Strong Words: What I Said to a Cop and Why
It’s not every day you can say, "I will fuck you up" to a cop and get away with it. But that’s exactly what I did, and not only did I come through unscathed, I came through triumphant.
I decided to take a Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) class with my friend Jen because it sounded like a good idea and it was free. (You can get me to do almost anything if you entice me with "free." I was raised by the cheapest people on earth.) In the first segment of the class we had some discussion, and I mentioned that I was a "survivor."
Survivor is the word that RAD uses to describe a person who has suffered a sexual attack but has not died from it. They don’t say it outright, but my impression is that they save "victim" for the person who never lives to tell about it. This is helpful, because when I take the name "victim," I take on the passivity that comes in tow. "Victim" is a noun with no verb at its root. It suggests no action taken, only received. But when I call myself a "survivor," I am saying I’ve come through. I have, at the least, survived.
In the final segment of the class, we had the opportunity to try out our new skills on specially trained members of the police department. Before we began, one of the officers explained the scenarios we would be placed in. I listened and mentally checked them off in my head: I could do the walk-by, I’d manage the hold from behind, I could probably even take the full-force tumble. But then the officer warned us that they would say things to us, things that might feel insulting or degrading. And I lost it.
I was prepared for any physical challenge they could throw at me, but the threat of words was too much. I hadn’t learned any tricks for getting out of the feelings of worthlessness or humiliation. Words can carry a weight heavier than the body of any attacker.
Old hurts still healing shuddered out, and I struggled to find my breath. And I thank God for my sweet friend Jen, because she laid her hand on my arm and reminded me, "You have words, too. You have strong words."
And I knew she was right. I didn’t need evasive maneuvers for this one; I had my own words, my God-given strength, and they would be enough. So I breathed, and I let out. I got on my gear, and I faced the reminders and the pain.
I don’t know what the officers said to me in that last scenario, because all I could hear was my own voice. I screamed, "Fuck you, motherfucker! I will fuck you up! You don’t control me!" And although the men in protective gear heard my words, I was screaming them to someone else. I had once been silent and passive, and his words had crushed me. In that class, I used my words, my angry, angry words, and I got back up.
And when the scenario was over and the words were out, I was not a victim. I was more than a survivor. I was a victor because I have words, too. I have strong words. And I will not be silent.
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If you have suffered abuse or an attack, please know that you are not alone and that you have the right and the power to speak up.