In 1968, I was arrested for civil disobedience in Texas. I was and placed
in a cell with 30 other prisoners, for the next twenty four hours I was
tortured and gang raped.
To add to the horror I was experiencing, I later learned from a cellmate
that my rape was deliberately orchestrated by the guard who put me there
as something called a "turning out party." Among other things, the guards
lied to my cell mates, telling them that I was a child molester and
promised them an extra ration of Jell-o if they would "take care ofĒ me.
Two years later, I got married and started a portrait business that was
quite successful for a while. But as often happens in post traumatic
stress disorder, there was a delay of about six years before the full
impact of my rape hit me. The trauma of the experience came back daily,
and I was no longer able to live my normal life. The only trauma I have
had in my life was rape in jail in 1968. I lost my business and my wife. I
was homeless for many years, until I received a disability pension from
the Veterans Administration.
Rape is crazy-making. It may be the ultimate humiliation, with very
serious and long-lasting psychic damage to the victim as well as to close
loved ones who are secondary victims
I have struggled for a long time to try to understand this kind of cruel
act, and while I still donít understand it, I am sure part of it was
politically motivated. I was a peace activist. To the guard and the
government at that time, I was the enemy.
Whatever the reason, however, my story is not unique. I consider my rape
and resulting trauma mild compared to most of the prisoner rape cases I've
heard or read about. SPR often hears from survivors of prisoner rape that
guards sometimes use rape as a management tool, putting people in
dangerous situations to punish them and to reward the would-be rapist.
In 1982, I began to do research into prisoner rape and decided to find a
way to stop this abuse. I teamed up with another activist and prisoner
rape survivor, Stephen Donaldson. In prison, he was sexually tortured for
Not long before he died in 1996 of AIDS contracted by rape in prison,
Stephen Donaldson agreed with me that, especially as veterans, we both
felt thoroughly betrayed by our country. We were tortured, the authorities
knew it was happening, and no one did anything to stop it. In fact, in my
case, it was encouraged.