Date Rape, A Very American Shame

daterape

Introduction

This blog covers many contrary and skeptical views on our society and politics.  We welcome all of our followers and readers to comment or submit reality-based articles that question today’s society.  Most of our contributors are men.  Not this one.

Meghan Heller was raped by a fellow college student that resulted in pregnancy in 1962 , a time when abortion was universally illegal and dangerous.  Her story is one of deep shame, and the ordeals she faced in handing over a child for adoption.  With a distinguished career in marketing and advertising, during those celebrated Mad Men years, her life went on, but the scars remained.

It is truly a shame that even today we send off our daughters to college or the military, where they are often exposed to life-changing sexual assault.  It is even a bigger shame that so little political capital is spent by the men in charge to change the culture of assault.  Are we truly an “exceptional country” when 25% of our young daughters can expect to be sexually assaulted in college while we send drones to kill around the world?  Is that the kind of “exceptionalism”  we want to be known for?

b. traven

Meghan Heller

Shame is debilitating.  It is an emotion that goes underground, burrowing deep inside for decades.  My shame began with a sexual assault by a fellow student in my college campus before the term “date rape” was murmured.  In 1962 when the cloak of conformity had a choke hold on middle-America, I was finishing my senior year in college with pregnancy as a graduation present.  It was not OK to have an illegitimate child then until Roe V Wade in 1973.  My story is not unlike the ones of many girls who simply disappeared. But this one is of the life-long consequences of that shame, its residue and damage that linger from a single sexual assault I never saw coming at age 21.

Tossing through sleepless nights figuring how to frame the story for my parents, that I was sure would shatter them, threw me in a tailspin. Facing an unwanted pregnancy was one thing but in my small mill town, a boiling cauldron of conformity, they too would suffer.

Exiled to wait out my pregnancy with a surrogate family I was alone in a gray hospital room, without family or flowers, robbed of the joys of a first born. Then, I had to prepare myself with thick armor to deny my own child and hand her over for adoption. The pain of that moment, being wheeled down a hospital ramp with a pink bundle in my arms to give away lasted a lifetime. The incident with such dire consequences affected my relationships with men for years to come.

Years later, a recounting of my story was required, first when I shared it with my husband and then painfully and uncomfortably telling my college-age son.  I could read in his eyes this was more information than he would like to have about his mother.

One day, fifty two years after the incident, a letter arrived saying “I think you may be my grandma.”  I knew I could then explain my story to my daughter in person. But, in the retelling I would have to re-live the pain. It was like having the scab ripped off a wound. I wanted all to understand the shackles of those narrow-minded times, the humiliation, the dismissal of the perpetrator, and the shame that forced many of my emotions underground for a lifetime.  It is a cautionary tale that needs to be told for future generations.

Today one in five young college women today are facing sexual assault by fellow students with shame that lasts, still as the common denominator.  With such high incidence on campus I am appalled that about 400 amendments are before various states to push back Roe v Wade and women’s health issues, even trying to defund Planned Parenthood.  In spite of our enlightened times, politicians seem to want us to go backwards. Rape is not a woman’s issue. It is a social, cultural, political and legal issue.

9 thoughts on “Date Rape, A Very American Shame

  1. Thank you for sharing this powerful — and painful — personal story.

    We need far more compassion, and far less aggression, in this country of ours. As b. traven notes in his introduction, overseas violence is linked to violence right here at home. We must work to stop this violence, wherever it occurs. Only then can we become the kind of country, the kind of people, we say we want to be.

  2. It is gratifying to read the occasional news article where students in high school and college mobilize to pressure administrations to change policies of denial, concealment, and failure to hold student sexual abusers accountable for their actions. Perhaps this will become a sweeping movement that brings change: greater safety for females, and desparatly needed awareness of human responsibility for males.

    I can’t express sufficient regret for all Meghan Heller (and others who shared or will endure a like experience) and her family endured because she is a victim of this lack of respect for feminine autonomy and value as human beings. As well, I can’t express sufficient admiration for Ms. Heller and all the other women of all ages who are almost unimaginably courageous enough to voluntarily step into a very public spotlight so as to affect change and perhaps save others from a similar fate. Regards.

  3. Before running this article, the author, Ms. Heller,told us that because our audience is largely male she didn’t expect much response to her sad and honest story. She seems to feel that American men are still largely unconcerned with the problems women face from assaulting men. I wrote her that our readers were much more thoughtful and sensitive then to ignore the depth of this problem in American society.

    Now today it is front page news that one of our candidates for President of the United States feels that because he is a “celebrity” he can asault women and “get away with it”.
    I hope our reading audience can prove Ms. Heler wrong that most American men don’t sympathize with the mistreatment of women.and are ready to talk about it in response to her article on ‘shame’. .Let’s hear from you.

    • traven.

      You fail to mention that our other candidate sought to belittle victims of her husband’s sexual predation, and took great pleasure in double-destroying the life of a 12-year old rape victim. And then there is the coarsening of culture highlighted by Hollywood lefties who are almost universally in support of said rapist and defending wife.

      Meghan’s story is heartrending, as are those of Bill and Hillary’s victims.

  4. Walter.. Meghan is a personal friend of mine. She is over 70 years old and still feels the shame and pain of that horriific. incident. .She is vary brave to have revealed her story on TCP and related it to today’s atmosphere . I feel her pain that is why we ran her story because “campus rape ” is still, fifty years later, in the headlines. Just this morning on network TV a major story ran on Campus rape and the indifference of men to this.
    I find it puzzling that you would troll up Clinton’s behavior and totally ignore the current news of Trump’s misogynistic and bragging behavior..Both he and Clinton are serial users of women.
    Do you excuse Trump?. Do you just pass that off as “locker room” talk? I hope not!

    • traven. Barracks talk, actually, and you brought politics into the commentary. I would willingly join the firing squad that brought her perpetrator to the justice she deserves, how about you?

      Perhaps Meghan will find peace in the life she paid so dearly to bring forth. Surely, God will reward her for it.

      • Meghan has found peace and her daughter. No. I do not think that vengeance is a healthy emotion to carry around. One can, in the quiet of night, wish something would happen to the person that wronged them but to carry it around all your life is disastrous for your mental health. I do find it hard to ‘forgive’ a wrong but I feel I am a stronger person by forgetting the wrong. I can’t forgive because I feel the tiger never changes its stripes. In Meghans case she told me that she found that the perpetrator had died. She is still alive and seems happy with her life. So nature took care oi it.
        Doesn’t always work out that way though as Shakespeare said: ” THE EVIL THAT MEN DO LIVES ON BUT THE GOOD IS OFT ENTERR3ED AMONGST THEIR BONES. “.

  5. It might take all the space available on the entire internet to list all of the victims of misogyny and their attackers, let alone enumerate the circumstances of each deplorable event. The victims of these crimes might be willing to assign different degrees of harm to each, mostly out of generosity of spirit so as to make their fellow victims feel a bit better if that is even possible, but I doubt if I could.

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