By Dan Church, CCASA Blogger
When I read the headline on my phone late Sunday night, I knew this is what I was going to be spending my week talking about. At work, at home, at school, on the bus, in the news, and on Facebook. Missouri Republican claims “legitimate rape” rarely results in pregnancy. I’m always glad when stories about sexual violence get mainstream attention, because it provides a rare forum for having larger conversations in general society, but that glad feeling is so often quickly followed by feeling overwhelmed. Overwhelmed with what topic or crazy idea to address first, or how to begin the same old conversation in a new way.
Well, the good news is while I’ve been gathering my thoughts, lots of other people have been expressing theirs. In fact, in less than three days I was able to find multitudes of articles expressing every thought and call to action I could have begun to think about. They even did so more eloquently (although I’ll warn you that eloquence in this case is not always synonymous with being expletive-free).The Atlantic reminded us that Akin is simply joining the list of many people who have tried to perpetuate the medical myth here.
Shawna Prewitt described what it was like to be a woman who was impregnated by her rapist and how that is such an incredibly unique and individual experience here. The New Yorker has discussed the simple absurdity of Akin’s statements hereand, on a lighter note, someone from Timecollected awesome tweets about Akin’s comments here. You can read about how rape has continued to be redefined for the purposes of the privileged since at least the Roman Empire here. In case you have forgotten that we are talking about an actual horrific action that is committed against individual human beings, Eve Ensler will give you (and Rep. Akin) a chance to try on a survivor’s shoes for a moment here (*trigger warning*). And if you’ve made it through all of those articles, along with every other news clip, Facebook post, tweet, and actual conversations you’ve been having, and you just can’t take it any more, here is one more describing one person’s “rape-fatigue” and how overwhelmingly exhausting dealing with appalling ignorance and insensitivity can be.
My thoughts about and toward those people who share similar views around sexual violence with Representative Akin have been expressed enough times over that I am not sure there is anything insightful I can add to the conversation. I will stand in solidarity and share all of those articles I agree with and ‘like’, because most of them have found ways to better articulate my thoughts than I could do. But oddly enough, the one sentiment I have been feeling that I haven’t seen in all of the posts and reports I’ve read is one directed towards the people who matter most in all of this. So to any and all survivors, this is what I would like to say: I am sorry. I am sorry that your experiences are used as political tools whether you like it or not. I am sorry that your personal and painful experience is currently being shoved in your face every time you turn on your TV, your computer, or your phone. I hope that it can be restorative and empowering, and if it isn’t, then I hope you feel okay turning off the TV or saying, “I don’t need to read that article”. I hope I can learn that balance too. I hope that you always continue to feel more love and support than hatred and judgment and I hope that, rather than coming to terms or dealing with your experience how people feel you should, you will find peace in a way that is true and real to you. I hope for every personal comment I am willing to make about rape and sexual violence, that I will be willing to listen to ten more from you. With others, I will not forget your humanity, your dignity, or your strength and we will continue to fight to make sure no one else does either. I’m pretty sure that’s all I have to say.
Dan Church is 28 and the Volunteer Coordinator for the Rape Assistance and Awareness Program in Denver, CO. He oversees their 24 Hour Hotline and Hospital Advocacy Program.