3.1
April 22, 2013

When I went to the police seeking justice for my daughter’s rape, I was told, “Sometimes girls have romantic notions about sex.” ~ Margaret Fleming

To the court and to the alleged perpetrator:

I am grateful for the opportunity to speak with you. Thank you so much for asking for my input. Please bear with me, as I have a lot to say and it comes from the heart of my experience.

I cannot, for a moment, think of the crime of rape without wanting to cry. I weep for this survivor and other survivors, for those countless before them who did not survive and to whom I dedicate this writing, and for the world we have all created in which this just keeps happening. But, when these tears begin to dry, my grief lingers for the perpetrator, whether he now sits before you or not, that is for you to decide.

For perpetrator, wherever you are, you are one of the vast army who has truly and completely lost connection with one of your most precious gifts—your access to the divine as experienced through sexuality, your potential to love, connect and create in the presence of every being you encounter.

This is among the most profound losses a human being can experience.

Your compulsion to seek power over another is, in reality, nothing more than a confession of your complete loss of self-mastery, or even a modicum of self-control that might someday lead to self-mastery. You have traded this precious and powerful gift for the false, but ever alluring, power to attempt the perpetuation of pain and fear upon the very people who might love and care for you; in this case, a future health care provider who might yet one day stand at your bedside to comfort you.

Thereby you have actively created the realization of your worst nightmare: sitting here in this room contemplating sitting alone in a cell, or perhaps worse, beside someone as lost and dangerous to others as yourself.

For the rest of this letter, lost perpetrator, I will assume you are, in your grief, here, present, or I hope in some way, this could reach you. I presume the pain and fear that brought you to this place have alone been magnified by your choices, your true self—a loving and noble being—shrunk. While not long from now, this so-called ‘victim’ before you could, without a doubt, be a great and loving soul, magnified, moving through the world, spreading what she will know of healing.

Yet, the point I would like to make in this appeal to you, perpetrator, and to all of us for the ways in which we perpetuate the problem, is that if the limits of your mind could create the realization of your worst fear, then the expansion of your mind most certainly holds the key to your redemption.

If one can create a nightmare, one most certainly can create a dream.

I believe this key has already been provided by the part of you which is yet divine, located just about eight inches below your nose. If you bow your head, seeing that which I am referring to, you need only now bring it to your awareness and your actions to change your world.

Perpetrator, there is not one female anywhere who can comfortably and conveniently get from one place to another without fearing for her life and safety. We take the longer and less appealing route around the park. The river view no longer beckons us. So many of us sacrifice our longing for the beauty of the night and inspiration of the stars as we rush to the vehicle, whose locked doors we fancy, can keep you out. And when we reach the place we call home and the person we call friend, we are, all too often, less safe there because of that which is informed by your illness. It is unlikely that this woman was your first prey.

I pray for you that she would be your last.

Do you see how your same loss of connection to what matters causes friends to rape friends in numbers beyond comprehension? Fathers their daughters? Brothers their sisters? Husbands their wives? What greater connection might you have had with this woman had you chosen to take her hand and walk her safely to her class?

Yes, you might have forged a different path on that morning than the path to the seat which you now hold.

My daughter was raped by her friend, a young boy she was trying to help. I cannot, as I would under different circumstances, call him a young man because it is clear to me he has no idea what it means to be a man.

His behavior, and yours, is the opposite of manhood.

A man understands he is not the center of the universe, a man has mastery of his own body, a man uses his body to protect and to please. A man does not abdicate his responsibility for self control to the whole of what a boy calls ‘the weaker sex,’ requiring them to cover, hide, repress, deny, alter and re-route in the myriad of ways cultures require of girls and women. A man is not frightened by the true power of a woman’s sexuality however she chooses to express it.

Perhaps you do not understand what happens to the uncounted daughters like mine. Do you need to hear how it took her months to even tell me, her loving mother, what happened? Perpetrator, she was trying to protect me from her own pain even as she suffered in silence needing me, blaming herself, curling into a tiny speck, sobbing at night, slowly losing her life, wanting to die.

Do you need to hear about the details of post traumatic stress disorder, which virtually all rape victims experience, the years and expense of therapy, which one is lucky if they can even access? Do you need to hear how I dropped out of the rest of my life in order to be present for my daughter when she needed me most and be certain she would find ways and reasons to smile again in the most genuine way, and find the strength for both of us to cry out loud to the world?

And yet, even now, though joy and voice have returned, much of our healing is yet before us. I say us in the largest sense of the word, for when you harm one person you do harm to every one of their circle and, ultimately, the whole family of humanity.

Can you imagine pouring all your life blood into your daughter, raising her to be a lover, a giver and a healer and sending her out into the world only to be hurt in this way? If you could imagine, your tears would flow so steadily for all who have endured the pain of this crime that a pool of compassion would form beneath your feet and heal you.

What I cannot imagine is how I would feel if I were your mother. I cannot go there. Still, my heart reaches out to her. I wonder, where is your father? Does he scream out for this to end? My heart tries to reach. Do you have the courage to heal, as my daughter has? As the one who survived your wrath will?

Can you become one who passes on love rather than fear and pain?

This happened to my daughter when she was a child of 15, before she had ever chosen to experience and express loving and pleasurable sexual union. Thank all that is good, she had reference for all kinds of other true loves to look back to. Or, how would she ever be well now and able to give and receive love and pleasure in a manner that suits her own soul?

I pray for you that you have a reference. If not, I am truly sorry. But I know that what you seek you will find. Look for love. It is, in fact, everywhere—even if you have, like so many, felt in some way deprived. It is you who will have to open up to whatever form loves takes before you. I believe you, and indeed anyone, can do this. It may not be easy for you, but if you believe love is possible, it will come to you.

Change what you notice, and likely, it is already there.

My daughter was not raped by one disenfranchised from the resources of this society. She was raped by a wealthy, white kid who had every opportunity at his fingertips. He evaded arrest by voluntarily putting himself in a drug rehabilitation program which his lucky access to health care provided. And while rehabilitation in all its forms and other health care should certainly be available to all, with this kind of lying (the usual ‘it never happened’ strangely coupled with ‘she asked for it’), and with honesty integral to recovery from addiction, do you think he is now sober and safe to befriend your daughters? Whether lack of sobriety was even any part of his issue to begin with is anybody’s guess.

Rehabilitation is a wonderful resource, but the solution to this problem is going to have to be bigger. There is not the space in treatment centers nor prisons to accommodate this giant elephant in all of our living rooms.

When a female who is raped is high on whatever or low on drink, she is blamed. Yet, when a male who rapes is high on whatever or low on drink, he is free to harm again.

Court: Please address this.

World: Please understand the problem of rape knows no racial, ethnic, national, political or class barriers.

Perpetrator: I am sorry for whatever challenges you perceive might have taken you to this place. Look inside for the true challenge as well as the solution. There are many who share whatever challenges you can identify that would never fall to this level. I hope you will find them and learn from them.

When I went to the police seeking justice for my daughter, I was given, among other inexcusable excuses, the statement, “Sometimes girls have romantic notions about sex.” This was 2009 in the United States of America, not the some other time or some other place we prefer to acknowledge.

I am sorry to tell you, but doubt you will be surprised to hear, no temporal justice in this case has been achieved and, consequently, since that time, others have been raped by this boy.

Of course, no temporal justice for my daughter is the same as no temporal justice for all of us—for your daughters, mothers, sisters, friends. No justice for the boys and men who too have been (or will be) raped in ever increasing numbers. No justice for you, perpetrator, wherever you are, caught in a nightmare of eternal, destructive boyhood with little hope to grow up in a world that rewards you for being so, so small.

In a world whose message to you is consistent, even emblazoned upon the bumper of your father’s car: “Carry a big gun, get the job done.”

Your destructive power is so much easier to grasp and so much more fun to express than your ‘weaker’ power to create, to connect, to love—all of which seem to take too much effort to mess with and don’t amass the profits that we choose to believe make the world go round.

If the pornography, incessant sexist advertising and media, the ubiquitous context of inappropriate heroes and invisible heroines, and violence worshipping video games and entertainment industry don’t acknowledge their role, then where is the militia that will save ourselves from ourselves? Certainly all one has to do is glance at our various foreign and domestic policies to see our inclination to point the finger at someone else, claiming they are the source of our problem.

If you feel little, just take a hit of all that, and then go out and hit someone else. This boy, and so many others like him, certainly need to go to a treatment center for their addiction issues, but, well….which direction would that be?

We would rather build prisons and fill them with the people who look like rapists to us and who can’t afford to get away and call it a successful day even as the problem grows. We all know these ‘little making things’ feed each other.

We don’t need any more studies. We need common sense, hope, love and a better vision.

Probably most difficult, we need the courage to look in the mirror and still see what is lovable and truly powerful. We are, all of us, part of this problem. Yet, on the brightest side, this means we can all be part of the solution, a solution which ultimately requires much less energy and effort than maintaining the infrastructure of the problem—a solution which, ultimately brings more joy to everyone.

And, though horror stuck to the words of the pseudo police officer, I realize that, in a weird sort of way, I agree; sometimes we girls do have romantic notions about sex. I am most happy to tell all of you what my romantic notion about sex is:

My romantic notion about sex is that girls and women, around the world, will be listened to and honored.

Further, my completely off-the-wall romantic notion is that the United States (where females do not have equal rights but where, nonetheless, we have made astonishing gains without equal rights) will be among many world leaders in this effort.

Court: As part of these United States, please do the right thing. What is the right thing? Females, because they are people, have the right to say no.

Please reflect that in all your decisions. It goes hand in hand with our equal right to say yes. Yes, women are as sexual as men and as capable and deserving of the sexual connections and pleasures that they choose. All people of all sexual orientations and genders own their sexual identity and expression. No one else may direct, demand, steal or in any other way diminish this fundamental human right. No exceptions.

Currently, police and courtrooms are more strident about protecting property rights than the more fundamental right to self. I had more access to police and legal intervention when, not long ago, my panini press was stolen out of my car even though I was honestly just hopeful the thief had enough resources and sense to make a good sandwich.

Think about that, please. And, as you reflect, consider that no one accused me of displaying my panini press, though in full view through my car window—naked for all the world to see—in such a way as to entice a possibly starving innocent who could not be expected to control her or his desire for gourmet sandwiches.

And, if you truly want to make a difference, court, please expand to doing the right thing, recognize the word no, in cases of the much more common, and equally devastating, acquaintance rape.

Being betrayed by someone you trust who turns out to be a stranger is no different than being betrayed by a stranger.

Please, don’t pretend the accused before you represents the bulk of the problem. Even if it is the case that he is indeed guilty and in need of appropriate consequence, he is the one we went after when we didn’t want to see the rest. The demographics of our prison population coupled with the high numbers of girls and women who experience rape perpetrated by men of all description, indicate a serious disconnect with who is being held accountable.

Please begin to see the real body of perpetrators.

Citizens: We need a better solution than the courts and prison system can ever possibly offer. Please find a way to be part of that. Bring your joys and passions to this elephant and ride this powerful creature right out of the living room and through the streets. Know that we are all leaders, all artists, all healers in this effort.

Create the world you want our daughters and sons to live in.

Perpetrators of all descriptions, identified and unidentified: I hope my romantic notion is clear and simple enough for you to take to heart. What do women want? The same thing as every body.

Photo: Denise Mayumi

To be listened to and to be honored, even when saying no, even when saying yes, and even when saying, “please do your share of work around the house.” To begin your own healing, perpetrator, see the person who listens to and honors you. They will be there, in healer’s garb, waiting for you to share your story, fearlessly looking you in the eye.

Please, I entreat all of you, try and share this romantic notion with me—and perhaps, in the future, true love for you will also blossom. Your healing matters. All of our healing matters. This is how, together, we heal this world.

In the meantime, sir, please note, your personal world is getting smaller for a reason.

I hope you will rise again, a force for good, and, from safe distance, see the victim for who she truly is when next you encounter one of her kind: a savior in the larger form of someone you could love.

Victim: If that is what you now see yourself to be, let my concluding words be to you:

You are not a victim at all, no matter what the court or perpetrator tell you. You are a survivor. Your courage, in whatever ways you choose to express it, will help bring healing to the world, and will honor those before you whose lives were lost in the effort.

Daughter: I honor you and wrap my words around you with love. May the world hear and honor you. My love become your only reality.

With sincerity and gratitude for your audience,

Margaret Ruth Fleming

 

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Margaret  R. Fleming. I am just another long-time mom, writer and Taoist practitioner of yoga, among many other incidentals, who has another vision for this world than what I often observe in the media and in my daily interactions. Since, given all the usual challenges and then some, I have helped to bring this vision to joyful life in my family, I am seeking opportunity to share my perspective.

 

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  • Asst. Ed: Amy Cushing
  • Ed: Brianna Bemel
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