Editor’s note: Amy Swearer’s piece on the harrowing experience of being slipped a date-rape drug prompted an outpouring of response from The Daily Signal’s audience amid the surging #MeToo hashtag on social media for personal stories of sexual assault and harassment. Here’s a sampling. Don’t forget to write us at [email protected]—Ken McIntyre
Dear Daily Signal: We are indebted to you, Amy Swearer, for fighting to overcome the incident itself and then for being willing to tell your story (“I’m a Conservative Who was Roofied by a Stranger. Here’s What I Think of the ‘Me Too’ Hashtag”).
I admire your willingness to endure the pain of reliving the trauma and greater vulnerability, and know your motives in telling are just and good. I am immensely grateful and proud of you. It’s very brave and honorable of you to sacrifice the image we all would like to maintain of invincibility and poise for the sake of all women everywhere.
And I am hopeful that the outcome of the exposure of Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein will be positive for many women who need to make hard choices. Better a choice to lose that contract, if that’s what it comes to, when refusing the lecherous demands for a meeting in a hotel room, for example.
I am grateful women can become agents of constructive change and are finding their boundaries. We must carry personal boundaries in our minds and hearts, hold to them firmly in our habits, and avoid in every way possible the damage that comes from placing ourselves in a compromising situation.
Even more than loss of career, we must fear the loss of our personal wholeness and safety. Even within our marriages, men often can treat their wives as if they were their personal property, owned by them for pleasure, and women fall for that game to get what they want. The pornography industry holds many, many men under its spell, dehumanizing all their once tender, protective feelings for women who are now mere objects of desire.
Sobering but true. I pray this horror will lead to draining the swamp of predatory practices on many fronts, in part because women have recognized that they need to be careful, dress smart not sexy, and keep their distance when needed. Even if nonconsensual from the one who once pledged to love and cherish forever, till death do us part.
God help us all. The first step in healing is to acknowledge where we are, so this is a needed part of the process, ugly as it may seem. We are on our way, and God will see us through. We all have our battles and our blind spots, so any light on where we are is helpful and constructive for all. Thank you, Amy!—Nancy Perry Beutel
Dear Daily Signal: Amy, I am so sorry you experienced such personal evil. As a conservative woman, it makes me sad that you even had to write this essay.
I shared in the sharing of the #MeToo hashtag without knowing it was supposed to be a leftist activist tag. It seems like it’s a women-empowering tag, finally to be able to add voice to the assaults on women that go unspoken or unprosecuted for the many reasons mentioned.
The hashtag should be a warning to all attackers: Women have found their voice and will not stand for assault or for being attacked for being a victim. It should be a call for a national dialogue on civility, respect, human decency. Nothing ever warrants or provokes sexual assaults. Nothing!
Thank you, Amy, for sharing your heartwrenching experience so maybe others can empathize with the victims of sexual assault and others may speak out about their attacks.—Deb O’Hagan
Dear Daily Signal: I had this happen to me when visiting a friend in Houston. We went out along with her neighbor. We had one drink at a pub, then went to another upscale bar. The neighbor and I were talking to a “doctor,” and my friend had gone to the other end of the bar to talk to someone she knew.
Luckily, she came back right when we both were getting really dizzy. The guy left, and by the time she got us home we were both disoriented and unable to walk. We were lucky that night, and I know it. I can imagine how it might have turned out.
Nothing to be ashamed of, and you’re so brave to tell your story.—Renee Grace
— Amy Swearer (@AmySwearer) October 20, 2017
Dear Daily Signal: I am a 55-year-old mom of five. Very conservative. I definitely feel that women and girls need a return to modesty, I definitely feel there is too much emphasis put on dressing “sexy” for whatever reason, I definitely think women put themselves in bad situations.
But I also was raped at least three different times between the ages of 16 and 20—and never told anyone until many, many years later. Raped by three males of very different ages, but felt I had put myself in bad situations. Really didn’t ever think anything bad would happen—and then afterward, couldn’t face the shame and embarrassment of telling anyone.
So I know there is a culture out there, that many boys and men think they can do what they want, that they do not have to control or discipline themselves, and that there are no consequences to taking what they want. I also know there is a culture out there of not teaching our girls and women to take care of themselves, to always be prepared and be aware.
I know it doesn’t seem fair that we should have to do this, that women should have to think about protecting themselves, but it is the reality. I’ve had people tell me, ‘But it shouldn’t be this way, we shouldn’t have to be afraid or so very careful. It’s not fair!’ It doesn’t matter if it is fair or not.
Until these cultures change, we have to be aware, we have to be careful what situations we or our daughters or sisters get into, we have to not make the mistakes. Yes, it is the man’s fault, but that does not change the reality that we as women have to take responsibility for ourselves and our sisters and daughters and friends. And we have to learn how to speak up and speak out.
We also have to make sure that the real problems, the real incidents, are not trivialized by those women who holler and fuss because a man tells them they look nice tonight, or accidentally brushed up against them, and so on. Because real rape is a whole lot different than some guy catcalling you.
I am glad this is coming out, but I also feel it has to be done carefully. It is not all men, it is not because of masculinity or something wrong with being male, and we need to not group all men and boys under this banner and not demonize masculinity. And we need to not give women a complete pass on taking responsibility for their own safety … and not give women and girls a pass to dress or act however they want.
We need to teach our boys and men responsibility and self-control and discipline and respect, for others and for themselves. We need to teach them that “No” means no, and consent is necessary and the right thing to do. We need to teach men and boys to stand up against other men and boys who do not want to learn and act with respect for women.
We also need to teach our girls and women to have respect for themselves, to understand actions have consequences, appearances can lead people to the wrong conclusion (no matter how unfair that is, it is the truth and to ignore it is dangerous and stupid), teach them to be aware of where they are and who they are with and who is around them, teach them to defend themselves and others, physically and emotionally.
Biggest of all, we need to go back to a culture of respect for others, back to decency and civility, and that no one is entitled to another’s person, body, or affections.
Thank you for your words, Amy. And I am so sorry you went through this. I hope they catch the jerk responsible.—Betty Lou Schwartz
Thank-you for this brave & powerful piece. Praying justice is served in your case. Praying for YOU.
— Dr. Laurel Shaler (@DrLaurelShaler) October 23, 2017
Dear Daily Signal: I too got roofied. Your description is right on. I drove my motorcycle home and woke up in bed with a bleeding knee. That is when the snapshots started. I guess I went back to the bar on the bike. Woke up the next morning in a dream state. My hands were tingling and my mouth felt funny.
After about two hours, it was like someone turned on a light switch and I was 100 percent me again. A girl was buying me drinks and I think it was meant for her. Two beers and one shot, and I was looking up from the floor with the girl screaming at me thinking I was falling over drunk.—Micah Hills
Dear Daily Signal: Unfortunately, some of us do understand. My father, my brother, and I all have been sexually abused or assaulted. It is horrible. It makes you ashamed. You can’t talk to anyone about it, not even your spouse or your mother.
You’re afraid to go to the police. (Who’s going to believe a man, especially? You must have wanted it.) You cry in front of your therapist. You’re scarred for life. No matter how many showers you take, you can’t wash the stain away, even if you scrub yourself until you bleed. My father kept it a secret until days before he died, but it clearly affected his behavior his whole life.
But if 1 in 4 or 1 in 6 or whatever the latest statistics show is the number of women who’ve been sexually assaulted in any form is correct, that does not make 1 in 4 or 1 in 6 men rapists, or guilty of sexual assault.
We are your fathers, your brothers, your sons, your cousins, and your nephews. Please don’t tar us all with the same broad brush or tell us We. Don’t. Understand. Because many of us do. Me, too.—Fred Bloggs
Thank u 4 this! I was roofied by a cas acquaint. Far less horrific than what u endured. But my response was also not what I thought it wld b
— Natalie (@nataleelynnn) October 21, 2017
Dear Daily Signal: Christian evangelist Francis Schaeffer warned us a generation ago that once morality, absolute truth, and the value of human life were removed as societal underpinnings, we would find ourselves in a frightening, dark age. And so, this is where we find ourselves.
This is the culture we helped to make. A culture too weak to punish rapists and too savage to assist their victims. A state school system where our kids emerge uneducated and morally empty. Courts that rule not by law, but on the political opinions of the judiciary. A medical system that assists the murder of the unborn by their own mothers and calls it bravery. A government we have allowed to swell and fill the dark sky while individualism dies in the dark.
After all, since there is no God, there can be no God-given rights.
Every one of us should take inventory of our lives before the Lord. We should take note of how often we “go along to get along.” It’s time to influence, change, and clean up the mess we’ve made. It’s time, not to rage against the machine, but to throw it off a cliff.—Penny Palmer
@amyswearer Heartbreaking… But, despite being enveloped in vulnerability and pain, also incredibly brave and inspiring. Respect!
— ThreeEggOmelet (@ThreeEggOmelot) October 22, 2017
Dear Daily Signal: A warrior, now retired, I have commanded and been commanded by persons of both genders. As a leader of soldiers, I have dealt with and processed incidents of sexual harassment and sexual violence, both domestic (relationship and date rape) and stranger/acquaintance, by and committed against persons of both genders. Sexual harassment is incredibly hard to prosecute.
To obtain a “clean” guilty verdict or plea requires incontrovertible evidence. I had a seemingly open-and-shut case tossed because the testimony of two different, otherwise solid witnesses was impugned by 5- and 7-year-old fitness reports.
If you are attacked, the best defense is a great offense, and lethal force usually can be effectively defended. More than a dozen open-hand attacks will allow a slight person to incapacitate the strongest attacker.
Sadly, there is no defense against a chemical attack; the best spook can fail to detect one until it is too late. Only proactive due diligence is a partial inhibition. Don’t frequent bars you don’t know, and where you aren’t known, and don’t drink with or accept drinks from a stranger.
As a young soldier I was attacked myself, on R&R in Hawaii in 1970 at a military hotel. I mistakenly answered the door in my PT trunks, slipping my jump boots on to walk to the door. The stranger there grabbed me inappropriately; unfortunately for him he had grabbed a Ranger just two days out of the Republic of Vietnam’s II Corp Highlands.
I broke the foot that he’d jammed the door with, kicked out his kneecap, and broke his wrist by slamming the door on him. Then I called the MPs. He died in the military detention facility at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
Unfortunately, the worst part of being attacked or harassed is the post-traumatic stress disorder that is a direct result. Though some will scoff, it is as severe as any body blow on the battlefield, and good counseling is the only way to survive it. You cannot do it by yourself.—Joseph Herbert
— Mary Vought (@MaryVought) October 21, 2017
Powerful. And as a man who has never experienced anything like this, I agree. Just listen. But men need to be responsible here, too. Those that abuse their “power” are dangerous. We need to be vigilant and work to stop the abuse. But sometimes, just listening is the best thing we can do.—Michael Pearce
Please do not be silent, Amy Swearer. You have a gift. You are able to be objective and compassionate simultaneously, a rare combination. Someone close to me was roofied. Thank God a friend was with her, realized what had happened, and called 911. She did not suffer as you did. I hope you keep writing, Amy. Your voice is important.—Sally Ott
I have never been a victim, but my wife has, six months after we were married. That event took years from our lives. That was 35 years ago. Today it is fortunately a rare, disturbing memory in an otherwise good life.
Amy Swearer’s article is excellent. The only thing I would add is that while there is a political element to the Harvey Weinstein case, in that it reveals the massive hypocrisy of the left with regard to women, these crimes and misconduct are not political.—John Say
Amy Swearer is brave to share her story. Many of us have a story we can never share. Because of judgment, self-blame, fear of retaliation, and so many more reasons, we stay silent. But we feel what she feels. We thank all those brave enough to come forward and share their ordeal.—Dania Howell
Very powerful. I’m sorry that happened to you.
— Pibble Lover (@PibbleGal) October 23, 2017
Wow, I wish more people would talk about the roofie part of all this. How many people take a drink at a public place and never think that someone could drug them. We need an awareness campaign for this.
This to me is bigger than the casting-couch stories. No one deserves to be raped, but I would love to see Hollywood start saying no to nudity and sex scenes, to change the focus toward acting more. I imagine some of the big stars can help.—Angelique Alliman
Someone said just listen. This cannot be magnified enough. In my situation, I was afraid to talk until It interfered with my marriage years later. I sought counsel, and by the time I got done with one appointment, I felt as though I had been attacked all over again.
I felt dirtier than before I went there. I thought I would lose my mind. I chose not to return. I did heal in time, but not with help from people. God, through Jesus Christ, became my help. He loved me to health.—Susan Sova
I simply don’t comprehend how or why a man would even think to do something like this. I have daughters, granddaughters; my wife and I fear for them. I worry that one of them could be out with friends and this could happen.
My worry also is, would I be able to “just listen” if that were what was needed. I hope so. I hope that when men are found out to have done such things they will pay a severe price: jail, public humiliation, anything that would stop this type of crime. No one should live with this burden on their heart.
Thank you to Amy Swearer for sharing what happened and helping us to better understand how we can better help or support someone we may know who has been a victim.—Lee Klare
As I read your article, this article was in my mind. https://t.co/SUQyQwYXJe Thanks for speaking out.
— Christopher Wilde (@ChrisWilde801) October 23, 2017
The systematic removal of God, morals, religion, and honorable care have been removed from our society and children are being led astray at a very early age.
Planned Parenthood has an entire sex program they promote and teach to grade school children, telling them that sex is OK and perfectly normal. They need the result of sexual assault, pregnancy, to continue their disgusting business of child-killing.
I can only pray for those who have been assaulted, and hope there is a special place in hell for those who commit these unforgivable acts against women.—Rich Newhouse
Amy, it’s for you and others who have suffered these crimes that I speak. This never happened to me, but it has happened to many close to me, and I want to stop these predators. Shut them down hard. The frustrating thing for me is that so much of this goes on unchecked and unpunished, and even uninvestigated.
You went to the police. I get it, in your circumstances you didn’t have much of a choice. But you did, and I am sure it was hard. I can’t imagine it ever being otherwise. Too many don’t go to the police, and while doing so is no guarantee the party will be convicted, without reporting it’s almost a guarantee they will not.
I am not one of those calling for all the “Me, too” victims to name their assailants publicly. I just hope they find the courage to go to the police.—Mark Simmons
I just want you to know how very sorry I am that you had this happen to you. ?? It's very brave for you to share it. God's peace to you.
— Under the Sky (@UndertheSkyBlog) October 23, 2017
I am a retired English teacher, and that was an amazing essay, Amy Swearer. I’d have had no difficulty giving that an A+. I am so sorry for your experience and concomitant pain. I pray for your healing.
I wish, too, that when the perpetrators are caught that sentencing would include an acknowledgement and appropriate additional time for the fact that most girls and women who are subjected to this monstrous behavior have to go through counseling, often for years, and the damage is never completely repaired. When the legal system slaps the wrists of these “entitled” monsters, it makes me livid.
There needs to be a much greater effort to make the punishment fit the crime, which is so devastating and so long-lasting.—Doug Reiman
I am so sorry for every woman who has endured such an assault. I have experienced only some unwanted attention and harassment, which I was able to cope with.
These stories prove once again the dark side of human nature, the original sin that lurks in all of us and is allowed to predominate by some. If only more people would yield themselves to God and allow him to fill them with his holiness instead.—Carol Morrisey
Thank you for sharing your story. I'm certain many will find comfort and others will hopefully remember to listen if the time comes
— bridget (@Sidewithsense) October 22, 2017
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Amy Swearer, you have eloquently and precisely put how utterly disempowered and disenfranchised a woman feels after an assault. It’s often of lesser magnitude to the outside world, yet the damage and scars that take decades to reverse and heal aren’t seen by an observer. My heart goes out to you. I’m in D.C. Please feel free to reach out should you need support. #metoo—Emily Katz