Anatomy of a Rape (Part One)

The Rape of Proserpina – Bernini – 1622 – Galleria Borghese, Rome

The news about young white male athletes getting off with light prison sentences for sexual assault filled the headlines this summer. Brock Turner, a Stanford swimmer, severed only 3 months in a county jail for his assault of a unconscious woman.

This type of horrific behavior – both by the court and the rapist – cannot go overlooked.

For the next three weeks, I’m hosting the story of a rape survivor.  We met on a comment thread on a Facebook article link about light sentencing. This is the first time that she’s telling her story to a wide audience.

Rapists aren’t only people who drag you by your hair in empty parking lots. They are people we know.

Read on for how it can begin.


I was an eighteen year old senior at a small high school. I was the president of most of the clubs. I was in the top of my class, an intern for the COO of the school and had already had a scholarship to go to a two year community college. Everything was going amazing.

I had everything I wanted. Everything I felt I needed. I was extremely happy. Unlike most eighteen year olds I did not have a boyfriend or really dated anyone. I was content worrying about school than worrying about a social life. I would be lying if I said I didn’t want one. Seeing everyone else with someone, and the way it made them feel I felt like I was missing out. Love would come eventually and I wasn’t going to push it.

Soon graduation came.

I met John Doe*I met him at Comic Con, a place I go every year where I was always safe and happy. That year I was old enough to attend geek speed dating. He was kind and sweet and seemed very interested in me – all things I wasn’t used to. When I met him there was no warning signs: no sick to my stomach feeling, everything was normal — nice even. We started talking and exchanged numbers. He lived an hour away so seeing him often would be difficult. But we talked every day for over a month. He told me what he wanted was a relationship where he could sit and talk and have deep conversations. He made me feel special. Like all he wanted was to be with me, and it was so lovely. He said he wanted to lay near me.

We decided we wanted to only date each other.

I told him I never really dated anyone before.

He told me he had dated a few people.

He talked me into sexting with him.

I told him I was virgin.

That sexting wasn’t real to me.

That when we would go out on real dates, I didn’t want to do anything sexual.

I wasn’t comfortable.

I told him this regularly.

I also told him I didn’t want to sext with him very often.

It wasn’t something I was into.

I told him I didn’t really want to.

He told me he understood, that he would respect that and go on my own pace.

We didn’t talk about that very often. Only once in our relationship. What always came up was that he wanted to see me in person and have real dates. As simple as this sounded, making it a reality was harder. I couldn’t drive and he lived far away from me.  But we made a date to go to the mall. One close to where I lived. I was so happy to learn that he was willing to go so far to see me. I would soon learn he didn’t drive there to see me.


Why Being Left Behind Isn't as Bad as it Sounds

Pack Your Bags

Friday at 6:00 p.m. I’m the first to arrive to ladies’ night. This rarely happens. In fact, it’s probably safe to say in the instance of this particular group, I’m always last one in and first one out. On to a school fundraiser, or a birthday party, or some other family summons that sees me double booked.

But tonight I’m the first to arrive and the hostess pulls me into the kitchen.

“I’m glad you’re here. I wanted to tell you that I’m leaving the country. I’m going home.”

“Oh,” I said. The one word reaction was all I could muster in the face of yet another person announcing she was returning back to her everyday life.

Depending on where people are in the average three year expatriate cycle, the time-to-resume-regularly-scheduled-programming talk is always right around the corner for someone. But a dip in global oil prices ensured the start of 2016 as a particularly dire time for contracts being terminated, budgets slashed, and the proverbial shoe falling in Qatar.

There’s a typical pattern for those who are leaving: first, euphoria at the prospect of a new job or returning to the bosom of one’s family. Secondly the delight at knowledge that all the creature comforts you’ve been denying yourself, or strategizing to get delivered at regular intervals, will soon be back at your fingertips. Then, with the threat of deportation no longer on the horizon, a how-I-really-feel-about-this-place fount of self-expression flooding her social media. The curve on the leaving staircase is particularly sharp if one is going home; less so if there is an onward destination.

For those who are left behind, immediately there’s a gnawing sensation when you hear the announcement of a departure. Then comes the wistfulness at the thought one day it will be your turn. Finally, the no-man’s land of former vivid friendships now sustained on social media where the former desert denizen posts every negative article written about your former shared city.

Except you kind of like living where you are and so you call up a friend and commiserate. One of the few who’s still here, that is.

We Need to Talk about Slavery

Screen Shot 2016-05-16 at 10.14.27 PMI went to a slavery museum today. Not in Washington, D.C. but  in the heart of old Doha. Yes, on the tip of the Arabian Peninsula, there’s slavery museum housed in a building dating back to the 1920s, which once belonged to the Bin Jelmood family. The feelings that well up when you’re inside the museum are different from what you might expect if you’ve lived here for a while. Yes, yes, you might think as you read the stories of trafficked people, from children to housemaids, on black people shaped silhouettes, let’s tell these stories.

“…. she is now back in Sri Lanka,” one housemaid’s anecdote reads, after a harrowing series of details about her working without pay for years in Lebanon. But how, how did get there? How many more are there? Questions that are left unanswered.

Further in the interior is an interactive exhibit on the history of camel racing and the movement away from using child jockeys, often malnourished and minors, to human shaped robots, is an interesting reflection on Qatar’s growing social consciousness.

Oh good, maybe now they get to go to school instead of racing you hope.

Yet outside the understated facility, scattered throughout the city, are men who sleep in the shade of road signs because their employers don’t provide them with a break room in a country where the summer temperatures rise past 40 degrees Celsius (100+ F).

Like most steps of progress, the Bin Jelmood house isn’t a complete answer to the modern indentured service happening across the Gulf Cooperation Council countries. But it is a very public, and very important step to talking about a taboo subject: the museum is the first of its kind in the Middle East region.

What do you think? Is talking about the context of global slavery a start? Or does it not go far enough?

Book a tour and see for yourself: T +974 4006 5560;