Maybe your mother, your little sister or grandmother – whispered about in hushed tones at family gatherings. More than a quarter of a million people are sexually assaulted each year in the US according to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, RAINN. This statistic undoubtedly low in light of the fact that most sexual assaults aren’t reported. No one wants sexual assault to be part of a life path. When Dr. Phil discussed the subject with a survivor on his show, he asked two questions – “Did you want it? Was it okay? If the answer to these questions is no, then we’re talking about rape.” As a mother of a son and as the support system for a family member who endured a rape, this subject takes on special significance in our home. So startled to hear, from my son, that a college campus-based club devoted an hours long meeting to the subject. The shocking fact that 90% of rape cases aren’t reported bothered him, enough to discuss it with me. Without a doubt, a conversation starter for us to revisit the value of speaking out whether fondled or sexually assaulted or attempts made - regardless of gender. And all of us should listen, without judgments or condemnation, otherwise we add to the already weighty burden of the survivor.
The family and extended family feel the weight of anger and outrage as they process the event and see the twinkle dim from their loved one’s eyes, the lethargy or the scorching flames of sudden dark irrepressible moments. The fearless, calm, carefree, exuberant person once known now replaced by an anxious, insecure, angry, unhappy look-alike. As with an-almost-fatal-road-rage fueled car crash, people change in the aftermath. The traumatic event - a tsunami of epic magnitude, decimates days, decades and lifetimes. Rape - so heinous that even prison inmates target the convicted offenders, along with pedophiles, as one of the select groups to receive “special extra ” punishment inside penitentiary walls.
The assault survivor, by the way, lives with the attack everyday: questions if he/she could’ve or should’ve done something differently, questions his/her decision-making in general, feels shame, wrestles with all-consuming fury and struggles with trust. The survivor… who may live with the shadow of the perpetrator well into married life notices that some forms of frolicking unlock the door of a hellish recurring nightmare.
Grateful to use my writing skills to pen meaningful Plenty – an unflinching unforgettable look at young woman’s journey from ashes, as a prostitute-in-the-making, to a full life filled with Sunday drives in an heirloom Corvette to admire bluebonnets and the verdant countryside, a life fortified by family-strong friendships, unshakeable self-confidence and titanium self-respect. Initially, written in scathing response to Fifty Shades of Grey, Plenty casts an unflinching stare on female objectification whether inflicted by pimps on trafficked teens or by a handsome male in a sex kitten for a sadist romance novel. Do I consider it important to discuss the femme managing the egocentric alpha male dynamic behind closed doors? Why yes, yes I do. Do I think an embattled woman can prevail, find love and joy with a man who deifies stereotypes? Yes, and when people sympathize, understand and respect survivors’ challenges and choices and reserve judgment about atypical relationships won’t we, as a society, more fully evolve? Yes, yes indeed.