DASB President speaks out

Shares personal experience with rape at sexual assault forum held by DASB

Stacie Rowe

The following is a recreation of  DASB Senate President Stacie Rowe’s opening statement at the sexual assault forum held by the DASB Senate on Tuesday Nov. 19.  The recreation was provided by Rowe via email. 

I’d like to speak with you very openly today, which is rare for me because for most of my life I’ve had to keep secrets for the purpose of my safety. But last year I was outed as gay to my very small, very conservative hometown. The reaction was so violent that I was forced to move.

Now that I’m safe and have a community that has only been supportive to me, I’ve come to realize that my secrets no longer serve me. There’s nothing I have to hide anymore. So I’ve been in the process of letting my secrets go.

Two weeks ago at the Veteran’s Day Service, I mentioned, while speaking, that I have posttraumatic stress disorder — and I hoped that I wouldn’t have to reveal why. But after hearing of the attack that happened on our campus, I found that my silence does not comfort me anymore. So I’m here today to break it and tell my story.

Five days after my 14 birthday (Nov. 13, 2008), the boy I was in a relationship with at the time took me to the edge of (our high school’s) campus and raped me. Up until that point he’d been nothing but an absolute gentleman to me, and because he was more perfect than me, and because I cared about him, I blamed myself and stayed with him. And at first it got better… and then it got much, much worse.

He raped me continuously over the course of a year. He tortured me, at points, as evidenced by the scars that can be seen most visibly on my arms. He did things to me that to this day I have not spoken about — and I don’t believe I ever will. It didn’t take me long to forget who I once was. I still don’t recognize the person I see in the mirror.

One night, I found myself pouring my heart out to a trusted friend about what was happening. The next week at school, I’d learned that not only had she spread my secret around the school, but that she had also said I was lying about it. A couple days later, I was pulled out of class by a sheriff who had a very firm talk with me about how serious lying about rape is. He then threatened me with the prospect of legal charges.

And that’s when I realized that not only does our society not want to talk about rape and sexual assault, but they’d prefer to believe that they simply do not exist. Either because it’s too uncomfortable for them to think about, or because it would force them to see an ugliness in people they know and care about. And the easiest way to pretend rape doesn’t exist is to silence the voices of those who’ve survived it. And they silence our voices with myths.

Well, she was wearing that, so she must’ve wanted it. 

She isn’t pretty enough to get raped.

If she didn’t want to get raped, she shouldn’t have had so much to drink.

That’s what happens when you friendzone a guy.

She was in a relationship, so he was just taking what was his.

And you don’t even hear about men being raped or sexually assaulted, and it’s not like it doesn’t happen.

I and the DASB Senate wanted to have this event to make sure that there’s a space to talk about rape and sexual assault, so
De Anza — the closest place I have to a home — doesn’t contribute to the silence. That we start actively working against rape culture and make it known that we don’t allow silence to fall around hard issues on our campus.

I didn’t tell you this to make you sad. I told you this to break silence. So if there’s another person who’d like to talk about their experience in this room, they know they can. They don’t have to be the first. Thank you