I just don't want my mom's death to be in vain

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African woman

I'm here to tell my mom's story because she is not here to tell it herself. I know she would have wanted her story to be told.

I was 6 when my mom was raped. I obviously didn't know this at the time, but she was dealing with some very severe sexual harassment at work. She was 45 and had recently re-entered the workforce after being a stay at home mom for my sister and me for about 15 years.

Her manager (who was about 10 years younger than her) began sexually harassing her from the beginning. It started with lewd, obvious staring. She told several of her female coworkers about what was happening and they all brushed it off. "Oh, that's just how he is! He doesn't mean anything by it! You should be happy that a young attractive guy is interested in you!"

My mom was terrified to kick up a fuss in case she lost her job. She needed this job. She was newly divorced and needed to support her two children (me and my sister who is 9 years older). So she kept her mouth shut and carried on.

She was working late one night when her manager told her to come into his office - he needed to discuss something with her. She was worried but went in any way. He locked the door and raped her. She was so terrified that she completely froze and just silently wept.

She was never the same again! My smart, bubbly, outgoing, passionate mom became withdrawn and isolated. She quit her job and was mortified that she had to go on welfare to support us while she looked for another one. She lost so much weight that she became unrecognizable from her former self.

She reported him to the police who didn't believe her! They told her that sometimes women sleep with their bosses for promotions and you don't get to cry rape just because he didn't uphold his end of the deal! This hurt my mom more than the actual rape itself, according to her journal.

My mom became so depressed that she couldn't leave her bed. Until one day, she came unexpectedly to my grandma's house. She looked great - her hair was freshly dyed, her nails were done, her outfit was stunning. My grandma was so happy that my mom looked like she was finally getting back on her feet and starting to recover. She asked my grandma if she could take us for a few hours while she went out for lunch with a friend. My grandma happily agreed.

My mom never came back to pick us up. She wasn't going to lunch with a friend. She went home and hung herself.

A lot of people have asked me if I think what my mom did was selfish or if I'm angry at her for what she did. My answer? How could I possibly be angry at her? I'm angry at the piece of shit who violated her in the worst way a human being can be violated. She was in so much emotional agony that she saw absolutely no way out. None of that was her fault. It was ALL HIS. If he had not attacked her, she would still be here today.

I read my mom's journal several years ago and that is how I know all of this. She had barely gone into any detail about what happened to anyone. The police made her feel that she was never going to be believed. She even doubted herself and her own memory. She thought she was going insane.

My mom's story is, tragically, not unique. If you type "rape victim + suicide" into Google, you will find hundreds of similar stories. It makes me so angry, angrier than you can possibly imagine, that so many people in positions of power commit these disgusting crimes against more vulnerable people and continue to get away with it.

Mom, you are my hero. I love and respect you more than anyone in the whole world. You have 5 wonderful grandchildren – My sister has 3 girls and I have a boy and a girl. I am so crushed that they never got to meet you. They love you so much and love hearing stories about you. I wish I could hear you sing again. You stopped singing after what happened, but I remember you used to sing us to sleep every single night.

To all the victims/survivors out there, I believe you. I believe you, I respect the hell out of you. You are strong and it was NOT your fault. Whether or not you've been able to speak out about what happened to you, you are incredibly brave.

I just don't want my mom's death to be in vain. Fuck "locker room talk", "boys will be boys", "take it as a compliment!" As a man, I have made it a point in my life to always call out this disgusting shit when I see it and I encourage everyone else reading this to do the same.

Sleep tight, Mom.

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