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Remembering my rapist

| Tuesday, November 15, 2016

I would first like to say how shocked and saddened I am by the recent results of our election. I cannot begin to fathom the very real fear these results have inspired in members of the LGBTQ community, people of color, Muslims, immigrants and all other marginalized groups of our society. As a straight, white female, I realize that I undoubtedly cannot reflect on the fears these individuals are currently experiencing; however, as a woman and a victim of sexual assault, these results have left me tearful and with an unimaginably powerful desire to share my story. I cannot adequately describe the depth of my feelings in the moment I realized that a man who has been accused of sexual assault various times and has spoken explicit, horrific words about assaulting women would be the next president of the United States. I was stunned. I was disturbed. I was horrified.

People often wonder why women choose not to report sexual assault. However, after Trump’s election, this reason has become abundantly clear: A man can brag about sexually assaulting women and still be elected to our country’s highest office. Throughout this election, we have been plagued by Donald Trump’s exhaustive list of sexual assault accusations and constant vulgar comments that serve not only to suggest his culpability, but also to perpetuate the dangerous rape culture prevalent in today’s society. Unfortunately, we live in a society where people like Donald Trump have normalized rape culture to a point that it has become engrained in women’s minds that it is their fault before it even happens to them.

Not many of my friends or family members are aware of this, but last February, during my junior year in college, I was raped by a stranger. This horrific attack has changed my life forever, but the man who raped me will never be affected by it. The man who did this to me will never spend a single day in jail. And on Wednesday morning, as I watched Donald Trump deliver his acceptance speech, I could not help but imagine the man who raped me standing up there.

I stared at Donald Trump standing behind that podium, and I was reminded of how powerless my attacker made me feel in that moment. I remember the look on my best friend’s face when I told her what had happened. I remember the crack in my mother’s voice as I spoke to her on the phone the next morning. I remember sitting in the hospital for almost eight hours straight, crying and scared out of my mind. I remember being prodded with needles. I remember having pictures taken of my naked, bruised body. I remember having to painfully retell the story of my assault over and over again. I remember the nurse who asked me if I was sure the bruises hadn’t come from “bumping into furniture.” I remember feeling like it was somehow my fault.

I remember hating myself. I remember feeling so alone every single day. I remember all the painful counseling visits. I remember how hard it was every weekend to explain to friends why I didn’t want to go out with them. I remember waking up in the middle of the night screaming and lying awake for hours, trying to figure out how I was going to make it through the next day. I remember the violent images that ran through my head all day, and I remember the pain it put my mother through. I remember how scared I was in my own body and how terrified I was to even leave my dorm room. I remember not being able to finish any homework and being too depressed to even go to the dining hall. I remember thinking I was going to have to drop out of college and desperately emailing my professors, trying to explain why I had been missing class. I remember seeing all my friends slowly distancing themselves from me until I truly felt completely alone. I remember replaying that night over and over in my head, wondering if there was something I could have done.

I remember wishing he had just killed me instead.

Nevertheless, I fought my daily fight, and because of it I am stronger today. I cannot and will not be silent any longer. Sadly, too many women and men will be reminded of their own experiences as they read the ones I have just detailed. It so deeply pains me to think that Donald Trump — a sexist, racist, xenophobic demagogue and constant reminder of the problems regarding sexual assault in our society — will be representing this entire country. The implications of Donald Trump’s recent election further legitimize both sexual assault and rape culture to a point that is undeniably demoralizing, dehumanizing and terrifying for myself and other survivors of sexual assault. But amidst my fear and pain, I know that we can and will get through this. Therefore, as a victim of sexual assault and a victim of Donald Trump’s toxic rhetoric, I stand in solidarity with all minority and marginalized groups that have been victims of systemic discrimination at large, but specifically those who have fallen victim to our new president’s bigotry.

I am hopeful that we can still do good as a nation.

Kristen Kennelly


Nov. 9

The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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