I have heard that for every person who talks about an experience of sexual violence, there are at least 100 others who never will. On Thursday, I think Dr. Blasey’s voice was amplified to represent millions.
Five years ago, right after my story was published, I got about 100 emails from people I didn’t know, telling me their all-too-similar stories. They ranged from teenage girls to a woman in her 70s, who was still grappling with what a boy had done to her in high school. I also got another 50 or so similar messages from friends and acquaintances. And one man told me how he almost attacked a vulnerable girl at a drunken high school party, but he found that he simply couldn’t do it, and then felt bad for years, like maybe he wasn’t a real man, because everything in our culture told him he had missed a great opportunity.
This year, I received a letter from the other guy in the room when I was raped. He was writing to ask me for absolution. He told me he was a good man despite what he had done back then. I didn’t write him back because I could not give him what he wanted, and felt no need to explain. I haven’t heard from anyone else in that room that night.