Rape survivors tell Current that Akin's comments made them relive rape
By Jo Piazza / current.com / @jopiazza
While Rep. Todd Akin’s comments about “legitimate rape” continue to feed the verbal volley of political back and forth this week, survivors of rape are the ones who continue to suffer.
Current interviewed three survivors to get their first-person reactions to the Senate candidate's degrading statement and the continued attacks from parts of the GOP.
We have edited their words for space and clarity, but not content.
Renee DeVesty, 49
Renee was raped at age 19. She had an abortion when she found out she became pregnant as a result of that rape.
It was sickening. That’s the best way to describe how I felt about Akin’s comments. I was sick to my stomach. I am still sick to my stomach. But what makes it worse is that no one seems to have any regard for how these comments are actually impacting people who have already been victimized by rape. These comments are causing us to be triggered all over again.
Other survivors have been contacting me and telling me they feel like they are reliving their trauma.
I was raped when I was 19 by my best friend’s husband and another man I had known most of my life while away on a camping weekend. At the time, I was afraid for my safety and afraid of these men and wasn't sure if it was legally rape because I knew them. I thought, “This wasn’t someone who jumped out of the woods at me, I know them. Will anyone believe me?” The only thing I wanted to do was pretend none of this ever happened. Two months later I realized I had become pregnant from the rape.
This whole situation just wasn’t going to let me go. I had lost so much. I had so much taken from me. This was the only time during the experience that I was able to exercise some kind of control over my body and restore my sanity.
It was an excruciatingly difficult decision [to have an abortion], but I know I made the right choice, the best choice for me at the time. It's something I live with every day and will never forget. As any rape survivor will tell you, this is a lifelong experience, but [having an abortion] should be my decision and no one should have the power to take that choice away.
You don’t have a choice when you are raped. You don’t have any power. You don’t have a choice. And for someone to be so casual about their comments is appalling and extremely offensive. There are situations in life that can bring you back to the rape like a soldier with PTSD.
A debate on whether it was the survivor’s fault that they got pregnant and insinuating that the victim could actually stop her body from getting pregnant can send someone right back to blaming themselves and believing, ‘It is my fault. I did something wrong.’
Watch Cenk talk about how Akin and
Rep. Paul Ryan want to take choice away from women.
If you are a victim of rape or incest, Devesty recommends contacting the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network.
Charlie S. (name abbreviated at his request), 64
Charlie was drugged and sexually assaulted by a female acquaintance. He has been in counseling ever since.
My first reaction to Akin’s comments was to ask: ‘What is the difference between legitimate and illegitimate rape?’ I was drugged and sexually assaulted by a female acquaintance. I was diagnosed with PTSD afterwards and I finally ended up seeking counseling.
I know I will never get over what happened to me, and even though people say that time heals all wounds I know that I am never going to get over it. There is always something that you see or something that you hear that can trigger that memory, and even though I have been in counseling for a couple of years and I have my good days and my bad days, I hear something like what Mr. Akin said and BANG, it just hits me all over again.
He meant what he said. People like him have proofreaders writing and reading their speeches. If he didn’t mean what he said, then someone would have picked that up.
He meant that a woman shouldn’t have the right to do what she wants to do if she gets raped. She will have to have the child, and then her whole life, she will be thinking about the person who did that to her. She will have to say to her son: ‘You are the product of rape.’
Watch Bill Press speak with Jess McIntosh of EMILY's List about
the importance of Akin's Senate race in Missouri
Tish Rothenbach, 32
Tish was a victim of incest at the hands of her grandfather. She was later the victim of date rape. On Tuesday, Rep. Steve King of Iowa defended Rep. Akin by saying that he didn't personally know victims of statutory rape and incest could become pregnant.
(Photo: Getty Images)
When I heard what Akin said, I was just shocked that someone in political office would say that.
Then hearing that someone can’t get pregnant from rape or incest. That does hit home and it does hurt. Thankfully I was 9 years old when it happened, so there was no way I could get pregnant.
It is absurd to think a woman’s body could just shut down like that. Sometimes our body shuts down as far as our mind, but we can’t control any of the other things that happen to our bodies. Comments like this just victimize you all over again in a totally different realm. I lived with my grandparents growing up, and my grandfather molested me and raped me when I was 9. It was a lot of manipulation, and they brainwashed me to forget.
Then a year ago I started remembering and uncovering. I confronted him and he denied it, but I am going to a grand jury on Friday to testify against him, and we are looking to go to trial.
Then when I was in the military, in the Alabama National Guard, I partied a lot, and one night I was too drunk and someone got me a hotel room because I was too drunk to drive, and I ended up sleeping with him.
But it wasn’t my choice.
I was too drunk and I didn’t realize until years later that it was rape. What I want to tell these politicians who are saying these things is:
“Do your research and know what you are saying when you speak. You have no idea what it does to a victim who hasn’t come out yet. It sets us back in our healing.
“Every day there is some kind of trigger. Saying these insensitive things, you run the risk of triggering somebody. Air on the side of sensitivity. If you don’t know the facts, be quiet.
“Victims and survivors already walk around thinking people don’t believe us and look at us differently. When politicians make these remarks, it makes us believe this is how society looks at us. And we get the impression the rest of society doesn’t believe us.”
- news blog