My journey starts with a single step towards healing from the experiences I have had in my life. It isn't always pretty, but it is honest, candid, and cathartic. By telling my story, I am breaking 10 years of silence. Each step is a step towards exorcising the demons of my past, discussing the present state of things and moving forward to a hope filled future.
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My Speech from the Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event on May 4, 2013.
I was truly humbled by the amazingly brave women, and the men who were there to walk a mile in high heel shoes for them, that I met at the event. Here is the transcript of the speech I gave at this event.
Good morning! I would
like to thank the Philly WAM Girls for their work and dedication to this
cause. I am honored to be a part of it.
We are all here for a common purpose. We are here to stand up for victims of sexual
assault and gender violence.
My name is Valerie Ricapito and I am a rape survivor. I am here today to stand up for myself and
for those like me. I am standing up here
today because I will no longer be silent.
I am here today to tell you my story.
I was raped 13 years ago and for 10 of those years I
remained silent, never pressing charges, just hoping it would be like a bad
dream and eventually fade off into the distance. I was filled with shame, guilt, anger and
embarrassment over what happened. You
see, at the time of my rape, I was a peer educator at my university. I was a part of a group that taught students
how to stay safe from sexual violence. I
knew all of the right things to do. I
knew how to protect myself and I educated students how to do the same. I was street smart and book smart. This was
something that would never happen to me…until the morning that it did.
I went to sleep one night next to my boyfriend, a man who
professed his love for me every day. I
woke up the next morning to that same man holding me down and raping me. I said “No.”
I tried to fight back, but how do you fight back against someone who is
bigger than you, strong than you, and is using that strength to do the
unspeakable? The harder I fought the
more force he used. And just like that,
I became a statistic. I went from the
girl who, by all accounts, had a great life and a great boyfriend, to a girl
whose life was shattered by that “great boyfriend.”
Over the next 10 years I pretended that it never happened. I
locked it so deep in my psyche that it never came to the surface. It was replaced by anger, fear, shame and a
general distrust of men, with the exception of close friends and family. I saw every man as a potential rapist. I lived my life in fear without even letting
myself fully accept the reasoning behind it.
I became a home body, avoiding social situations as much as I could
unless I was with a group. When I did go
out alone, I developed a tough, “stay the hell away from me,” exterior that
kept attention away from me. Overtime I became
a shell of the person I used to be. I
felt dead inside.
The truth has a way of coming to the surface, often at the
most random and unexpected times. My
truth came out to my mom while we were watching a movie. A character in the movie was raped the same
way I was and before I could stop myself I said, “If anyone ever did that to me
again I would kill them with
my bare hands.” I prayed that she
didn’t hear that one word – again. As it
turns out, that was the only word she heard.
And just like that, my secret was no longer a secret.
As I have started to come to an acceptance of being raped, I
decided to make my journey to healing public.
I made this decision in the hopes that others will be helped by my
journey and realize that they are not alone.
In July, I started writing a blog to document my experiences – the good
days and the bad – as I go through counseling, and start to get back to the
person I was before the rape. Through
this, I have found a community of friends, sisters and supporters who have
helped me through tough days and cheered me on through good days. I now have the strength and courage to speak
out, stand up, and help bring an end to the shame that comes along with being
While I wish every single day that this never happened to
me, I am proud to stand here today as I reclaim my voice to say to the world that