Several people throughout the years, with whom I have previously shared my poem, “Stolen”, which is about when I was raped when I was a 16-year old virgin, have asked me questions about some of the verses. So I will repeat here my comments to those FAQs (frequently asked questions).
First of all, yes, this poem is true. I was raped in the spring of 1972 when I was 16, almost at the end of my junior year in high school. My best friend, Jan Balzer, and I were walking around Flushing (MI) County Park, enjoying the beautiful weather after school when Bob Ranger and his good friend, Gene Boswell, pulled up in a red convertible and Jan slightly knew Bob Ranger from a friend of a friend situation. Bob and Gene attended Montrose High School, which is about 7-10 miles away from Flushing High School that Jan and I attended. They are both country-boondock schools. We all talked and goofed around, like kids will do, for about an hour and then Bob asked us if we wanted to ride in the convertible for a bit. I’ve always been a car girl and I was thrilled to be invited for a ride in that beauty!
Everything in my poem happened as I described it. I did take poetic license in a few verses that I will explain because other people have asked me about those particular verses.
When I told Bob Ranger after he grabbed my breast, “Please, no, don’t do that!”, he did not specifically say, “You are just like all the rest”, “a teasing pussy cat.” However, the second I firmly said, “Please, no don’t do that!” he quickly became quite angry, and he swiftly pinned me down so hard I could not breathe. (Bob was a lot bigger and stronger than me; I was only 5’2″ and I barely weighed 110 lbs). He yanked my shorts down and raped me on the front seat of his car.
It did happen so fast, so quickly, so suddenly, and so painfully that I was in total shock and paralyzed with being attacked like that. I have never had to fight for myself like that before, and I have never seen anybody drastically change so rapidly from nice to a monster. And the worse part is that I couldn’t do anything because he had me so completely pinned down and overwhelmed.
So the poetic license I took in that verse was not what Bob Ranger literally said, but the imagery I created is pretty accurate in my opinion.
I have also been asked if Bob Ranger threw a towel at me and actually said, “Mop up your own dirty crud.” No, that is not exactly what he said; I used poetic license there also to continue the rhyming scheme.
What happened is after he was done, he got off me, took a small towel that was on the floorboard of the back seat, and wiped off my blood that was on him. As I lay on the front seat, crying from the immense pain and the shock of what he had done to me, he did indeed throw that towel at me and told me to wipe my blood off his car seat, in as cold and rude tone of voice as you could imagine. So that verse is fairly close to what Bob Ranger did actually say, and I also tried to convey the coldness and rudeness in his voice in that verse as well.
I’ve also been asked if I really did bleed for 4 days. Yes, I apparently did, I just didn’t realize it had been for that many days until about 20 years later when Jan and I finally had a really long overdue talk about that day. I remember heavily bleeding for awhile, and Jan did try so hard at that time to get me to open up and talk about it but I was too traumatized. It was like if I don’t talk about it, I can pretend it never happened and if it never happened, then I can be normal again.
Jan was so worried that I might bleed to death or that I might have been severely injured that she asked her mother in one of those “a friend of a friend” conversations about a girl who had had sex for the first time and she was still heavily bleeding after four days and was that normal? Jan’s mother worked in the laundry section of a local hospital and was friends with several nurses. And after consulting with her friends, Jan’s mother told her that that girl really needed to see her doctor. And Jan tried persuading me to see mine…but I had no way of seeing him without my parents finding out and then giving me the “Spanish Inquisition” treatment.
Bob Ranger ripped me apart. Normally after some foreplay etc., a female is sufficiently lubricated, even if she is a virgin, and that helps to make losing her virginity hopefully not as painful. Especially if she is treated gently.
I was obviously not treated gently, and I most certainly was not physically prepared and that made my rape that much more physically damaging. And it is quite possible that Bob Ranger was well-endowed as well. I did not see his penis, nor did I have any experience at that time at all to even know if he was well-endowed or not. So it is not surprising that I bled for that long afterwards.
When I had my first pelvic examination at the age of 19, after I had obtained my own health insurance, my doctor asked me after the exam if there had been anything unusual in my sexual history that I wanted to tell him. And I said no. And he asked me when did I lose my virginity and I said, “When I was 16.” And he looked at me for a long moment and he said that there was some unusual tissue damage that had long since healed and he paused and he gently asked me again if there was anything I needed to tell him. And I again said no and then I asked if I could please get dressed now.
I was in shock that he knew something was wrong, that he knew somehow that I had been raped and it felt like I was supposed to re-live that horrible moment all over again and tell my doctor what had happened and I couldn’t!! I had spent 3 years pushing that memory down, down, down so deep that, if I ever had to remotely think about it, it was only as just “the day I lost my virginity”, and that was it, no more details to tell, no more fears and tears to remember.
I’ve also been asked by much younger women why didn’t I file a rape charge against Bob Ranger? They really, really could not understand, even after reading the verses in my poem in which I tried so hard to express what it was like back in the early 1970’s for raped women, how much different times were then. And when I elaborated further, they were even more shocked!
I explained to them that in the early 1970’s women could be legally raped by their husbands and they could not file rape charges against them. Non-consensual sex was considered a husband’s rightful marital enjoyment, and that women had to, legally, provide them with sex, whenever and wherever the husband wished. That laws condoning that kind of treatment of wives had been on the books for centuries until the mid or late 1970’s in the United States. But there are now still too many other countries where those kinds of horrible laws are still upheld.
I also explained that even if a woman was brave and courageous enough to file a rape charge against any man, she was literally the one put on trial, not the man. Defense attorneys could, and too often did, put her sexual history on display, or would put other men on the stand to say that yes, they had had sex with that woman at some point in time, even if it wasn’t true at all.
The defense attorneys would make her testify as to what she was wearing, and insinuate that she was wearing provocative clothing designed to “lure” a man into temptation. What was she doing out late at night? Why was she at a bar? And in his summation, the defense attorney would paint the woman as having tempted the man, that he was just reacting in a normal and healthy fashion for any man-hungry female, that she was “asking” to be raped, and everybody knows that all women have a fantasy to be raped, right?
There were so few female lawyers then and even fewer female judges at every court level. Rape cases were rarely successfully prosecuted because the trials were primarily focused on what the women did, said, wore, or had previously done and juries just need to have only one shred of doubt and a “not guilty” verdict was guaranteed. And that was even if a rape charge made it past the police to begin with! It was even rarer to have female police officers in any department in any state in the whole United States so it was a rare male police officer who was truly sympathetic with a rape victim.
And I would explain to these younger women, how could I have ever proved that I was indeed a virgin when I was raped? I couldn’t tell my own parents because of the fears of their reactions (justified in my mother’s case, I found out many years later). I did not have the bravery or the courage at 16 to fight for myself in a courtroom, knowing only too well from the newspapers, from societal attitudes, etc. what I would have been up against.
I was too ashamed of what had happened to tell the police or anybody else. I blamed myself, although I could never come up with any real good reason why I should blame myself, but I still did. And I found out 2 decades later when I finally went into therapy that that kind of self-blame is pretty much the norm for raped women.
And that is also why I am so glad that me and Jan finally had that long overdue talk for several reasons. I showed her the rough draft of my poem and I asked her if it did happen like I remembered it and she verified that yes, it did. But most importantly is that Jan convinced me that I had done nothing wrong, that I was blameless, that no, I had not in any way, shape or form led him on, or led him to believe that I wanted to have sex with him as I had long feared and wondered if I had done any of that.
And I did eventually regret not pressing charges against Bob Ranger, especially when my therapist told me she was very sure that either he had raped a girl or girls before me, because of how he completely and quickly overpowered me, or that if that was not the case, she was sure that he most likely would have raped other girls after me. And I was so sick at heart to think that perhaps I had inadvertently put another girl through what he had put me through and that if I had only pressed charges against Bob Ranger at that time, then maybe I could have prevented that from happening again.
So I have also been asked if I have had any qualms about publicly naming Bob Ranger as my rapist and I sure don’t. He’s guilty of raping me, he knows it, I know it, Jan knows it and his friend, Gene Boswell knows it. If he doesn’t like the stigma of being called a rapist, then he shouldn’t have raped me.
I’ve also been asked why I couldn’t tell my parents. The people who have known me and loved me the longest know why that was an absolute impossibility but for those who don’t, please let me explain why.
I was the oldest and the only girl. My dad, who was old enough to be my grandfather, was very, very old-fashioned and protective. He also had a horribly bad temper. And he owned a rifle and a shotgun. If I had ever told him, I was pretty darn sure that he would have grabbed his guns, found out where Bob Ranger lived and with no hesitation shot him dead. I was not about to take the risk that I may have been right or wrong.
As for my mother, I was pretty darn sure that her immediate reaction would have been to have somehow blamed me. I will not get into why I thought that, but I was unfortunately proved correct when I showed her my poem 20 years later and the first words out of her mouth were, “Well, you and that Jan were probably where you weren’t supposed to be!” And when I flat-out asked her, “Are you really trying to blame me for being raped?” and she hemmed and she hawed but she wouldn’t say yes…but she sure didn’t say no either.
So telling my parents was completely out of the question. Seeing a doctor then was also out of the question because I would have had to ask them for their health insurance cards and no lie would have worked to be able to get those cards. My dad probably would have insisted my mother go with me!
I’ve also been asked if the therapy helped. Yes, it did but it still took me many years after that to not cry when I re-read my poem, or to not cry when I admitted that I had been raped. I’ve also realized that I will never be completely whole, as I wished I would someday be at the end of my poem; there will always be repaired seams in me, but I do appreciate and understand that I really am a much stronger person because I have survived being raped. And that is always a good thing to know.