One of the questions that I’m asked on a rather regular basis, by men who seemingly want to show empathy and concern for me after I’ve challenged them about their issues, is, “Who hurt you?” You see, women aren’t supposed to speak out about men, we aren’t supposed to question the way things are; we are supposed to cower in terror when we are questioned by men and go running in fear to a position of subservience and compliance any time we are confronted by them. Men are allowed to be angry, to be frustrated, to feel like they are being demonized by the world. If women question and speak out, if we do take issue with the status quo, then quite obviously, some man has to hurt us so terribly in the past as to create this ugly entity known as the “angry Black woman.” That’s supposed to be an insult from a man, the highest possible insult, because it’s meant to imply that I’m not longer desirable to men, that I’m a little too uppity for my own britches, a little too vocal, and that I need to be taken down a peg.
The problem with that is that, I am angry. You damn right I’m angry; I’m the reigning title holder of the Ms. Angry Black Woman. But I wear the title of angry Black woman proudly, and for good mother fucking reason, because with that crown and banner, I get to speak out about issues like patriarchy, sexism, colorism, misogyny and hold a dirty mirror up to men so that can see their ugly reflections and I don’t have to hold my tongue. My anger is a positive outlet. It has allowed me to heal from my past hurts. My anger causes me to fight for the rights of women, to try to heal the chasm of Black relationships that grows deeper and wider with the passing of each tic of the sexist, oppressive clock.
Tito Oliviero hurt me. He raped me one hot summer day, putting his hand on my throat and telling me that he would kill me if I screamed while he was violating me. Apparently, he decided that being friends wasn’t enough for him and that he had a right to my body, without my consent.
Dimas Chardon hurt me. (I think that’s his real name but I’m not sure, I’m certainly not trying to protect him because he’s innocent) He asked me to his house in Connecticut and I politely declined. He decided that since I had rejected him that he could teach me a lesson. He took out a gun, put it on my desk, and held me down with a loaded weapon just inches from my face while he raped me.
There is a man whose name I don’t know. He begged me to come to my apartment, to “just hang out.” It was only a matter of minutes before he we were on the floor, I was fighting with all my might, and was clueless that that was an indication that I didn’t want to have sex with him. It didn’t matter to him if I wanted him or not, he wanted to have sex with me. We fought until I was physically and emotionally drained and then I just gave in. I laid there like I limp, lifeless rag while he had sex with me. I wish I knew his name so I could call him out. I know his face, it’s one that I will never forget. He probably doesn’t know my name, he probably doesn’t even remember me. I was just another hole for him, another piece of ass to affirm his manhood.
Whenever I say that I was raped, I get this huge outpouring of messages, “You are so brave . . . you need to get counseling . . . don’t let the anger consume you.” It’s incomprehensible to people that I can actually talk about being raped without having some sort of emotional breakdown. I’m not ashamed of what happened, I didn’t do anything wrong. I’m not afraid to talk about it, because AGAIN, I didn’t do anything wrong. I can’t do anything to change what happened to me but I sure as hell ain’t gonna pretend it didn’t. The people that need to be ashamed are the men who raped me. They are the ones who did something wrong, they are the criminals. They took something that belonged to me, I’m not going to curl up in a ball and sit in silence to keep them from feeling guilty. None of the men that raped me were thugs or low life’s. There were educated, intelligent, successful Black men. They are the men that CLAIM to be good black men because they make a good salary, drive a nice car. They are men, who, right now, would stare in a woman’s face and swear that they have never raped anyone.
I’ve met countless numbers of women who have tales of being raped, I’ve even encountered a few men who are brave enough to speak up about their molestation and rape. There are even scores of men who say how sorry they are for what happened to me. What I’ve YET to encounter is a man who has admitted to being a rapist. Not one. I’ve never met a man who said to me, “When I was younger, I thought it was my right and I took what didn’t belong to me.” I’ve NEVER met a man who said, “I’m ashamed to say that I didn’t take no for an answer and I violated the most precious thing a woman could give me.” We wonder why Black relationships are failing, we look to blame Black women every chance we get, but let’s put the blame where it belongs, let’s hold the men accountable for their actions. If you want to know the reason why Black relationships are in such peril it’s because so many men are rapists and not being held accountable for it. Black women are being raped and we are sucking it up, suppressing it, internalizing the pain so that Black men can walk around without guilt. Black society breeds rapists. We don’t hold our black boys accountable for their actions, we tell them that in order to be a man, you have to have a lot of women, and we teach them that women are objects to be used and discarded.
There is a man reading this who has raped a woman, more than likely several. In fact, there are many men who are guilty of rape who are seething in anger right now. To you, I say, until you are uncomfortable with your actions, until you are disturbed by your past, until you can speak truth to power, you are diseased in mind, body and soul. You can deny the fact that you stole the innocence of a someone, that you committed an unspeakable crime but that does not absolve you of your acts. And to those who try to silence me with their emotional rape, those who would prefer that I cower in silence, YOU are the ones who have stolen the virtue of women. You are the rapists, the killer of dreams.
I will not be silenced. I will stand up and name my attackers. I will say who hurt me with pride for it is them who should be ashamed.
Now, I ask you ladies, who hurt you?
Can you speak truth to power?
Can you name your attackers?
Know that in order to heal, you don’t have to be ashamed of what happened to you. You are innocent. You must reclaim your strength. Don’t continue to protect these men with your silence. They don’t deserve it. Challenge them to admit to their wrong doings. Name your rapist so that you can free yourself from the pain. So I ask you ladies, with compassion and respect, who hurt you?