Power, Control and Sexual Abuse

Fatima Cortez, May 10, 2022

[A response to the May 2nd, 2022, leak of a draft Supreme Court decision that broadley overturned the Constitutional right of privacy and revoked a woman's Constitutional right to an abortion that had been established by the the 1973 Roe v Wade decision.]

I want the Supreme Court to respond to a 12 year old who had no idea that the uncle of her friend girl was raping her. She was in the country for the summer. He had told her they were playing the kissing game and he was showing her what it was like to be a woman, especially now when she had started menstruating. That proved she was a woman. She liked kissing, but she froze when he told her to pull down her pants. She stayed frozen and then he got off of her and left her on the bed. She felt a slimy substance on her and went to the bathroom to wash up before she got back on her bike and rode home. She said nothing. A few weeks later she was eating a lot of pickles. Her Nanny told her to come take a mustard bath. She did not know why.

In a few days, her Mom was called and she took her to the doctor where she was examined like she had never been examined before. Then blood was drawn. The results showed that she was pregnant and she told her Mom what had happened. He was arrested. They went back to the city and she was told to say nothing to anyone. She and the family went to see the priest and they discussed sending her to a Catholic home for unwed mothers. She felt like she was sleepwalking.

Very soon after talking with the priest, a doctor came to the house. She was told to get undressed from the waist down and lay on her bed. In the room was her Mother and her Aunt and the Doctor. He put the speculum inside of her and she began to cry from the pain. Her Aunt said, "I bet she didn't cry when he put it in her." and left the room. Her Mom calmed her down until the procedure was completed. Her instructions were that in two days she should pull the gauze hanging out of her privates. She went to sleep.

In two days she went to the bathroom and did what she had been told. A bloody lump about the size of a baseball came out of her attached to the gauze that had been hanging. She put it on some toilet paper and took it to her Mom in the kitchen. "Is this what you were looking for" was all she could think to say. She then went back to bed after washing and putting on a sanitary napkin.

A few days later, after she stopped bleeding, she was taken to the priest to discuss the home and hear another lecture on her behavior. She told him that she had her period so the test must have been wrong. He asked if she was sure nothing was done to her to abort the pregnancy. She said that she didn't know what an abortion was. In that moment, she felt like the biggest sinner in the world because she had lied to a priest. There was much discussion around the house on how she had to avoid boys and she should not ever again have sex. She still didn't know what had happened to her. She looked in her encyclopedias and from what she could tell, she had not had sex. All she knew was that she had that slimy stuff on the front of her pubic area and she remembered being frozen like she wasn't even there, but on the ceiling looking down at herself.

For the next 15 years she would keep the secret and carry the shame of being a bad girl at age 12. She had been diagnosed with cervical cancer and was asked about abortion. Her cervix had been damaged and she had become vulnerable to cervical cancer and would need a hysterectomy.

I tell this story because that 12 year old was me. I would go on to become a therapist working with adult survivors of child sex abuse and adult survivors of rape (male and female). I learned in my training that rape and sexual abuse/assault were crimes of power and control, not sex.

In 1989 at the Stanford Women of Color and the Law Conference, I began speaking of legislative violence against women which seemed to fall on deaf ears. Since then, women have been disappearing and trafficked, lost custody of their children at the U.S. Border, continued to be underpaid and overworked, brutalized and murdered, identified as unimportant sex workers, on and on the result of an impotent judicial system that is supposed to protect them.

Now we are faced with the most egregious show of legislative violence from the men and one woman of the Supreme Court and their Republican supporters. Power and Control uses rape as a weapon, can we call out and accuse the Supreme Court of Rape? Will they understand that? #+NOW WHAT.

Copyright © Fatima Cortez


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