Voices and Faces Project

In honor of #TBT I’m celebrating the reprinting of Anne K. Ream and Patricia Evans book Lived Through This: Listening to the Stories of Sexual Violence and Survivors.
more about the book from Random House:
In these pages you’ll meet a community of rape and sexual violence survivors who have been shaped, but refuse to be defined, by their histories of violence. They are brave, and they are outspoken—but, mostly, they are hopeful.

I was interviewed by Anne and photographed by Patricia years ago near the Santa Monica beach. Although my story of rape is tragic because I kept it a secret for 13 years, it never defined my spirit. As a matter of fact they repeatedly asked me to stop smiling as they photographed me because a smiling woman doesn’t convey the pain and seriousness of the issue.

My stuggle with the aftermath of my rape included promiscuity. It’s ironic and confusing to explain that victims go out and reinact their shame. In nearly all of my sexual interactions I recreated my attack (mostly by demeaning myself) in various ways and with many partners as a way of trying to retake control for the fifteen-year-old girl who had it snatched from her. My efforts always failed. It took a therapist to tell the twenty-eight-year-old me, “You were raped and it’s not your fault,” for me to even understand that I was raped. And she had to do it and say it for a long time before I believed her. Then I had to understand it and accept it.

And there’s my point. Rape comes in many forms. All are gruesome. Let’s take a moment to educate ourselves and our children. Please take a look at the book and the Voices and Faces Website. The website has lots of information and places to get support.

Here is my story. I wrote it in verse.


by Holly Raychelle Hughes

15 years old.
On my parents bed.
While I lay still and thinking
“This is it? This is sex?”
Staring at the blue fern patterned wallpaper
Bleeding in the middle of the bed.
How do I keep this secret?
What did I do to cause this?
How old is he, 20?
My voice, white noise from a transistor
radio across the room, saying “stop”
saying “no”

My parents aren’t home.
My friend (?) Tina playing pool downstairs
in the living room with this guy’s friends.
15 years old and confused,
he’s done.

He gets up . He’s wearing a condom, where did it
come from? When did he put it on?
He walks away and down the stairs.

Raped and sitting in my blood.
Raped and standing next to my parents bed,
looking at the bright red blood in the middle of the bed.

In the afternoon.
and cleaning up the mess on my parent’s bed.
The dog jumps up and begins licking the bloody sheets.
and not understanding sex or why
he wanted to have sex with me.
15 years old

I stand at the top of the stairs leaning over the black banister
and call him back upstairs.
Everyone in the pool room cheers.
He complies.
He walks upstairs and I lead him to my bedroom.
Four purple walls covered in Duran Duran posters.
Stuffed animals bear witness to my platform bed.
I lay down again,
there’s another condom.
I try to learn what he is doing.

I try to pretend it’s my choice.

It’s over again.
He goes back downstairs,
I clean myself off.
I put all the sheets in the wash.
I bleed for one week from the wound.
He said he couldn’t believe it was my first time


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