The Weight of Rape and the Light of Love

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About Renee DeVesty

Renee DeVesty is a Registered Speaker’s Bureau Member with the Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network (RAINN) in Washington, DC. She has been published and interviewed on local and national media outlets, and she lectures and presents nationally on college campuses and at events and fundraisers for Vera House, a shelter for those affected by Sexual Abuse & Domestic Violence. Renee has more than 25 years experience in the management, promotion and execution of corporate and non-profit events and fundraisers. She is a compassionate and empowering Teen Youth Leader, and a strong advocate and activist for women’s issues.

Comments

  1. Great work, glad to see you have overcome so much and it’s disgusting what they did to you. Just reading it made my foot tap faster n faster with anger towards those rapists.

    Are those signs up around Sorority houses too?

    • We’re working on it!! Thanks for the support, Archy!! :D

      • Glad to see it being addressed, too many times people forget to tell women as a group to not rape as well. Congrats on 10k followers :D

        • Melissa Harrison says:

          Archy:

          You rock. Where can I follow you?

          Melissa

          • Haha only here, I don’t have a blog. Thank-you though, my driving goal is to ensure allllll people male, female, old, young, are educated about their behaviour, prosecuted where applicable but also supported in their rehabiliation and all victims/people most definitely to be supported and protected.

  2. Cuzzin, I am extremely proud of you. I am sorry for the pain you experienced, but am glad you turned it around so that it did not define you. I understand completely.
    Bless you…Love you…G

  3. I am so sorry for what you went through and am so proud of what you have done to turn things around. Love you cousin. Vicky

  4. Renee, I am so proud of you as a sister, a friend, and a voice for those who have not yet found theirs. You are the first span in the bridge to healing for so many. Thank you for YOU! Preach on sister, preach on, until everyone gets the message!
    Love ya
    Reta

  5. Reta, this is just beautiful and heartfelt – thank you for taking the time to comment! You’re an angel!! Love you! :D

  6. Did you ever tell your friend whose husband did that to you? I was raped by a friend in college. Nobody believed me when I told them.

  7. I hope your friend and her husband sees this. Maybe that’s not the best way to display your feelings about it but I wish they would see it to give him something to think about and for her to question him about it

  8. Renee, your story brings tears to my eyes. Not only for your suffering and betrayal, but for the way in which you have found empowerment and the gift of healing you offer to others. I wish to particularly commend you on not having turned your pain into hatred. You are clearly not pursuing a sexist agenda of vilification against men in general, as so many female rape victims do, but one of healing and education. Huge respect from me.

  9. Joanna Schroeder says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this story. I think we can help survivors cope by showing them that they are not alone. Also, as bystanders, I believe we are more likely to believe a woman when we hear other women’s personal stories of having been raped.

    There are times when I wish I believed in Hell or some sort of not-earthly being to punish or somehow reconcile with people who go unpunished for such horrific crimes. I know it doesn’t change the fact that this happened to you, but I guess it makes me feel less helpless.

    Lots of love.

  10. Joanna Schroeder says:

    Also, what a breathtakingly beautiful title.

  11. Melissa Harrison says:

    Thank you for sharing your strength, and the story of your determination to overcome such horrific trauma.

    I have so much respect and admiration for you and your amazing ability to turn something so devastating into a way to help others.

    I cannot even begin to imagine how difficult it must have been to tell your story – especially over and over again. Telling the story can be just as awful as living it was. The story, though, is what truly helps others see that they are not alone. The story is what sparks the healing power of what you are doing.

    Thank you.

  12. Thank you so very much for your courage.

    I spoke out about the nineteen years of incest by my father. Of course, almost all my relatives on my father’s side don’t speak to me.

    You give me courage to keep on keeping on.

    I am so sorry that happened to you. So very sorry.

    May all your best dreams be fulfilled and positive blessings rain down on you and your family.

    Peace.

  13. Thank you for sharing your story. It brought tears to my eyes. You are living proof that out of every evil, something good can come.

    Rape and sexual abuse are such huge problems, for both women and men, young and old, rich and poor. As far as we have come, we have much, much farther to go.

    Just a couple of weeks ago, I sat in the lunchroom at work as CNN played a story on the horrific gang rape and murder case in India. A coworker commented that she was glad she lived in the US, where “we don’t let things like that happen.” It was all I could do to keep from either walking out, or yelling “how can you be so ignorant?” I sometimes think I should get on my knees and thank god every day that I have not been a victim of rape. I have three people close to me who were not so lucky,

    One is a friend since childhood who was sexually assaulted repeatedly by her Uncle when she was a young girl. She is hearing- and speech-impaired, and thinks her uncle may have chosen her as his victim out of a belief that she would not be able to tell anyone what he was doing to her. He died when she was 12, before she got a chance to tell. Indeed, it would take 15 years and considerable counseling before she had the courage to tell her parents what happened. It nearly tore the family apart; to this day, there are relatives who believe her and support her, and those who do not believe her and no longer speak to her.

    A second friend was assaulted, violently, at age 14 by her mother’s live-in boyfriend at the time (Mom was one of those who attracted losers like a magnet attracts nails.) He hurt her so badly she had to be hospitalized, and she will never have children because of what he did to her. Blessedly, he was arrested, tried, and sent to prison. DNA later tied him to the assaults of three other girls in two states. Lord willing, he will never leave prison, though he is technically eligible for parole (and has been denied every time.) My friend remains haunted and scarred physically, mentally and emotionally from the assault, and believes she will have nightmares about her rapist until the day he is put in the ground.

    The third victim is one of my cousins, who while working as a counselor at a church camp when she was 17, was physically dragged into the woods and raped by a fellow counselor. She went to the police, filed a report, submitted to a physical exam, told them exactly who her attacker was….and NOTHING was done. The police called it a case of he-said/she-said and refused to forward the case to the county DA, claiming there was “little likelihood of conviction.” It wasn’t surprising, really. Her attacker was the son of a prominent and respected church pastor in the bible-belt town where she grew up; my cousin, alas, was the daughter of a single mother and regarded as “trailer trash” from the wrong side of the tracks. Church members lined up in support of the rapist, calling him a “good boy” and basically calling my cousin a harlot who “tempted him to sin.” Some actually even tried to claim my aunt was partly responsible for the rape, because she dared allow her daughter to wear makeup and jeans. Eventually they were basically forced to leave town. The rapist has never met justice, and probably never will; in fact, 12 years after the incident, he has now taken over for his father as pastor of the church. My cousin wonders how many other girls he has raped. She now struggles with drug and alcohol addiction and remains bitter and contemptuous of anyone involved with organized religion. I do not know if there will ever be “healing” or “closure” for her.

    We may not have women being gang raped with iron rods on a daily basis in the US, but we are not as far away from that level of brutality as we might like to believe. We need to talk about rape, even when people don’t want us too. We need to we need to name the rapists, blame them and shame them (instead of blaming and shaming victims) and bring them to justice. Ultimately, we need to teach everyone, men and women both, to respect their fellow human beings and to understand that YOU DO NOT HAVE THE RIGHT TO TAKE ANYTHING FROM ANOTHER HUMAN BEING BY COERCION OR FORCE NO MATTER HOW BADLY YOU WANT IT OR THINK YOU DESERVE IT. I believe a lot of our problems with rape stem from the fact that we refuse to see our fellow human beings as people with hearts, minds and bodies that can be hurt, just like us. Too many of us are selfish, we think that the world revolves around us and that other people exist only to be used up and thrown away for our pleasure. Rape is only an extreme form of this.

    We need to teach young people to have respect for themselves and their bodies and to be clear about what they want, and don’t want, especially in relationships. We also need to teach our hormone-driven teenagers especially that if you sense you are getting ‘mixed signals’ from a date, STOP. Back off. Think. Ask. Where do you really want to go from here? If you don’t feel comfortable talking with the person you are with about what they do and don’t want sexually, then maybe you should not be getting intimate with that person. Just a thought…this might prevent a lot of “date rape” cases.

    We also need to face the reality that, yes, there are those who will lie about being raped. It happened a few years ago in my own community when a woman claimed that she was sexually assaulted while in a restroom at her child’s school. The school’s custodian was even taken into custody and questioned. It was all over the news for a few days, with people wringing their hands about sexual predators at schools, then all of a sudden, the police announced the case was being dropped; the woman’s story began to fall apart and eventually she admitted it had never happened, she had made it up in the hopes of getting her husband back (he had recently left her.) Lying about rape is just as shameful as blaming the victim, and should be treated as such. Every time someone is found to by lying about a rape it prevents real victims from coming forward out of fear that they will be accused of lying. And let’s also be realistic; we will never fully prevent rape, because there will always be psychopaths among us, so we need to be careful out there. But that does not mean we should not try to make it far, far less common than it is now.

  14. Catherine says:

    You left one thing undone: Why didn’t you go after those bastards who did that to you? Name them. Accuse them publicly. You are hiding their sin and encouraging them to continue to commit their crimes in the cover of night. WHAT ABOUT JUSTICE?

    • Catherine – justice has been done: I am at Peace. I reclaimed my life, I walk proudly, I have no fear.
      They know who they are and their crimes cannot continue because I spoke out and continue to raise awareness in the prevention of these crimes.

      Nothing is left undone for me. Nothing.

    • Catherine, respectfully, what you are talking about is not justice, it’s revenge. Justice does not come our of rage, nor does it punish. Justice is about healing, rehabilitation, protection and a better future. She defends, but does not attack. Her scales are not ‘an eye for an eye’, they measure an appropriate response to produce a better outcome. Her sword is not a weapon of violence and coercion, but an instrument of truth. She is blindfolded so that she does not look with her mind but with her heart. What Renee is doing IS justice.

  15. h my goodness Renee, I am so sorry you had to go through this! Wow, “so sorry” just isn’t enough. I am SO PROUD of you for doing this. You are amazing cousin!!!!

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