few days off from work. I don’t know if he ever showed up.
It is a miracle that I was able to have children. The Monster had cut my insides with that letter opener. There was so much damage to me, both physically and emotionally.
Years later, I was at an audition with a beautiful girl who had recently escaped a Communist European country. She had a look in her eyes that I recognized all too well. She tearfully told me that she had been raped the night before. We talked and cried. I asked her if she was going to report to the police, what had happened to her, but I knew the answer.
Rape victims, all too often, are afraid to press charges because the accuser becomes the accused. Just look at Joy Behar’s comments to see how cruel and demeaning this woman’s words were to Bill Clinton’s victims. She called them Tramps. And she diminished the rapes and assaults by saying these women “slept” with Bill.
There is nothing romantic about sexual assault or rape. I never slept with The Monster. I was never a willing partner.
You can’t imagine how I have replayed and replayed the horror of those two weeks; how I tried to turn back the clock; how I tried to rewrite the events, and how I tried to imagine an outcome that left me whole instead of broken.
Decades have passed since my nightmare. Decades have passed for Bill Clinton’s victims and for Kathy Shelton. But I stayed silent. I have never named The Monster. I’m too afraid. My shame is overwhelming.
Kathleen Willey, Paula Jones and Juanita Broaddrick should be commended for standing up and speaking out. These ladies are brave for coming forward and facing the public, knowing full well that women like Joy Behar will ridicule and shame them.
Behar actually said she would “vote for a rapist as long as they’re Liberal.” What an asinine View.
If you have been raped or molested (and there are far too many of us), I want you to know that you are not alone. I am not alone. I found salvation from Hell by learning how to forgive. I have forgiven The Monster because I’ve been forgiven so much. It is my faith that heals my brokenness, although it is a battle admittedly.
Joy Behar could learn a lot by listening to women who have been victims and endured, rather than talking about them and calling them “Tramps”.