Friday, May 30, 2014

A Letter to Mariska Hargitay

I have many posts that have been floating around in my head lately, but this is one that I feel like I want to get out.

Knowing that the JHF gala was last night stirred up an incredible range of feelings for me. Knowing the work that Mariska has done to put the issue of sexual violence in the spotlight is profound; watching MSNBC the other day speak about the rape kit backlog was incredible, knowing that Mariska was has been a huge force behind this movement.

But knowing that the gala was last night brought up a rage and heart break I can hardly put into words.

The other day, I came home from dinner with my boyfriend, the JHF on my mind. Mulling over what they did to me. How betrayed I felt. And I walked in from dinner, and my boyfriend put his hands on my shoulders, looked me in the eye, and said to me, "I see what you're doing to yourself. These people failed you. I can see how you're blaming yourself for this, when it wasn't you. It was them. They failed you." And then I broke down.

So this leads me to this post. A letter i wrote to Mariska weeks ago, while still in NYC. I hope she reads it some day.

TO MARISKA

Dear Mariska,

It's Rachel. You know, the weightlifter from 2010. So many emotions when I think about you it's hard to sort them out.

First, I never meant to hurt you or anyone else or make anyone else mad. I've had nothing but love and admiration in my heart for you since the day I first met you back in 2010, the epic "SVU Summer" I call it. Any of my friends could say how much my face lights up when I used to talk about you, the dinner I got to share with you in 2011, and the help that you gave to me in the aftermath of my rape. So much love for you in my heart.

Yet now, I'm incredibly heartbroken on how all of this with JHF has unfolded. I see now how my actions could've been perceived negatively, yet there was never a moment in my mind where that was the case. The truth is, with the way that all of this was handled by Danny and JHF -- I have never felt more ashamed in my entire life. Ashamed to have shared my story, ashamed to be a survivor, ashamed that JHF was questioning whether this really happened to me or if I was just saying all of this to get attention. Heartbroken doesn't even accurately describe how I felt, when I've been nothing but a loyal supporter and advocate for JHF since I first learned of them in 2009. The way Danny threw my story back in my face, and what Sherisa said to me later, how Monica lied to me when I called her number (she said she wasnt there, when I actually had her on the phone), how Sherisa's words indicated she questioned the validity of my story ... it is the worst I have felt since Dan assaulted me, and the subsequent horrific treatment of the NYPD.

I see everything you continue to do for survivors, and in the back of my heart I swell with pride and love at the fight that you have taken on. But now, i also feel an enormous amount of heartbreak. And mostly because I have no idea what your involvement was. Maybe you don't know what I'm talking about at all. Maybe you were the one who said I couldn't be a part of any JHF events anymore. If that's the case, then this is my apology. If that's not the case, then I'm just writing to you as a scared and heartbroken girl who was let down by JHF. A girl that has shared a few special moments with you, that has some of the same friends that you do, that has attempted to show only love and support for all that you do, the purest love for you that any survivor could ever have for their hero. And that is still there. But behind that is the fear and the heartbreak, the heartbreak of fearing the worst, of questioning, of wondering if you really believe I was making this up for attention. And that scares me the most, out of everything.

So dear Mariska, I still love you. From the first time I met you with Carlos and my boyfriend and awkwardly shouted "I LOVE YOU!" To the dinner conversation we had in 2011 to the gala in 2013 ... I have had nothing but love and admiration for you, even despite the anger and heartbreak and betrayal I feel now. I just hope that one day, I can maybe tell you this, and understand the love I feel for you despite the heartbreak. and that one day, you can forgive me.

Your fellow fighter always,
Rachel