Author shares rape experience, healing

valerie.west and valerie.west

Rape survivors often feel an overwhelming amount of emotions, yet Lori Robinson, an author and rape survivor, said deep healing is always possible.

Robinson, author of “I Will Survive,” a recovery guide for African American Sexual Assault and Abuse survivors, spoke Tuesday about her experience and healing process as part of NMU’s Sexual Assault Awareness Week.

“Sexual assault and abuse is never the victim’s fault,” Robinson said. “It is solely the fault of the person who forces unwanted sexual contact.” She added that in some cases, society tries to place the blame on the survivor in order to appease its own fears of rape.

“We say ‘She wears her clothes too tight,'” Robinson said. “We wouldn’t say ‘Well, he must’ve wanted to get mugged or he wouldn’t wear that expensive watch.'”

Robinson was raped almost 12 years ago in Washington D.C. by two unknown males who were outside of her apartment when she returned home from work. Afterward, she sought help immediately from a therapist. She said she wanted to help sexual assault survivors with her book.

“I wanted to de-stigmatize the notion that you’re not praying hard enough, or that black women are supposed to be strong,” she said. “I believe deep healing is always possible.”

Robinson addressed the historical aspects of rape among African-American women. Women were subjected to rape from their masters as well as other slaves as part of the longstanding practice of slavery. These practices continued after emancipation.

“I tried to think about what would happen if someone came into my house and took me, my mother and sister and raped us-that was the [reality of the time],” she said.

After the Civil War, black males were labeled as sexual predators and black females as promiscuous.

While that stereotype is present today, the majority of rapists actually target a victim of the same race, Robinson said.

She said the black community is less likely to vouch for the female and instead to protect the male because of this mindset.

“When we see how our communities handle this-this pressure of not being able to disclose assault in order to protect the black male-it’s [disconcerting].”

Robinson stressed the need for everyone to work to make society safe for everyone.

“Rape is a men’s issue because they may be with a woman who was victimized,” she said. She added that men are affected through their mothers, sisters and daughters.

Senior Jonathon Strong, one of the few men in an audience of about 25, said it’s important for men to be aware of the problem and what they can do to help.

“It’s difficult for men to get interested in this because it’s seen as a woman’s problem,” said Strong, a nursing major. “But men can get active.

“Rape is never impersonal. It’s seen so often as a statistic, read in Time magazine or seen in the news, but there’s always a face behind it.”