(An open letter to a former client of Beth Morrison. The client name has been changed to protect her identify.)
Tonight I am thinking of you as I process the events of the past 48 hours. It was my honor to serve as your rape counselor 27 years ago and I can’t help but go back to those dark and difficult days sitting by your side.
Todd Akin had no right to make such outrageous and false statements about a subject of which he clearly has no real knowledge. What struck me more than his idiotic comment was the pain and trauma that I knew he would ultimately inflict upon rape survivors such as you.
I spent much time by your side 27 years ago, from the night at the emergency room just two hours after your assault, to two years later in a victim support group. This is why I know how you might be personally impacted by Akins’ callous and harmful comments. I held your hand and walked with you as you debated the painful decision of continuing with the pregnancy or not. I know that the decision was difficult. For decades I have continued to be deeply touched by your bravery and the strength you demonstrated in making this life-altering decision.
I also recall time spent in subsequent sessions dealing with the shame and embarrassment of being raped. You lamented over whether or not you could have somehow contributed to being raped. In Todd Akin’s words, you were questioning whether or not your rape was “a legitimate rape.” I hope that over the years since we last met that you have been able to hang on to the knowledge and belief that you did not deserve or in any way contribute to being assaulted – regardless of the victim blaming that Todd Akin or others like him insist on perpetuating.
We all have to let him know that women can’t prevent rape and certainly can’t prevent an unwelcomed pregnancy that results from rape and ALL rapes are legitimate!
Jane, you are one remarkable woman – a woman of great strength, bravery and class. You are much stronger, wiser and braver than Todd Akin will ever be. You, other rape survivors and all women cannot let the Todd Akins of the world win – not in politics, in theory, in action or in belief. We have to stand strong and say NO MORE.
Now 27 years and potentially thousands of miles apart, I want you to know that I still stand right next to you. We will get through this as we did many years ago by holding hands, fighting back and using our voice.
PS: Note that I have decided to not address Todd Akin as a Representative – he does not represent me and does not deserve that honor.