Amy Roost: A bullet straight into the heart of my innocence

By Amy Roost

When I was a freshman in college, I was raped. Some friends and I had gone to a bar (the drinking age for beer and wine in the District of Columbia was 18 at the time). At some point, I was ready to leave, but my friends weren’t, so I accepted a ride back to my dorm from three young men I’d just met.

Amy Roost

I had been flirting with one and of them and when we got in the backseat of the car he made some advances. I had drunk too much and was feeling woozy so I asked him to please stop. But he didn’t. He pulled a knife out of his coat, held the tip of it to my jugular and pressed his finger to his lips indicating that I should be quiet.

When we arrived at my dorm, he literally kicked me out of the back seat onto the sidewalk and drove off into the night with his friends.

I tell this story, not for sympathy, but because I’ve been thinking my rape is analogous to gun control. I didn’t deserve to be raped and there is no excuse for rape. But I know that there is more than one person who will read this story and think I was at least partially to blame for what happened to me — that I should have used better judgment that fateful evening.

I could easily defend my honor using gun lobby rhetoric. I am the gun. The rapist is the shooter. I didn’t rape me. My attacker raped me. The gun didn’t kill the victims of Sandy Hook; Adam Lanza killed them. Right?

But here’s the thing: My behavior was partially to blame for my rape. My parents taught me there is evil in the world and despite this knowledge, I took the costly risk of accepting a ride home with strangers and place myself in an umcompromisingly vulnerable position: captive, outnumbered and intoxicated. I was the gun that fired a bullet straight into the heart of my innocence.

In statistics there is something called multi-variable analysis meaning that for a dependent variable (outcome) there is often more than one factor that caused it. Guns, Adam Lanza’s mental illness, etc. caused the shooting in Newtown. Sexual aggression, my imprudent actions, etc. caused my rape. A multi-linear regression analysis would allow us to test how much each variable contributed to the outcome, i.e. how much blame or causation we can assign to my behavior vs. the rapist’s aggression or guns vs. mental illness.

It is misleading and a gross over-simplification to say that my behavior had nothing to do with my rape or that guns had nothing to do with the Newtown massacre. It is obvious in both cases multiple variables were in play. The question is how do we correct for these factors? In my case, after the rape I didn’t stop drinking or going to bars. But I did use a buddy system when I went out. I stopped accepting rides from strangers; and I stopped dressing in a way that attracted unwanted attention. In other words, I stopped tugging on Superman’s cape.

It follows that we should make changes to our laws and culture that would prevent gun homicides — not hammer homicides or knife homicides, but gun homicides. If only one life had been saved — Noah’s, Grace’s or Dylan’s — wouldn’t that one life justify changing our ways and our laws? In the same way I didn’t stop going to bars in college, I’m not saying taking away everyone’s guns is the answer to gun violence.

No combination of laws will completely eliminate gun homicides just as, by virtue of being a woman, I’m still at risk for being raped despite taking additional precautions. But if it were my Stuart or Spencer or your son or daughter whose life was spared because of a law or shift in perspective that could perhaps even set in motion a butterfly effect, wouldn’t it be worth the effort and limited cost to our liberties to adjust our ways of thinking and doing things? Is there one person who can answer no to this? If there is, don’t tell me. Tell your child — to his/her face — you’d not be willing to give up some gun rights to save his/her life.

Roost works in the book publishing industry.

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Posted by Staff on Feb 7 2013. Filed under Columnists. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

17 Comments for “Amy Roost: A bullet straight into the heart of my innocence”

  1. Dick Lyles

    I'm saddened to hear about your experience as an 18 year old. What a horrible experience. One that no one should have to endure.
    I think your analogy works to a point. But I have a concern. One is with "If only one life had been saved …" Unfortunately most of the proposals today, were they in effect prior, would not have saved even one child at Sandy Hook, or at Gabby Gifford's shooting …. or ….. so if you are going to employ multiple variable analysis to the events, I think it prudent to employ the same logic to the proposed solutions. I agree strongly that we should provide solutions that prevent gun homicides … but only solutions that will work. Far too often we kid ourselves by embracing proposals that simply won't make a difference.
    Not to beat the dead horse, but if saving one life is the goal, lower the national speed limit to 55mph. We tried that it worked. Unlike banning assault rifles which we tried and it had no effect. There are myriad policies we can adopt as a nation that would save dozens, hundreds, thousands, or many, many more lives.

    • Tom Yarnall

      Dick, The murder rate in the U.S. went from 5.7 per 100,000 at the conclusion of the assault rifle ban, to 4.7 in 2011.
      I think most scholars agree that the world murder rate has declined continuously since life began. Many multi-variables for Amy to ponder there, I think.

  2. No fan

    So full of it.

  3. Any Roost

    Dick, if what you say is true, "there are a myriad of policies", why hasn't anyone proposed them?

  4. No 'No Fan' Fan

    What happened No Fan? Did Amy steal your lunch money when you were in grade school together? Get over it and move on.

  5. Anon

    Using rape as an analogy for gun control is absolutely horrific and the worst I have seen. As the victim of a sexual assault, not only did I not deserve it or ask for it but neither did you. You can't even begin to make any rational analogies between the two. All I can figure is you felt the need to share with the world your assault. Which is fine. But it has nothing to do with gun control. You would have better served our community by discussing your survival from a sexual assault and how to heal. But instead you make a poor connection between sexual assault and gun policy. You fail today with this story.

    • Amy Roost

      Well it's just one person's connection. Sorry if I offended you. I did explicitly state that no one deserves it nor is there any excuse for rape–you may have missed that. You may also have missed the point that knowing there is evil, there are precautionary measures we can take in order to minimize the chance of becoming a victim. For instance, would you walk down a dark blind alley at night by yourself. Of course not! So instead of saying that there's nothing we can do about violence because there will always be evil people amongst us, let's switch our perspective on victimhood and ask what could we do to minimize there being victims of gun violence, rape, etc. As you must know, Anon, it's not easy to admit you were raped, especially to a broad audience. My kids didn't even know before this column. I don't do it for the attention, and I'm still coming to terms with what happened to me. As I've grown older/wiser I've chosen to take some personal responsibility for what happened and for how I can prevent it from happening again.

  6. Tom Yarnall

    Amy, don’t you just know that every parent of the murdered children dream about being in the classroom with a weapon and could have, possibly, saved their child’s life? Don’t you just know the murdered principal, who threw her body at the shooter, would have used a gun if she had one? Don’t you think the nurse, cowering under a desk, wished she had a gun and was trained to use it? Why do you want to give advantage to the criminal and the crazed? Do you know how many people are saved each year because they had a gun and could protect themselves? I would guess, plenty.
    BTW, I asked my daughter if it bothered her that I was unwilling to give up my gun rights and she said absolutely not. She, too is unwilling to give up her gun rights. She said she felt comfortable with the accuracy of a 22 long barrel and, if the time should ever come, be able to take any intruder out with one shot, yet only maim them. Of course the crook and deranged would have the advantage with their stolen or black marketed AK47′s.
    Heaven forbid you or your family ever be threatened in your home and your only weapon is rhetoric.
    It is amazing how you can, sometimes, use a personal tragedy to weave a story that somehow, in you mind, justifies your stance on an issue. Here you went from a rape to gun control. Most women, having had your experience, would have said ” if I would have had a gun I would have shot that son of a b****”

    • Amy Roost

      Tom, have you forgotten, I don't live with bars on my windows? I choose not to live in such a state of fear that I feel I need to arm myself in order to feel safe. That's just me. It's sad to think there are many like yourself who see the only solution to violence is to carry a weapon. It may be one way, but there are more ways than one if you take off your blinders.

  7. Tom Yarnall

    Amy, you can be sure I don't live in a state of fear. I am very happy with my world and guess what, i am always happy without having to resort to the drug culture.
    I'll just bet your fearless attitude prevent you from wearing seat belts, even though they could save your life.I wear mine because I know should I have an accident, I will have a better chance to survive. The same feeling I have about guns should someone invade my home threatening my family. I'm sure you could talk them out of their threat, I am helpless there, so I take the path of hope.

    • Amy's huge Ego

      Tom, I've learned by now, there is NO reasoning with Amy. She's Gods gift to everything right ( in her mind ). If the big bad wolf ever came calling, she'd first try boring him to death with her philosophical bull crap, then she'd ask him if it's to late to call 911 in hopes of someone showing up with a badge and a gun to save her. Studies have shown smoking weed can cause long term brain damage.

      • Amy Roost

        You don't find it ironic that a good share of my column is about my being wrong? Also, are you and Tom tying to imply that I'm on drugs? You two can surely do better than that. Maybe if you pull out your dictionaries you can come up with some more sophisticated insults. It's the least I deserve for having to put up with your vitriol.

        • EducatedThinker

          Amy – Wow. You have the knuckle-draggers particularly riled up this week. Too funny! They're almost as entertaining as Glenn Beck. Keep it up; I'm off to get more popcorn.

          Those of us who actually do possess critical thinking and reasoning abilities much appreciate your columns. Thank you again.

          • Tom Yarnall

            My ET, you certainly have a grandiose opinion of yourself. I'll just bet you frequently kiss a mirror.
            BTW, being educated does not, necessarily. relate to your intelligence or your ability to reason and think critically.
            My last word.

  8. Tom Yarnall

    Amy, I just gave you the last word.

  9. jenna

    are you kidding me?? i am sorry about what happened to you, but your piece speaks volumes – on the side of the same rape culture that caused this. it is NOT YOUR FAULT OR ANY PERSON’S FAULT that you were raped. PERIOD. this is an extremely dangerous mindset – blaming the victim of a crime in any capacity needs to stop. if you still feel this way, please go talk to someone. NO ONE “deserves” to be raped. weather you are NAKED, ON A DARK DESERTED STREET AT 3, 4, 5, WHATEVER-O-CLOCK.. rape is rape, and there is NO EXCUSE. please reflect on how your words reinforce the whole idea of “she was asking for it” / “she shoulda known better” / “dumb b***** was begging for it” / etc.! please reflect on the fact that YOU ARE ACTIVELY INHIBITING POTENTIAL VICTIMS FROM COMING FORWARD WITH THEIR STORIES AND SEEKING JUSTICE FOR THE CRIMES THEY HAVE SUFFERED. i really feel for you on all levels. again, i’m really sorry this happened to you, and i’m not trying to further attack you or say mean things, but you really, really need to think about this. please?

    • Amy Roost

      I said NOWHERE that I deserved it. Went out of my way to say NO ONE deserves it. My point AGAIN is that if there are things we can do to protect ourselves from evil, then we should. And this is a message I feel very strongly every woman (person) should internalize. BE SMART. Don't walk down the street dressed like a hooker unless you want to increase your risk of being raped. You don't deserve it but why tempt fate? I'm not saying wear a burka. If you choose to bear your breasts, use a buddy system, carry mace, don't accept rides from strangers. If I had daughters, this is what I'd advise them. I hope every parent of daughters advises the same thing. I have boys and I have a little better insight what men are thinking when the see exposed breasts than I did before I had boys. I can't speak for every 19/20 male but mine have told me that when they see a woman dressed like a hooker they think 1) "skank", and 2) "if you're going to show me your breasts, you best not get upset when I stare at them". That's them. Other 19/20 y.o. males might think "what a nice looking pair of breasts, I think I'd like to get to know the owner of them better", and still others might be thinking "I'm going to follow those breasts home". I'm just saying, why not ere on the side of caution? I'm not hurt by your remarks Jenna. I've had plenty of counseling.I don't think I deserved to be raped, but I might suggest you try to get out of your female head and get into the male head. They are different. And it's useful to be informed of both ways of viewing the world.

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