Tag Archives: Oprah Winfrey

Moving On from Rape is Easier Said than Done

6 Dec

Remember this girl from season 5 of American Idol? It was the one where Taylor Hicks, the one who bore a slight resemblance to Jay Leno, won. About a month ago, you couldn’t tell me her single below wasn’t my theme song:

and not because of the music, but the lyrics:

I’m over your hands,
and I’m over your mouth.
Trying to drag me down,
and fill me with self-doubt.
oh..


Moving on, it’s my time,
you never were a friend of mine.
Hurt at first, a little bit,
but now I’m so over.
I’m so over it..

Don’t call,
don’t come by,
ain’t no use,
don’t ask me why,
you’ll never change,
there’ll be no more crying in the rain.

I took a break from my new blog back in September for an emergency trip I had to make, got lazy, and weeks after I returned I missed blogging. To be honest, though, I wasn’t in a hurry to come back. :-s

Hear (Read?) Me Out

I mentioned yesterday that I was struggling with time management, which is true. A lot has changed for me between September and now. I got involved with an attorney. I did some more “spring cleaning” down my list of friends and got rid of a few so-calleds who claimed to support me, but really were just loving the E.A. is Falling Apart Show. In October I found a new job that I actually like, where I get along with my co-workers and the pay is great. I’ve even started creatively writing again, something that I used to love and lost interest in after the incidents of last year. Thoughts of being raped didn’t take up so much of my day. Compare this all to, say, July 2011: nursing wounds from my church community, running with not much more than a suitcase and the contents in my wallet to my mother for support and getting none, dumped by the criminal justice system, nowhere to go, no hope for the future, lots of rage.

Finally, I’m through with this shit! I had myself convinced. I’d come back to the blog from time to time to approve comments, but I put off replying to a few. I thought, “well…I’m kind of in a different head space these days. Things are looking up for me. It wouldn’t be genuine of me to keep posting when I’m pretty sure I’m over being raped.” But I noticed while I was away that my number of blog hits really grew. People were typing terms like “i was raped” and “fran drescher rape” into search engines and reaching this tiny unfinished blog. They reminded me of when I used to wake up every morning already in tears. I felt guilty that I had nothing to say.

Rape: The Gift That Keeps on Giving

Then, yesterday happened. My half-sister C, one of the relatives who lives in the city where I met N, called to say hi. We had always been close, and C stuck by my side when she found out what happened. At one point in our conversation, C mentioned my uncle and his wife at my former church, living as though they never heard of me. I was okay until C told me that she was disgusted that, even after I posted pictures of proof on Facebook, no one in the church cared, everyone still supported N and his family, and N’s career was really taking off. I’d always suspected that was the case (after all, to this day only 1 member of that church reached out to apologize for the way she treated me), but hearing it confirmed from an eyewitness hurt me more than I thought it would. I actually spent the rest of the night crying.

I pulled up this blog, re-read the posts, re-read the comments, and realized that on the outside, my circumstances are improving, but internally not much has changed. Some things like this post (Chris’ e-mail) still make my blood boil, and questions like this (where’s God?) are still on my mind. I wanted to “get to the finish line” in the beginning, and tried to rush through the recovery process. But if outward success is an accurate way of measuring inner healing, then why are accomplished celebrities like Tyler Perry still finding it necessary to get on “Oprah” and pour out their bitterness? Because 1, 5, 10, 20 years down the line, the effects of rape still pack a pretty mean punch.

You Have to Pass “Go”, But You Don’t Need All Properties to Win

A reader’s comment I read yesterday really helped bring the truth back home to me. It can take days, and it can take years. There really isn’t any way to run from the healing process, speed it up, or take any short cuts, and thinking you’ll be the exception is one way of denying yourself some sorely needed and deserved TLC. Because of the heavy sense of shame that came with my experiences, I put pressure on myself to get free. But in one of my earlier posts I compared being a rape victim to going through the death of someone you loved, and there’s nothing shameful about losing someone you’re close to. When people find out you’re grieving a death in the family, most will instantly give you the benefit of time and sympathy to recover. Should it be any different for a rape victim: someone who suffered a debilitating violation of their body and spirit through no fault (or invitation) of their own? Even if no one else is sympathetic to your needs because of rape stigma, you should be sympathetic to yourself. It’s incredibly hard to heal, but when you make yourself identify the rape as the obstacle, and not the wounded self that you want to escape, your efforts will be concentrated in the right direction. This is a distinction I want to start making for myself.

The other thing about the healing process I’m learning is that there are no rules in terms of what you need and need not to do to help yourself recover. By that I mean, what works for one victim may not work for another, and vice versa. Based on experience and studying several cases, counselors and survivors may suggest things that have a known record of being helpful, but that doesn’t mean that you have to take those suggestions in order to heal, especially if you feel you’re not ready or that the suggestion would make you uncomfortable – such as praying if you’re not religious. I tried a few unconventional things that helped me, which I’ll definitely share in the near future. I’ll also share my experience with suggestions that I tried and found unhelpful, even though they’ve been great for other rape victims.

Back to WTS

The long and the short of it is that I still have a lot of (admittedly scary) work to do to get to the point where I see being a rape victim as just another part of my past. I’m just really glad that this blog is still here for me to do it in.

Famous Survivors of Rape: Part 4

23 Aug

This is the final post of a 4-part series that began last week. Click the link if you would like read about Ashley Judd, Billie Holiday, Connie Francis, Fiona Apple, and Fran Drescher, here if you would like to read about Joyce Meyer, Kelly McGillis, Mackenzie Phillips, Marilyn van Derbur Atler, and Mary J. Blige, or here if you would like to read about Maya Angelou, Oprah Winfrey, Pamela Anderson, Queen Latifah, and Rita Hayworth. I’ve also done posts on Gabrielle Union and Fantasia Barrino that may interest you!

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Here is the last set of 5 rape survivors you may (or may not!) already know about:

Sandra Dee (April 23, 1942 – February 20, 2005)

Sandra DeeThe American child actress of the ’50s was most famous for her starring role in the movie Gidget and her marriage to heartthrob singer and actor Bobby Darin (also once famously involved with Connie Francis). But Sandra grew up confused by the trappings of life as a performer (her modeling and acting career began at the tender age of 2), and later when her mother remarried to real estate developer Eugene Douvan after divorcing Sandra’s father, she was forced into sexual intercourse with her stepfather from the age of 5 until Douvan’s death when Sandra was 12. In an 1991 interview, several years after her career ended and she had married and had a son, Sandra recalled:

“Gene didn’t molest me only in the mornings, but during the day, the night, whenever he wanted to and there was an opportunity. “He’d say, ‘Let’s snuggle’, and I never fought back – I was too small. Too young. “

Teri Hatcher

Teri HatcherToday the 46-year-old actress is most recognizable as ‘Susan Mayer’ from the primetime hit series Desperate Housewives, but Teri first got her start as a showgirl, model, and star as Lois Lane to Superman’s Clark Kent in Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. Once upon a time she was also the most frequently Google-d woman on the Internet! In May 2006 Teri first revealed to Vanity Fair magazine that she had been a child victim of incest at the hands of her uncle-in-law, Richard Hays Stone. He would take her on car rides under the guise of going to pick up her cousins from school and molest her in seclusion, graduating to rape when she was 7. Teri wasn’t able to tell the rest of her family about her pain until she heard about a 14-year-old girl from Santa Clara County, California, who committed suicide and left a note implicating Teri’s uncle as the man who had molested her. In 2002 Teri helped prosecutors convict Richard Hays Stone of his crimes by telling her story in court, and she is a vocal advocate for sexual abuse victims today.

Tim Roth

Tim RothHe was born in Dulwich, London, England, but the 50-year-old English actor’s most notable roles are in the American films Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Planet of the Apes, and his hit television show Lie To Me, for which Tim won a People’s Choice Award in 2011. Growing up, he was a victim of incest, as he said in an interview with The Daily Mail:

“It happened during my childhood up to my early teens and although I’m not going to say who it was, he’s long gone now – and I hasten to add it wasn’t my father or mother. Things happen to you in your life, but you don’t want to consider yourself to be a victim – you want to be a survivor and the first thing that helps you do that and helps you get through it is speaking and finding your voice. I’d been wanting to direct a film for years and told my agent to start looking for a script. The first one that came through the door was the one for The War Zone. If you are a survivor of abuse and you get the opportunity to tell a story about that subject, then you can really get in there and tell the truth. It was a fantastic chance for me to exorcise a lot of demons. I’m very proud of the film and proud of the fact that it’s even been used as a teaching tool.”

Tori Amos
Tori AmosShe was a piano-playing child prodigy from the age of 2, and after a highly successful career as an alternative rock singer, songwriter, and composer in the 1990s, 48-year-old Tori Amos is one of the top live acts of all time according to Rolling Stone magazine. She was nominated for 8 Grammy Awards and has sold over 12 million albums across the world. But just before her rock career began, Tori was raped by a fan who approached her on her way home after performing in a local bar, and kept the horror of what she had experienced deep inside her memory for years before she wrote the song Me and a Gun, which tells her story. Her song made such a great impact with fans that Tori reached out to do more, and created RAINN (Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network) – the only nationwide-available toll-free hotline for rape and sexual abuse survivors in America. She is still a supporter of the organization to this day!

Tyler Perry
Tyler Perry When he dons a woman suit and totes a rifle as the wild matriarch character ‘Madea’ from his well-known plays and films, Tyler Perry is almost unrecognizable as a 41-year-old actor, director, playwright, screenwriter and producer who ranks as the 6th-highest paid actor in Hollywood by Forbes magazine. He’s friends with stars such as Oprah Winfrey, Will Smith, and Janet Jackson, and worked with stars such as Gabrielle Union, Idris Elba, and Whoopi Goldberg, to name a few. He’s been outspoken about once being homeless, his abusive father, and Tyler has also shared his story of rape with the world. The mother of one of his childhood friend’s would lock Tyler into a room with her in her house and refuse to let him free or give him the key to let himself out unless he would allow her to have sex with him. His movies may be obnoxious to some, entertaining to others, and downright offensive to many more, but say what you will about Tyler Perry – he’s pulled himself out of a history of horrors.

There are so many people in the world to draw hope from, survivors who have been brave and willing to share their stories and sympathize with you. Who inspires you most?

Famous Survivors of Rape: Part 3

19 Aug

This is a continuation of the 4-part series that began on Monday. Click the link if you would like read about Ashley Judd, Billie Holiday, Connie Francis, Fiona Apple, and Fran Drescher, or here if you would like to read about Joyce Meyer, Kelly McGillis, Mackenzie Phillips, Marilyn van Derbur Atler, and Mary J. Blige. I’ve also done posts on Gabrielle Union and Fantasia Barrino that may interest you!

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Here’s 5 more rape survivors you may (or may not!) already know about:

Maya Angelou

Maya AngelouThe 83-year-old renowned poet is also the author of I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, which is given in many American high schools as required reading for students. She also holds more than 30 honorary degrees and is a Pulitzer Prize nominee, as well as the recipient of 3 Grammy Awards for her spoken word albums. Maya was 3 years old when her parents divorced, and lived under the sole care of her mother from the age of 7 in St. Louis, Missouri. Her mother’s then boyfriend, a man named Freeman, raped Maya when she was 8, and she found the courage to tell her older brother, who told the rest of their family members. Freeman was found guilty in court, jailed for one day, and four days later was found beaten to death, which filled young Maya with so much guilt that she didn’t speak again for almost 5 years afterward. But today her voice is heard around the world as one of inspiration!

Oprah Winfrey

Oprah WinfreyEasily the most influential woman in the world, 57-year-old Oprah Winfrey (actually born with the name “Orpah”, named after a character in the Bible’s Book of Ruth) is a former American television host, the owner of her own television network and countless programs, an actress, a producer, and a philanthropist – and she’s also the wealthiest woman of the 20th century.

At the age of 6, Oprah and her single mother Vernita Lee moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, but spent much of her time alone while her mother worked long hours to support their family. She was constantly molested by her uncle and a family friend, and when she was 9 a 19-year-old male cousin began to rape Oprah, forcing her to run away from home  once when she was 13. She never dared to tell anyone about the abuse she had suffered until she confessed everything to her family more than 10 years later, but nobody believed her story or even acknowledged her suffering … until she got her own talk show.

Pamela Anderson

Pamela AndersonThe 44-year-old actress-model is most famous for her starring role in the ’90s hit show Baywatch, her stint as Playmate of the Month for Playboy magazine’s February 1990 issue, and her marriages to Motley Crue’s lead singer Tommy Lee and rock singer Kid Rock. Before she was famous, as a teenager growing up in Canada, Pamela was raped twice. She once said in an interview that:

“My first experience with sex was non-consensual. The guy ran around in a panic afterwards saying ‘What have I done, what have I done’. Looking back it was awful. I felt like everyone knew that I had had sex, like it was tattooed on my forehead.”

In the same interview with Jane magazine, she told the story of her second assault:

“I started growing breasts, discovered make-up and had my clothes ripped off by a crazy abusive guy I was dating who locked me outside my house naked. I’ve been naked ever since.”

Queen Latifah

Queen LatifahToday she glows at 41 years of age, is a former singer and rapper turned into a successful Hollywood actress, and she’s a spokeswoman for CoverGirl cosmetics. Queen Latifah is also the recipient of a Golden Globe award, 2 Screen Actors’ Guild Awards, 2 Image Awards, a Grammy Award, and several nominations for Grammy, Emmy, and Academy Awards. But about a year ago she opened up to Essence magazine about the sexual abuse she suffered when she was a little girl. In the care of a babysitter, Queen Latifah (then a young Dana Elaine Owens) was raped. She said to Essence:

“He violated me. I never told anybody. I just buried it as deeply as I could and kept people at an arms length. I never really let a person get too close to me. I could have been married years ago, but I had a commitment issue.”

 

Rita Hayworth (October 17, 1918 – May 14, 1987)

Rita HayworthThe late American film actress and dancer was one of the greatest names of her time. Her cute and innocent image was made famous as a pin-up photo, and she worked with other Hollywood greats such as Fred Astaire and was once married to Orson Welles and Prince Aly Khan. She was tutored as a dancer by her father Eduardo, but traveling across the country as a young performing girl with her mother Volga far away at home, her father saw the opportunity to abuse Rita. Eduardo often beat his 10-year-old daughter into submission, slammed her into walls, and began to rape her as often as twice a day. Rita was confused and believed that their relationship of incest was normal for a father and daughter. It wasn’t until many years later when Rita told her husband Orson Welles about her abuse, that she began to see the truth for what it really was.

 

The final part of the series will be posted Monday, and this time you’ll get to read the stories of a few male rape survivors. Come back for more inspiration!