The Roman Furies are mythological creatures whom the Ancient Romans called upon to take revenge for horrible acts committed against them or their families. I painted the Furies after returning to a Post-Katrina New Orleans in 2006. Where I found myself in a lawless cities where police were scarce and not to be trusted. It was a rough city before that, with staggering crime rates, but in the time immediately after the flood, New Orleans had become the perfect breeding ground for people to do horrible things and get away with them. Like many other women, I was drugged and rapped by a local bartender in the French Quarter that year. I turned to my yoga practice, my karate training and my art to process the event. For years afterwards I fought the fantasies of beating the shit out of him every time I crossed him in the street.

Flyers went up in the French Quarter around that same time accusing him of being a sexual predator but the gossip in the neighborhood was that it was only some mad girl’s slandering. It made me so angry that people would rather defend the rapist than believe the victim who had courageously posted those flyers near the bar where he worked in order to warn other girls. When friends gossiped to me about the horrible slandering that was happening to him “Poor guy, we have to take the flyers down if we see them”, I felt the courage to defend the nameless victim by telling them my own personal account – it had happened to me too. But even my own friends, upon hearing my personal account of the situation found a way to defend him. In their mind, it just couldn’t be true because he was such a well-liked member of  the tight-knit community in the famous New Orleans French Quarter. I feel compelled to publicly post about this because unfortunately 1 out of 3 women in the world will be physically of sexually assaulted at some point in her life. It is a serious global problem in our society. How can anyone believe a person would be willing to lie about such a serious thing? Maybe some do, obviously, because in this world, there is room for everything to exist, but considering how hard it is to come forth about this type of crime, how shameful and dirty the victim feels… it is a courageous act, so please, don’t deny the person the benefit of the doubt. Don’t invalidate their story right to their face.

I would like to take a moment to make a social cry out to please not take lightly when someone says they have been violated by someone else, even if the accused appears to be a “decent” human with lots of friends and good attributes. It’s a well-known fact that sociopaths often disguise themselves as charming, well-liked people to be able to perpetrate their heinous acts.  Of course, not all acts of violence against women are committed by sociopaths, but we can all agree that if it was your sister, your mother or your daughter, you would want her to speak out about it and you would want to believe her.

 

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