I Believe Tara Reade for the Reasons You Don’t

Photograph Source: Matt Johnson – CC BY 2.0

George Orwell wrote in his novel, 1984: “If you want to keep a secret, you must hide it from yourself.”

There is a credible rape accusation against Joe Biden, a Democratic candidate for President of the United States. Again, with emphasis, there is a credible rape accusation against the man the Democratic Party’s preferred choice for President of the United States.

Former Senate staffer, Tara Reade, came forward recently with her story of being sexually harassed and assaulted by Senator Joe Biden almost 30 years ago. Since she has come forward, Reade’s account continues to fall on deaf ears from the Democratic party, the media establishment, and liberal cheerleaders of women’s rights. Many of the women on the streets the day after President Trump’s inauguration wearing their pink pussy hats, now tuck those balls of yarn deep in the back of their closets of privilege. Why? Are they hypocrites who only value championing the rights of others when done in the name of their political party? In my opinion, yes.

For others in the party, ignoring Reade’s claim is not enough. Using alt-right techniques they generally shame, many went into opposition research on the victim by combing through her social media and blog entries for the past three decades. They listed their findings in a Medium article called, Evidence Casts Doubt on Tara Reade’s Sexual Assault. (I’m not going to link to it, but you can look it up if you’re curious.) Aside from gross red-baiting tactics that use Tara’s views of Russia and Vladimir Putin, the article mostly focuses on approval and support Tara gave Biden on social media. Armed with this highly assuming and unsubstantiated Medium hit-piece, loyal Democratic followers blow off any new reporting on the matter. Case closed. He’s an ally of women’s rights. Let’s move on. For me, however, I cannot move on, and it is for the same reason head-in-ground liberals suggest I should.

Like Tara Reade, I have a sexual assault story from 26 or 27 years ago. If I described to you what exactly happened that night, you would likely say my assault was rape. Rape is what my therapists call it. Sometimes I refer to it as rape myself, but for the most part, I say sexually assaulted. I also say it happened 26 or 27 years ago because I am not sure if I was 14 or 15. I could make myself remember the year, the season, but I am comfortable with just saying around 26 or 27 years ago. If my unclear memory of my age, my account of it as full rape at times, and sexual assault other times sound confusing, then my behavior over the years will, as well.

I live in a small town. It didn’t take long for a story to get out that I hooked up with the guy. I was embarrassed and ashamed of what happened to me, and it was easier for me to go along with the story everyone heard – I hooked up with him. For the rest of my high school existence, that was the confirmed story, my confirmed story. It wasn’t the truth, but it was a “truth” I could live at the time. It was one I thought I could ignore long enough that it may no longer exist. After all, everyone tends to go their separate ways after high school. I wouldn’t have to see him, hear his name, and continue to bury the truth inside any longer – I could let it all go. Fate, in its cruelest form, had a different plan. While I went on to college, the guy went on to become a rock star. I tried to live my life without his memory, but his face and the sound of his voice was everywhere. As I had mentioned before, we came from a small town – and he became a small-town hero. Again I had to choose whether to continue to my lie, my unspoken truth, or confront it.

I was weak. I was too afraid of confronting it. Too scared of what people would think of me, but mostly frightened of discovering what I thought of myself. I had been hiding from my truth for so long; I began to accept the lie. To face it publicly meant that I, for the first time in years, had to face it myself. So, I continued on like nothing ever happened. I went to his concert with one of my friends. I “liked” his social media pages. I saw him out one evening when the band was back in town for a homecoming show, and I hugged him. YES, I was face to face with him for the first time, and I hugged him! None of my actions, however, change what happened.

Years later, I am still dealing with untreated trauma, and I can talk about it in small doses with therapists. I am not ready to officially tell my story, to confront the rapist, and to openly live as a rape victim. I still am hesitant to share my story. Unfortunately, when I see anti-sexist liberals use Tara’s actions as a reason to avoid holding Biden accountable, I become emotional and angry. I become enraged at the hypocrisy of the Democratic party.

I might not be ready to tell my story, but I am sharing this anyways. Nothing Tara did in the subsequent years after Joe Biden digitally raped her disqualifies her story. Nothing I did in the years following my assault changes what happened to me. Holding such a secret for so long, living a lie as truth is a defense mechanism for those of us who are not ready to tell. It is a way to pretend that “that thing” never happened. That defense mechanism kicks into overdrive when the perpetrator is a public figure. You become smaller, so you do more to deny the truth. You share a different face publicly than the emotionally scarred one.

As George Orwell said, if you want to keep a secret, you have to hide it from yourself. Shame on everyone for trying to psychoanalysis a victim that is still concealing their truth. Shame on the Democrats for forcing Biden on all the women and men who can see their story in Tara’s story. Who now see a version of their attacker in what liberals claim is the “women’s rights” candidate for the President of the United States. Biden is a secret the party is trying to hide from themselves, and it is going to cost us all dearly in the end.

M.G. is a writer living in a southern state.