Wednesday, September 7, 2011


Americans [seem to] like to honor defining moments. We have holidays, half-days, ceremonies, and rights-of-passage. We have first-time-days and never-again-just-this-once-so special days. We have preparation-days like baby and bridal showers. We have rehearsal-dinners and after-brunches. We even honor the dead. We have funerals, mourning parlors, and marches of remembrance. New shoes, back-packs and pencils-perfectly-sharpened carry the smell of school-starts, while salt, bread and something-useful-adorned-with-ribbon honor new homes. Most organized religions require a rite-of-passage for maturity and even a jail-sentence is noted by a cloak-figured-Judge’s pounding gravel. In the US, each of these defining moments has an associated industry and currency.  Celebratory events generally require consumables. We eat them, wear them, throw them, give and receive them, talk about them, and, as is the case with consumption, we use them up. Capitalism thrives on our longings for inclusion and participation.

The United States originated as a mixing pot. Most of us are descendants of the original expatriates:  refugees, wealthy-people-craving-something-new, slaves and indentured servants. This cultural conglomeration, super-imposed on the already thriving cultures that inhabited what we now call ‘our Country’ may have some obscure something to do with our tenacious cling to tradition and celebratory events. Whatever the origin, we surely act out of the belief that defining moments matter.

How is it then that a defining moment for one out of three (!) females and one tenth of this number (!) males, is not only deep-sixed in the demarcation department, but deliberately and systemically omitted?  This is an enormous number.  Consider for a moment the size and population of our world. In the United States alone, just the Wedding Industry generates over 60 billion dollars a year. This figure excludes honeymoons, which add an estimated 4 to 8 billion. And since Gay Marriage is only so recently legalized, and still in only some places, I have to assume this additional, potential revenue is also not included.

Imagine how much money could be made if for every incident when a person chooses to rape (99% of these perpetrators are male) and for every person who survives, the loved ones of both orchestrated an event.

Please note that this article does not intend to dishonor the victims who do not [physically] survive rape. It’s simply that revenue for the death-industry is already counted within our current system of checks and balances. We even sell land-shares - funeral plots - in preparation. As far as I know, time-sharing in the funereal industry is illegal, unless Native Americans are valued enough to be compensated as previous inhabitants, so revenue for dead rapists and dead rape victims falls within existing Industry profit margins.

But for the people who survive.  Think what a business this could be.  We could honor the event by creating a surrounding milieu that:

A.            Offers validation rather than denial.
B.            Offers telling rather than silence.
C.            Offers compassion rather than blame and shame.
D.            Offers movement rather than inhibition.
E.            Offers treatment rather than a reduction in human services.

Given that rape happens with ferocious regularity, and given that the word 'rape' - never mind the subject - is taboo, and given that we know that recovery requires a reciprocal loop that includes talking, listening and mutual validation, I could go on and on about the potential benefits to be had by adding rape to our cultural list of visible, enfranchised, defining moments. Rape could sit next to the other occasions of loss that we gather to share and grieve about. But perhaps the simple possibility of increasing revenue to wealthy Americans will be enough to turn the tide.

Unfortunately though, given our Global Rape Culture, rape is a four-letter word. (At least in English.) But even this doesn’t rationalize our omission. Dead, shot, kill, scar, fuck, cunt, dick, dark, duel, and fail all have four letters, and these words are enfranchised.

Oh well, maybe the utter abhorrence of the topic and the utter denial of the experience and the people who have lived through it, as well as their loved ones and extended communities, is simply a financial issue. I’m frankly surprised that some of our more adept economic analysts haven’t thought of this. Just think. What if talking about rape and its’ aftermath could save the world from monetary disaster?

OMIT: (verb)
1.     to negate to do or include
2.     to fail (to do something)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


 My understanding of ‘First Thursday’ in Jamaica Plain, MA (where I live) has been that shops offer reduced prices, artists show their work, workshops are offered, restaurants offer specials, and foot traffic is welcomed. It has seemed, to me, a most efficient and pleasurable way for the community to find community. Quite frankly, I’ve kicked myself each month when I’ve realized that for some random work issue, parenting squabble or a simple forgetting, I’ve missed it again. This past ‘First Thursday’ I happened to be driving through JP center between 6 and 8 PM. It was lovely to see so many people milling about and so many conversations in motion. I have to say I got really excited. It seemed to me that local people were eager to share what they were doing with other local people who had an interest in knowing.

I actually thought: ‘This is right up my alley.’ As an artist, a filmmaker, a writer, a single mother, and a therapist specializing in working with trauma survivors and their significant, connected people, I often feel isolated from the larger community.

Recently I have been working in partnership with my son. We’ve been deeply engaged in educating, public speaking and Internet outreach in our attempts to support a growing public awareness and conversation about sexual assault and rape.

To augment this work we have created:

and our ‘Join the Conversation’ FaceBook page:

We are hard at work on the documentary ‘Living After Rape’. When I gave the Keynote Address and ‘Join the Conversation’ was featured at the recent (amazing) event: Slutwalk DC, we were honored and delighted to also film many hours of interviews for the documentary.

It has been wonderful to receive the numerous letters and invitations - that originate all over the world - from people who support our work and the Documentary. As I’ve slowly worked my way through my personal responses to each person’s inquiry and story, I’ve also bemoaned the fact that I simply have not had the time to properly introduce the Documentary project to our local community here.   

“Ah, ha!” I thought.  ‘First Thursday’ seemed the perfect vehicle to create an opportunity to talk with people. We have most everything we need, and it’s all accessible due to our recent Washington DC foray.  We’re set with plenty of wonderful cards that speak to the campaign. I purchased a bend-in-half-table-with-a-handle in anticipation, and then began the delicate folding required for the ‘Rape Hurts, Join the Conversation’ Tee-Shirts we sell to promote the viewership.

It simply never occurred to me that we - and/or our work - as artists and educators would be deemed inappropriate. Honestly, the thought never crossed my mind. My assumption has always been that most people would be delighted to know about our work, and if they were not, there would certainly be other vendors and businesses for them to visit with instead.

I have to say that the reception with which my inquiry was received was less than cordial, certainly not welcoming and actually downright rude. I was told that we (Join the Conversation) are “… Absolutely not appropriate [for First Thursday].”

After googling ‘First Thursday’ in Jamaica Plain, I thought I’d offer some direct media quotes about the event, in the hope that this information may be helpful to other unsuspecting people wanting to join in the fun.

“… Local merchants showcased their art and explained their craft and story to intrigued shoppers. Among the exhibitors were members of Boston Handmade, whose founder we recently profiled on Patch. Several stores adorned their front doors with balloons and signs to indicate their participation and incite customers to look around.
Live music, food tasting, and hands-on activities were all part of the summer event's treat. The next First Thursday of the season is scheduled for Sept. 1st, from 6 to 8 p.m….” (excerpted from Jamaica Plain Patch (online))

I realize that talking, thinking about and living the ramifications of global rape culture is uncomfortable. It’s often tempting for people to think that they don’t want, or need, to entertain the subject. I truly wish this were the case. However, current statistics state that 1 out of 3 women will experience sexual assault in their lifetime.. One out of three! For males, the numbers stand at 1 out of 10 of these. It is also stated that the perpetrators are 99% male. What this means is that the likelihood of our youth, passing through their lives, without either encountering a situation first-hand or knowing someone who has, is almost nil.

If the subject of rape remains so taboo that it is virtually a social suicide to bring it up, what are we to do? Particularly since recovery from sexual trauma requires an environment where survivors are supported in speaking the reality of what has happened to them.

Friday, August 26, 2011


I wanted to grow up to be the artist that paints beautiful birds and flowers like the prints that hang on the walls in a Bank.

However, three separate incidents of violent rape profoundly influenced  the imagery on my palate.

When the ‘Rape Piece’ came to me, I was horrified.

It had been challenging enough that right in the middle of love-making with my finance - two weeks before our wedding - I collapsed in a visual cacophony of pain.

 One minute I’d been riding the peak of multiple orgasms.

The next moments were filled with full-visual-screen, larger-than-life images.  Of angst-filled women.  One cellulose square - a million miles tall - at a time. (Except they - every one of them - appeared grotesquely real.)  Each a female, enlarged butt up, hands wrenched behind. The faces looking directly into me.  As if there is a core  of woman-grief that taps right from the center of the earth.

These figures came in slow motion:
Every color, every age, every shape woman that’s ever been.
All in the same prostration.

I came out of it when I heard someone screaming. I actually felt myself come back (as if from another world) when I had this thought:  ‘Oh my God. Someone needs my help.’

It was me who had been screaming.
And it proved nearly impossible to explain what had happened. (Since I had no idea myself.)
But the images coalesced into one primary figure.
She wore my face.

At some point I realized that maybe if I actualized her in the world, I could stop carrying her 
wrapped around my heart.

It took four years of sewing and huge mounds of fabric. I had to learn Batik to make the background and Macramé to get the binding rope just right. The hand is cast with plaster-saturated fabric, sealed in Marine Epoxy, and copper-wired into place.

By the time she was finished, the ‘Rape Piece’ had a name and I was in a totally different phase of my life.

My hope for this work was always that someday,
she’d hang in a Women’s Museum or perhaps a Rape Crisis Center.
Some space where the allowing of her grief (and mine)
might be a permission-giving catalyst for other women to feel in theirs.

Because without allowing the feeling of the enormity of the pain, recovery from sexual trauma does not fully happen.

Instead, for the past eighteen (18) years, the piece has stayed with me.

Until the 13th of August 2011, at SLUTWALK DC, when this powerful image marched to the Monument, carried by several wonderful women!

Her coming out was fantastic.
So now …

I’m looking for a home for her. A place where women can find solace in the presence of the truths in the stories she carries.  Because the ‘Rape Piece’ (unfortunately) isn’t just my story. According to current UN statistics, this work holds the feeling for one out of three (1/3 !!) women.

If you, or anyone you know, are aware of a space
that would like to permanently house this work,
Please contact me.

The Rape Piece
is approximately 7 ½ ‘ square.                                                   
                                                                                       (detail of head)                                

Friday, August 19, 2011


SLUTWALK DC  - 13 august 11
Keynote speech (transcribed)
Andrea Bredbeck

I never in my wildest dreams thought I’d be standing here - surrounded by sluts. SLUTS. What an amazingly powerful little word. The only word I know of that can be thrown as a weapon and also catalyze the conversation about sexual assault and rape right into the global public arena in a way that nothing to date has ever accomplished before. Look where we are. Just look where we are.

When my very first boyfriend’s father attacked me in the middle of the night I couldn’t hear my own breath. It sucked right in and disappeared when he launched his 200 pound frame on my sleeping teenage self. At first I thought he was an escaped Baboon or an abominable monster, magically resurrected to suffocate and snuff me out.

Do you know that the adrenalin rush of fear that happens in life and death moments often causes an influx of fluid in your mouth and in your genitals?

So women are told they must’ve wanted it. They were wet.
Because we live in a world that wants women to be shamed. Period.

Whether over or under, much or little, sex worker or U.N. diplomat, fat or thin, dark or light, rich or poor, sexual or celibate, dressed in baggy or dressed in tight, flat chest-ed or buxom, wet or dry, the T. O. O. ‘too’ word is almost always associated with female. As long as a person is too much of something, whether it’s too sexy, too smart, too quiet, too strong, too weak, it serves to excuse whoever is pointing the finger, from holding themselves accountable for their own choices and actions.

I lived through the first rape with a heart chant. It went like this. “…She’d die if she knew. She’d die if she knew…” I stayed alive by loving the mother in my very first boyfriend’s family. I also effectively rendered myself invisible by believing the socially sanctioned dictum that with-holding the truth is a loving act.

It isn’t.

Not speaking the truth, not telling, was a well-intentioned, dishonest, self-protective robbery, of a piece of my very first boyfriend’s mother’s personal narrative. By me. AND it was the best adaptation I could create at the time.

Don’t mislead yourself here. I never once woke up and just decided out of the blue that I wanted to spend my entire life focused on rape and sexual assault. No one in their right mind would choose to dwell in these things just for shits. No. I came to this work because I was violently, sexually,

When I had my first flashback and my Post Traumatic Stress kicked in, we didn’t even know the words. I had no idea what was happening to me. No one did. I promised myself then, that if I survived, and I could help it,no person was ever going to have to do this journey the way I have.

When my parents responded as if they could not bear the reality of me, I believed myself unbearable.

But look at us today. Look around. We are an enormous group of people. Real, live, bear-able people. Talking about the realities of sexual violence. And Slutwalks are springing up all over the world. We’re in over 30 cities in the United States. We’re in Amsterdam, Australia, Hong Kong and Germany. We’re in New Delhi, the U.K. and Mexico City. And every one of us, in our own uniquely, idiosyncratic ways, is determined to take the globally accepted thinking about sexual assault and rape, and grab it by the balls.

No matter who are you, what your gender is, what you wear, you are NEVER responsible for being assaulted.

One of the reasons I’m so grateful to the Police Officer in Toronto who made the foolish comment about not ‘dressing like a slut unless you want to get raped’ that catalyzed this global phenomena of Slutwalk, is that it is now clear (I hope) to most thinking people, that slut-blaming, slut-shaming, victim blaming, and victim shaming have nothing what-so-ever to do with anything real or honest in the conversation about sexual assault. So, a big loud thank you to Constable Michael Sanguinetti.

Nothing people put out exists in a vacuum. Here is a truth about shame: The power of shaming is in direct proportion to our willingness to internalize it. So if we truly want to stop slut-shaming and slut blaming, we have to take a really hard look at how feeling shame has not only hurt us but also enabled our own denial.

Imagining ourselves to be at fault for what happened, creates a mythology that we held some level of control over the crimes that were imposed.

Inside it sounds something like: “If only I was different, all of it would have been different.”

What is actually true is that when someone is sexually assaulted they have no control what-so-ever.

This heart-breaking reality is so excruciating that even the pain of the shame we carry seems less awful by comparison.

So here we are now, in the midst of a global conversation, shifting the blame and shame off of the victimized, and what do we do? We point our fingers in the other direction. It isn’t us. It’s them. We can blame the perpetrators.  As if any of those people woke up one morning and decided they wanted to spend the short precious time they get to live their lives, as perpetrators of sexual violence.

Imagine with me here for a minute. We’ve got a small boy in his PJ’s praying every night by his bed. Wishing and wishing that someday he could grow up to be a rapist.


Stereotypically, men are supposed to be strong manipulators of mass. They’re socially conditioned out of their capacity for feelings and empathic connectedness. Yet when they behave like the violent oafs we culturalize them to be, we imprison them, where they are often victimized before we send them out to do it all again.

Rape and sexual assault draw their point of origin from our global culture.

Let me not be misunderstood here.

To sexually assault, to rape is a choice. It is indisputably, absolutely a fucking choice when one person rapes another. And it’s mostly men that are the do-ers. And it’s mostly women that are the done-to’s. And women rape too. And men get sexually assaulted. And little girls and little boys and babies of every ethnicity on the planet. And gay people rape gay people. Third gendered people and people who choose to be non-gendered, the hearing and the deaf, the athletes and the differently – abled, are all wounded by sexual crimes. Old, young, and everyone in between. We are all at risk.

And it has nothing what-so-ever to do with the clothes we put - or don’t put - on our bodies.

Because we live in a world that propagates rape and sexual assault.

And here’s the kicker. We are all responsible.

One of the loveliest things about being human is our ability to learn through experience. One of the deadliest things about being human is our ability to learn through experience. Way too often we take our individual tragedies and transform them into gross generalities. This is bullshit.

So I’ve been hurt by someone who had a skin color different than mine. Am I supposed to be wary of ALL people with that skin color?


When something else happened, perpetrated by someone with the same skin color as the person who originally hurt me, people treated me like I was an idiot, for not having realized that ALL people who look like that are dangerous. This is ludicrous. On the other hand, if I speak any of this out loud, I’m a racist. And we teach this in some form or another to our children. All of the time.

We have a globally sanctioned foundation for every ‘ism’, for every group hatred, we’ve ever been able to come up with.

As long as we have an ‘us’ and a ‘them’ we can live a paradigm that makes hatred, blame, shame, sexual assault and rape inevitable.

This is called Global Rape Culture. And it serves us. Because as long as we have an ‘us’ and an ‘other’ then ‘we’ are not like ‘them’. And then ‘we’ can pretend that what ‘they’ did, or what happened to ‘them’, will never, ever happen to us. And if it's already happened to us, we can cling to the 'other' and 'us' and pretend that it will ‘never, ever' happen again.

But what if the entire construct is faulty thinking? What if the beliefs we form after trauma are simply that. Trauma beliefs that appear necessary at the time, in order to survive but that certainly do not deserve the sanction of becoming the foundation on which to base our religions, our governments, our ecological policies and our lives.

It is difficult AND entirely possible, to choose a life that does not enact belief, conviction and action out of individual pain and trauma. It is not a given that we are to live in hate. In fact, if there is any given here, it is that we are supposed to live, choosing a life that is foundation-ed in love.

We try so hard to be an US and a THEM. Inside and Outside. WE and OTHER. Good guys and Bad guys. Angels and Devils. Slut and Unslut. Yes.  No. Living. Dead. Shamed. Shameless.

This paradigm is old. Done. OVER. Because within this construct, there is no possibility for real recovery.

We are mortal and we are conscious. We get to live and walk around in a body AND we know we’re going to die. To hold both truths SIMULTANEOUSLY, to live the futility of committed-ly adoring the impermanent, means choosing to live in the real discomfort and ambiguity that comes with being human.

How are we to live if we don’t have the balls to feel every bit of what’s involved in the process?

Is it really possible that we are simply too selfish a species to choose to feel our own real pain?

Is it really possible that we are simply too selfish a species to choose to bear witness to the pain of others?

I don’t think so. I think it is totally possible. We are able to CHOOSE to share our grief and out of this grow another kind of joy. A joy that sits in the bosom of reality. Often painful. Sometimes not.

The problem is that these truths  are often apparently contradictory AND simultaneously true. When we speak them they give rise: To creativity. To connection. To angst. To love. To pathos. To sexuality. And to the POWER that comes with all of these.

When we dwell in our truths we are not controllable.

People can choose not to sexually assault. And we can choose not to perpetuate what is now a global rape culture.

The reality is there is no ‘us’. And there is no ‘them’. Them is us. Us is them.

When something horrible happens to one of us. Something horrible has happened to all of us. We are all that we have. This is what we get. And we can choose how we want to be, even when it’s hard.

At the peak of the race riots in 1974 in Boston, a black man, (Yes. I’ve said it.) he was black. I was white. And it mattered  when he forced his way into my apartment. In the middle of the assault my phone rang. That man hung me by my hair. He forced the phone against my head. My father was on the line. My Dad told me he loved the chicken I’d cooked the night before, and the salad. He told me he loved me. The rapist mouthed “Talk or I’ll kill you.”

I didn’t say: “Daddy I’m getting raped.” There was no way he could stop it. He was all the way in Marblehead, Massachusetts and I didn’t want my father that I loved, to feel bad for the rest of his life, because he was helpless on the other end of the phone.

When that black man slammed his way inside my body he roared racist epithets  I’d never even heard of. “Fucking white cunt-whore.” He climaxed with : “Another white girl bites the dust.”

Did he choose it? Yes.  Was it wrong? Yes.  Did he come out of his mother’s womb ready to rape white girls working against segregation? No.


When I was a little girl, I asked my mother why people hurt each other. My mother told me that it’s “JUST THE WAY PEOPLE ARE”

That’s fucked.

We now know and can prove scientifically that human beings are wired for empathic connection. We are a gregarious species. We are a species that imitates. Unimpeded by social anxiety, we choke up when we see another crying. We crave connectedness. It’s what comes naturally to us. When we are empathically connected we are truly UNABLE to harm each other.

The only way for one human being to rape another is to break the empathic connections we all come with.

Violence begets violence begets violence.

BUT feeling, listening, and telling the truth beget connection.

An enormously famous therapist once told me that “… the events wrecked my life.” I was left with an important question: ‘If what he said is true, then what comes AFTER a wrecked life?’  

Any of us here today, who have lived through sexual assault, are living the ‘after’. Right this minute.
Lets assume a scenario where both the perpetrator and their victim live through the assault. What happens after – for both – and for their loved ones, is eerily similar. Living through a sexual assault inexorably changes the people who have lived through it. Forever. The trauma event, no matter how many people try to pretend, shame or blame it away, will NEVER have NOT happened, once it has.

You see, one of the more challenging things about being a person, is deeply knowing that everything matters. Every. Single. Thing.

Once you rape, once you’ve been raped, once someone you know or love  has been raped, you ARE different. It doesn’t ever GO AWAY.

What we ARE able to do is: Feel the enormity of the initial story. Feel the enormity of the adaptations we create in response to the initial event. And out of these feelings, shift our relationship to the traumas and to ourselves. WE CAN heal. And this includes healing for our traumatized world.

This process is so simple that people can (and often do) easily pretend they don’t understand it.

A reciprocal loop of discourse and validation has to be in place. It is this exchange, this movement that keeps the channels open so that our innate capacity of empathy can recover.  The horrific details of violence do incredible harm.


Our species needs to be UNABLE to do harm. This is effortless when empathic connection is accessible. The totally natural scar tissue that grows in the heart when we realize that people can do horrible things, that the world is not as we thought and hoped, can be mitigated through our reciprocal loop. The cycles of violence repeat because we do not choose to bear witness. What can mitigate much of the damage and enable us to grow into harvesting the incredible strengths that are possible after trauma, has primarily to do with the environment into which we are received AFTER.

Yes. I am saying that the story of the events, no matter how grotesque, if received into an environment where telling and listening is standard fair, will not leave the same extensively damaging psychological scars, as that same grotesque story when it is met by systemic denial. It’s pretty straight forward. If we want vicious Post Traumatic Stress (PTSD) to continue to grow in horrific exponential leaps, all over the world, all we have to do is continue to model our behavior on our global culture of invalidation. But.

If we truly want to stop rape and sexual violence, we have to stop rape culture.

My face smothers in the sand. Hands tied up and behind. Waves crash. Gun shots and screams echo off the cliffs. The Pelicans are silent. I raise my bum. Just a little higher. I use my desecrated body to pave the way for the rapist. Easy access to my body may keep my husband alive. If my husband knows what this rapist is doing, then he’ll fight. If he fights, he’ll die. I hear my breath rasping. I hear the earth throbbing. I want my husband to live.

That Sunday at 11 o’clock on a beautiful beach in St. Croix where people got shot and I was tied up and impregnated, there was no choice about what to do. The rapists had guns. And they used them.

But the people that love me, and all of us who love others, ABSOLUTELY have a choice in how we respond after the events have been physically survived.

Of all the terrible things that happened to me, the thing that caused the MOST damage was the utter denial by my family of origin.
Denial of the reality of my experiences.
Denial of the reality of my stories.
Denial of the reality of living with the PTSD that I have carried.
And denial of their own pain, their own wounds, the scars they carry, at having their world-view shattered, by the closeness to them, of the violent rapes that happened to me.

When you accidentally slice your hand with a cooking knife, while making potato salad for friends, no one thinks it odd or T.O.O. ‘too’ much that your hand will bleed. The event may require something to mop up the floor but that’s to be expected.

Why the fuck would we expect anything less after the body is desecrated through the genitals? After trust is decimated with violence?

Sexual assault and rape ARE as horrible as we think they are. And there is tremendously difficult healing required in order to get well. Re-hab doesn’t surprise us after a Stroke. But long need for recovery, from these kinds of crimes is another of our socially well-kept secrets. These are crimes that catalyze life-long, multi-generational wounding. AND getting well is possible. AND the journey from rape to restoration is a long one. I have been at this for close to 35 years. It would have been much, much less had there been an environment of telling and listening in my family.

Speaking the truth of our stories, begets the truth of our stories, begets the truths and validation we need in order to heal. Listening to the truth of our stories, begets the truth of our stories, begets the truths and validation we need in order to heal. This cyclical, reciprocal, circular series of interactive loops, AND the courage it takes to stay in the arena and feel the full extent of the associated feelings, no matter whether there’s snot running down, eyes swelling up, sweat pooling. This is what is required to put an end to rape culture. We have to be willing to bear witness.

Here then, is what I’ve learned.

What makes the most damage - what drives it home - is the SURROUNDING MILIEU into which we are received. After the traumatic events have been lived through.

And this we all have a part in. We are ABLE to CHANGE. We are ABLE to BEAR WITNESS.

Just look around. We are doing the change right here. Right now. Together. While each of us is also alone inside ourselves. We are taking the first step in deconstructing rape culture. Me being willing to speak what I know to be true and all of you being willing to bear witness.

We (Join the Conversation) are making a documentary called ‘Living After Rape’. This film will explore with people who have lived through rape, people who have raped and the loved ones and connected, extended communities of both. Please. Come talk with us. Come film with us. Come speak your truth with us. Whatever it is. You can find us right over here. We’ll be filming all afternoon. Please. Help us bring ‘Living After Rape’ to the screen.

We have to tell and we have to tell. We have to listen and we have to listen. Tell and listen with our words. With our ears. With our eyes. With gentle hands. And ultimately - Tell and listen with our hearts.

I’d like to close with this one last thing …………(excerpt from final monologue, theatre piece: As If We Live To Bear No Scars, by: Andrea Bredbeck)

They tell me it’s my stance of opposition
that renders me assailable.
As if a fervent belief
could engender violent crime.

Is it oppositional to think
that drinking my tea in my teacup sitting at my table in my cozy home
is a kind of lying?
If in order to do it
they have to pretend away my pain?

Is it unholy to crave what’s real?
Is it a god-vow desecration,
a raping of the deity,
to search for the voice
that sings a song that’s true?

If I was a Peace Radical
and nothing bad had happened,
If I was a Love Advocate
and nothing bad had happened,
If I was an Environmental Researcher
and nothing bad had happened,
would my stance come into question?

They tell me it’s my stance of opposition
that puts me where I shouldn’t be.
Where I shouldn’t be?     Shouldn’t be?
Is it possible
to be where I shouldn’t be?
Is it?
Is it possible to be where I shouldn’t be?

How do we ever know
if we’re being where we should?

Hindsight they tell me.  Hindsight is clear.
Hindsight is brilliance
one step too late in time.
But living in hindsight
is like seeing in a backwards.
It’s hard to go forward
when you’re only smart in reverse.

They say it’s my stance of opposition.
that renders me assailable.

As if a fervent belief
could engender violent crime.

They say I run away from life
because I refuse to pretend away my pain.

As if we live to bear no scars.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Early Tee Shirts or Wearing What's True

     Almost every time the next step in my work to raise awareness around the Global Rape Epidemic appears clear to me, I disagree. 
     When I realized that I would choose to use my own body, of my own volition, almost as a billboard, I was, quite frankly, horrified.  The Slutwalk phenomena had not yet started (this was late Spring 2010) and I'd been writing (theatre, screenplay, literary) and working in and around the rape subject for nearly thirty years.  But wearing the words?  This seemed a new level of "... No. This I will not do ..."  Still, as is most often the case when work 'comes' to me, and as you can see, I made the first 'Rape Talk' Tee shirt.  And then I wore it.  To Home Depot.  Where I had a most wonderful conversation with a woman who, while helping me locate a particular stainless steel, finish screw I needed, let me know that she'd been raped.  She also let me know that reaching across - perhaps more gently than this first shirt seemed to her - would probably be more generous.  I told her about the Documentary.  When she heard it was to be a film that journeys with people who have lived through rape, people who have raped and people in the extended families and communities of both, she thanked me.  I was elated, which helped because fear kicks off my own PTSD and under the Tee shirt, I'd been sweating. Quivery. Tremulous.
     This woman helped a lot. I went home with the screws, a few other tools, and food for the project and my heart.

Friday, March 18, 2011

DOCUMENTARY: Living After Rape

15 March 2011

So here is what I know right now:

People who have lived through rape, people who love people who have lived through rape, and people who rape - are all people.  This probably seems obvious and could easily inspire an overt “Duh,” except that somehow people don’t seem to know this. We come in all shapes and sizes.  We come in a multitude of genders and ethnicities.  We populate a vast cross section of economic and professional spheres.  We come from and create a variety of different family types.  We have a vast range of both talents and disabilities.  We are generally hyper-vigilant and sensitive to a variety of changing stimuli. Huge numbers of Humans all over the world know and live rape and its’ aftermath.  AND EACH AND EVERY ONE OF US HAS A STORY.

This project is an endeavor to tell the stories, while crafting a particular story to put into the public arena.  Narrowing the scope of this documentary’s story is what has occupied me for this period of time. 

I feel apologetic about not immediately responding to the numerous heart-felt responses I have received.  I engage in this ‘writing-back’, a bit each day.  Each and every person who has reached across to support this project has my utmost respect and appreciation.   And all of you will hear from me, as I am able.  If you have not heard from me, please do send me another note, as I do not want to lose anyone.

The email for this documentary is:

As I have sat with the letters I’ve received during these many weeks several things have become clear. 
  • 1.   My hope is to make a series of these films, this first one delineated by particular demographic factors, the ones to follow drawing on others.
  • 2.   There is an extraordinary pool of talented, enthusiastic, creative and skillful people who are passionate about both filmmaking in general and the crafting of the documentary: ‘Living After Rape’ specifically.   Following the general principle of  ‘too many cooks can spoil the goose,’ I’ve decided to seek: 

·      1 Documentary Filmmaker to film
·      1 experienced Lighting Technician
·      1 Audio Technician
·      1 Musical Director to score
·      1 person to assist in general overall production 
·      1 person with extensive writing/fund-raising experience and connections (PR manager) 
               In respect to the sensitive subject matter, the core creative ensemble will remain small, work hard to create a tight supportive crew, and receive direction from the Artistic Director (me) Andrea Bredbeck. We will, of course, need additional assistance and support in a variety of skill areas which will become more clear as we progress.


Having narrowed the scope of this project, I have come to the following conclusions (PENDING FUTURE CHANGES):

·      The documentary ‘Living After Rape’ intends to interview people whose first incident of rape happened when they were 16 or older, people who love a person whose first incident of rape happened when that person was 16 or older and people who have raped when they were 16 or older.

·      Additionally, I am specifically seeking interviewees who have lived through approximately ten years following the initial incident.


I am acutely aware that there are many people with rape-related stories who do not fit into these initial, specific parameters.  All of these stories matter.  I have chosen to narrow the scope for this FIRST film in deference to the specific story I want to explore.  I dearly hope to be able to continue to craft for film the many experiences that fall within other timelines.  Because of this, if you are willing, I’d like to interview you and safely archive our dialogue as part of a growing collection of material for potential future films.