Rape: “When It Happens To You"

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Photos by Jeremy Daniel

I recently saw a play entitled, "When It Happens To You," directed by Lynne Taylor-Corbett. It's premise, as is depicted by author and playwright Tawni O'Dell, and characterized by actors E. Clayton Cornelious, Connor Lawrence, Kelly Swint and Tawni O'Dell as the narrator, tells the tale of what a family goes through as they watch daughter and sister go through the trials and tribulations of having been raped. “When It Happens To You,” is currently at the Sheen Center, Loreto Theater, located at 18 Bleecker Street, NYC.

The play is seen through the eyes of the mother who shares what the daughter put herself and her family through after her rape. Ultimately, it was revealed the mother had been raped but had never told anyone. As I sit here pondering how to write the review, I researched statistics on rape and found how common it is. Statistics are hard to gather because many women never report their rape.

Violence against women is at epic proportions in various cultures which includes the United States. Unless the husband and/or boyfriend is strong he doesn't want to discuss it. He just wants the woman to get over it. In fact, it is not unusual for women to be raped by people they know, including family members. Some families seek to cover it up due to the embarrassment and unseemly nature of rape. Or the family doesn't know quite how to handle it or what to say to the victim. Therefore, say nothing. The son, Connor, in the play, wonders how any man could rape yet distances himself with school work because the reality of his sister Tirzah's rape and her personality change is too painful to handle. Both mother and brother merely wring their hands because they are helpless to fix the situation as Tirzah spirals out of control. They try to be patient and loving while Tirzah who in her pain blames them and stops caring about her appearance. But they also have their lives to live and the stress of Tirzah's downward trend becomes overwhelming at times.

How can Tirzah explain how she feels. How the violation of her being has touched her to the very core of her soul. Not only has her body been ravished but so has her mind and her emotions. Leaving her with an inability to feel safe. She is filled with fear, anger, loss of trust so cannot even hold onto a job that heretofore she loved.

A rape victim must face the cavalier way society has structured rape. Rape victims are forced to go through a police system that rapes them again. The assaulted feel isolated, abused, and just wants to forget, but can't. Women are not respected. Others tell her what she can do and not do with her body. In some cultures she has no rights at all. Some women become so angry their personalities become embittered and warped. Their self esteem low. People start to abandon the raped woman because they do not wish to deal with her angst. Some rape victims turn to drugs in an effort to cope.

Unfortunately, too many men think of women as body parts devoid of intellect and in fact prefer she has limited intellect so they can control her. Think not, the man sitting at the highest level of our government demonstrates a lack of respect for women. In fact, he brags about his disrespect. He suggests women like his gross behavior and encourages a tongue and cheek acceptance of his behavior by other males.

How did society come to such a state of affairs? What is going on with human kind? Why is the abuse of women tolerated around the world and ofttimes even encouraged? The play cannot answer that age old question, it can only highlight the tragedy of it.


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