My rape

My rape was astoundingly typical.

I wasn’t forced into an alley or attacked by a stranger in my home. I wasn’t beaten up, I wasn’t threatened, I didn’t get pregnant as a result.

My rape was like most rapes: I was in college. I was drunk. I left a Spring Break “foam party” with an Army officer who was also in Cancun on Spring Break. We went to the beach. Things started getting out of hand. I said “stop.” Repeatedly. He didn’t. I remember quietly saying “help” as two guys ran by, laughing, and took a picture.

That was it. When it was over, I called him a “drunken ass” and went back to my hotel. He went back to his. I didn’t tell anyone. I didn’t tell my best friend, or the girls I was traveling with. I certainly didn’t tell my brother, who was staying in the same hotel. The next day, I went on with Spring Break as if nothing happened.

At the time, keeping my rape a secret seemed like such a no-brainer. What was I doing to tell the police? That I got drunk and left a party with a guy I didn’t know? What would they think of me? Would they even prosecute a case that like? What would I tell my parents? I certainly hadn’t behaved in the manner befitting a good girl, a college honors student, from a small Midwestern town. No, I would undoubtedly be told that I was responsible for what had happened to me. The police would laugh at me, or worse, not believe me. Better just to keep quiet. In fact, most of my friends are probably surprised that they’re hearing of this for the first time.

I  moved on with my life. I went back to school. I applied to law school. I went on to become a public defender and spent time defending people who were accused of crimes.  Often men who were accused of rape. So you see, it’s not that my judgment was so skewed by my own experience that I couldn’t be objective. Or that I wasn’t willing to ensure rapists got a fair trial, even if I believed them guilty.

My rape didn’t ruin my life. It didn’t hollow me out like it does so many women. In that regard, I was lucky. I was full of rage, but I got over it. Eventually.

Given that I’m no shrinking violet, those who now know about my rape are surprised that I didn’t stand up for myself, that I didn’t scream bloody murder from the rooftops until the guy was behind bars. The only explanation I have is that I was one girl. One very young girl — and my immediate assumption was that I would be “up against” several adult men. It never occurred to me that I might tell them my story and they would believe me. From the beginning, my assumption was that they would side with my rapist, and it would be my job to convince them otherwise. I suppose I believed this based on everything I’d heard men say about women and “date rape” during my formative years.

Many of us, male and female alike , were appalled, though not shocked, by the news that Florida State Quarterback Jameis Winston would not be charged with sexual assault, despite the fact that the prosecutor seemed to believe that a crime occurred. Throughout the press conference, he referred to the accuser as “the victim,” and was clear that he felt he couldn’t get a conviction, not that he was convinced a crime had not taken place.

Which brings me to my point. Having spent many years in criminal court, I’m familiar with prosecutors’ love and adoration for their conviction rate. Many prosecutors won’t take a case to trial unless it’s a slam dunk winner. Sadly, real life is not CSI, and slam dunk cases with rock solid evidence don’t exist much of the time. In those cases, if the prosecution believes a crime took place, they are supposed to do advocate for the victim, let the victim tell her story, and let the jury decide who is telling the truth. It is NOT their job to only take cases to trial where they look like superstar prosecutors so they can get re-elected.

It seems every time we have a case where a woman accuses a high profile athlete of rape, we get the inevitable we “we just couldn’t prove it” press conference.  Where are the prosecutors who say “I believe my witness, we’re moving forward, and we’ll let the jury decide. Let the chips fall where they may.” THAT’s what prosecutors are supposed to do. Seek justice. Not just win cases. Newsflash: Many woman get raped when they’re drinking. Many rape victims are not virgins walking home from church. Some of us foolishly put ourselves in situations that we should not have. But the penalty for stupidity is not rape.

I don’t know what happened between Jameis Winston and his accuser. I do know that, after a woman is raped, the prospect of a police interrogation and cross-examination second-guessing your behavior is paralyzing frightening. So frightening in fact, that many of us choose to keep quiet. And I know that every time we see one of these “we can’t prove it” press conferences, it confirms what many of us believe: That unless there are severe injuries and/or witnesses to your rape, you might as well not even bother reporting it.

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23 thoughts on “My rape

  1. Stacey says:

    This was incredibly brave of you, Julie.

  2. That was very courageous of you. I don’t know how many years ago you were raped, but sadly, not much has changed in the view towards women that have been assaulted. It’s time this country grew up.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Courageous article. Your willingness to reveal painful events in your past to help prove your point gives your article real force. While I agree with your contention that prosecutors should proceed with cases where they believe the alleged victim, the Jameis Winston case may not fit that profile. Not only did the state attorney find insufficient evidence for a conviction, CNN quoted him as also saying the evidence did not even rise to the level of probable cause. I think your points are valid, but I’m not sure this case is a good example for your argument.

  4. JJ Fannin says:

    Very brave of you to tell your story Julie. I just had a very similar conversation with someone on twitter today as the point that you brought up…just because you do something stupid doesn’t mean you deserve to be raped or that rape is ok.

    Just because a woman is foolish enough to go to a guy’s apartment/house/hotel room that she just met after closing time at the bar doesn’t mean that the guy can force her to have sex if she says no. It doesn’t matter if the woman is a virgin or if she has had sex with a hundred different men. It doesn’t matter if she is wearing a skirt that doesn’t even conceal all of her buttocks. No means no.

    Too many people don’t understand that. The people that were laughing and carrying on and acting like they wanted to hold a victory parade today at the press conference should be publicly shamed for the rest of their lives. They probably deserve even worse than that. Their behavior was inexcusable and it makes it that much harder for the next victim of a rape to have the courage to come forward and face the same treatment.

  5. Ruth Meyer says:

    Wow, thanks for sharing, so very true.

  6. hippy says:

    You are my hero!

  7. Anonymous says:

    Omg, I had no idea! I am so sorry for the pain you endured at that time! You have to be so proud of the fact that you were stuck in that dark tunnel, but came out shinning bright on the other side!

  8. Anonymous says:

    While I shared a similar experience (but I was able to fight him off) and have also spent many years as a public defender…. I have to disagree that “believing” the victim is enough to devastate the life of an accused with an allegation that is short of provable beyond a reasonable doubt. An accuser who loses in a public forum is not better off, and a wrongfully prosecuted individual is destroyed in a way rarely repairable. To those in your circumstances, who still wish to pursue an assailant, I recommend a civil action where the standard of proof is lower and the objective tangible.

  9. Anonymous says:

    More stupidity and man hating by Julie Dicaro. Get over yourself already. Always trying to
    Paint men as lessers. Your pitiful approach to writing is disturbing. Keep hanging on the backs of writers like Yellon and Arguello in hopes of making yourself look better.

    1. juliedicaro says:

      Considering I used to write for BCB and left of my own accord, and that I’m John’s Community Manager and work with him often to help increase his blog traffic, I don’t feel I’m hanging on the backs of anyone. But thanks for your comment.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Pretty sure a man that will rape a woman is a lessor.

    1. Anonymous says:

      Of course he is but Dicaro never fails to find a way to man hate. Typical Dicaro nonsense.

      1. juliedicaro says:

        LOL. I love men. Just ask my husband and two sons. Must of my friends are guys, for crying out loud.

  11. Anonymous says:

    For someone that isn’t a Julie fan, you seem to spend an awful lot of time thinking of her.

  12. L Wood says:

    As the mother of a daughter, I am torn about this statement…”Many woman get raped when they’re drinking. Many rape victims are not virgins walking home from church. Some of us foolishly put ourselves in situations that we should not have. But the penalty for stupidity is not rape.” I would edit the last statement to “the penalty for stupidity SHOULD not be rape”….. because clearly it sometimes is. More accurately, rape should not be an approved or tolerated penalty or consequence. Until the world is a better place, I tell my daughter to guard against being vulnerable, primarily by not getting so wasted she can’t protect herself nor make good judgements. Not blaming the potential victim, just trying to prevent her rape. Thank you for your thoughtful article.

    1. Anonymous says:

      We don’t want our daughters to put themselves in harms way, but when they do, their harmed should be held accountable.

      1. Anonymous says:

        Sorry, their harmers.

  13. every man says:

    Bulsshit, noo ne would rape you.

    1. Anonymous says:

      I’m sorry, please stop jacking off and type with both hands you lunatic so your posts actually make sense.

  14. Anonymous says:

    “But the penalty for stupidity is not rape.” Unfortunately, it often is. No matter how much one argues that it shouldn’t be (and it, in fact, shouldn’t) you cannot change the fact that it often is.

  15. Anonymous says:

    I had an almost identical experience in college, some 30 years ago now. And like you, the very few people I have ever told this to look at the older, much-more-assertive person that I am today and they cannot fathom how I could just sort of ignore it and go on with my life. I, too, believed the victim after I heard everything that was made public. And I am sorry to see that, in this regard, nothing much seems to have changed.

  16. Boo Dah Bah says:

    OMG… the jurisdiction of Julie’s so-called “rape” being *Mexico*, is just a huge ladle of Lulz Gravy over her whole “story”. It’s scary/funny how Cancun has become so “Disney-fied” (and Anglo-speaking) that gringos get off duh plane, and think they’re still in Marriot-ville USA… lol.

    The police would laugh at me, or worse, not believe me.

    No, “worse” would be “escort” you down to the station to “swear out a formal statement”, and, once there, gang-rape you FOR REAL, with their badges on. And if the man you accused was a Mexican citizen, maybe throw in a harsh beating and some felony cocaine possession for good measure! What, you don’t think El Policia have many a spare baggie of “yeyo” to toss in your purse… or (this is their fave) shove into your “cavities”?? =:O

    I remember quietly saying “help” as two guys ran by, laughing, and took a picture.

    Wouldn’t a “victim” of REAL rape YELL, at the top of her lungs? Quietly saying “help” is what hausfraus in amateur porn say, to enhance their “50 Shades of Fey” aren’t-I-so-naughty fantasies. Is it any wonder the two guys took it as a lame joke??

    The next day, I went on with Spring Break as if nothing happened.

    Indeed you did. Since many commenters here think you’re so “brave”, why don’t you reveal how many days total you were on this Spring Break, and how many men, total, you had sex with? (Yes, oral/anal/manual counts as sex.) Did you know any of these men/boys before you went down to Mexico? Did you “see” any of them afterwards? ALLl-l-l-l-righty then.

    … I would undoubtedly be told that I was responsible for what had happened to me.

    Gotta love the feminist double-speak, e.g. graduate from law school, and it’s all Grrrl Power and “agency” and crashing, Joan-of-Arc-like, through imaginary “glass ceilings”… but strip down to a Wicked Weasel micro-kini (that YOU bought), shove alcohol down your own throat (agency), dance like an Amsterdam whore under Duh Foam Cannon (liberated), rubbing glistening suds all over your nubile young bod (free-dumb), THEN wander off, hand-in-hand, with one of the hetero dudes you just DELIBERATELY aroused (just to “talk” :rolleyes: ), and *ta-DAH!”, all of a sudden it’s “all men are way-pists” and “woe is me, won’t someone save me (from my own libidio)…”

    1. anonymous123 says:

      The stupidity evident in this comment is precisely why rape will always continue to happen and victims will be afraid to come forward. If I’m out drinking with a group of fellow spring breakers, I should not have to worry that one of these young men will force himself on me and I will have to physically defend myself. And, if you are in that situation, not everyone has the same fight or flight response. Some women WOULD scream, yell, kick, bite or whatever to escape. Others are paralyzed with fear and/or confusion.

      And your last statement….well. I guess there isn’t much room to debate with someone who is so incapable of controlling his own hormones and physical actions that just SEEING a woman who appears attractive or “sexy” is enough to send you into a sexual frenzy in which you are unable to stop your penis from entering her vagina, no matter how much she tells you no.

      Further, I know in my state, but I believe in MOST states, a legally intoxicated person (even by her own choosing) is incapable of giving consent to sexual activity. So my advice to male friends or family members is, if you think a girl is drunk, don’t have sex with her. You are only protecting yourself from an accusation, false or otherwise.

      Lastly, any time a man is accused of raping a woman who went somewhere with him alone, I’m going to start accusing the MAN of committing such STUPID behavior that he DESERVED to be accused of rape. “How could you be such an idiot, going off alone with a girl? You should know better. You deserved to be accused of raping her.” Brilliant.

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