1 in 3 three women are raped.

This column sometimes contains sexually explicit and violent material. Correspondence should be sent to the publisher who will in confidence forward material to the columnist Laurie Green.

No means no, and no answer also means no
The display of utter ignorance currently surrounding the rape trial in Steubenville OH is nothing but a snapshot of what many people believe across America. The trial is a circus around a young woman and two men. The main point of contention: she was drunk so therefore she couldn’t have been raped and because she was drunk she got what she deserved. If you are one of the people who also believes this I’m going to tell it to you this way: get a clue and find your common sense and better still why not grab your soul while you’re at it. This is part of the lack of education and understanding around rape. 

You see, it’s not just about educating women. We’ve forgotten key individuals in this education or lack thereof: boys, teenagers and men. We have not taught them that if a woman is under any kind of influence be it drugs or alcohol and she is incapable of saying yes or no then that is rape. It blows my MIND that it is still up for debate in 2013. The community of Steubenville is deeply divided because the woman was drunk and two young men decided that because she was drunk they could do whatever they wanted to her with no repercussions. Why? She’s the moron who got too drunk to stand in the first place, what did she expect? NO! People are charged for sexually violating corpses and yet these two men should be defended for taking turns on a woman who was so drunk she doesn’t even remember. 

There are plenty of pictures and witnesses that tell a very different story. I’m going to make this simple: no means no and an inability to say no is also a no. What should have happened? The young women and men at this party should have intervened and taken her back to her home. They should have stepped forward and said ‘she’s drunk and you are not going to have sex with her’. Someone at that party must have been sober enough to see what was actually going on. But no, we live in a culture where commercials and reality shows celebrate trashed women with men humping all over them. We have trained society and most especially our young people that she got what she deserved. If you can actually rape a corpse then I have to make the next leap, which isn’t so far, and say you can actually rape a drunk woman. 

She is a human being who had no control over her faculties, probably didn’t know that she could get that wasted (what did any of us know in college in terms of drinking limits?) and never in her life thought that she would be violated at a party with plenty of pictures and people too cowardly and callous to step in. I am grateful she won’t remember the rape but what she knows now is what it feels like to be hated and ostracized by a community of people who probably thought she was an OK person. THAT pain takes a very long time to go away. Justice is worse than the actual rape. And that is sickening.

From all of the media and political attention it would seem that if only this item of clothing was eliminated or for that matter any item of clothing that seems to sexualize a woman was eliminated then we’d have no rape. Because as we’ve all been told, even recently, it is entirely the woman who provoked the attack because had she been wearing an oversized hoodie with sweatpants it would have worked out differently. What kind of society do we live in that supports this? So if a man is wearing a speedo or works outside with his shirt off then he must be asking for it too. Keep following the argument. 

If that 5-year-old hadn’t been wearing that cute little sundress then she never would have been raped by Grandpa or kidnapped by that whacko who lived down the block. If that little boy had only worn his shorts a little longer he never would have been raped by that priest or neighbor. If I hadn’t been wearing yoga pants and a sweater I would never have been raped by an acquaintance. Why not just move to wearing a habit and be done with it? If dress codes worked then why are there mass rapes in India? Let’s be more exact: gang rapes. If she’d just left that bikini in her bag and worn shorts and a t-shirt while swimming in the Bahamas she’d still be alive today! 

Can you see where this PERMITS a perpetrator to commit his/her crime? We are giving societal permission because of our judgments, prejudices and anger. I know many women who were merely wearing jeans and a cute top who have been attacked. I’ve known boys who wore altar robes and were attacked. Showing more flesh is the reason why rape occurs?? I don’t think so but it is a blight on this country, let alone every other country, that we still hold these kinds of assumptions and opinions and judgments. How about those who have never been raped? Would you give up your bikini or your favorite fitted dress or your yoga pants? NO! And you shouldn’t. Should the altar boy or girl give up his or her robes so as not to be raped? NO! It has nothing to do with it. What does? 

This is crucial. It does not matter what you wear because perpetrators are looking for something else. They are looking for how you carry yourself and your level of vulnerability. Do you walk with you head down? Do your shoulders hunch even slightly? Do you not make direct eye contact? Do you walk with tentative steps rather than with confident, bold steps? Perpetrators know their prey. Even those who are acquaintances know their prey. How you carry yourself is how you can prevent an attack. Teach your children this. It’s also how you speak. If you speak softly with your head down and do not make eye contact then you are a potential target. I can tell you that most perpetrators do NOT want a fight. They want an easy target. Date rape is different but not by a lot. 

And you are likely entirely unaware of these things because we are taught to be demure and to not speak clearly and to walk tentatively. Or we learn it from our parents and family members in terms of how they present themselves. It’s not the mini-skirt or the thigh high boots or the sweatpants. No. These objects do not cause rape. Actually even your body language isn’t entirely to blame but it’s the biggest indicator to a predator of what they can expect from you. Hold your head high and wear your mini-skirt as short as you like. It doesn’t matter in the end. Courage and confidence are two big things that perpetrators don’t want to deal with. You don’t need a gun. You just need a healthy dose of self-love.

Sex Pistols

I cannot tell anyone how utterly disgusted I feel that the gun control debate has somehow gotten itself mixed in with rape. I have seen endless portrayals of women with pistols pointed straight for the viewer glaring darkly out from a photo, her body all perfection with skintight clothes and some women with little clothing on at all, daring any rapist to come near them lest they get blasted into oblivion. It actually plays into every sexist stereotype I can imagine. Why not just put said woman in a ‘Die Hard’ movie wearing a leather jumpsuit with stiletto thigh high boots knocking off all the bad guys. Fighting like a ‘real’ man. Isn’t that the stuff of sexual fantasies and perversions of who women are? Can’t a woman fight like… a woman? This is a dangerous rabbit hole to go down. Let’s just throw that stereotype right into the garbage where it belongs.

 Actually I’d love to burn that stereotype in effigy for my own personal experience. If 80% or more rapes are perpetrated by someone known to the survivor then please tell me what good a gun is going to do? You’re with someone you know and in 3 seconds they turn from friend to rapist. Having had 4 such experiences I can tell you there would have been no time for a gun or to reach for a gun or to fight off the attacker so as to get the gun that’s going to save me. When you know your rapist you are so utterly confused, terrified and overwhelmed by what is happening that you can barely think let alone have enough bearings about you to go and grab a gun. When a 210 pound man has all of his weight on you, you are better off using your body to defend yourself and it’s going to be far less deadly of a risk. I am not going to play roulette with a man whose intention is to shove his penis inside me. At this point in my life I would fight him using specific techniques taught to me by my sister which were meant for this sort of situation but a gun doesn’t enter into the equation. More often than not a gun in a household or in an attack situation is used against the person who is trying to defend themselves. Maybe you have a chance with an intruder in your house but what if you are in the 20% worst case scenario where they jump out of bushes to drag you back in or worse still you wake up to find them lying on top of you? A gun is a useless item and in that instance is very likely to be used against you. I can probably think of a 1% instance where a gun might actually help in a rape situation. 

Now, how do you think it impacts a woman to see that if they’d only had a gun they’d not be in the disgusting and horrifying position they found themselves in? We KNOW that a gun wouldn’t have done any good. We know there was no time to think of a gun. We wouldn’t have known what to do even if we had escaped the initial attack. Let me tell you that you do not want to remain in a residence or a car with a person you know who has turned into your worst nightmare. In the aftermath, you agonize over what you didn’t do. You agonize over what you could have done to prevent it. You sob because they were your FRIEND, why did they do this to you? To me, the image of that gun is a phallic, patriarchal symbol of how women should be more bad ass. You know, just like men. Guns are an extension of the penis. You see that in movies, television, books, media… it’s everywhere and it’s a damn lie. If you are one of those people who is believing that if a woman was armed like a bad ass dude from ‘Die Hard’ she’d be able to fight off all rapists? You really need so snap back to reality because this type of message would kill most women and does kill women, literally and figuratively. 

7th Circle

I would like to say that there is a straightforward path. That one day the 7th Circle of Hell unfreezes, I slay the Devil, redeem the frozen betrayers (myself included because I was a self-betrayer) and levitate gracefully as fields of daisies arise from each circle of scorched hell with choirs of angels singing songs of glory and I am crowned Princess (or Prince) of the Heavens. Yeah, it is a nice dream. Often with my sweat drenched head hanging off the side of the toilet after having vomited what could have been the equivalent of 6 lunches, I had this vision… or dehydration induced hallucination.. of how it would all come about. It’s more like you get scraped and bounced around all 7 Circles of Hell, screaming bloody murder, shaking your fist at the heavens (whichever direction they happen to be because you’re likely upside down), begging, pleading, making bargains with Jesus, the Buddha, God, Krishna, the Universe, Mohammed. Your own personal version of roulette except you happen to be the red AND black spinning balls which creates quite a problem when it comes to actually winning. So I started changing my perspective very, VERY, SLOOOOWWLY. ‘Hey, that was a boulder that just whipped into me!’ ‘WHOA! Get off my hair! This wind tunnel of Hell is bad enough!’ ‘Come ON! And I thought New England was freezing.. freezing.. freezing.. (that’s the echo coming off the millions of layers of ice in the 7th Circle..) And why is my snot frozen to Satan’s snot?! We’re not THAT familiar!’ 

OK, at that point in the crawl we were probably all too familiar but at least I was butt sliding on ice instead of sticking to it. Hey, it feels like you’re the star of an Ice Capades show when you’re not frozen to the bottom of hell and you can actually slide away from Satan’s snot balls. It’s an amazing feeling, trust me. And then roulette wheel comes screeching to its first hault! ‘If you have no peace in yourself, there can be no peace in the world’. Et tu, Brute?? That was the moment. I fancied myself a peace activist. A peace warrior! NOW, WAIT A MINUTE???!!?? I look back at the page again. I probably did a series of quadruple mid-butt icecapade spins. J. Krishnamurti. Wait, wait, wait. 

So, what you’re saying is that I’ve been protesting and advocating and doing outreach work all this time and my self-destructive tendencies just wiped all of that out?! But.. that’s just.. I mean.. it was towards ME!! It wasn’t toward anyone else. I tried to sashay, do the denial twist and any sort of jedi mind trick to refute a very simple statement. He’s not the first person to say it. He will not be the last person to say it. I happened to have a key dropped down into the 7th Circle of Hell. Now, I didn’t necessarily want to unfreeze the giant icicle of Satan nor have Judas dropped on me as I tried to maneuver my way out. However, my mind created the illusion I was living in. What if icicle Satan was just a really sweet puppy and my frozen mind with its sheets of ice just reflected back something which created inside of me (that’s what a magnificent imagination is for, right?). I think I’ll just hold the key for a few more minutes just to be sure.


It’s time for a shift in focus. Writing a column like this is tricky. I know that the gory details serve some type of purpose. I think that sometimes we need a shock to the system in order to change our lives and perceptions. My shift is focusing on the transformation of trauma. No one has to be held down by anything that’s happened to them in the past. There are ways to forgive. Forgive yourself and forgive those who have hurt you. I have many things I can share with you that will apply to anything traumatic in your life but let’s focus on forgiveness. Have you forgiven? If a dynamic between another person or even said columnist holds a charge then that’s not true healing or forgiveness. You know you’ve forgiven when a person or event holds absolutely no charge. It is what happened. You might even be able to laugh about it. You are greater than the transgressions of the past. You are greater than your own transgressions. You have a vast capacity to live a beautiful and enormous life no matter the circumstance. You may need to experience your unhealed feelings in order to get to the place of forgiveness and serenity. That’s OK. Just allow them to be and the more you honor them and the less you pay attention to them the weaker they will become. 

We often fight against our feelings but our life shows up where our intention is. If I am angry then my life will show up with much anger. I will also attract angry people to me. It follows with any emotion and perception. We don’t have to get rid of anger. We can leave anger where it is and increase our attention to love. When you increase your attention to love then anger will naturally get smaller. It has to because you shifted your focus. A slight shift in focus can be the greatest healer of all. Anger doesn’t have to be eliminated. If you fight it, it will come back with a vengeance. But if you just shift your attention to a different emotional state then anger has little control over you. You never have to deny a feeling but you do have to consider what you want your life experience to be. If it is sorrow then it will be sorrow in all things. If it is love and sorrow happens to be present then love will naturally reign because you have shifted your focus. 

Life shows up exactly the way we think it will show up. We have that much power. If you are a failure in your own mind then life will be a series of failures. If you can leave the failure alone and shift your focus to every little thing being a victory of sorts then your life will show up this way. We have much healing to do. Staying trapped in our stories actually traps our lives in very big ways. Just notice your thoughts and your words and the power they have over you and others at any given moment. Notice when you shift your thoughts and words and what that does to you and others. It is a simple exercise and yet difficult but with practice you will see the difference. Happy New Year of Life to each and every one of you. It’s never too late to create the life you have always wanted. Your perceptions and judgments lie to you. Take back the power, erase the chalkboard and create the life you have always wanted to live. You are a blessing. An incredible creation. You are meant for greatness. Take it.

Happy Families? Not Festive, But Very Real

How does a person not only get raped once but four times? I am usually met with stunned silence and then something along the lines of ‘I can’t believe you’re still alive let alone healthy and functioning.’ I made it look good. That’s all. Until I decided to heal I was a wreck. A total and complete mess who was good at cloaking myself with beautiful makeup, clothing, hair and my talents and achievements created an even thicker blanket of deception. Did I intend to deceive? Yes, I did.

When I was a child, I was excruciatingly shy. I had one friend outside of my sisters. I was bullied by students and a few teachers. Even a principal joined in on occasion. I had full blown panic attacks by age 10. I was afraid of everything and everyone. I was beaten and bullied at home. Everyone saw my weaknesses when I was a child. Those weaknesses were a part of why the violence never ended. Did I cry often? No. I had intense nightmares when I was an infant up until adulthood. I still have nightmares but not as badly as when I was a child. I was terrified to come home from school when I was a child. I never knew which Mother I was going to meet. Loving Mommy, angry Mommy, violent Mommy, sad Mommy, suicidal Mommy, raging Mommy. I felt physically sick when the clock at school struck 2.30. 

There were few places I went that made me feel safe or loved. I deserved it. I wasn’t good enough. I wasn’t pretty enough. When I was born my Mother told me that I was the ugliest thing she’d ever seen. She wept. There is no hospital issued newborn photo of me. My parents told me that I was absolutely beautiful 6 weeks after my birth. Ugly. Probably the first words I heard upon entering the world. I was afraid. 

When you are raped at a very young age then it increases the likelihood of it happening again and it happened at age 4, 12, 23 and 24. If you are treated like trash by your own Mother it increases the odds of multiple rapes. Bullying increases the odds of rape. Low self-esteem increases the odds of rape. Self-hatred increases the odds of rape. Sex was a shameful thing in my household so I believed I was going to hell since the age of 4. It was my fault. I wrote poetry. Very beautiful poetry. I believe I was in 3rd grade when I started writing poetry. All of my themes were on nature. Boys from the class would pick off my poetry pages and cackle. I was molested by 4 boys in a classroom in 7th grade in front of the class and teacher every single day of that school year. The teacher never said one word to stop them.

I developed an eating disorder by age 12. Eating disorders and sexual abuse/assault/rape go hand in hand. You will find few women or men with an eating disorder history who haven’t been raped or abused. I knew by age 13 that if I was a hyper-achiever and well dressed that people would leave me alone. I was a 4.0 student in high school. I was on the honor roll every semester of high school and college. I was a member of the chorus. I was president of the chorus. President of S.A.D.D. . President of my class. Student body Class Speaker, a wrestling and football cheerleader, student advocate for girls with eating disorders, nominated Daughters of the American Revolution Good Citizen, National Honor Society member, Homecoming Court member and theatre performer by age 17.

I was also being raped from age 12-14. In the year that I went to Miss Pennsylvania I was raped twice. I was already a successful performer. I worked 3 jobs to pay my way through college and I held a 3.79 GPA. I won talent at Miss Pennsylvania and made the top 10. I only competed once. It was a very shallow experience but I used it to increase my outreach work. I was also vomiting almost 20 times a day. I had been hospitalized for eating disorders 2 times between the ages of 20 and 23. But boy to I make it look good. No one ever knew that anything was wrong. No one suspected a thing unless I told them. The dressing didn’t change the number of rapes. 

A rapist knows. They see through your game. They see. They look for the one. The one with the slightly haunted look in her eyes. That would have been me had anyone looked closely enough.

Observations from an Ashram

I have kept minimal contact with the outside world. I have spent my days in solitude save for when I take a workshop or when I eat a meal. I walk the pastures, I watch the sun rise and set, I meditate, I am learning to embrace my Self and let go of my ‘self’, I do my yoga practice, I do mantra. I do not take phone calls. I have isolated myself. It is not the demonic suppression I undertook when I was 24. It is a complete dedication to liberation. My liberation. The liberation of my soul. Only through this liberation can I help others liberate themselves from suffering, from the labels that have been forced upon them often unknowingly, from the identities which do not fit the greatness of any soul alive on this earth today. I cannot make anyone change her or his self but I can till the soil so that the seeds might flourish and grow. Staying on the path to liberation is not easy. It’s not a simple solution. It’s a commitment to transform no matter what happens around me. The greatest challenge to this currently is the political atmosphere around rape. Actually, it’s more like being a blind lion tamer in a circus of madness where reality is turned upside down, inside out and the risk of being ripped to shreds by the beings I love because of their instinct is to attack my perceived weakness. This blind lion tamer will stand her ground but with courage softened by the deep knowing of the Self. Trusting myself, I act and speak as one who sees. Rape. Who likes the word? Who really wants a definition other than what’s left to the imagination? It’s easier to be in denial about what it actually is and what actually happens. It’s easier to trace the paper tigers, cut them out and decorate them to make them easier to handle. You can do anything you like with a paper tiger. This is how politicians are currently ‘dealing’ with rape. If you cut the paper, paint it and hang it on the mantle of God then it must be quite a different animal. Even God would allow you to string it over the crib of a baby. Since you are predestined for a rape or a pregnancy from rape then the blow should be quieter. Almost entirely unfelt. There should be no visible mark. It was meant to happen. I just want to see if I understand this correctly: I am attacked by a person, beaten, held to a bed, sodomized with hand lotion as a lubricant and left barely able to crawl to my phone and if a pregnancy were part of the evening’s events then it must have been the will of God? A drunken man comes into my apartment, outweighs me by 100 pounds, slams into me until my back is a bloody, pulped mess and if I had become pregnant then it was God’s will? Why would anyone ever believe that God is so cruel? God is Light. God is presence. God is formless, shapeless and everywhere. What they describe is a God of Darkness. A God of shadows. A God of violence and misery. A God of punishment just for being born. Does this sound like a God to believe in? Do the men and women who say these things want to place their lives and those of their babies into the hands of such a God? This God of fear and suffering drawn by the hand of a politician? Do they paint the paper tigers because they do not want to see? These paper tigers are the stuff of nightmares because one day you wake up to find the tigers are real and that you are prey and you are being hunted and that you will be captured and sometimes killed. They have eyes to see and yet they slam them shut. The shutters creating the ring in which I work. The blind lion tamer doesn’t need to see. She only needs to know. She only needs Truth. Do not shutter your mind or your soul and become a haunted house where every shadow is terrifying and all noises are of evil spirits and hobgoblins. Living a life such as this only creates bigger shadows and louder voices. This no man’s land of willful blindness does nothing for those who are suffering. It does nothing to prevent further suffering. It does not prevent rape. It does not prevent pregnancies from rape. It does not redefine rape. Rape is rape. If you open the shutters and see the tigers for what they are? You are powerful. You act with certainty. Grace. Courage. Fearless. I will stand in the middle of the ring in a culture willing my blindness but I have complete faith and trust that if you took my hand, the lions would be real and yet softer. They are not made of paper but they no longer are a nightmare. You can look around the ring at each one with full integrity and knowledge. You never have to be afraid again. Cutout paper tigers are the real danger no matter how beautifully painted and no matter the mantle from which they are hung.

What is it like to say you’ve been raped to a romantic partner? Most of the reactions are anger and not anger at the person who perpetrated the crime, anger at me. In my personal life it equates to disgust and humiliation. My past partners have each acted humiliated, disgusted and sometimes openly hostile to varying degrees. What is it that makes this so threatening and ugly? I had broken up with a man after a 3 year relationship for many reasons. He became distant and angry and no amount of talking would ever bring us to a resolution to whatever the problem was. It’s because he didn’t tell me until after I had left. He called me out of the blue 6 months after I’d left him and left the state. He was hyperventilating, his voice trembling to the point of breaking, he could barely speak. ‘Laurie, I need help.’ ‘Oh my God, what’s wrong??’ ‘I can’t stop thinking about it. The beating and the sodomizing. I think about it all the time. I have nightmares about it. I always thought that somehow I had damaged you because of the way I acted towards you.’ ‘I don’t understand what you mean…’. ‘Laurie, I just don’t know if I want to live anymore…’. He cries uncontrollably at this point. He was actually showing signs of PTSD and had never experienced what I’d experienced save for what I talked about. I never knew that he thought about it all the time. That it had poisoned our relationship in some way. ‘You need to promise me that you will talk to a counselor and get help. I don’t want you to kill yourself. Call someone today. Call a hotline if you need to. I will find a counselor for you if you need me to. Do you need me to talk to anyone?’ ‘No, no.. I promise to get help. I am so sorry for anything I did that reminded you of being raped.. I’m so sorry’. He did get help and yes, he did replay certain aspects of the rape with me out of anger, fear.. I honestly don’t know. He was very rough sexually with me and not all of it was OK but I also never said anything. He also watched pornography every day. I’d come home from work or from rehearsal and hear the television. I’d pretty much memorized every tape he’d owned. I would walk upstairs, lay down in the bed and cry. I can also say this is a wash, rinse and repeat situation. I’ve had men who want to know nothing about it, I’ve had men deeply ashamed of me for writing about it or doing outreach work, I’ve had men act out hostility that resembled the menacing behaviors of my attackers. I realized that at a certain point I was replaying small versions of the rapist/survivor dynamic in my relationships. It actually wasn’t until after the 3rd and 4th one that these dynamics became very prevalent in my romantic life. It has been sad and confusing at times. But then again, rape doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It impacts every part of my life. It still impacts every part of my life if I allow it. ‘Allowing’ it is the key. I know that relationships might always be difficult due to the fact that I am vocal and honest about what has happened to me. I also know that I have to speak the truth and the truth in these events is ugly and terrifying. I wonder if there isn’t a part in each of us that doesn’t relate to the actions of a rapist or a murderer at some deep level. We have just never acted on it and probably never would. What makes others cross the line? Maybe my telling the story the way it is strikes fear and anxiety in many people because there is something in each of us that is capable of any horrible act. We do it to each other in small ways every single day. I have not given up on having a loving relationship with a partner who can accept that I will not be silenced and that there is nothing to be ashamed of. There never has been even if the basest part of each of us contains this ‘monster’.


This saddest part about writing this column is knowing that the message I am trying to convey is that we are not separate from each other no matter our difficulties, challenges and tragedies. It is the illusion of our separateness that leaves us in suffering, anger and fear. Nothing drives this home more than what is happening on a national and international level. We have anger with each other in America and it is always amplified in an election year: it’s ‘them’ vs. ‘us’. The idea that somehow we each what something vastly different than another person makes a very heavy soul for me. We don’t want different things. We each want to be loved, protected and cared for. We each want to be listened to. We want to be able to express ourselves without fear of rejection. We want to be heard. But at what cost? Often we do not listen to each other. When someone else is speaking we already have our answer ready before they’ve gotten ¼ of the way into what our friend or neighbor or family member is sharing with us. That isn’t listening, that’s reacting from a place inside of us that says that this other person’s ideas are an affront to who we are. The truth is, no matter how different our perceptions or ideas or opinions no one can take our core away from us. That ‘Self’ is forever in tact regardless of what someone else is presenting us with. I am a very visual person so when I read the news I study the photos more than I study the words. The photo tells me almost everything I need to know about what someone might be experiencing. Often, the photos are heartbreaking and they are only heartbreaking because they touch the deepest part of me. The part that remains untouched no matter what the external circumstances are. I write about the impact of rape but we hurt each other on so many levels. Most often we are killing each other softly and not in the grossest form. The elections have just brought all of this to the forefront for me. We have a duty to honor the core of every human being we meet. They are precious. They are not the ‘other’, they are a human being. We see each other through labels and catchy headlines and anything else the media or society throws at us and we allow these labels to be permanently attached to anyone who does not see the world the same way we do. The simple fact is that the world appears exactly the way we say or think it does. Why not choose to make everyone and everything beautiful even in their differences? I realize that we have to make choices but we do not have to justify our choices by demonizing anyone due to belief. Our version of the world is just as clouded by our egos as any other human being. It’s acknowledging that we wear this veil we perceive as truth that is most powerful. Take care of each other. You only have today, right now, this moment. You have nothing else. It’s not about walking a mile in anyone’s shoes. It’s about knowing that you are not separate in any way from the person standing next to you or the persons you see on television who live on the other side of the world. Our leaders and societies reflect our own thoughts and feelings. They are our mirrors as to what is our collective consciousness. They can be terrifying mirrors to look into but take a good look and see if you can soften the focus. Be good to yourself, be good to others. Be the peace you wish to see in the world. Just be and know you are inter-being with others every second of the day.


I disappear. It is far less difficult than I thought. I stop performing. The haunted apartment contains one less lost soul. I work. I find a house built like a fortress. It’s an old estate which the owner has converted into a lovely and sweetly silent retreat. There are only 11 apartments and each has a special place in the history of the house. I move into what was the servant’s kitchen and quarters. The walls are thick and accented with crown molding. There are floor to ceiling cabinets and an enormous bathroom with a beautiful antique, claw foot bathtub which I allow myself to be cradled in every night. There is a Cathedral right outside my windows and the sound of the bells tolling every fifteen minutes is soothing and settling. All entrances are locked to the building and my massive, silky door gives me a sense of safety I haven’t felt in so very, very long. It is equal parts prison and womb. No one comes to visit. The phone doesn’t ring. I don’t have a television or a stereo. The sharpest sound is my alarm clock in the morning. I walk to work on the same whispering streets which hold the secrets and the lies of my life. Cloaked in long coats, I walk with my head nearly down save to peek over the brim of the black fedora I’ve taken to wearing. Dark sunglasses perched atop my nose. I feel like a child playing a game of peekaboo. I take back alleyways and enter work from the rear entrance. I do the same going home. Never entering through the gorgeous double doors in the front of the building but taking the softly gilded side entrance which leads straight up to my cocoon of an apartment. The hat comes off. The coat slides to the floor. The sunglasses are placed on the dining room table. I leave my heels near the door and pad across the floor to the bedroom. I’ve taken to leaving the phone in there in the event of an emergency. I glance at the phone. No furiously blinking light announcing someone has called. I run the bath. I slip into sweatpants and an oversized sweater. I read and drift off to sleep. Press rewind and replay. No more University officials to deal with. No more colleagues and classmates to dodge. No more attorneys. No more plea bargains. I am no longer a sideshow act given some sickly misguided shot at being the main stage event. They can’t see me. I’m not here. Numb does not begin to describe the jagged hole my life has become. If I’m not there, I can’t hurt anyone and they can’t hurt me but I find an odd asylum in this solitude. I can exact the punishments against myself with surgical precision. No witnesses to this scene. There were never any to begin with. Peekaboo.


I understand the longing for happy endings. There seem to be so few. Maybe they only exist in books and movies. In the minds of romantics, poets, dreamers and the desperate. I am the romantic, the poet, the dreamer and if you like, the desperate. I have never thought that there was any other possibility than love. That one day everyone would wake up and smile and forgive and wipe each other’s tears away. Roses would bloom in every corner of the earth and it’s sweet fragrance will lull us to sleep on the voices of angels. I believe it with every fiber of my being. It has never changed. No matter what had happened I held onto this. I was born with this. Some might call it a fatal flaw. My Achilles heel. I call it a gift. I pick up the phone. It feels lighter than usual. It doesn’t carry the weight of dread and sorrow that has seeped into its curves and crevices from the jagged tears tinged with anger, shame, grief, hunger, need. A need to be loved. A need to be touched. A need for a comforting hand. The feeling of weightlessness could be from the high of vomiting the last of the triple sized Chinese takeout order in the fridge.. I punch at the number pads with stiff fingers. The hands of a woman with a solution. A means to disappear for a while. This ghost will haunt another corner in another time. He answers. ‘Hi, this is Laurie..’. Pause. My hand is cold and gripping the receiver. If I were a corpse you’d need the jaws of life to pry it from my hands. ‘I will not go through with the charges. I can’t. It is too much for me to handle.’ Dead silence. I don’t even here him breathe. ‘I can’t do this anymore.’ He finally speaks, ‘Laurie, I can only offer one final plea and hope that they fall for my bluff because if they don’t I have to tell them that you will not pursue the case. The State could reserve the right to continue with a trial. You could be accused of lying.’ This last sentence brings the crushing weight back to what once was a feather light receiver. ‘But I’m not..’. ‘I know that Laurie. I just don’t know what they’re going to do. Is this what you really want? We can win this trial. I’ve never had a better candidate to win a rape trial.’ I didn’t realize I was running for elected office of ‘Greatest Victim ever to take the Stand in a Rape Case’. ‘This is what I want.’ I drop the receiver into the crook of the phone. It’s unceremonious clatter echoing through an almost empty apartment. The wire carpet almost looks as if it’s accusing me of cowardice. 
I hear nothing for a year. By then I was already taking a hiatus from University and performing. I had disappeared out of the spot light. I worked, went home, slept and did it again. A letter came in the mail from a social work agency that caught my attention. I turned it over and over and then gently tore it open. It was a form letter with a pamphlet informing me of my rights. ‘We are informing you that (fill in the blank) has been released from prison. You have a right to know and you have a right to protection.. ‘. I turn the pamphlet of services over in my hand and then scan feverishly for the phone number. ‘Hello, you sent me a letter about a prisoner being released. I don’t know anything about this. Did you send this to the wrong person?’. ‘I’m sorry Ms. Green, I don’t understand the confusion..’. ‘I don’t have a case in court nor have I ever had a case in court.’ ‘Ms. Green, this is really unusual. I suggest you speak with your attorney.’ ‘I don’t even remember my attorney’s phone number.’ ‘OK, his number is…’. I fumble for a pen and scratch down the number as if I could engrave it onto the table below it. ‘WHAT IS GOING ON?’. ‘He accepted the plea agreement on the terms that you’d have no further contact with the court and that you would waive your right to address the court again. He received the maximum penalty of one month for simple assault’. Simple assault… ‘OK, thank you.’ Simple assault. A rape with 4 counts goes to ‘simple assault’. I numbly toss the papers into a nearby trash can. I look up from the counter as customers walk into the store likely shopping for engagement rings. ‘Good afternoon, what’s the special occasion?’ The dreamer will dream another day. It has always been that way.

Clusterfuck to Enlightenment: Musings of a Mad Yogini
I didn’t want to write another story going into endless gory details about the horrible things that have happened in my life. Nope. Not going to do it. What I will do is cut to the chase: I have been a complete and total fucking mess. There are points in my life where I have made complete train wrecks look like rosy cheeked cherubs straight out of a Boticelli painting. I’ve even felt that often the theme to ‘Chariots of Fire’ was playing just for me. I could see myself high and low-fiving or just picking my head off the table long enough to wink at my doctors, therapists, mental ward psychiatrists, eating disorder clinic nutritionists and all those individuals who had sought to drag my stubborn ass across the finish line of ‘traditional’ recovery. Let’s just get the gratuitous list of suffering over with:
1.	 25 years of eating disorders? Check.
2.	Child abuse survivor? Check.
3.	Rape survivor x 4? Check.
4.	Suicidal? Check.
5.	3 stays in a psych ward for nervous breakdowns? Check.
6.	3 stays in eating disorder clinics? Check. (I should get extra credit for voluntary admits for 5 and 6.. just sayin’..)
7.	Bullied? Check.
8.	Dabbled in various substances? Check. (never needed rehab= Winning!)
9.	Hyper achiever to make up from the various injuries and insults suffered? Check.
10.	Fucked up artist? Check. 
I believe I’ve covered the rock stars guide to dysfunction pretty well. I mean, it feels like I should be given an honorary spot in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for ‘Woman Who Should Be a Dead Rock Star By Now’. But NOOOO!! I just couldn’t leave it at being royally screwed up! I had to DO something about it! I had to begin my clusterfuck to enlightenment because it can only get better right? Sitting in the psych wards hangin’ with my demons wasn’t good enough for me. They just got too predictable. Never changed their game. I mean, why not throw an accidental but non-fatal overdose in there? That would have gotten me that Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nod. My demons are slackers. Yes! The clusterfuck to enlightenment! MY clusterfuck to enlightenment! When there’s no rock bottom left that’s low enough to knock myself out on, the only way is up, left, right, sideways, backward, under, over, through, down, out but UP! Welcome and enjoy the show.


It is a cold. I am huddled on the cheap, tattered couch with the curtains shut. Winter. Bleak, frozen, desolate. I can’t get warm. I am staring at the phone. The red light flashing, violent shades of red against my hand that hovers to pick up the message. I have already heard him speak but I forgot to write down the number. I press play, bow my head against my knees, pen in one hand and listen. I knife the numbers onto the page and slam the pen down. I have to make a decision. I have to tell him something. I just can’t do this anymore. I can’t stop imagining a jury sitting stone faced as they listen to friends and colleagues, people I love, have the defense twist and turn their stories about me into a bloodied, mangled mess of an object called ‘Laurie Green’. I can see myself sitting in the chair. Waiting for the floor to drop out from under me, waiting for the hellish barrage of questioning. Bullets through my heart. They all stare at me. Their eye sockets sunken into the pit of doubt created with each new revelation about who the ‘real’ Laurie Green is. I can’t win. ‘I can’t win’, I whisper to the open, gaping space of the room. The room that holds my fate in the very fibers of the carpet. I pick up the phone and call the D.A. ‘Hello this is Laurie Green returning your call..’ ‘Laurie, thank you for getting back to me, we need to keep talking about..’ ‘I can’t’.. it tumbles out of my mouth before I can even suck it back in. ‘I can’t. I just can’t do it. I can’t handle this. I can’t. I can’t.’ I begin crying softly into the receiver. ‘I’m sorry. I know you believe in me. I am sorry..’. There is an intense silence on the other end of the line. ‘Laurie, we don’t have many options.’ ‘I KNOW WE DON’T HAVE MANY OPTIONS!’ ‘OK, ok. We could get him to plea to a lesser charge but I have to wait until his next appearance in court to see how he will plead. I can’t offer anything until he gives a signal as to what he’s going to do and I know it’s going to be not guilty.’ ‘Then we have to wait. I can’t talk about this anymore. I need to go.’ I hang up the phone and collapse into my laps. My hands clasping my face just to feel that it’s still there. My body is numb, my heart is pounding and I am wracked with sobs. I am afraid. I am alone. I don’t know what to do.

I am later told that my attorney went into the courtroom and had actually offered a plea which would only give him probation for a few of the lesser charges. He told the judge that he would plead no contest but he wanted it known that he was not guilty. The judge refused his plea. ‘Sir, you cannot have it both ways. You are either admitting responsibility by way of no contest or you are not guilty. We will resume this at a later time and this plea will be thrown out.’ I am not shocked. It’s hard to feel shock when you can’t feel anything at all. One trembling foot in front of the other, Laurie. One trembling foot in front of the other.

I am in an entirely surreal setting. I’m sitting with the contestants at the first Miss Pennsylvania rehearsal. I NEVER thought I would compete for a pageant. I was 24, the exact age where you can no longer participate in these types of things. They called it ‘aging out’. Why am I here? I was approached after a performance by the directors of the Miss Northwest Pennsylvania organization and asked if I would please compete for the title because they knew I had a chance. I had never thought of anything so ridiculous in my life. I was already onstage, I knew where I stood on many issues, had done outreach work, volunteered.. I didn’t need a pageant to feel accomplished but I thought ‘Oh, why not?’. You are called one of the ‘girls’ the entire time. Even if you aren’t in college anymore you are a ‘girl’. I tried not to get too hung up on that and saw it as a good way to reach out to more people struggling with eating disorders and sexual assault (even though I had just been raped twice and was actively involved in my eating disorder.. oh the brutality and denial and dishonesty). I was still recovering from the beating and sodomy that took place in my apartment so I was frightened that they might see these things onstage but no one did. I won Miss Northwest Pennsylvania and went out to this stage, sitting in a large arena with 30 other ‘girls’ about how to move, how to speak, how to talk. Before I arrived at the pageant I had done an interview with the local newspaper and was very candid about my eating disorder (although I did not tell them that I was still vomiting on a daily basis) and about having been sexually assaulted in the past (they didn’t realize that it had been twice in the last several months). The article went out on the AP and all hell broke loose. A woman, with an eating disorder, competing for a title and having to wander around in a swimsuit? I received countless letters from parents asking me for help: ‘how do I help my daughter? How do I deal with this.’ I responded to every single one. I am destroying myself to build others up. The ultimate act of self-sacrifice? Self-hatred? Delusion? As I am sitting with the ‘girls’ the director of relations asks me to come into the office. He starts peppering me with questions. ‘So, do you think any of our girls have eating disorders? I know quite a bit about eating disorders.. ‘ . I am looking at him, ‘What is it you want to know exactly?’. ‘Well, you don’t think it happens here do you?’ ‘Is there a reason why you are asking me this?’ He pauses and continues, ‘Well, the Today Show called and wanted to do an interview with you but I told them we can’t release you during a pageant week.’ I am entirely dumbfounded. One, the Today Show wanting an interview with ME. Two, if this organization is about raising awareness and intelligence about their ‘platform issues’ then why would they not want me talking to a national media outlet? It was ridiculous. ‘And also, we have allowed for Philadelphia to come in and do a spot with you. They want to interview you for their Friday morning special and I agreed as long as they allowed me and another person from the organization to sit in the room with you.’ Right, you want to sit in the room with me to make sure I don’t say anything that would hurt the pageant industry. ‘Alright, so you asked me about eating disorders in this group. Have you ever watched what happens when the food is brought out?’. He is staring at me. The expression is totally blank. ‘They don’t eat. Even when they put something on their plates, they don’t eat. Don’t you see this? You’ve never been in a bathroom and known that most of them are puking afterward or watched them go into the bathroom right after they’re done eating? Do you know my roommate (who is Miss Philadelphia) admitted that she uses laxatives during pageant week to make her stomach look smaller?’. He stammers, ‘You would NEVER say that to a television crew, would you?’. I look him in the eye, ‘I already know that you would pull the interview if I said one word about eating disorders being rampant here so I already know that I have to talk about how it relates to me. I am going to talk about sexual abuse because they’re likely going to ask me about it since it was in the article that went out on the AP.’ He looks at me like I’m some creature from the deep he’s never seen before: a woman who has her own mind and thoughts and doesn’t need anyone stuffing her with canned answers and inaccurate facts. Amazing and angering all at the same time. ‘Your interview is scheduled for Wednesday. We’ll take you to a room off of where the girls will be eating lunch so that it doesn’t cut into rehearsal time.’ ‘That’s fine. Thank you.’ He leads me out of the office and shuffles over to whisper to one of the organizers as I make my way back to my seat, the bruise from the beating still fading and the fresh smell of vomit on my fingers. 

I allow a fragile young woman to move into my apartment as I am frightened of being alone and we have forged a friendship joined by broken hearts, disillusion, instability and the mutual need to have someone around who shares the agony of being outcast. She has been on the outskirts of my social circle at the University for a few months now. Shadowed, haunted, slinking around corners as if some invisible force forbids her to walk in the middle of a hall or a street. That invisible force being an unspeakable pain she carries. Her eyes always betray her smile. She was the one who ran to my apartment the night I was beaten and sodomized. She held my hand as wave after wave of sickening grief washed over me. She needed someone too. We ordered crazy amounts of food, laughed at our clumsy tendencies, watched local television on a washed up T.V. that had had its ears lopped off at some point so only one or two stations came in depending on which way you turned the thing. In short, it was a relationship readymade to implode and explode in the most spectacular and gory fashion. She begins vomiting because she tells me that I vomit. She begins drinking even though at this point I am barely drinking. She begins cutting herself. Why did I keep her in my apartment? I needed someone who felt as sick as I felt. I needed the validation of sickness. The validation of the creeping shadow of some odd suicide pact. A path paved with the intention of mutual self-destruction. She began sleeping with any man who would have her. She loathed herself. I saw myself in her and she in me. The scent of impending despair is intoxicating.
A scream shatters the night, slamming me awake. It is a guttural cry as if a demon was being exorcised from my bowels, but it wasn’t me. The stark hallway light shows the misshapen silhouette of an angry specter. A razor is thrown across my bed and the figure retreats down the hallway. I hurtle out of bed and she is crumpled on the wiry carpet floor of the living room. She is bleeding from her right arm with several slashes gaping out of her flesh. ‘What is this?’ She screams and sobs. I kneel down, ‘What have you done?!’ ‘I want to die. I don’t want to live anymore.’ The screams have turned into shredding shrieks. ‘I need to call 911.’ This seen is eerily familiar. ‘NO! YOU ARE NOT!’. She scrambles to the phone ripping the cord out. Didn’t I tell her not to call 911 after she saw me beaten just a month before? Her sobs become breathless and soundless. ‘I need to call someone in your family. I need to get help. I can’t handle this myself.’ I am about to open a show later that evening and she is a cast member in this show. It is about 5am. I’ve just been raped twice in the last 5 months, my reputation is in shambles and I have a suicidal, bleeding girl lying on my living room floor. I wait until I know one of my professors will be in his office as she dozes off into a sweaty sleep. ‘Michael, I need to talk to you. Mary has been in my apartment and a few hours ago I was awakened by screaming and a razor being thrown across my bed.’ God, oh god, why is this happening? ‘Did you call 911?’. ‘No, she didn’t want me to and she’s sleeping but she’s cut pretty deeply and I believe she needs to be seen for a psychological evaluation.’ This coming from me of all people. ‘OK, ok, I will call her mother. Do you think you could also call her Mother?’. ‘Of course, I’ll try.’ ‘Do you think she’s safe now?’. ‘I honestly don’t know.’ ‘I’ll call you back. Be by the phone.’ The phone rings, ‘Her Mother is unaware of any problems she’s been having.’ It’s because of me isn’t it? They think that I did this to her somehow. ‘Michael, I was unaware that there were any problems going on like this.’ ‘I don’t see a choice but having to cancel the show tonight.’ Oh my god.. oh my god.. everyone in the department is going to know because they have to and they know it’s because of me. ‘I really don’t want that and I don’t want to upset my cast-mates.’ I am one of the principal actors in this production at the University. ‘I understand, Laurie, but I can’t have the show going on with this type of thing tonight. We need to get her family to respond.’ Somehow this has turned into my problem. ‘I am so sorry, Michael. I didn’t expect any of this.. I honestly didn’t. She never seemed that depressed to me.’ Oh Laurie, you wouldn’t know because you’re looking at a mirror image of yourself. ‘I will call family crisis and see if they can talk her into an assessment.’ ‘OK, Laurie. Please call me later.’ I call family crisis and she agrees to speak with a counselor. When I finally get her Mother on the phone I am left with nothing. She won’t even come to see her daughter. Mary agrees to go to the ER for an evaluation. I am relieved as I drive her there. Her pale face staring out the window. Empty. Hollow. I drop her off, drive to a local store to buy soup and a few other things and then go back to my apartment. She is sitting on the couch. I drop everything I’m holding. ‘What are you doing here?’. ‘Laurie, I don’t know what the big deal is. You’re making a big deal over nothing.’ ‘I have spent the entire day, Mary, looking for help for you. You told me you wanted to kill yourself, you cut yourself in my apartment. What is this? They canceled the show tonight so that you could get evaluated and they left me in charge.’ ‘Laurie, you are honestly making a big thing out of nothing.’ This girl was lying on my floor, bleeding, screeching about dying, I am calling for help all day, I drive her to an emergency room and here she sits. I am ruined. I have many people believing that so many things are all my fault. They will blame me. They will think I’m insane. I flip. ‘DO YOU KNOW WHAT THIS IS GOING TO DO TO ME??!!’. ‘DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA WHAT YOU’VE DONE TO ME?!’. ‘Laurie, what is wrong with you?’. Smash. I kick the vase of flowers sitting by the fireplace. Glass flies everywhere. ‘GET OUT!!!!!’. ‘GET OUT!!!!!!!’.. ‘Laurie, what are you doing?’ I hurl a glass and anything I can grab and just keep throwing and screaming. Is she insane? Am I insane? I call my sister. It takes her 10 minutes to get here and walk through the door. I’ve locked myself in the bathroom and listen to Mary ask the same calm, stupid questions over and over. I hear my sister say ‘You’ve done enough damage here. Get out.’ Mary doesn’t fight. She leaves. My sister asks me to open the door. ‘What am I going to do?’, I half gasp and whisper.
I call Michael the next morning and try to calmly explain what happened. He is angry with me. Maybe with her. He cancels the show. My cast-mates are furious. For many this was their last senior show, they had worked so hard and I had been the cause of yet another disastrous event in several months for the department. I decide to take a leave of absence. I would have graduated but I needed to disappear. I needed to get out of there and be away. Just when you think you can’t bear one more thing. The shame and humiliation are almost too much to handle but I am still breathing and dying isn’t an option. I leave the apartment before the lease is up. The landlord knows about the rapes but refuses to let me out of the lease. I pay the lease and leave the apartment. I have a case to get on with and my first and only Miss America Pageant to get on with. I have outreach work. I have girls who still need me. I have to go on.


1 in 3 women have been raped but that statistic is actually thought to be inaccurate due to the mass amount of rapes that never go reported. There are statistics that take it to 1 in 2 depending on the demographic such as college aged women but the number of teens impacted by rape is sharply rising and the age by which a woman will have had her FIRST rape is getting younger and younger. Many people believe that rape only happens in the worst case scenario: a stranger drags a woman into a back alley and it is an entirely anonymous event. This is not the case. Over 80% of women know their attackers. The ‘worst case scenario’ is not the norm and is extremely small in Western countries.
Why don’t women come forward? A sentence for the attacker (please note that I am not going beyond the word attacker because this is an extremely complex subject) is unlikely even if charges are pressed. Most D.A.’s would rather the attacker pleas down to a lesser charge because they have a shot at jail time. If a rape case goes to court the chances of the attacker serving time are slim to none. Why? There are no witnesses, the attacker never has to take the stand so the woman is the only person who ever testifies and that testimony is brutal. Their character and reputation is torn to shreds in whatever way the Defense can think of. They will approach anyone and everyone to make a statement that somehow paints the woman as a drunk or a drug addict (even if she’s only been drunk at a Frat party or she’s was only seen experimenting with a drug). Mental health plays a huge role against the woman and often court ordered psychiatric evaluations are ordered by the Defense. If the woman happened to sleep with a certain number of men then that also comes up against her character even if it means that she only ‘fooled around’. What the Defense is trying to establish is that the woman is drunk, addicted, crazy and loose with no morals or self-control. This is hardly ever the case but it’s the spin of the case that matters. If they can cast doubt in the minds of the jury then there can be no conviction. It’s very, very easy in a rape case to cast reasonable doubt. I take myself as an example as many of you have asked me how the story ends and I haven’t said much about the outcome but these are the things I went through: I was subject to a court appointed psychiatric evaluation because I had an eating disorder and post- traumatic stress disorder from previous assaults, I survived an emotionally and physically abusive childhood with my Mother being very unstable due to abuse she had suffered as a child and young adult, I suffered panic and anxiety attacks and also once was put on a 72 hour watch for suicidal ideation when I was 18. They questioned my professors and my classmates to garnish any little gem that might cast doubt in the minds of a jury. There was plenty of material they could have used against me in snapshot moments of being with them. I had been to very few parties but the ones I had been to I had had a drink or two, I had made out with a few younger classmen, everyone knew that I was struggling with an eating disorder, one or two of my professors knew my personal history of abuse and prior rapes as well as my history of panic/anxiety. Despite this, my D.A. believed that I had a chance to win the case and not a small one. I was a 4.0 student at a private University, I had headed many organizations and initiatives to do with many controversial subjects by the age of 23, I worked 3 jobs to pay my way through college, I was already a professional performer even though I was still in college. The case could have gone in a million different directions because in the end it is a game of ‘he said/she said’ with the attacker never having to take the stand.
You might be thinking about the rape kits that they use in hospitals? Most survivors never get to a hospital by the time they decide to press charges so the evidence is compromised. Consider how many rape kits are lost, misplaced, mixed with someone else’s. It’s staggering to think of the winnable cases where the rape kit was tossed out due to reasons I’ve given and also legalities. Increasingly, the court system is beginning to use DNA evidence but as we know by just reading the news it’s often too little too late. DNA is still a controversial way to use evidence and there are still many within the system who would say that there are too many ways to falsify or compromise the data. Some states don’t even recognize it yet. Also, the longer a woman waits to report the less likely this evidence will come into play and if it does it will be used against her. Why did she wait so long? Given what I’ve described about my experiences I believe you are likely starting to get a picture of why it may take someone a week or a month to report a rape case against someone they know, and that’s the majority of cases.
Threat of physical violence is usually the only thing that an attacker has to succeed in raping the survivor. Over 80% of rapes are committed by verbal threat alone. Apply the two statistics: 80% of attackers are known to the survivor and 80% are committed by use of verbal threat. I can tell you, from a personal perspective, how jarring it is to have someone you KNOW do something like this to you. It’s like being thrust into a pit of confusion, fear, anxiety and just not knowing what to do or how to handle it. Are they kidding? I don’t think they’ll go through with it. Maybe if I just do a little they’ll stop? These are the myriad of thoughts that go through your head. We’ve been told that ‘no means no’ but often there is no ‘’no’ involved. More often than not there is silence when faced with this kind of threat. Words hold tremendous power. Imagine anytime you might have been referred to in an extremely derogatory manner and of your reaction. Usually shock is the first thing we experience especially if the word or words came from someone we know. We are more likely to react to a stranger saying horrible things to us than we are to someone we know. My sister is a self-defense instructor and in her classes she does an exercise to do with verbal abuse and threat. The woman faces away from the attacker and the attacker throws a tirade of verbal assault at the woman and then will proceed to attack the woman from behind. The most likely scenario is that the woman freezes when she hears these words and doesn’t react to the action taken against her. We are conditioned to give words so much power that we could literally get killed because we identify with them so much that we can’t move. Words do NOT have to have this kind of power over any of us. They are not us, they do not define us, they are just words. We forget that the old saying ‘sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me’ and it’s actually true but in the instance of rape or any other instance we allow them to penetrate us as if they can hurt us. The choice to allow them to impact us is a powerful one. The immediate reaction when we remain unaware can be devastating. 
I will continue addressing factors and statistics so that we can reach a point where we demystify this thing called rape and what occurs around it. Knowledge is power but to know is better than just to know about.


I had worked for a private retail store about 5 minutes from my apartment for several years now. The store was built on generations of families coming in to purchase, share photos, introduce the next generation to ‘Jill’ and ‘Arnold’. We were a little family ourselves. I was the ‘daughter’ they were incredibly proud of. The came to every show I did, they marveled at my grades in college and all of my other accomplishments. I could tell them anything about me and they would offer their love, support, advice, a hold to hold, a shoulder to cry on. ‘Arnold’ made me feel like I was the queen of the world as did ‘Jill’. We had dinners together, we celebrated birthdays together, we observed holidays together and they knew what had happened to me in my apartment. They attended my first hearing alongside my own birth family. They didn’t know what had just happened a few nights before. They didn’t know that I was about to tell them that it had been a man they knew from when he was a child who had left me with a very noticeable limp in the days following the attack. He had actually shown up at the store to sit and chat with them about family and other goings on in his life just the other day. He smiled at me and said ‘Hello, Laurie’ as if nothing had ever happened. I was standing in the watch room changing a battery when I heard his voice out in the main part of the little store. ‘Oh, Laurie’s in the back,’ said ‘Jill’ when asked if I was there or not. I heard the doors swing open and his footsteps as he walked toward the watch room. Small beads of perspiration started to form on my upper lip. My hands shaking slightly as I held the watch in my hand getting ready to place the back in place. I didn’t have time to move to the bathroom which is what my immediate thought was. He was at the door holding it slightly ajar with his hip. ‘Hello, Laurie.’ I didn’t look up at first. I wanted to look as if I was struggling harder with the watch than I actually was. ‘Is anything wrong?’ ‘No, no, why would there be anything wrong? I’m just trying to put this watch…’, my voice caught and I didn’t finish the sentence. ‘Good. I’m happy to hear everything is OK with you.’ He moved up against my body. He remembered. He wasn’t nearly as drunk as I’d thought. My body was shaking and my breath was shallow. ‘I’m trying to finish this watch. A customer is waiting out front.’ ‘I just wanted to say hello.’ He breezed out toward the front of the store chatting boisterously to ‘Jill’ and ‘Arnold’. I sat down on the chair, dropping the watch, its battery rolling across the tiny repair desk. No tears. I’m still breathing. Should I tell them? I can’t do this anymore. I can’t wonder if I’ll ever be safe again. I pick out a new battery, pop the watch back on, wipe the dial and limp out into the main room toward the customer. ‘Well young lady, thank you. Say, that’s a nasty little limp you have there. What happened?’ What happened? I was beaten and sodomized by that man sitting over there. He’s very close friends with ‘Jill’ and ‘Arnold’. They don’t know. I don’t know if I should tell them. My mind is rolling through this as I say ‘Oh, I’m just clumsy. I tripped over a curb walking back to my apartment the other day. It’s nothing serious.’ I’m sorry, I’m so bruised that I’m black underneath this skirt so you’ll have to forgive me if I fall over dead since I don’t know if I’m bleeding internally or not.. Again, the thoughts keep rolling over each other. ‘Well, thanks for this. I always know I should change the battery sooner but then I just forget.’ ‘I think that’s pretty usual, don’t you?’ I smile at him. He’s a sweet, elderly gentleman who has been coming here for over 30 years to get his watch batteries changed. He leaves the store. My hands are placed on the counter to steady myself as I listen to him chatter and laugh with ‘Arnold ‘ and ‘Jill’. I have to tell them. Should I tell them? Would they hate me? The phone rings cutting this dialogue short. ‘May I speak with Laurie Green, please?’ ‘This is Laurie.’ ‘Hey Laurie, I’m just checking in with you. I realize it’s been a little while but these cases move very slowly. I just want you to know, and this is just typical protocol, that the defense has ordered a psychiatric evaluation on you and also they have been questioning your college department…’ I’m stunned. ‘They’ve said a few things that we need to speak about. I realize you’re at work but could you see me tomorrow afternoon for a brief talk about how we’re going to handle this?’ ‘Umm.. yes.. yes.. we can do that..’. His laugh cracks through the room as I hang up the phone. ‘Laurie, go make us some tea, dear’, Arnold says after I hang up the phone. I have to tell them. I don’t know how but I have to tell them. I walk past them and make tea.

It is now 5 months after the initial hearing. It is early Friday morning and I am returning from a night out with friends having just met a wonderful man. The apartment is a little chilly so a turn up the heat a little to take the chill off the room and pick up my journal. ‘Tonight has been such a wonderful night but I still feel like I don’t want to live anymore. I can’t face what is ahead of me. I am tortured by what to do with the case. Why can’t I just enjoy myself anymore..’. The phone rings. I look at the clock and it is 2 am. I let the answering machine pick it up and listen. ‘Where are you? Where have you been? I need you to open the door?’. What? What’s wrong? I get out of bed and run to the phone but the call has ended. I know him. He’s been a friend of my employer’s for a long time and a big part of the theatre community as well as the community at large. The phone rings again and I pick up, ‘Hello…’. ‘Just open the door when I knock.’ ‘Is something wrong?’. ‘Just open the door when I knock, please, Laurie.’ ‘OK, ‘John’. Can you tell me what’s wrong?..’ . Click. A knock on the door. I open it and my friend and colleague stands there. He has been drinking and very heavily at that. He walks into the living room and I close the door. ‘John, what’s wrong? ‘. He grabs my wrist and his face is very close to mine, ‘Go get something to hit you with and get some lotion. NOW.’ Oh my god. ‘What… What.. I don’t understand..’. ‘Do it, slave!’ He moves towards me, grabs my wrist and pulls me back to the bedroom, throwing me down on the bed. It is dark in my room except for the light coming through the blinds cutting his dark image into menacing pieces. He jumps on top of me and holds my hands down, grinding against me. ‘You’re such a slut, Laurie Green.’ ‘Such an ignorant little slut.’ ‘You disgust me and I have to punish you for that.’ His full weight is crushing my chest. I can’t breathe because he has placed his weight on my chest. He slaps me across the face. ‘You do as I say, you whore.’ ‘You do as I say.’ He gets up with a violent rush and throws me to the floor. I can’t think. I can’t think. What is this? Oh god what is this? What? ‘Get lotion and get something that I can beat you with.’ ‘No.. No.. I won’t do this..’. He shoves me down on the floor and grabs the rod that opens the blinds from the hook tearing my pajama pants off. He starts beating me across the legs. The whipping of that rod is like fire on my skin. And yet I don’t quite feel it either. I beg him to stop, ‘John!! John!! STOP!! STOP!!’. ‘YOU DO AS I SAY! WHORE!’ I crawl to my drawer to get whatever lotion I can find and then crawl to the living room and grab a piece of rubber than is almost like a weight. I am not even thinking. I’m just grabbing as he follows me, whipping me. ‘PLEASE STOP!’.. my body is shaking, my heart feels like it’s going to stop beating. ‘You go back into the bedroom. NOW!.’ Oh god.. oh no.. oh please no…

He throws me back on the bed and tells me to spread my legs and starts whipping my vagina and upper thighs. My screams are course and pained as he whips me and whips me, ‘You think you have something special between your legs, don’t you, Laurie Green?’ ‘NO! NO! STOP!’. ‘It stops when I say it stops. Whip! Whip! Whip! I’m on the carpet now on my stomach. He is sitting on my upper back wielding the rubber object like a club. Slam! Slam! Slam! Scream! Scream! Scream! ‘Is that enough, Laurie?’. Slam! ‘Is that enough?’. ‘It’s ENOUGH’, I scream. Sobbing and screaming. Snot oozes into my mouth. My body is going numb. I can’t breathe and I think that this is it. I’m going to die like this. I’m going to die like a whore. He gets off of me and I gasp and he throws me back on the bed. ‘Stay on your stomach.’ ‘Clamp your teeth down on this and hold on to the rails of the bed.’ I hear the lotion bottle open. He sodomizes me. The searing, screeching pain is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. ‘If you stay calm this won’t hurt as much’, he whispers in my ear as he groans. He is done. I am screaming and sobbing on the bed. He slams through the apartment and out the front door leaving it open. I lie on the bed. I’m not even sure if I am able to move. Everything is numb. Everything. I think maybe I’m dying but I push my body weight over the side of the bed until I’m on the floor and I crawl on my stomach. I pick up the phone and call a friend. ‘Help me! You have to come and help me! Help me!’. ‘Oh my god, Laurie. Oh my God! Where are you!’. She comes through the open front door and stares at my crumpled body. ‘LAURIE! OH MY GOD! WE NEED TO CALL THE POLICE! YOU NEED TO GO TO THE EMERGENCY ROOM!’. NO! NO! NO! ‘I can’t go anywhere.. I can’t go anywhere..’.. I am gasping and trying to pull in breath between sobs. She helps me on the couch. She holds my hand as I gaze at the ceiling. ‘Laurie, you need to be seen by a doctor.’ ‘I can’t see anyone. I have a case in court. They wouldn’t believe this happened a 2nd time in 5 months.’ ‘Laurie!’. NO! ‘Just stay with me, stay with me.’ I somehow drift off to sleep for 3 hours. I wake up and dress. I am limping and my butt and thighs are thick with welts and the bruise is black now. I have to give a talk to my childhood elementary school about self-esteem, eating disorders and sexual assault. She drives me there and I numbly get out of the car. I greet ‘Sister Claire’. I have known her my whole life. ‘Laurie, we are so happy and excited you came!’ I stand before 200 girls and boys and begin to talk. I will compete for Miss Pennsylvania in 2 months. The bruise will take that long to disappear. I have made it my work to advocate. I stand there and advocate bruised and broken. But I am advocating. They are listening. He will never be charged. No one will ever know. And my rape trial is still continuing. Yes, it can happen a 2nd time and a 3rd time and a 4th time. Yes. It can.


I know many people who believe they’ve never met someone who has been raped or it has never dawned on them that the likelihood is extremely high. It is also highly likely that you know someone who has raped another person. I believe the current statistic is actually extremely low: 1 in 3. Given the attitudes each of us carries from our families, friends, communities, workplaces, churches, schools, political systems it is a wonder that we have any original ideas about most things that happen in the world around us. Just think of the programming you carry with you that has little to do with the present. All of these social structures have given us our ideas on rape and most every other subject we could think of. I would dare say these social structures and their ingrained ideas have nothing to do with the present and yet we carry these into our present every single day, mostly unconsciously. The burden on our minds and hearts is so heavy and our judgments are so absolute that we don’t realize that we have the power to soften our minds, question everything we’ve ever been told about anything, breathe, stay present and realize that we are not different from each other. This means questioning all of the subconscious and conscious beliefs and ideas we currently have. Even if we THINK so, our Spirits are no different from the Spirit of anyone else. This Spirit cannot be touched by any of these beliefs and ideas. Whatever occurs externally does not change our true Nature. We have the ability to stay entirely present, right now, no matter what our personal histories or our social structures have been. They do not serve us for the most part. They don’t even exist anymore other than being an energetic imprint. They are words and events that we give incredible amounts of meaning to but actually words and events can have no meanings unless we give them such power. Why do I go into this? You are an individual who has a choice about how you want to experience the world. Many of us are so clouded by anger and resentment from past events and our interpretations of them that we’ve forgotten that we could have easily interpreted those events in a way that served our growth and potential. How does this apply to rape or any event in our lives or the lives of others? If you were to dismiss the past, leave it where it is and look at a person with the eyes of a newborn child imagine the impact that would have on ourselves and others. You would no longer be a slave to the thoughts, opinions and emotions that bind you in the past leaving only the potential for true action instead of reaction which is usually how we take ‘action’ which is not true action. A knee-jerk reaction is just that. We get triggered by something that happened in the past or a belief we rigidly hold onto, often without our realizing it, and then from there we follow our usual patterns of behavior causing more sorrow and suffering for ourselves and others. Imagine if you met a man, woman or child and stayed present to their grief about having been raped (you can also apply this to anything). You listen. You listen without judgment and are aware of your potential reaction but just let them be. You stay with this human being heart to heart, leaving your mind and all past reactions and judgments in the background. You now sit in a place of real power for them and for yourself. You take their hand and from a quiet space you love them in the stillness of the present moment. Imagine how much you could learn about yourself and helping another heal just by remaining entirely present. When we really touch others, we feel their hands, their tears, we know we are breathing and know we are in deep contact with that person who is suffering then we have true power and the capacity to empower them to take true action. They would know that they are greater than anything that has happened and we would know that we are greater than anything that’s happened. We would have the ability to change the dialogue. We would transcend as would they. Our denial, our old angers, our old reactions, our stories, our resentments, our old belief systems only serve one purpose: they increase our suffering and the suffering of others. If we could practice living this way, being with another human being and ceasing our internal chatter, then we move toward true freedom and the joy of helping others, giving freely of ourselves and in turn we would be richer beyond our wildest dreams. Always take the hand that is offered to you, hold it and consider it the most precious thing you’ve ever touched and know that therein lies the space for truth and grace to help, to be helped and to be the Love you wish to see in the world.

It’s somewhere between 3 am and 4 am. The wind whips down the street as the trees cast shadows of their broken, barren limbs under a crescent moon. I have taken to walking down dark streets and alleys tempting, taunting someone to do it again. Why not? I’m a perfect victim weaving down the street. Drunk. Wearing a long flowery dress and a black trench coat. A black fedora perched on my head. Two men pull over, one jumps out of his car. Where are you going? ‘Back to my apartment’, I slur. ‘Do you want company?’ The street is entirely empty except for a few branches that scrape down the street. I smile at him, a twisted, drunken smirk. ‘No.’ ‘You don’t look like you’re from this country. Where are you friend?’ He starts walking toward me as I slowly back against a wall. ‘I’m Russian’, a hoarse giggle escaping my frigid lips. ‘I want to kiss you.’ ‘So kiss me.’ I back against the wall, the car with his friend parked nearby, I grasp his face and kiss him on the lips violently and then let him go and begin to walk ahead of him. ‘Wait.. that’s it? ‘It’s a little thing called Roulette and you just lost’, I toss this remark over my shoulder as I make a right turn toward my apartment. I don’t care anymore. I am the object I’ve always believed I was. I’m the ‘thing’ that they want. Come and get it. I whirl around in the middle of the street, dawn breaking. ‘I don’t care anymore, you piece of shit’, I mumble as I dig for my apartment keys. I stumble through the door banging against the front door frame leading into the darkened living room. Only slivers of light breaking the yawning silence. I throw off my coat and crumple to the floor. The slivers of light now feel like a runaway train blowing through my front window. ‘God, help me. If you exist I need you to take the pain away!!! Take it AWAY!!!’, my hands are in fists so tight they should have drawn blood. A slender wrist punching at the air, punching any body part it could find but it still didn’t hurt enough to take the shattering despair from my body. ‘WHHYYY!!!’ Unearthly howls of anger, grief, loss, confusion. ‘I am SOOO LOST!!!’ I lay my head against the cheap wood of the couch in my front room. I just want to have the guts to smash it into that wood and have it all be over with. I don’t have the courage, it seems, to kill myself. I crawl across the steely carpet. My knees scraping the floor. I open the fridge. There must be something here. There must be something here. Leftover General Tso’s from the last time. I reach for a fork from the sink plunging it into the goopy, congealed mess. I can’t even say I swallow it. I just stuff and stuff and stuff. I make sure I eat the pepper. It hurts more coming up. That’s how you plan a binge and purge. How difficult is it going to be to get it back up? I want more pain. Will this give me more pain? I drink down glass after glass of water and I lean against the kitchen counters. I can’t fall asleep yet. This isn’t over. I haven’t finished what I started. I crawl to the bathroom. The sacred place. This room holds more tears and more relief than any room in the house. I grab a piece of toilet paper and roll up my sleeve. Sometimes once doesn’t do it so you have to be persistent with the demons otherwise they’ll come back. Empty everything. Sobbing and wracked with pain against the toilet. It is accomplished. My head hangs off the rim. My hand covered in saliva. Tears stream down my face. A sigh escapes my lips. I don’t turn the light on. I wash my hands and face and fall into my bed. I don’t bother to change my clothes. I feel the wounds still open across my back but they don’t hurt as much right now. ‘You are a disgusting, worthless piece of shit.’ That is my mantra as I drift off into my alcohol haze. 

I stand in my bathroom looking into empty, tired eyes. Eye shadow, liner, mascara, blush, lipstick. My hair is pulled back away from a pale face that doesn’t feel like it belongs to me. I can barely feel my skin. Numb to the physical feeling of my body. I don’t want to feel ‘it’, I don’t want to look at ‘it’, I don’t want ‘it’ to be there anymore. The scalding hatred I feel toward this image in the mirror is beyond anything I’ve ever felt. I didn’t know it was possible for me to hate myself more than I had before all of this happened. I wear a black suit. I step outside into the sunshine. Again. Exposed. All eyes on me as I keep my head down. Large, dark sunglasses hide my eyes. They feel like an invisibility cloak. If they can’t see my eyes then they can’t see me. I meet my attorney inside the courthouse. He shakes my hand and then I am walked to a stark room where they hold all victims who testify. A table with a few chairs and a box of tissues are the lone objects in the stark, cold, haunted room. Haunted by the terrors of those who have sat waiting for their turn before the judge and their attacker. I stand occasionally wandering the room aimlessly. I don’t feel terrified. I don’t feel anything. Nothing. My Mom and Dad are seated in the room. My Mom holds my hand when I finally sit down. My Dad sits on the other side of me. My sister Rachel paces the room. ‘Do you need anything, Laurie?’ My attorney jolts me back into the room. ‘They’re ready for us.’ I stand as do my parents and we make our way down the hallway. It feels like I’m going to my own execution. The courtroom door creaks open and I walk through it. The judge sits above the courtroom and there is the chair to his left. My attorney and I take our places on the opposite side of the courtroom. He sits with his attorney on the other. ‘Ms. Green, please approach the bench.’ ‘Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help you God?’ ‘Yes’. The truth. Isn’t that what started this hell to begin with? I sit and stare out at the courtroom. His family is there. My family is there. A few friends are there. He sits there staring at me with his attorney by his side. ‘You may begin the questioning.’ I tell the story to my attorney the way we have rehearsed it over and over. It’s not as if it’s changed from the first time I told Officer #1. ‘I had a cast party. ‘Jeff’ was there. Yes, he had been drinking. He returned to my house…’ . I catch ‘Jeff’ out of the corner of my eye, he crying and his face is contorted in anger and what appears to be disbelief. My attorney is finished with his questions and sits. His attorney rises. He is short and stocky with greying brown hair. His suit is grey. ‘Ms. Green, how long have you know ‘Mr. Smith?’ ‘I have known him for about 2 years.’ ‘Is it true that he is your boyfriend’s best friend?’ ‘Yes. They have been friends since they were children.’ ‘Isn’t it a bit strange? Mr. Smith would betray his friendship for you?’ ‘I can’t answer that. Only he could answer that.’ He walks away, his back to me. ‘Maybe you had consensual sex with him and then got frightened that your boyfriend would find out so you accused him of rape?’ ‘I would never do such a thing.’ I bow my head and begin my body jerks with tearless sobs. No sound escapes my lips. I place my fingers on my cold forehead. ‘OBJECTION!’ cries my attorney. ‘Sustained.’ ‘Mr. Davis, why are you waiting to question Ms. Green?’ ‘Is she finished crying so that I can continue questioning her?’ ‘Mr. ‘Davis’, I don’t care for the attitude you’ve taken.’ ‘Ms. Green, are you OK to continue with the questioning?’ the Judge leans over and hands me a tissue. I look up at him and nod my head. I look back at Mr. ‘Davis’ and just never take my eyes off his for the remainder of the questioning. ‘You were at a party with ‘Jeff’ the a few days before you had your cast party?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘And were you drinking at that party?’ ‘OJECTION!’ ‘What does this have to do with the case?’ ‘Sustained.’ ‘Mr. ‘Davis’, this is not relevant to the night in question. Continue.’ ‘You had been drinking that night?’ ‘NO. I HAD BRONCHITIS.’ The words come out of my mouth like the sharp staccato of machine gun fire. ‘Why would you have the party if you were so sick?’ ‘Because I had planned it for some time and didn’t want to disappoint my cast mates.’ He turns his back to me again, shaking his head. ‘So you went with ‘Jeff’ to the bedroom’. ‘NO. He told me to get up and go to the bedroom.’ So many questions were asked and so many words were twisted around and yet I caught every single turn of phrase, twist of story, change of words. It was like verbal game of cat and mouse. The judge stops the questioning abruptly. ‘Ms. Green has been on the stand for an hour and a half and this is a hearing NOT a trial. There will be no more questions at this time. I’ve heard enough.’ His attorney starts to object. ‘I have heard all I need to hear. Take a seat.’ ‘Thank you, Ms. Green.’ ‘You are not required to stay in the room. Your attorney will take you back to your room now.’ I get up from the chair, I can’t feel my legs, I can’t see the room. I can’t feel anything. My attorney walks back with me as do my parents. ‘Laurie, you were amazing. You were really amazing.’ I nod my head blankly. He leaves the room to finish with the hearing. I sit. It is so quiet. My Mom wipes tears from her cheeks. My Dad’s face is white as a sheet. My sister’s cheeks are a fiery red. The clock ticks in the room. My attorney walks through the door. ‘All charges stand!’ All charges stand. God help me.

And the phone finally rings breaking the crypt-like silence in what has now become my personal prison. I am wrapped in a blanket sitting on the couch, staring at the groaning pile of homework begging me to lessen its burden. My eyes flick over the untouched papers and unopened books. The 4.0 junior, the actor, the singer, the activist, where is she? Oh, she’s there. Screaming into the void that has become her mind: ‘What were you thinking?! Why did you do this?! It’s your fault you filthy, disgusting pig! You deserved it and you deserve everything that’s ever happened to you, you stupid piece of garbage!’ My voice mail takes the call as I sleepwalk into the kitchen, scrabbling for anything I can stuff inside of myself so I don’t have to feel anything anymore. Beep. ‘Ms. Green, Father ‘Stravos’ would like to see you. Please call the office as soon as you are free. Thank you.’ Her voice is cool and cheerful revealing nothing about her call or Father ‘Stravos’ request. Father ‘Stravos’, the president of the University. We’ve chatted on many occasions, most of our talks about my next production or how classes were going or something entirely vacuous but we do have a warm familiarity. I’ll call the office once I’m finished shoving 4 packages of Ramen noodles down my throat so that I can perform the exorcism that takes the pain away even if it’s just a brief respite. I shovel food, watching the clock, my hands shaking, reaching for the next glass of water. The holy water which will make this exorcism much easier to endure. I rush into the bathroom. It is my sacred place. It is where the pain doesn’t matter anymore. I vomit. It’s been over 11 years and it still seems to soothe me even as tears run down my face with each gag, my fingers red from scraping over my teeth as I shove them down my throat again and again, ‘Satan be gone.’ Nothing is coming up anymore. I take a tissue, wipe my fingers, my mouth, wipe around the toilet, flush. I walk past my image in the mirror. Pale, eyes red and watery, sweat beading my forehead. It is complete. Between the trembling and shaking that proceeds a purge I manage to get to the couch, my heart pounding, clearing my teary eyes so that I can dial the President’s office. ‘Hello, this is Laurie Green returning your call.’ ‘Yes, hello Laurie. Father ‘Stravos’ would like to see you, are you available this afternoon?’ ‘I am available this afternoon. What time would he like to see me?’ ‘Is 2 o’clock alright with you?’ ‘2 is fine. I’ll see you then. Thank you.’ I hang up the phone. I’m curious and a bit taken aback by his request. It MUST be something to do with my academics and maybe my missed classes? I start to pull things out of the jumbled mess of a closet that houses my clothes. I pull my hair back and apply makeup. My face is puffy from vomiting. I don’t even bother to look in the mirror as I exit the apartment. Outside. I’m actually standing outside not wearing the now customary baseball hat and sweatpants. It is a beautiful day. Warm and breezy. I am outside. Students amble past sneaking glances at me, whispering under their breath... Right! I am going to see the President! The building is a huge, pseudo-gothic monstrosity with creaky wood floor, an old ballroom to the right, a winding staircase leading up to other administrative offices and a small nook with a door that leads to Father ‘Stravos’ office. ‘Hello, I’m Laurie Green. I have an appointment at 2’ ‘Yes, Laurie, how wonderful to see you. Let me see if he’s ready to see you.’ This last phrase becoming a little too familiar. I decide to stand at the gleaming mahogany desk rather than sit. My heart is beating a bit fast; I feel anxiety creeping through me. What is this about? ‘Go right in, Laurie’. ‘Laurie! Good to see you! Have a seat.’ Father Stravos waves me to heavy, wood chair. ‘I’m going to get to the point. I know what happened to you and I can only imagine how difficult it is. I’ve seen the report from the police department.’ ‘How did you get that?’ ‘Campus security. The police are required to report anything to the University involving our students.’ I nod my headed slowly, looking him in the eyes. Something is very wrong here. ‘Yes…’ ‘Well, I think this is all a big mistake. ‘Jeff’, he’s not a bad kid, Laurie. People make mistakes. You were having a cast party and I know that drinking was involved....’ I cut him off at this point. ‘ ‘Jeff had been drinking as had a few other people but I had not because I’ve had bronchitis for about a month now..’ ‘Yes, yes. But foolish things happen when people drink and ‘Jeff’ and his family are very sorry if you misunderstood anything that..’ ‘I’m sorry, what am I misunderstanding?’ He laughs, it sounds hollow and coarse. ‘Well, Laurie there’s no need to go through with a hearing. ‘Jeff’s’ Dad gives a LOT of money to the University and he sits on our board as Treasurer…’ ‘What does this have to do with anything?’ ‘Well, maybe there’s some compensation here.. with ‘Jeff’s’ Dad. People settle things out of court all the time. A settlement..’ ‘Wait. You want me to drop the charges and negotiate with ‘Jeff’s’ father for a payout to buy my silence?’ ‘Laurie, this University has a reputation to uphold and we rely heavily on ‘Jeff’s’ Dad for funding. You know, he’s a good friend of mine. I could speak with him if you like.’ ‘I can’t do that. That would basically say that I lied about all of this. I have a reputation as well.’ ‘Laurie… people do these things ALL the time. Who needs to know?’ ‘I don’t feel very well right now. I need to go.’ ‘Laurie, I’m only giving you this as an option. I know you are a great asset to this University. Why would I want to do anything to harm you?’ ‘Maybe because you’re worried about how much fucking money you won’t get if I go through with the charges you bastard!’.. I do not say this… ‘I’m sorry I feel really confused..’ ‘That’s understandable, Laurie. This is a very difficult thing for all of you. I’m asking you to think about it.’ I stand. ‘I don’t know, I just don’t know anymore. I’m very busy. I have rehearsal tonight, I’m behind on homework, I have to talk to my attorney..’ He stands, ‘Your attorney doesn’t have to know about any of this and we never had this conversation.’ He smiles, ‘OK?’ I nod and exit the room. I open the large front doors, stop at McDonald’s, order a Big Mac, a Quarter pounder with Cheese, 20 chicken nuggets, a milkshake, fries, an apple pie. It’s not going to be inside of me for long anyway. One of the best painkillers around waits for me and I will swallow it and I will purge it. No more pain. 

It’s a beautiful autumn day. A slight breeze adding just a touch of frost. The sun casts my shadow long across the sidewalk. I gaze at the ground not wanting to make eye contact with anyone. It’s easier this way. To look into the angry eyes of strangers who ‘know’ you and what you’ve done to their beloved friend is a gruesomely lonely place to be. Looking into the eyes of those who have claimed to love you and now despise you for accusing their friend, their colleague of the unthinkable? A rape? The noose around my neck just gets tighter and tighter so maybe if I close my eyes to the stares I can bare the sheer terror and loneliness which strangles every fiber of my being on my walk to the D.A.’s office. The office happens to be conveniently located just off the grounds of the campus so my walk of shame is precious in its irony. I open the large oak doors. The marble is cold and gray. The environment so sterile that even if a thousand mascara soaked tears had hit the floor you’d never know but I know they’re there. I’m going to tell my story. Again. To another stranger. I make my way down the silent hallway which whispers the tales of every ‘victim’ who has walked its naked fluorescence before me. I wander, lurching, looking for the office almost aimlessly. Pale from the pain that shoots through me. Drained from the energy it takes to ward off ignorant hatred (isn’t all hatred ignorant?), I find the office and step through the door. The gallows. My fate will be decided here in part and in this moment I say ‘Hello, my name is Laurie Green.’ ‘Hello, Ms. Green please take a seat he will be with you shortly.’ He... I will tell him and he will decide if he believes there is a case or not. A reason to believe me. I sit in a squeaky chair. It is the most talkative object in the room. ‘Ms. Green, he will see you now.’ I walk through door with the stereotypical frosted glass window. ‘Hi, Laurie. Have a seat.’ He has blonde hair and sharp blue eyes that do not betray a single thought he may have in his head. He is seated behind a desk groaning with paperwork. Other victim paperwork. An ocean of suffering on one desk. He smiles, ‘Do you need anything?’ I want to reply, ‘I need to end this very quickly so how fast can a gallows door open so I can drop to death in peace. I don’t want to dangle here and die slowly.’ ‘I don’t need anything, thank you.’ ‘I’ve read the police report and I have the pictures here’. The pictures. It’s like he’s talking about a dissected frog. He continues, ‘Can you tell me about yourself, Laurie?’. He is the first person to call me by my first name during this entire process. ‘I am a 4.0 student, I work 3 jobs and I perform.’ ‘Where do you perform?’. ‘At the Playhouse.’ ‘OH, what roles have you played?’. He knows who I am. ‘Well, I last played Maria in West Side Story.’ ‘YES! I took my fiancé to see that! You were wonderful. I think I’ve seen you in a lot of things…’. Of course he has. ‘Laurie, I think we have a very good shot during the hearing. You present yourself well, you have an excellent community reputation and I believe what’s been told to me but I do need to go through the report with you.’ I’m staring at him, unblinking. ‘Laurie, is this OK with you?’. ‘Yes, of course.’ I proceed to tell him the story again. He peppers me with question after question: ‘But did he say to FOLLOW him to the bedroom?’. Yes. And he continues to tear apart every verb, every line, every action as if it were a Pulitzer Prize winning play. ‘Yes. We have a solid case. You will be an excellent witness. I can tell.’ It’s like someone is speaking to me in a wind tunnel… did he say ‘hearing and excellent witness..’? I stammer, ‘what else do I have to do?’ ‘We have a hearing scheduled 2 weeks from today and I will take the time to prepare you over the course of these 2 weeks. His father has hired a very high powered attorney and I have to have you 100% if we are to have all charges stand. You are going to take the stand?’. I nod at him, tears starting to form in my hot eyes, ‘Yes. Yes.’ I start to rock in my chair. The only comfort I have. Rocking and weeping silently. Rocking and nodding. ‘I will call you in the next day or two to go over the details.’ He slides the tissue box over to me and as I reach for it he takes my hand and holds it. I shudder with every sob. Finally, a hand to hold. Someone believes me even amongst his sea of paperwork hell. A warm hand to hold. It feels like I have already won. No, but it feels like it.

Why am I writing about rape?
To my readers and potential readers, 
I’m sure that many of you have passed over reading this column, have experienced fear and revulsion, shame, anger. Maybe some of you are just asking yourself ‘Why would she write about rape and what good does it do anyhow?’. I’d like to address this this week. One thing that strikes me is a message I read from someone I know who apologized for not reading my column saying, ‘I just can’t. I can’t imagine reading about it because I know you and I don’t want to know the details of what you went through because it’s too painful for me.’ I can understand this or any other reaction to writing about rape. I am here to be the voice for the millions of silent voices. I am here to tell you the story so that we can get to the part where we can transcend the current attitudes about rape and have a real dialogue fueled by love and understanding. I want you to ask me questions. I want you to challenge ideas. I want you to feel you have a voice whether you are the person who has survived having been raped, are the family member of a rape survivor, a friend, a co-worker. Each of you knows someone who has been impacted by rape and likely each of you knows someone who has committed the crime whether you realize it or not. I was born to be the voice that opens the dialogue, takes on the challenges, opens the doors to new possibilities and I am the voice who will help you transcend the word and the action so that you reach a place of peace. So that this is no longer taboo. So that we are working toward solutions with peace and love as our guiding intention. Do not be afraid to read what I write, to ask me questions, to brainstorm outreach projects and to know that you are a beautiful solution to a problem that need not exist in our society. Know that I experience no fear and no pain when I write about these things. I am not a rape victim or a rape survivor in the end. It was an action and I am greater than the action and the labels. This is where I’m going with this so I ask you to trust me, take my hand and have the courage to know that you are greater than anything that’s happened to you. The story doesn’t matter in the end, it’s what we do with it. I could apply this concept to anything and everything but I invite you with an open heart to join me on this journey. It is just a word that defines no one. Blessings and deep peace, Laurie Green

I sit in the empty, cold apartment with the steely carpet. My arms wrapped around me as I sit on the couch, rocking and rocking and rocking. No friend sits by my side, no colleague calls, no member of my college department stops by. A day has passed since he was taken out of the convenience store in handcuffs. I know he is out on bond. I still hear his voice. He called my apartment as the police were pulling up outside the building, ‘Laurie, what’s going on? Laurie, what’s happening? Laurie, the police are coming inside… LAURIE!!...’ and then the line goes dead. I don’t know how he knew to call me or how he knew the officers were there to arrest him. The street light outside my window starts to stream through the growing autumn dusk. And I rock and shiver whenever a back spasm shoots through me. Another wave of pain. Another reminder. My body screaming for comfort it would not receive. My heart shrieking against my chest. No tears. Nothing. It is dark now and very still. Students’ voices float past my window. A stack of untouched work sits on the floor waiting for the 4.0 junior to lessen its growing load. I do receive one phone call I never return from the law firm I did running for. That message being the singular flash on my silent phone. ‘You have to trust me.’ Officer #1’s last words linger around the edges of the room. I had been to classes today. I had heard the whispering, ‘That’s the one. That’s her. You know her.. Laurie Green.. yeah, her..’. ‘He would never do that. I saw the last show he did. Real nice guy.’ ‘You know she has an eating disorder.. she’s probably not all there if you know what I mean..’. ‘She is a theatre person, you know how they are..’. ‘Sshh…sshhh… she might hear you…’. The icy stares, the eyes filled with fiery accusations, the stiff bodies turning away from me as I passed by. My own professors, some of whom I’d known for 4 or 5 years barely able to look at me, daring not to speak. I knew what they were thinking. I had shared so much about my life and the struggles I’d had. Why should they believe me? A survivor of child abuse. Already a survivor of two previous assaults. Hospitalized three times due to panic attacks and an eating disorder of 11 and a half years. How could anyone believe yet another tragic story from the same woman? In my mind, how could anyone believe the same pathetic woman when this woman could barely believe it herself? I was working 3 jobs, paying my way through college, averaging a 4.0 GPA. I was a gifted young actor, an extremely talented and accomplished singer, intelligent.. ‘WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME??!!’
Rocking and rocking. Alone. Cold. In darkness. What had I done? And WHY was I blaming myself?? Hadn’t I done the right thing?? The officer told me it was the right thing. My sister told me it was the right thing. The D.A., not having met me yet, told me it was the right thing and yet it was all wrong. I have a meeting with the D.A. in a few days to discuss the case. Go over the story again and again and again. I would end up taking a leave from the University but not yet. This one day was just the beginning of what it felt like to be truly alone. The whore who was lying about an innocent man. An innocent brother. An innocent friend. An innocent fellow student and colleague. The execution had begun, the gallows had swung open. I stepped onto them accepting the noose around my neck but never realized how far I would fall and how long I would hang for telling the truth. 

I waited one week to report my rape. I wandered around dazed, my back a mass of open sores from the steeliness of the carpet in my apartment. Spasms wracking my savaged back as I attempted to complete my work as a runner for a law firm, my work study position with the college Registar’s office, my performance rehearsals for my next theatre production, walking the campus to get to classes until one day I collapsed in tears in the hallway of the University. I couldn’t walk anymore due to the severity of the back spasms, the pressure to do it all and just pretend like the rape never happened. I knew him. How could it possibly be a rape? Why would he do that to me? Had I just made a mistake? Was I overreacting? Didn’t I deserve to be treated that way? Yes, I believed that it might be true that I deserved what had happened to me. This was my 3rd rape. I must be the worthless piece of garbage I thought I was, they thought I was. How could I possibly be lying in a busy hallway with students staring at me as I crawled to sit against a wall? How did I end up in this position? There was a phone above me on the wall. I reached up with everything I had inside of me and called the only person I could think of at that moment: my older sister, Rachel. Rachel, the black belt, the calm one, the one who would tell me what to do. I got her answering machine and left a message. I crawled back to my feet, violently wiping the tears from my face and limped back to my apartment. The very place I had been raped a week before. Rachel came to my apartment that night. I sat on the floor, my arms wrapped around my legs, rocking. ‘Show me your back’, she said with quiet command. I lifted my shirt and she gasped, ‘Oh my god, Laurie. Oh my God.. we are calling the police NOW.’ ‘NO!!’, a feeble otherworldly rasp of a yell escaping my lips. ‘Laurie, have you looked at your back?? You need to see a doctor but before that you are calling the police and if you won’t call then I will’, she replied with a conviction I knew was not going to be denied. ‘Rachel, they won’t believe me. I’ve waited too long. What will the University think of me? What about my reputation?’, I whispered. ‘What about YOUR reputation? What if this happens to someone else and you never told anyone? You would never forgive yourself.’ ‘OK, Rachel. You make the call. I can’t do this.. I can’t believe this..’. She called 911 and two officers arrived. Officer #1: ‘Ms. Green, please lift your shirt up so we can see your back.’ I felt cold, numb, stunned. I lifted my shirt. ‘Ms. Green, have you seen a doctor?’ I shook my head. ‘Ms. Green, you are to come to the police precinct tomorrow to have your back photographed by our crime photographer tomorrow morning at 9 a.m.’ I nod and whisper ‘yes, sir. Thank you.’ He looks at me in silence for what seems like an eternity. I meet his gaze, trembling. ‘Laurie, you have severe injuries from a rape and you are doing the right thing. You have to trust me.’ That night, a warrant was issued for my rapists arrest. The charges: simple assault, aggravated assault, rape. I walked to the downtown headquarters the next morning, Rachel met me out front. I was led into a sterile room by an elderly gentleman, ‘Ms. Green, please lift up your shirt.’ I lifted my shirt. POP. POP. FLASH. FLASH. ‘You’re done. An officer will be in touch.’ I was too numb to feel humiliated. I felt so utterly helpless. So disgusting. Filthy. A trembling piece of meat.
My rapist worked at a convenience store owned by one of my professor’s down the street from my apartment. I saw him as he stood behind the counter and called the police to tell them where they could find him. He was arrested in the store, charged and released on bond. It all seemed too clean, too simple, too surreal. How many times have you judged a woman for not having reported a rape immediately? If you don’t yet understand the fear and shame then you will. Oh, you will.. I intend to share every sordid detail. This isn’t a tabloid. This is how the system works. Do you really want to know? Down the rabbit hole we go…

¶ 1
I stand at the door of my apartment smiling at my friend as he walks through the doorway on a chilly October evening. The cold air rushes through the open door, ‘What did you forget this time?’, I ask. ‘Nothin’, Laurie, nothin’. I just thought maybe you’d want some company.’ It’s dark and I’m alone in my 1st floor apartment just off campus. I’ve known this man for 2 years. No reason for alarm, it’s only ‘Jeff’. He’s forgets EVERYTHING. ‘Jeff’, it’s a little late, dude’, I move to close the door to keep more of the frigid air from coming in. I live alone and I prefer it that way since I work three jobs, go to school full time and also do theatre. That’s my major in college, Theatre and Acting. 
I wrap my sweater tighter around me and shut the glass-paned door, laughing under my breath as the door closes. A hand closes in on my shoulder, his hand. I don’t even know what to think, the room is a blur as I’m whipped around against the door frame and thrown to the carpeted floor. His full body weight is on my chest and I can’t think to scream. Nothing comes out. I can’t think. I can’t breathe. I am staring into the eyes of my friend and his mouth moves but it’s as if he’s speaking through cotton, ‘You know you always wanted me, Laurie.’ He is holding me down, his mouth crushed against mine as he yanks my pants down. I am pinned to the floor, a steely carpet digging into my back as I move away from the force of his weight. I can’t get out from under him. I just keep thinking, THINKING, ‘why are you doing this to me’ over and over. He thrusts hard. I scream in pain and terror and disbelief. And then it’s over. He’s gone. 
I lie on the carpet, half dressed, no tears, no more screaming. My back is gouged open in gaping wounds that won’t heal for three months but the scarring is still with me today. I lie there. I don’t move. I don’t know what to do and then I cry. It is cold and dark. The room closes in and yet I lie there still. ‘Why?’, soft across my lips. It will be 5 days before I file my police report and that is when the real drama begins because sometimes ‘NO’ just won’t come out.