Search Results For "no. no. no."

“No. No. No.” Ctd

Dish Staff —  Aug 29 2014 @ 10:29am
by Dish Staff

A reader writes:

I felt a slow-creeping horror building in the pit of my stomach when I read your reader’s incredibly brave essay “No. No. No.” It wasn’t the same visceral horror the men who wrote to you felt, though I’m grateful the piece could shed some light for them. Instead, my horror came from the fact that all I could summon up from this harrowing story of trauma was a dull, familiar ache.

I know this story.

To be more accurate: I know several versions of this story. One of my closest friends told it to me, twice, and is currently telling it to a team of therapists after years of abusive relationships and self-destruction. Another told it to me with a practiced shrug, like that’s how she meant to lose her virginity all along. I tell it to myself as a cautionary tale whenever I go out, because getting away from the guy who drugged me before it was too late doesn’t mean I’ll get that lucky again — as if “luck” has anything to do with conscious decisions that cowards make.

These are just the assaults I know of that included drugged drinks.

And I’m just so tired.

This shit is exhausting. The shame and the fear, the second-guessing, the disbelief that the after-school special everyone laughed through in health class might have actually happened to you. Then, should you choose to share, the inevitable reaction: a mixture of sympathy, pity, horror, and, as always, doubt.

And I keep thinking about how the friend of this woman’s rapist said, “he can be a little aggressive.” It’s true. He can be a lot aggressive, because he can get away with it. Because there’s the steadfast contingent that insists “ladies could still pay more attention to their surroundings,” never mind that all ladies do is pay attention to their surroundings whether they realize it or not. Whenever I walk anywhere alone – no matter if I’m in an unfamiliar neighborhood or right outside my apartment – I slide my keys in between my knuckles, quicken my step, and listen for telltale footsteps behind me. It’s an instinct that goes back as far as I can remember. Sometimes I make sure to have a cigarette, because I figure if the person with those footsteps becomes a problem, I can put it out on the fucker’s face.

It’s a cruel joke that women always have to watch themselves this closely, even when they’re out with their friends trying to have fun, or forget just for a second how bullshit this world can be sometimes. Because everyone’s been directed to question what victims could have done to prevent their assaults instead of the piece of shit that decided to carry them out. Because when we talk about our assaults, we so often let the perpetrator off with the passive voice: “I was assaulted” instead of “someone assaulted me.” Because this story is so common that we basically accept it as a fact of life. Because when reading “No no no,” I felt a dull, familiar ache that meant I’d adopted that same resigned mindset: “It’s horrible, but it happens.”

And that’s just completely fucking unacceptable.

“No. No. No.” Ctd

Dish Staff —  Aug 21 2014 @ 8:07pm
by Dish Staff

A reader writes:

Like many others, I was simply floored by the post in which a woman bravely details her experience of being raped and dealing with its aftereffects. (A college friend who was also raped forwarded me the story – it came with the subject line “oh my God.”) Never before has someone – even the two therapists I have seen since my rape, not even novelists, and I’ve read a few – crystallized those feelings, that experience, that shame, so powerfully and so accurately. It was all the things I’ve wanted to say for years but for which I’d never been able to find the exact right words. And then there they were.

I was raped my freshman year of college, within two weeks of having arrived at my school.

Initially, I didn’t tell anyone what happened. I just couldn’t. I had just started. I just wanted to be a normal student like everyone else. And that’s what I tried to be, even though I barely stayed above water. That is until I noticed how differently my friend was behaving when she returned from her junior year abroad. I recognized her symptoms immediately because they were the same symptoms I had been suffering from for the past few years. So I flat-out asked her if something had happened while she was abroad. She told me that yes – something did happen. We then confided in each other and spent our senior year trying to help each other feel a little bit less alone. We even gave ourselves the name “the rape sisters.”

That was years ago, and we have both since moved on. But you never move past. It’s always there. Whether it’s how you can never go into that deep wonderful sleep again the same way you used to, or the way someone brushes up against you in public, there’s always something to trigger that memory that never leaves.

I wish I knew who this author was so that I could give her a hug and tell her thank you. I wish they would hand her story out to incoming freshmen at every college and university in the country and make them read it. It is quite simply the best account of what rape does to a woman’s heart, mind, and soul that I have ever read.

And thank you for posting it. Stories like that, like ours, need to be told.

Another adds:

One thing that really brought home the reality of rape and assault to me was the Unbreakable Project. Survivors write down the words their rapists used and (sometimes) pose with them.

“No. No. No.” Ctd

Dish Staff —  Aug 19 2014 @ 12:25pm
by Dish Staff

A reader writes:

That email is such a compelling, extraordinarily well-written, and utterly heartbreaking account of a truly sadistic and unspeakably selfish rape. I find myself completely ashamed that I share similar chromosomal make-up with someone capable of such an act. This account should be required reading for all men, and not merely because it’s always good to remember that sexual assault creates far more damage – lasting damage – than just the violent act itself, but also as a broader reminder that empathy is one of the most important values that anyone can have and demonstrate in all aspects of our lives.

The disgusting selfishness displayed by this woman’s rapist, and the total lack of empathy for the feelings and well-being of another human being is truly chilling. And the planning that took place to execute this violent assault. So many opportunities to take a step back from the precipice. So many opportunities to listen to the inner voice that says “No. This will hurt someone.” And yet.

We must do better. We fathers of sons must do better.

Another gut-wrenching story:

I wanted to write to tell you that rarely have I been moved – rocked may be a better word – by something on your blog more than that story of a woman’s rape and its aftermath. Considering all of the subjects you deal with on a daily basis and how long I’ve been reading the Dish, that’s saying something. It’s also saying something because I’m a man, and yet much of what she wrote rings very true for me. Let me explain.

When I was in my late 20s, I learned that the woman I planned to marry had also been raped while in college, also while studying abroad.

She also had said nothing about it to anyone. A few weeks before I was planning on asking her to marry me, she felt that she needed to share with me what had happened to her. Needless to say, I was shocked and stunned and angry in a way I’d never been before. I desperately wanted vengeance, and yet I wanted to concentrate on not making it about me. I wanted to support her in any way I could. 

In the days and weeks after that, she revealed that there was more she had to tell me, and it wasn’t just about that horrible night. Much like the woman in the email, she was struggling and ashamed because of some things she’d done after that night – some things she’d done while trying to regain the identity and self-control which had been taken from her. She was with people she normally wouldn’t surround herself with, abusing alcohol and drugs. There were sexual encounters she was ashamed of. She was “typically responding.” They were things that didn’t seem like the type of things the woman I know would do, and they were fairly recent.

As the man who loved her, these were very difficult things to hear. They were even more difficult things to understand. I felt like I didn’t know who she was before she met me, or at least that there was a part of her I wasn’t privy to.

It unsettled me, and I’m embarrassed to say that these revelations eventually unravelled our relationship and our plans to marry. I tried hard to come to grips with all of this new information, but I simply couldn’t return to the level of trust and confidence I had in her before.

It’s painful to write that, because I understand now what I didn’t then: that none of this was her fault. These weren’t character flaws. Those incidents weren’t who she was. They were an attempt to recover from what had been done to her. I knew this, but after reading the email you posted, it suddenly made sense in a way it hadn’t before. I’m sitting here today, at my desk, ashamed of not being more understanding, ashamed of quietly blaming her for how she conducted herself in the months after she was raped. Ashamed of judging, of holding those things against her instead of understanding that she needed someone to do the exact opposite.

She has since moved on with another man and married him, and I am happy for her. Like the woman in the email you posted, she was not defeated by her rapist. She’s successful. She has a young family. No one around her knows the things she’s been through. Her parents don’t even know, which makes me wonder how many women (and men) are quietly suffering in our midst. But I’m sure her husband knows, and that he’s a more loving, more understanding man than I ever was.

Or maybe he doesn’t. Maybe what I taught her is that you have to keep those things to yourself if you want to have a life with someone. My stomach hurts just writing that.

I want to thank this woman for sharing her story, for explaining her struggle so honestly and eloquently. As horrified and saddened as I felt after having read that, I hope she knows she’s helped me understand what my ex had been through in a way I never had before. And that like she said, she is surely not alone, sadly.

“No. No. No.”

Dish Staff —  Aug 15 2014 @ 11:55am
by Dish Staff

A reader shares a horrific experience:

I was a 20-year-old virgin when another college student raped me. Twice. Twice in one night.

I’ve felt the urge to tell my story a hundred times before. It took me years before I decided to tell anyone what had happened, and it’s taken me over a decade to write something like this. Perhaps it’s the renewed attention that sexual assault has gotten of late, which has allowed me to read too many stories that tell of trials so familiar to my own. No matter what the details or circumstances, the effect rape has on someone is strangely and horribly similar. How we repress memories with impressive efficiency or remember others with absolute precision. How we move backward while trying to move forward. It all resonates. Sadly, we are all members in one of the world’s most populous clubs.

I was a junior in college. My academic scholarship had given me the opportunity to study abroad in France. Some girl friends and I had taken some time at the end of the year to travel, and in the last days of the trip, we decided to go out to a bar to dance and have fun. I was thought to be the one who was a little too responsible, planning our itineraries and making sure everyone was safe and accounted for. Sometimes my friends even teased me with the nickname “Mom.” But I did love to dance and never turned down an opportunity. I can remember exactly what I wore that night, and only because of what would later happen: a long-sleeved mint-colored T-shirt with a long black skirt and running shoes. Yes, running shoes. Dressed to impress I was not. More like the only thing I had clean at the end of our trip.

My friends had started up a conversation with a group of college guys who were studying abroad as well.

I was dancing solo to some old school disco. One guy from this group brought me a drink and started dancing with me – not grinding, not sexual, just dancing. I got his name, which sounded foreign, and he briefly told me his background. There wasn’t much more to the conversation. I kept dancing. As I took my last sip of the fruity drink, he put his arm around my shoulders and ushered me outside. Maybe for fresh air, maybe for a smoke, I don’t know. All I know is that I was quickly losing my sense of agency. He didn’t pause outside but rather steered me down the street to the train. I quickly felt like I might as well have been in a wheelchair, pushed along to a destination that wasn’t up to me. Awake yet pliant.

Soon we’re on the train. He sat us in the two seats closest to the door. I struggled to sit up straight. He’d hold me up. My vision began to blur. I tried to focus on an old French woman sitting across from us. I remember her looking at me disapprovingly, as if she thought I was yet another typical American student who’d had too much to drink. Or maybe she knew something wasn’t quite right. I’ll never know, nor why I didn’t look at her and say, “Help.” Even though at that point I knew I was in need of rescue.

Shortly before, I was dancing and feeling perfectly fine; now something was wrong. Later, piecing together the timeline and events of the evening, I’d figure out that there was likely more in that fruity drink than what the bartender’s recipe book called for.

That train ride lasts about 20 minutes, but not in my memory. Nor do I remember getting off the train or how he got me to his apartment, but then I was there. He handed me more to drink, a glass of white wine. I don’t remember if I drank it, but I remember the glass. I knew I was in trouble but I still trusted that if I could concentrate on staying awake I’d be okay, so I concentrated on that – staying awake. The next thing I remember is him on top of me. My physical control was gone. My body was heavy. I could not consciously move my limbs. My arms were by my side, like a corpse.

I remember trying to will my arms to push him off of me, but they wouldn’t move. I couldn’t see what he was doing, but I knew what he was doing. The last firm memory I have is telling him, “No. No. No. Please don’t. I don’t want to have sex with you. I’m a virgin. Please don’t do this to me. No, please don’t. I’m a virgin. No, no, no.” That part I remember clearly, and it still gives me chills today.

I closed my eyes as they teared up. When he entered me, I blacked out.

That’s where I leave off. I don’t remember the rest. Or maybe my mind put that somewhere where I’ll never find it. Maybe I’m one of the lucky ones for being spared those memories.

I came to the next morning, in his bed. The sun was up. He was lying next to me, on his side facing the wall in a black hoodie with the hood pulled up. I got up and started to collect my missing clothing. I noticed a used condom on the floor. And then, as if there was a way to feel even worse, a second one. I almost vomited at the sight. It felt like there was a gaping, throbbing hole between my thighs.

He stirred in the bed. Before he could get up, I said the first thing that came to my mind: “I don’t know where I am.” He mumbled and pointed, “The train is up the street.” I scurried out of his apartment and found the train station. I discovered I was in a different part of the city, some miles away. I don’t know why but I also had no money. I jumped the turnstiles to catch one that would bring me back in the direction of the city and hoped no one would come through to check for a ticket.

When I got off the train, I saw a police officer and asked him where my hostel was. Oh, how I wish I’d asked him to take me to a hospital. But I didn’t. Already I wanted to pretend it hadn’t happened. After so many years of saving myself for the right man, the right moment, the right experience. After so many years of being in control, having my boundaries respected, only to have some stranger in a bar steal it from me in such a sadistic way.

When I got back to the hostel, I found that his roommate had spent the night in my bunk. He couldn’t get a train home because they didn’t run later than the one we took shortly after midnight. He said to me, “I asked the girls if you would be okay. He can be a little aggressive.” One of my friends said, “We told him not to worry. If anyone can handle themselves, it’s you.” I deflated. And what had just happened was sentenced to live inside me, quietly, for as long as I could stand it.

We spent the rest of the day as we’d planned, sight-seeing in Paris, but now with my rapist’s roommate in tow. I did my best to act normal, but each step I took caused my vagina to throb like a bruise that was being punched with every step. With each pain shooting up through my pelvis, some of the night’s memories popped into my head. Others weren’t there. Rather than openly confront what had happened, I tried to bury it. I couldn’t say anything. I wasn’t worried about what would happen to him; I was worried about what would happen to me.

Months after the rape, when I was back in my dorm room in the States, my rapist contacted me by email. Apparently his roommate, who had kept in touch with one of my friends, was able to pass along my address to him. I don’t remember most of it. I could barely look at it. But one sentence seared itself in my memory: “I hope I didn’t hurt you.” (I hope I didn’t hurt you?) I deleted it as soon as I reached the last line. It didn’t happen. It couldn’t have happened. No one could know.

What transpired in the years after my rape follows a pattern many know all too well. The layers of shame. Trying to figure out what your body, your sexuality, is worth when someone can simply take it from you. Did it matter what I wanted at all? Or was I whatever other people made of me? You doubt your own judgment. You forget how to trust yourself. I started drinking too much, smoking too much, self-destructing by putting myself in situations and relationships that reinforced my feelings of self-doubt and worthlessness.

Taking back that control of my sexuality was a difficult, if not impossible, task. I didn’t know how to feel normal again. The wonderful guys who cared about me, and who I cared about, were no longer viable options. I feared they’d find out my secret and would no longer want me. I couldn’t bear disappointing them, so although I tried to date them, ultimately, I rejected them as soon as things looked like they were becoming too intimate physically. As soon as I saw that loving and hopeful look in their eyes, that look that I believed would change once they knew. I thought I was doing them a favor and I was doing myself a favor, saving myself from the rejection I’d feel when they found out. They stood there, surprised, confused, and crushed, and yet I wasn’t going to let them know my secret – that I wasn’t good enough for them anymore.

Instead, the two significant relationships in my twenties were with men who were often jealous, controlling, and unfaithful. Part of me knew I deserved more than that; part of me wasn’t so sure anymore. In between those relationships, I let others, who although they couldn’t have known it at the time, take advantage of my vulnerability. I let them because they wouldn’t be disappointed in me. I found it hard to say “no” anymore because what if I did say “no”? “No” didn’t always work. Wasn’t it better to say “yes” and feel like I had some kind of control? Or say nothing at all and pretend this was normal?

A therapist would later tell me these were typical responses to sexual trauma. Every woman’s dream, I thought: typically responding to sexual trauma.

So many times I have wished I had lost my virginity at age 15 to my first love who cared for me and respected me, enough to not pressure me into anything even though I knew he was much more sexually experienced than I was. At least then I would’ve had some positive sexual experiences to go back to, to reclaim, to strengthen the foundation that I’d tried so hard to build for myself and that my rapist so quickly tore down.

It was even two years before I finally broke down and cried about it. Because fuck him – I didn’t want to give him that, too. I even feel guilty about thinking about it or talking about it, because there are so many women and men out there, girls and boys, who have been through much worse. But it is empowering to know you’re not alone, to know it wasn’t your fault, to know that a man who fucks a drugged corpse is a coward who can’t earn a woman’s body on his own. He’s a man who is not a man. He planned it. He had the drug. He targeted me. He timed it so that he caught the last train out to the apartment. So his roommate couldn’t come home. So I couldn’t escape. I don’t know why he picked me, but he did. Did he know I had an internal power he couldn’t dominate without artificial means? Because I do. Did I look like an easy target? Did he know I wouldn’t report him? I don’t know. But he was right about that too.

I never wanted to be a victim, even though that’s what I was. It’s why so many of us don’t tell a soul, especially initially. You figure if no one knows they can’t look at you differently or treat you differently than they had before. You won’t receive their looks of pity, or even worse, some sense of skepticism or disbelief. They won’t see you as damaged, somehow less than the woman you were before. Even though that’s how you feel.

In some ways, I know I’m a more resilient person for having gone through that, which feels perverse to think. But he did not defeat me. I maintained straight A’s and attended an Ivy League grad school. I was successful professionally soon after that. I’ve found real love and trust, which is what allows me to write this today. It’s been a lot of hard work, but I’ve been greatly rewarded for the willingness to try. And yet still today, years later, I battle the memories of that night and all that came after. And all that didn’t.

And now this: last November, on a whim, I decided to see if I could find him. I’d never had the urge before. I’ve thought about that night a lot, and all the nights since, but I didn’t think much about him. Maybe he was in jail. Maybe he’d moved abroad and I’d never find him. Whatever might come, I decided to throw the few things I knew about him into a Google search. Much to my surprise, he turned up in a matter of seconds.

My jaw dropped and my breath stopped. There he was. His face. His CV. The website of his business, right here in the US. I learned that he’s not in jail nor has he had a difficult life at all. No, he’s quite successful in his own right. I read his list of honors and awards he’s won. I know I’ve unknowingly walked by his office a couple of times. I learned he has a wife and young children. One is a girl. It makes me wonder how he picks her up in his arms and doesn’t think about some pathetic animal doing the same to her. I don’t know how he lives with himself.

It’s difficult knowing that while he’s caused me an inordinate amount of needless suffering that’s spanned almost half of my life, he simply got to move on with his. He suffered no consequences whatsoever.

And yes, part of the shame is knowing I did nothing to hold him to account, and that I may have put other women at risk by not doing so. It was so practiced and planned it seems unlikely I was his only victim. So, add that on to the shame of something I’m not guilty of, that I didn’t ask for. As well as the knowledge that while I get to live with his face every day, he probably wouldn’t recognize mine if I sat right next to him on a train.

Maybe one day I’ll tire of that injustice and decide that I should confront him. Maybe one day I’ll feel it’s my responsibility, since I’ve had a glimpse of what he’s capable of and he’s got a daughter in his care. But he’s taken enough of my life as it is and it’s tough to give him a second more thought, so I generally don’t. For now I continue to concentrate on living with the joy of the life I’ve worked so hard to reconstruct.

It saddens me to see women and men who were braver than I was, who came forward to confront their abusers, be put through the humiliation of an insensitive spotlight. Accounts of abuse and assault abound, and I find myself asking, “When is enough enough?” I hope everyone who has been through something similar eventually finds a bit of peace, though we all know that “peace” isn’t quite the right word. There’s acceptance and there’s resilience and there’s making the most of the rest of your life. Peace, it turns out, can be taken from you quite easily.

Romney Agonistes

Andrew Sullivan —  Jul 17 2012 @ 8:02pm

Et tu, NRO?

Romney may feel impatience with requirements that the political culture imposes on a presidential candidate that he feels are pointless (and inconvenient). But he’s a politician running for the highest office in the land, and his current posture is probably unsustainable. In all likelihood, he won’t be able to maintain a position that looks secretive and is a departure from campaign conventions. The only question is whether he releases more returns now, or later — after playing more defense on the issue and sustaining more hits. There will surely be a press feeding frenzy over new returns, but better to weather it in the middle of July.

This is such obvious advice that the real question becomes: what on earth could be so damaging that Romney would risk this agonizing twist in the wind? Did he pay no taxes at all in 2009? Or in some other year? Meanwhile, TP has listed 15 prominent Republicans calling for the release of the returns – including Ron Paul, George Will, Haley Barbour, Brit Hume and Michael Steele. This crack in the ranks means that some kind of release is all but inevitable – the Palin strategy is not going to work here. But I'd note some ferocious pushback in the comments at NRO. Money quotes:

Romney should release as many tax returns as the Secretary of the Treasury has – and only as soon as Obama releases all his college records and signs a waiver allowing Hawaii to release the original long form birth certificate.

NR Editors to Romney: Capitulate

If you are going to insist that Romney release more tax records, how come you are not all day, every day insisting that Obama release his college and health records?

No. No. No. He never should have released any tax returns. No politician ever should. What business is it of anyone's what his tax returns look like?


There are some saner voices as well – but I wouldn't be surprised if Romney's refusal to release his returns becomes a cause celebre on the crazy right, an emblem of his hostility to the MSM. Malkin is quiet all of a sudden, but wingnut Dan Riehl is off to the races:

Here's a thought. Next time you opt to stab a GOP candidate in the back, how about having the balls to put your name on it? I don't think that's too much to ask.

I really, really want to play nice with everyone on our side, but when I see this high minded BS from people who've never even run for anything, it smokes my butt. Hey, that's a thought. Why don't "the editors" get off their fat ass and do something besides act like they know anything, or anyone really gives a damn what they think.

The trouble is: it cannot be populist to hide most of your tax returns when you are running for president. Even Hannity is going to have a hard time justifying that one. Sure you can rail against the MSM. But in this case, the MSM includes Bill Kristol, Haley Barbour and National Review.

The Mutilation Of Infants

Andrew Sullivan —  Sep 8 2009 @ 8:30pm

A reader writes:

My son, who was not circumcised at birth had to undergo the procedure as a medical necessity at the age of two. He was anaesthetized, etc, and we were sent home from hospital with painkillers, ointments and instructions. Nonetheless, I still get chills at the memory of him hysterically screaming out "No, Daddy. No. No. No. Don't. Don't. Don't!" while I had to physically pin him down to change the dressing in the days afterwards. Maybe it was my inexperience at parenting. Clearly the painkillers we were initially provided weren't doing the job (fortunately the doctor provided a better solution when we complained). All I know is it reduced me to tears.

I believe that to give religions a pass on this procedure because it's a "core conviction" is to duck the issue like the New York Times. Please call it what it is and be consistent. It's evidence that some religious beliefs are just not compatible with what we know about the world.

The logic of my readers is pretty overwhelming; and my position is obviously a defensive and largely pragmatic one.

It seems to me that parents have every right to bring their children up in a religion without asking the child's consent because at some point the child will be an adult and be able to assess the faith for himself. But no man can get part of his body back, a part that was surgically removed from him without his consent as an infant. It is not as barbaric as female genital mutilation – but it does change a penis for ever and cover its most sensitive parts with scar tissue. I'm all for people deciding to do this for themselves, if that's what they want. But forcing people into mandatory permanent mutilation?

The reason I don't follow this to its logical conclusion is that I just cannot imagine trying to enforce a total legal ban on it given the religious outrage among Muslims and Jews it might provoke. And I do make exceptions for religious liberty that I don't for other issues, because I believe very deeply in the right of people to figure out their ultimate purpose in life without the intervention of the state. So I restrict myself to mere venting about what seems to me to be an irrational and barbaric relic.