I couldn’t sleep the other night, and writing some of my thoughts was among the things I tried to change that. I’m reluctant to say too much about the specifics of my lawsuit against my rapist at this point in time, but there’s so much I have wanted to say. What I will say is this: Navigating the legal system as a rape victim has been consistently retraumatizing. What I wrote the other night was a reflection on the very first piece of communication I ever saw from my rapist’s attorney in February of 2018. And I’m ready to share something about it. Here is what I wrote:
The word frivolous means, “not having any serious purpose or value.” It has a specific definition in the legal world which would also not apply but still is the word my rapist’s lawyer used to describe my lawsuit.
Not having any value. I have felt that.
Dear Mr. Attorney, I felt frivolous when your client forced his penis inside me. I felt frivolous when he knew I was in pain and didn’t ever care. I felt frivolous when I told him no to certain things that he continued attempting anyway. I felt frivolous when, yes, your client punched me in the stomach all those years ago and called it birth control. I felt frivolous all the years since. And you better believe I felt frivolous and as stupid as you imagine when I realized what the truth about all of those actions was.
I felt frivolous when I got your letter — I felt like I had no value. Like the pain that letter caused me meant nothing compared to the possibility it would silence me. I felt more frivolous than ever that night.
I feel frivolous when I think about how much you’ve won through loopholes and technicalities. Like I have no serious purpose. Like I have no value. Because what could send that message louder than a law that exists to protect child victims not applying to this child because of YOUR client’s age? If not frivolous, then at least frivolous in comparison. It’s always been clear who has more value in this battle. I can never be anything but frivolous next to him.
I feel frivolous tonight. When I can’t sleep and I can’t find words that already exist to explain what I’m feeling. If they mattered I would find them. I can’t find them so I write them myself. Thinking maybe that’s my purpose. To say what no one has said. But then I think of you and I remember frivolous. It’s not that no one has said what I’m saying or written what I’m writing, it’s that there’s no purpose in saying or writing them. There’s no value. Because rape doesn’t matter and neither do I. It’s just like you said.
I don’t think you’re a bad person but I wonder how it is you’re probably sleeping fine right now at 2 am on a Sunday morning and I’m here thinking about the letter you sent last February. I’m sure you tell yourself you’re just doing your job and you maybe find comfort in enforcing laws as they are written. And I don’t exactly want to hurt your feelings but I also don’t want you to go another day lying to yourself that that letter you sent didn’t matter because it did. That message you sent was a strong one, and the fact that you won only amplified it. You have contributed to my lack of value. You have sucked away my purpose. You prophetized that I’d be frivolous and here I am, sir, awake and tired and feeling frivolous indeed.
Every day I fight to remind myself it does matter. Despite how valueless I have been treated first by your client and then by your work. I am the one who is paying for all of this. The irony does not escape me that you wanted me to pay for you too.