My Story as a Rape Survivor and a Response to the Sentence for Brock Turner (Trigger Warning)

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Like every rape survivor, I know that Brock Turner’s victim will have repercussions from being raped that will last for years, decades, and perhaps her entire life. The moment will not end for her in the twenty-minutes it took to be assaulted.

Rape and the years of PTSD that followed did not fit into the story line that I imagined a near death experiencer might have in her life.  I imagined that I would write a book about my NDE many years ago.  I imagined being deeply involved in the spiritual community and learning from shamans how to make sense of fleeting moments of clairvoyance and clairaudience.

After my NDE, I read books by Carlos Castaneda and learned dream control.  It seemed easy for me to pop out of this physical form, and meditation allowed for out of body experiences on several occasions.  These types of experiences were the type of experiences I wanted to chronicle.  I never imagined rape as part of my story, and I had no idea how that one moment in time (probably a mere twenty minutes like the Brock Turner case) would deeply and profoundly affect the rest of my life.   Most people are outraged by Turner’s fathers statement that his son should not go to jail for twenty minutes of assault.  A crime is a crime.  It doesn’t matter how long it took someone to commit that crime.  I’m sure some women have been raped and assaulted in under ten minutes.   Each woman carries that story with her for the rest of her life.

As I finished my undergraduate degree in Austin, I studied A Course in Miracles, Thict Naht Hahn, mediated at retreats and on my own, and began practicing yoga.  Following my inner guidance, I decided to teach overseas in South Korea.  While in Kunsan, South Korea, I loved meditating in the quiet, beautiful temples.  I loved my respectful Korean students who bowed to me, erased my boards, and wrote me the sweetest notes.  I even loved the food, imagining that I would miss Kimchi and continue to want it with every meal. (I didn’t miss it that much).  I had moments in South Korea that I have never experienced in the U.S., moments where I felt one with everyone.  A bank teller might hand me change, and suddenly I was one with her and with everyone around me.  These loving, light-filled experiences were magical and beautiful.

Rape in a Foreign Country:  What I didn’t count on or foresee or predict was the moment I was woken up in the middle of the night to find a man on top of me, the owner of a competing Hagwan in town.  One of my roommates suggested that he could crash on our couch after a night of drinking.  He had other plans while they stayed out.  I briefly fought him, but he fought back, jamming his elbow into my neck with surprising force; I feared my windpipe might collapse.  Shock, horror, and numbness took over.  My only thought was that I was glad I was not a virgin and that I could remember happier, loving, or freer times.  When it was over, I desperately wanted to go back in time to the few hours before when I was reading a book by Tolstoy.  I wanted to go back and stay awake all night long and avoid this moment in time.  I didn’t want rape to be part of my life story.  No one does.  This isn’t the story I wanted to tell the world.

The next morning, my Korean friend took me to the doctor, and advised me that it wasn’t worth going to the police.  She said they didn’t take the complaints of Korean women that seriously, so they certainly wouldn’t care about an American’s perspective, especially since the guy had taken us all out to dinner and bought our table a bottle of whiskey.  I argued saying I didn’t stay and drink with them.  This wasn’t a case of binge drinking and partying.  I had two drinks and walked home to the apartment I shared with two other teachers, one male and one female teacher. I wanted to read and go to bed early.

No Sentencing and No Trial:  My Korean friend said none of that mattered.  I drank in public, which few Korean women did, and I was an American.  According to her, my complaint wouldn’t be taken seriously.

When my Korean friend was fourteen years old, she was pulled into a shop, raped, and then pushed back onto the crowded sidewalk to walk home, altered forever.  She said this was common for Korean girls. Maybe her advice wasn’t the best advice, but she was my translator and closest friend.  She was operating based on what she knew at the time, and maybe she understood the police force there.  This Australian woman’s story shows that the Korean police placed more emphasis on the amount of alcohol she had in her system than on the fact that she was raped.   At the time, I was in shock and did whatever my friend said I should do, but I wanted to prosecute.  I wanted a trial. I wanted him to pay for this, but he didn’t.  I wanted to protect other women from him.

Though I didn’t report the rape, I got involved with groups of women in others towns who had been attacked or raped.  I let English teachers in my town know who the man was who raped me.  For the rest of my stay in South Korea, I couldn’t sleep very well.  And then, I was purely and simply terrified. I stayed up most of the night, sometimes meditating for seven hours, ready for the fight that might occur if I needed to fight.   It became apparent I needed to return to the states.  I had no idea I would spend large portions of my life having trouble falling asleep.  Sleep became my trigger.  The bargaining part of grief makes a person try to find a way to avoid the situation.  I believed that if I hadn’t been sound asleep, maybe I could’ve prepared for a fight better.  Logically, this doesn’t make sense, but I thought this for a long while.

Stages of Grieving:  One of the toughest moments to write about in my memoir Healed is the moment I came out of The Rape Crisis Center in San Antonio, Texas and saw a young girl who couldn’t have been more than nine or ten years old with long brown braids on each side of her puffy, tear-stained cheeks.  The horror of what had happened to her immediately entered my body.  I felt the shock, shame, and confusion that she felt, and I wanted to kill the man who had done this young girl.  I’ve never felt more rage in my life than in that moment.

I stormed out of The Rape Crisis Center and turned the radio up loud in my car and drove outside of town to the only deserted place I could find—a quarry.  No one was working at the time, so I pulled my car alongside a caterpillar and walked to the edge.  I picked up rocks and threw them into the quarry and screamed loudly.  I cried and screamed until my voice was hoarse and raspy, and I could barely talk.  I cried for her, for myself, for every victim everywhere on the earth and in all times and places.  I raged and screamed until the sun set, but I felt a little better after that.  Grieving has its stages, and I entered the stage of anger quickly and stayed there a while.  Kickboxing classes, Krav Maga, and one on one self-defense training became part of my healing.

At that point in my life, I didn’t care at all to study spiritualism or try to find a deeper meaning for why this happened.  I only knew that rape was horribly unfair, and I didn’t like how it was altering my life.  I started to realize that part of the reason women struggle to achieve financial independence and freedom is a system that allows that allows women to be victimized and doesn’t make victimizer pay a very high price for their abuse.  Many times, women don’t search out or receive the support they need.  They simply try to move forward, but moving forward proves more complex than they might think at the time.   Situations become cumulative. A year before the rape, two different men stalked and harassed me.  These multiple traumas made it difficult to feel at peace or safe in the world.  For an unbelievable amount of time, I walked through the world always on high alert for danger.   I dated and married the wrong men for greater protection in the world.  Rape was devastating in ways I can’t possibly describe in a blog post.

As I write this post, I know that some people don’t want to hear from victims, and to those people I would like to say again that I never wanted to be a victim.  No victim writes this into the script of her life.  Every fiber of my being wants a different story from the one I have.

After being raped, I was no longer living with one foot in this world and one foot in the spiritual realm.  I was vested much more in the material world and moved away from my spiritual experience.  I needed to rebel in a sense, in order to come back to it and realize how I could’ve loved myself through that experience.

Luckily, I became a teacher and later a college professor.  This profession allowed me to help many students.  Over the years, I met with junior high students and high school students who chose me to confide in when they needed me to report an abuser in their family to CPS.  Countless students have told me about being raped.  I was great in most crisis situations, but I quickly realized that I needed to show them how to heal from this trauma, and I had to learn to heal from it myself.

Love:  Looking back to that time period, I was the one in the most need of love.  I hope everyone can surround the victims in their life with a lot of love.  If you are a survivor of sexual assault and you don’t have that support, I hope you can love and thank yourself for being brave enough to survive.  I hope you can find a group of women who understand and who will support you.  I wish I had continued to go to The Rape Crisis Center and grieved and healed with the women I met there.  Grieving together allows for greater healing.  I realized this with the students who confided in me.

I openly and privately grieved for them.  Now, I can love myself and love others who have experienced trauma.  Now, I can mourn for the students who confide in me, share my best wisdom, and pray for them.  I can warn students who travel abroad to be extra careful and to know each countries laws for foreigners before travelling.  Even the trauma I have experienced has become something I can use to help others.  I am connected to a world of people in a way I never dreamed possible.  Their stories are a part of me, as my story is a part of their lives.

On the other side, I clearly heard the words, “Love is all that matters.”  What I saw was a force of light and love that turned the world to golden sunlight.  All pain was only a shadow of who that person might have been or could be in their future.  In the end, love has shed light and transformed even the most harrowing of my experiences.   Some lessons take a while to play out, but these messages are true.  Love is stronger than fear, than darkness, than all the violence in the world.  Love is what matters.  Love yourself through every life experience and share this love with others so they might heal.  I know this is what the spiritual lesson of trauma reveals.  Loving the world and working together to make it a much safer place for women and children is the answer to the all too frequent violence and injustice.

Binge Drinking and Rape:  In relation to the recent case that has been in the news, high schools, colleges, and families should provide much more education for students about the dangers of binge drinking.  My junior year at UT, I came home from a party and saw my neighbor sitting outside on the steps outside of his apartment.  He had the longest, saddest face I have ever seen on a human being.  I was probably in a good mood and asked, “Why so sad?”  I wasn’t prepared for his answer of “Prison.”

This particular college student had been sentenced to ten years in prison for rape.  He was in a fraternity and blacked out the entire experience.  He didn’t even remember the girl, but he said it was sad and horrifying to hear her descriptions of everything that he had done to her.  He said he felt her pain and deserved this punishment.  He seemed to clearly understand that blacking out can have life altering consequences.  He felt horribly ashamed to have hurt his parents in this way.  He told me not to go to frat parties and not to binge drink.  I didn’t know what to say to him, but I said I hoped he might take never drinking again seriously.  Honestly, I felt sorry for him.  I didn’t want him to not go to prison, but I wished he had not been a part of a culture that accepted and even required him to binge drink.

He seemed like he would be willing to participate in counseling.  I wish all students had lots of healthier options for connecting with others and having a good time.  I would like to see more yoga raves, alcohol free concerts, meditation groups, cooking classes focused on health, and other options for students.  We shouldn’t only teach women not to binge drink to avoid being raped, we should teach men not to binge drink because they might end up in jail or prison as a consequence.  Both males and females are need of healing and education.

The longer I live on this planet, the more people I begin to include in my heart.  I hope that particular young man never drank alcohol again.   I hope Brock Turner never drinks, uses drugs, or objectifies women again on social media or in any way.  The idea that Turner posted the body parts of this girl on a website shows how deeply his brain and many men’s brains are changed because of pornography.  I hope Turner and others like him work to educate other men about the dangers of drug/alcohol abuse and dangers treating human beings like objects for momentary pleasure.

One of my favorite researchers on this topic is Dr. Rober Jensen.   Jensen advises men not to watch porn for a multitude of reasons, including how much of it is trafficked and how porn usage rarely makes for better intimate relationships. I know that the majority of college students want to learn how to love and have healthy relationships.  They want to understand how all these influences are effecting them and what to do in response to live a healthier life.

Healing our World:  Even our worst moments on this planet can be of use and help to others.  I hope Turner’s victim and the U.T. student’s victim found the support they need in order to heal deeply and move forward with their lives.  I hope all survivors of rape, sexual abuse, assault, stalking, and harassment receive the support they need.   Though my story is not just a story about a near death experience and the beauty of the beyond, it is a story I have grown to appreciate.

I am one with every rape survivor in this country and in other countries.  I understand PTSD, though I didn’t at first.   I didn’t want to embrace a community of other survivors at first, but once I did the healing I received multiplied.  I care deeply about the journeys of women I barely know who  have written about their experiences.  We are in this together, and I hope we can help one another heal and make the world a safer place for women.  This means that men and systems are going to have to change in this country and around the world.

45 thoughts on “My Story as a Rape Survivor and a Response to the Sentence for Brock Turner (Trigger Warning)

  1. I don’t even know what to say, but that you express emotion beautifully. It is so hard to raise a daughter knowing that eventually she is going to find out just how unfair the world is to women. All I can do is raise my sons to know that it’s wrong.

    I want to say that I hope you find peace, but I wouldn’t want to extinguish the fire inside you that wants to fight. I do hope that one day you can sleep peacefully though.
    X

    Liked by 2 people

  2. You are very inspirational in the way you have taken such a horrible experience in your life and have used it to help others. Your students were lucky they had you to confide in and help them through their struggles.

    Liked by 1 person

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  4. Thanks for sharing your story. A remarkable journey . As a rape survivor myself I find it interesting that others do the same as I do. I always find myself explaining that I couldn’t stop it or want it. When you wrote that it wasn’t a case of binge drinking I realized that everyone I’ve met that’s survived somehow says something similar as if you are cued up to defend yourself. Even if you had gone drinking with him it’s still rape. I am sorry that this happened to you. I haven’t written about Brock because I’m still very angry about it. I hope you’ll guest on OTV an empath like you has a lot to contribute . ❤️

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    • I would love to be a guest on your wonderful site. Should I send in something on the new topic of faith? I was thinking about writing about how NDEers are more certain about their soul’s journey, but as we live out this life in the body we still have our moments of struggle/rebellion from the spiritual path. The work I can’t stop talking about right now though is healing from trauma. I am overwhelmed when I think of how many women have gone through what we have. I want to communicate in ways that will support other women’s healing journeys. Of course, I’d also like to see more good men become activists in this area.

      Liked by 1 person

    • It is sad that we felt we had to immediately be on the defensive. In my case, the other people…friends and aquaintances…weren’t educated in how to handle the situation or be supportive. Did you find good support?

      I think colleges should be addressing this topic on so many levels. Men who stand up to other men would be a great benefit. Teaching men and women how to support their friends and significant others would be beneficial. Of course, prevention and healing is necessary.

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  6. Very well spoken. I am glad that there are people like you in this world who show people the light at the end of the tunnel. Although the tunnel may not have an end, you will always see the light. You are showing the light to others as well. Thank you for these words.

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  7. It’s sad how many women go through this. I’ve been through this and tried to fight off the guy myself. Umm, most guys are way stronger than most women. I was yelling but I never screamed because I was so ashamed because I thought this person was my friend. But now I know that anyone going through this should scream their bloody head off. Scream like someone is being murdered.
    In the end, loving our enemies is the way to true healing. Know that those rapists are in darkness and need to be healed on a very deep level. Pray that they find true sorrow in their hearts and they ask forgiveness from God. Ultimately Gos does want everyone to return to Him and everything we go through, no matter how challenging, we must always bear this in mind. Know that no one is perfect and we are all damaged on some level and in need of healing and forgiveness. Peace*

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    • I pray for healing for everyone. I think before most victims can pray for their enemies, they have to love themselves through the event, the trauma, the fear, and find healing for themselves. I’m sad to hear you went through this as well. The stats are high in Texas. 2 in 5 women is the latest stat… It is time to change our culture!

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      • Something I’ve learned very recently thanks to God’s enduring love for EVERYONE: When I feel harmed by someone…once I’ve collected myself, sometimes much later…I visualize that person and say ‘ You are loved, you are forgiven ‘ This is so empowering and moving. I can literally feel love moving through me and my own pain dissipate. I hope this technique helps anyone who may have a reason it.

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      • It is also important not to be naive about people living on this earth. There are psychopaths, maladaptive narcissists, and sociopaths who walk among us. Many therapists and psychologists will say that jail might be the only option for some until we have a real way to rehabilitate these people. Many of these sociopaths and narcissists see nothing wrong with their actions. They make up a million reasons to justify their actions without looking at the harm they cause others. It takes real courage to stand up to wrong in courts and in other ways. It is important to do this to protect other innocent people. Don’t get me wrong…..I believe in the power of love, but a sociopath will simply take advantage of innocence and love without a lot of reeducation and that reeducation might come through prison. It’s too bad that our prisons don’t focus more on rehabilitation. However, society doesn’t run well when sociopaths get away with harming others. They’ll just keep doing that and more. I’m glad I’m an educator and get to see lives transform. I see the beauty of transformation in small and big ways each semester. Probably if I worked as a lawyer, I would have to see more of the disappointing side of humanity.

        What you do helps free yourself of pain and that is very beautiful. Self-love is actually being in a state of love, and you are achieving that with that exercise.

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  8. thanks for sharing this message. i read your NDE and was moved by loving in all our thought, words and deeds……….i’m working on it daily
    i have felt that intense love at my father’s bedside during his transition, ineffable unearthly vibrational energy…what a gift!…removing the veil for just a few moments
    dave

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  9. It is truly inspiring and beautiful that despite what happened to you, you are still a giving and courageous women with so much hope for a better future.

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  10. Wow, you have been through alot and you still have love in your heart for everyone. I think you are an amazing person, to go through what you have gone through and still want to help others. You are a blessing to all who come in contact with you. His light shines through you and I haven’t even met you face to face. It is all in your writing. God bless you and keep you.

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  11. This left me speechless, it breaks my heart knowing you had to go through this traumatic experience. It also makes me so happy to see how well you’re now, and how loving of yourself you are, you are a very strong person. Also i completely agree on the part where you said, “We shouldn’t only teach women not to binge drink to avoid being raped, we should be teaching men not to binge drink because they might end up in jail or prison as a consequence.” I agree that people always blame women for drinking and only focus on the amount of alcohol consumed but i believe men should be taught the consequences and not to rape.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your thoughtful comment. As a teacher, I feel that one of my roles is to help educate young men how to be better to women in the future. I see so many strong young women standing up for themselves by taking men to court and bringing these issues of our rape culture to the forefront. I pray that as things change in the states, things will also change in countries like South Korea.

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  12. As said from one of my favorite quotes, “When you keep hurting someone, you do one of three things. Either you fill them up with hate, and they destroy everything around them. Or you fill them up with sadness, and they destroy themselves. Or you fill them up with justice, and they try to destroy everything that’s bad and cruel in this world.” Professor Barker, upon first meeting you and seeing your confident and graceful demeanor, I would’ve never thought that you’ve gone through all of these traumatic events. You are so strong, compassionate, and your fight for gender equality, love, and justness for all human beings is uplifting. Thank you for sharing several of your personal experiences openly; so many people feel isolated after going through similar hardships, this lets them know that they are not alone and can overcome them.

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  14. Thanks for writing this. Today I finished reading Alice Sebold’s Lucky. I’m trying to devour everything I can from women who came out on the other side, hoping that I’ll find my way over there too. So thank you. People like you remind me what hope can feel like.

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