A Pre-Existing Rape Condition
Note from Brianna: this post was originally written in May 2017 when "The House of Representatives voted 217-213 to overturn the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, and replace it with a new national health care plan, the American Health Care Act." It was not published until more recently in 2018, once my dad "found out my secret," but I set its "publish date" back to the time it was written. No one knew much about what had actually just been voted through (for reference and transparency), but this was my first reaction to what I was hearing. Looking back one year later, while Obamacare is still (mostly) in place, I never could have anticipated what this clown would have accidentally inspired, and what his election to the leadership of our country triggered inside women everywhere. And that reaction was, and is, #Enough.
There are some things you don't talk about.
Some, for no particular reason at all.
Some, because you don't want people to know.
Some, because while you've learned to live with the information or the reality, others around you have not, and it's a big responsibility to own, manage and navigate others' feelings about, and reactions to, your reality. Often, it's too heavy a lift for others to pick up.
The reason I didn't talk publicly about being raped is somewhere in the middle. I didn't tell my dad that I lost my virginity to college date rape while I was attending the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa until more than fifteen years later. I couldn't bear the thought of breaking his heart or infuriating him with information that would crush any father.
I told him once I was ready, inspired and empowered by the #MeToo movement and more importantly, after crossing a threshold in my own healing through EMDR therapy.
But all of that happened because, ultimately, the election of one man to the White House has made it too hard for many women, including me, to stand by silently while our traumas are turned into a line item on a health care bill. A "pre-existing medical condition."
A gaggle of power-hungry, money-hungry old white men with a mentally ill ringleader have lost their humanity. Perhaps they never had any. So, while I don't want to be distracted to react and be pulled into the vortex of their vapid hatred, I find it more important than ever – in the face of alternate facts and fake news – that we tell our own truths honestly. Completely. Boldly. Power stance style.
I was raped.
I was raped.
I was raped.
Does that make you uncomfortable to read? Because it makes me uncomfortable that I have to report my rape as a pre-existing condition, not a crime.
Somewhere else, probably not that far from where I am right now, another women has just been beaten by her husband. She should call for help. But maybe she won't, because she doesn't want to put a pre-existing condition on record.
Another might not talk about her birth story because it didn't go how she wanted. I don't know many women who wanted a c-section. A c-section is usually a "no other options" answer, and as a result, many women carry shame or trauma around it. Now more than ever.
Shame is the common denominator in all of these "conditions." Exploiting shame is the name of their game. It's meant to weaken us. To strike the achilles heel in the hopes of taking us down.
But that won't work.
My mom has a real pre-existing condition. If she doesn't get her medicine every day, she will die.
My daughter has a real pre-existing condition. If she doesn't get her medicine every day, she will die.
That's unacceptable in a developed nation. A supposed world leader.
But me? I won't die from my rape, although at more than one point I thought that I would. A rape may happen in one night, one hour, one minute, but its effects last a lifetime. Conscious and subconscious effects grip a person forever, and can, in the moments where they least expect it, trigger them unexpectedly.
Like when a presidential candidate brags about grabbing women by the pussy and sexually assaulting them. That triggers a rape victim.
Like when people – people in your own family – vote for that man to be president and he actually wins leadership of your nation, making it clear that people don't care that he proudly sexually assaults women. That triggers a victim.
Like when the House of Representatives passes a bill deeming rape a fucking pre-existing condition. That triggers a goddamned rape victim.
However, before you pigeonhole me, you should know that I have a lot of other supposed pre-existing conditions, too.
For instance, once a month I have acne. Thanks to a perfect storm of debilitating life stress, I also have anxiety and depression, I'm more overweight than I've ever been in my life and my period has become extremely irregular. I most recently went seven weeks without a period. I pee when I sneeze or do jumping jacks, thanks to birthing a 10 lb. baby (naturally, thank goodness, no c-section here to report!). Is that enough incontinence to count? I've had some pretty bad ear infections in my day and I got urinary tract infections like they were going out of style in my 20's. I no longer have tonsils, thanks to chronic tonsillitis for a good portion of my childhood and teen years.
That's right, folks, I am completely uninsurable.
I don't know what kind of world I'm living in, but I know there is a little girl growing up in it under my care. Since the day she was born, my biggest fear (irrationally big) is that she will be sexually assaulted in some way.
So the least I can do, is to stand up and say no. Enough is enough. People of color, women, the LGBTQ community, those made most vulnerable in our society are not puppets for the the ever-dwindling-yet-still-in-power old white man to play with. My daughter's future cannot be the reality we are living now. Or worse.
Rape is not locker room fodder. Rape is not a joke, a punchline, or a fucking line item on a healthcare bill.
I don't know a word in the English language that adequately captures how baffling it is that emotional trauma is now a pre-existing condition, too. Because my body was violated, I should pay more for – or be denied – healthcare.