Filipina rape and sexual assault victim comes forward with story

by Connie Macatula – Deleon, ABS-CBN News

NAPERVILLE, IL — “There were times I was already planning on how to put myself under. I cannot look at myself in the mirror. I cannot look at myself for years.”

 

 
39-year old Mae Flores was raped when she was 18 years old, attacked by a stranger inside her room on board a cruise ship.  
“It was very swift, quick push. I remember landing, my face landed up, my hand held the door, part of my body was still out and I remember, my legs getting pushed in,” she shared. “I couldn’t move. I didn’t know what to do. I remained in that position; was awake the whole time.” 
 
According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, or RAINN, one American is sexually assaulted every 98 seconds.
On average, there are 321,500 victims, age 12 or older, of rape and sexual assault each year in the United States. 
 
Mae says she was both in-denial and embarrassed when the first sexual assault happened.
“I didn’t tell anybody at all until my mom read my journal. How does a parent.. how do you wrap your brain around that? Nobody prepares you for that.”
 
Mae went through therapy and tried to move on using art as her outlet. The Hollywood actress won roles in independent films and appearing on TV commercials.
Her biggest break was in 2010, playing one of the leads in Atlantis Down.
As a professional dancer, too, Mae found temporary peace whenever she danced.  
 
“I made everything about letting out my feelings through dance. That was the only way that I was feeling good, was when I was dancing,” she said. “Still not willing to participate in therapy, not willing to talk about it. I didn’t trust anybody.”
 
18 years after the first sexual assault, she said, “I got myself settled, had kids… you just became a mom, you protect them…. Thinking that I have already survived, but I have never dealt with it.”
 
Then an incident happened again, 3 years ago. 
“In Chicago, night time, walking down the street, walking to my car,” she shared. “By this time, I’m an adult. I teach my kids, when it happens to you, this is what you do. Nothing will prepare you for something like that. It was on the street, I was whacked and dragged and pulled into a park.”
 
Mae says this was the rock bottom of her life. 
“I always blame myself. I had not been in healthy relationships. I didn’t believe in love anymore or being protected by anybody. I would hope for it, but didn’t believe in it.”
 
But one day, she decided to overcome her obstacles and became an activist, a Goodwill Ambassador for various non-profit organizations focused on the prevention of violence against women and girls.
She spoke at United Nations this year and last year. Next month, she’ll deliver a TED Talk in New York.
 
“It’s normalizing an abnormal behavior. If we normalize rape as a danger, you’re gonna keep hiding it. If I tell a million people my story today, hopefully they’ll say, I don’t have to hide it.” 
 
Mae says that coming out is never easy. Despite the challenges that come with it, she pushes herself to move forward. 

 

 

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