Abuse and rape are difficult words to murmur, but imagine how many people around the globe are silently suffering, terrified of opening up about having it happen to them. In America alone, every 107 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted, and each year there are about 293,000 victims of sexual assault. A whopping 68 percent aren’t even reported to the police, and 98 percent of rapists will never go to jail or prison for their crime. And over 4 million women experience both rape as well as physical assault by their partners.
Comedian Beth Stelling has become a popular name in 2015, having released the stand-up album Simply the Beth and a half hour Comedy Central special. But now she’s stirring up discussion on something much darker. This past Monday, she broke her silence to the world when she posted a detailed message on Instagram revealing her encounter of being both abused as well as raped by her ex-boyfriend.
Stelling posted photos of her bruise-covered legs and arms above a lengthy caption detailing the abusive relationship she was in with her unnamed ex. What particularly stands out is that she stayed with him for 2 months longer after “being verbally, physically abused and raped.” But, what she continues to explain is that, “It’s not simple” — a powerful statement that can only be understood by a victim, and merely taken for its value by an outsider.
Stand-up comedians, despite having different stories to tell, all tend to have one thing in common: they pull from their personal lives, whether it be a funny encounter they had that morning on the street, a strange memory from their childhood, or perhaps their outlooks on current events. And the reason for Stelling’s decision to finally open up to people was related to this. “I wanted to move on and forget because I didn’t understand,” she wrote in her post. “I don’t want revenge or to hurt him now, but it’s unhealthy to keep this inside because my stand-up is pulled directly from my life. It’s how I make my living. My personal is my professional. That is how I’ve always been; I make dark, funny.”
She continued on to say that just because she is revealing this hurtful truth doesn’t mean she has all of the answers to it. “I’m doing my best to work through this,” she wrote. “There are more stories out there from men and women and they don’t all involve getting raped by a stranger in an alley. Many are crapes (the coziest kind) in the comfort of your own bed.” And Stelling is right. Many are in fact of this nature, with 4 out of 5 sexual assaults being committed by someone the victim knows. Furthermore, in their lifetime, more than 1 in 3 women and more than 1 in 4 men have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking in the United States by an intimate partner.
Take a look at Stelling’s full post below:
Same girl in all of these photos (me). I’ve had an amazing year and you’ve seen the highlights here, so these photos are an uncommon thing to share but not an uncommon issue. You may be weirded out but do read on. I have a point. There are many reasons not to make an abusive relationship public, mostly fear. Scared of what people will think, scared it makes me look weak or unprofessional.
When I broke up with my ex this summer, it wasn’t because I didn’t love him, it was because of this. And I absolutely relapsed and contacted him with things I shouldn’t have, but there are no “best practices” with this. When friends or comics ask why we broke up it’s not easy or comfortable to reply; it doesn’t seem like the appropriate thing to say at a stand-up show, a party or a wedding. It’s embarrassing. I feel stupid. After being verbally, physically abused and raped, I dated him for two more months. It’s not simple.
After I broke up with him he said, “You’re very open and honest in your stand-up, and I just ask that you consider me when you talk about your ex because everyone knows who you’re talking about.” And I abided. I wrote vague jokes because we both live in L.A. and I didn’t want to hurt him, start a war, press charges, be interrogated or harassed by him or his friends and family. I wanted to move on and forget because I didn’t understand. I don’t want revenge or to hurt him now, but it’s unhealthy to keep this inside because my stand-up is pulled directly from my life. It’s how I make my living. My personal is my professional. That is how I’ve always been; I make dark, funny.
So now I’m allowing this to be part of my story. It’s not my only story, so please don’t let it be. If you live in L.A., you’ve already started to hear my jokes about this and I ask you to have the courage to listen and accept it because I’m trying. Already since talking about this onstage, many women have come to me after shows asking me to keep doing it. Men have shown their solidarity.
An ex-girlfriend of this ex-boyfriend came to me and shared that she experienced the same fate. Then there was another and another (men and women) who shared other injustices at his hand that..
shattered my belief that I was an exception. I am not alone; unfortunately I’m in a line of smart, funny women who experienced this from the same man in our L.A. comedy community. I couldn’t stay in our relationship waiting for it to happen again and I won’t keep it a secret any longer so that a future woman has a fair chance of avoiding it. I don’t have all the answers. I’m doing my best to work through this. There are more stories out there from men and women and they don’t all involve getting raped by a stranger in an alley. Many are crapes (the coziest kind) in the comfort of your own bed.
Featured Image: APA – Comedy
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