As women, we don't talk about rape. We deny what happens to us, we blame ourselves, we shove it under the rug, we bury our feelings.
We don't talk about rape, and why would we? Why would we describe to anyone else the horrific sense of being violated, of having our trust in the world shredded, of seeing our lives turned upside down?
To talk about rape is to relive it to some extent. That may seem like the worst thing possible, but to revisit it is to understand we've come through it intact. Though we may have been victimized, we aren't rape victims. We are rape survivors.
We need to talk about rape to remove the shame of being a rape survivor. We are not to blame. But if we hide our stories, we can't help ourselves and we can't help others by saying, "Yes, I survived. It affected me, but it didn't change who I am at the core." Women need to hear from other women who've been raped to know that what they endure afterwards -- the feelings of self-hatred, doubt, overwhelming fear, and the struggles with addiction -- are not unique to them.
Renee DeVesty reminds me of why we need to talk about rape. A rape survivor, she's decided after nearly three decades of being silent that it's time to come forward and talk about what happened to her, why she made the decisions she did afterwards, and what it took to move from victim to survivor.
If we all speak up about rape and tell our stories, we will remove the stigma surrounding rape and help women to step out of the shadows, report the crime to the police, pursue legal recourse, and put rapists behind bars.
I am ready to acknowledge something I haven't publicly talked about until now.
I am a rape victim. What about you?