Naming My Rapist After 15 Years

Trigger Warning: Discussion of sexual violence, first-person account of rape, rape of minors, bullying. Seriously, take care of yourself. *Edited to add: All updates are at the bottom of this post, identified by date*


One might look at the title of the post and immediately question, why now? The answer is complicated. The short answer is: last night I spoke to someone with whom I went to high school. They were thanking me for my work on trauma and abuse and disclosed that they also had been raped. I thanked them for disclosing and for some reason, for the first time in a long time, decided to share my rapist’s name: Ben Ketchum. Their reply came like a gut punch:


At that moment I felt so many emotions all at once. Anger. Sadness. Numbness. But one rose above all the others--clarity. I don't want to stay silent any longer. I am not doing this out of malice. I am not doing this anonymously. I am attaching my full name and reputation to this post. I am speaking my truth and the truth of someone who told me their story firsthand. He had raped me and this incredibly brave person I screencapped above, which means it is entirely possible that he raped others. The person above has asked to remain anonymous and I fully respect their wishes. They have, however, given me permission to share parts of their story. I am honored that they disclosed to me. They will henceforth be known as Really Brave Person. 

Let’s start with some history.

I've written and spoken pretty extensively about being a survivor of sexual assault. I wove it into a broader narrative about being bullied in school here. I was interviewed by Devi Ward on her radio show about healing after sexual assault. In 2009 I wrote about how powerful it was to reclaim my voice by sharing my story at Take Back the Night at St. Joe's and how that led me to start researching trauma and speaking out against sexual violence publicly, becoming a rape crisis counselor, and working with organizations to do sexual assault prevention work. I dedicated much of my energy to understanding trauma, specifically acquaintance rape. My rationale was that if I could understand how trauma affects the brain and the body, I could understand my reactions and choices after the rape (not reporting, becoming hyper sexual, becoming depressed, feeling worthless, and, most importantly, the choice to continue having sex with my rapist - we'll come back to that). I wrote academic papers on acquaintance rape and presented them at conferences around the country. My graduate school, "The Traumatic Aftermath of Acquaintance Rape" was accepted to multiple conferences. You can read a version of it here. I actually inserted my own survivor story into the anecdotal portion of the paper, albeit under a pseudonym (Nicole). It was taken directly from a blog I wrote in my LiveJournal in 2007 after taking a self-defense class. During the class I had a powerfully vivid flashback of the rape.

That was the moment I realized that I had PTSD (I was later diagnosed by a psychiatrist). I still struggle with PTSD to this day. I have flashbacks. I (sometimes) get triggered when I hear people's stories--especially when they're similar to mine. Getting triggered, for me, looks like anxiety, numbness, and dissociation. That tendency toward dissociation as a primary response to traumatic events led to being raped two more times, once in grad school and and once while working at the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office. Researchers have found that it is common for survivors of sexual violence to be victimized multiple times. 

So when Really Brave Person shared their story with me last night, something clicked inside me. I don't know if it was the similarity of our stories (we both had childhood trauma, we were both self-identified virgins, he matter-of-factly told us that our virginities were gone).


After the incident when I was 13, I didn't know what to do. I didn't identify it as rape until several years later because rape as it was taught in middle and high school was always couched in terms of stranger rape. I couldn't tell my parents because they didn't approve of Ben (edited to add: he was 16 at the time) and I had lied about where I was that afternoon. I continued to spend time with Ben because I was a social outcast and I had few friends and, more importantly, continuing to have sex with him helped normalize what had happened to me. At least this time I was having sex on my terms, I told myself. I also, in my infinite 13-year-old wisdom, decided that if I couldn't be a virgin any longer then I was going to become REALLY GOOD at sex since I believed that my only value came from my ability to sexually please my partner. 

If I'm really honest with myself (and everyone reading this), Ben actually raped me more than once, but the second time wasn't with a body part--it was with an object. This memory is a little fuzzier, but I remember being in his bedroom some time after the initial rape. His best friend [redacted] was there hanging out with us. I think one of them was playing guitar. I don't remember what I was wearing, but Ben decided he wanted to start fingering me even though [redacted] was sitting right there. I remember resisting, embarrassed. He somehow got into my panties and I shut my eyes for a second. Suddenly I felt something cold inside me. I asked what it was. He said it was a glass test tube and that if I kept struggling, it would break inside me. I went limp and let him do what he wanted. I remember thinking that it was really fucked up that he did all of that with [redacted] sitting right there watching. I remember wondering why [redacted] didn't try to stop him. 

About 6 years ago he added me as a friend on Facebook. I was surprised but declined the friend request. Later I changed my mind--maybe he wanted to apologize. He messaged me (I wish I still had the message, but I don't) and asked how I was doing. I was in grad school and had just finished writing my first paper on acquaintance rape. I told him that. He said something to the effect of "wow, and here I only thought it was statutory rape." I unfriended him that second. About three years ago I ran into him in the supermarket near my house. He approached me and made small talk. I dissociated through it and went home and cried in my boyfriend's arms. To this day, he still follows me on Facebook. Seriously. This screencap is from this morning:


I honor every person (of any gender) who has ever survived sexual violence. Every survivor is entitled to make their own decisions regarding reporting, contact with their rapist, their healing journey, and to whom they are comfortable disclosing. If someone in your life is a survivor, I wrote a post about supporting the survivor in your life here. If you are a survivor reading this and you would like resources or someone to talk to about what happened, I highly recommend RAINN's Online Hotline.

I am eternally grateful to the folks in the sex positive community who have reached out to offer their support. It means the world that I have a community standing behind me, supporting me in sharing my story. 

**UPDATED 3/10/2015**

I have been contacted privately by another woman who shared that Ben raped her while she was in high school. She gave me permission to share her story anonymously (we're going to call her Brave Survivor) and I am honored that she disclosed to me. This now brings the count to three: me, Really Brave Person, and Brave Survivor.

I was also messaged by another woman who shared the following *note, the screencap below is not a disclosure of assault. This woman is lending her voice to say that although she was not assaulted by Ben, she had an unsettling conversation with him that she felt called to share*:


These latest revelations are intense. But hearing from Brave Survivor this morning reinforced that I made the right decision in naming him. There may be others out there and I hope, by reading this, you know that you are not alone. I'll be adding to this post when/if additional information comes to light.

**UPDATED 3/11/2015**

I woke up to a message from a girl who is a friend of my family. She shared this:


I asked her if she knew how old Ben was at the time or if she remembered how old she was. She is four years younger than I am and Ben is three years older, so I am estimating the math here:


I'm offering this without comment other than to say that I am honored that she chose to share with me and I am grateful that this incident in the woods didn't go further than Ben asking inappropriate questions and making her feel uncomfortable. 

Another 3/11/2015 update:

I just received this email from a person who wishes to remain anonymous but gave permission to share her message.


This. This right here ^ is why I chose to name him. I will continue to post things that people share with me (with their permission) about their experiences with Ben.

**UPDATED 3/12/2015**

I just received another message from someone who had an incident with Ben. 


I am relieved to read that she successfully fought Ben off. As you can see above, she requested that I share her story. I do want to clarify though, I am not a sex therapist. I am a sexuality educator and writer, not a licensed therapist. 

I will continue to add these disclosures as I receive them, with the disclosing person's identity withheld if requested.

Another 3/12/2015 update:


I am speechless. I never anticipated that so many people would come forward and share their experiences. I am overwhelmed by the bravery of these folks, reaching out to me and telling their stories. Breaking the silence. I'm watching the power of vulnerability manifest in real time.

It's also been triggering for me. I've been having flashbacks and a lot of anxiety. I'm grateful for my support network, my wonderful partner, and for every person who has messaged me via email and on Facebook expressing their support and solidarity. 

**UPDATED 3/13/2015**

This morning I received this message on Facebook. It was lengthy so I broke it into three screenshots. I am honored by these women who are coming forward and disclosing their experiences. 




Showing 101 reactions

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  • ✨⚡️💫theWomantichrist💫⚡️✨
    commented 2015-03-11 12:11:02 -0700
    I will remind everyone of Ashley’s age when this happened.
    She was thirteen, and didn’t know that you could be raped by someone you knew.

    What, exactly, would you suggest that she could have done better under those circumstances with the limited information she had?
  • Valarie Cork
    commented 2015-03-11 12:06:18 -0700
    I never suggested that, Hillary. Just pointed out the obvious that here’s a blog post making the social rounds and destroying a person’s life, and that person has little defense from it. Almost impossible defense because there’s no court to take him to on charges, just an eternal accusation of “he’s a rapist”.

    There’d be nothing to stop someone from maliciously making the same accusation about you, and little you could do if they did.
  • Amanda Meyer-Wolfe
    commented 2015-03-11 12:06:05 -0700
    @ Valarie Please tell me what proof would you like her to show you from 15 years ago? DNA Sample, police report, witnesses? That hardly ever happens in these cases. Again, this happened when she was younger, by someone she trusted, and didn’t realize what it actually was, until she got older. This happens EVERYDAY. A police report wouldn’t have made this any better. A lot of times police reports are filed, but if the victim wasn’t taken to the hospital right away, or had witnesses, a lot of times the person gets a way with it. Even if she went to the police now and filed a report, it could still have remained quiet, and people wouldn’t have known. If this is something that happened, it should be made public. People should be aware of who is working with their children.
  • ✨⚡️💫theWomantichrist💫⚡️✨
    commented 2015-03-11 12:05:18 -0700
    I grow increasingly weary of the attitude that after trauma, all of the responsibilities, decisions, and life-altering consequences of SOMEONE ELSE’S EGREGIOUS CHOICE TO ROB THEM OF THEIR AUTONOMY should lie squarely on the shoulders of someone who was just divested of their agency and informed that their choices don’t matter, that people will take what they want from you, that no one cares and people they love will hurt them. This is completely inappropriate. It sometimes takes days, weeks, or months for someone to exit the initial stages of trauma to even be tested for STI’s let alone make a decision about pressing charges. This is why trauma-literacy, rape crisis advocacy, and building a culture that encourages consent-positive language and practices is so vitally important.
  • ✨⚡️💫theWomantichrist💫⚡️✨
    commented 2015-03-11 12:00:45 -0700
    @valerie Are you suggesting that if a young woman emerges from trauma after the 48-72 hours in which evidence can be collected, that she should remain silent and protect the privacy of her assailant at her own expense? Is it a victim’s job to insulate their assailant from any repercussions whatsoever for their actions? You have added nothing of value to this conversation.
  • Valarie Cork
    commented 2015-03-11 11:55:22 -0700
    It’s unfortunate if any of this is true.

    However, I think it’s terrible to publicly make an accusation like this with absolutely no evidence. This man’s reputation will be called into question by everyone that sees this, and the ONLY option he has to defend his name in ANY way is to incur financial duress by suiing you for libel. To boot, even if he did sue you, how would anyone be able to validate what amounts to little more than claims?

    Other posters will say it isn’t fair that the onus be on the victim to report a crime when its been committed, but that’s how our legal system works. If you are going to accuse someone of breaking the law then you should follow the legal protocol for doing so. If, by your own choice or actions you do not, that still leaves the responsibility on you, otherwise you’re just pointing fingers (and anonymous sources that can only be validated by the person claiming they exist doesn’t really give it much weight, either).

    Again, if this is story is true, then I’m sorry that happened to you. This post is just my opinion and observation, which I expect you are open to since you allow people to post comments.
  • ✨⚡️💫theWomantichrist💫⚡️✨
    commented 2015-03-11 11:46:26 -0700
    @amanda makes an excellent point. It is easy for people to jump into investigative roles without being asked by the survivor. This supports neither the survivor /nor their alleged assailant/. It can feel very upsetting for survivors to see people leap to places of curiosity or judgment. A friend recently wrote an article on how to respond if a partner (or someone you care about) is accused of abuse, and I think she draws a great distinction between /believing a victim/ and /responding appropriately to all parties/.
    That article can be found here:
    A follow-up to that article is here:

    It is okay to have reactions to finding out someone you liked or cared for might have done something terrible. That person probably needs your friendship and support while they confront how they want to respond to the call to accountability and response. It is also okay to maintain some critical faculties in the face of an allegation of abuse. Those are okay things. But reaching out to directly harm and discredit someone who has just done a very difficult, very scary thing is an act of cruelty, and I won’t personally abide it. Very few survivors or advocates will allow it to pass without comment.
  • Amanda Meyer-Wolfe
    commented 2015-03-11 11:33:25 -0700
    For everyone who is saying that she should have brought this to the police, or should have said something, I don’t think you understand what it’s like to be in this situation. This isn’t like walking down the street and being attacked and raped by a stranger, this was being raped by someone you knew and liked. It’s not that easy especially as a young teenager to understand this. Even when you get older, being raped by a family member, or friend is usually something that goes undiscovered for years! And guess what? Most of the time people say “Oh no, he’s been a great friend, a great person in the community, a great uncle, etc. , he could never do that! Or they’ve never done that to anyone else” Really? This makes me sick, even if you can’t wrap your head around that he could have done this, how could you come out and say “Unless you have proof, we don’t believe you” What proof could she offer now? Other people have stated this happened to them, that’s a good amount of proof. Yes she brought his name to the public, but if this is true, and he is working with other kids, then this should be brought to people’s attention. I have a daughter, and i’m telling you, I would WANT to know this.
  • Philip Wheeler
    commented 2015-03-11 09:05:17 -0700
    There exists a sub-community where Ben has resided who know him – some closely, others less so. But they are legion – the nature of his personality and the “out there-ness” of many of his choices have certainly placed him more in the informal public eye of this sub-community than most. As one member of this group, I’m pretty comfortable stating that most who know him are – and I don’t think I can state this strongly enough – QUITE taken aback by the revelations contained in this post. Each of us shall obviously react differently, and these reactions run the continuum from shock, surprise and disbelief to some version of comeuppance. I speak for no one but myself and make ardent efforts not to presume, yet I am compelled to state that this has significantly impacted our circle. This shall linger, reverberate and ripple through most all of us – while I personally live on the outskirts of social media, I’ve come to understand that this news has caused something of an explosion. And…given previous issues that have caused FB explosions in our circle over the past year – where Ben has been unsurprisingly vocal – the irony cannot be ignored. It shall remain to be seen how this shall manifest over the coming months, but for what it’s worth I felt you, Ashley, should be aware that this is No. Small. Thing. in our circle. [NOTE: Any expression of either attack or defense have been consciously avoided – I am far too naive on specifics to do either.]
  • Samantha Worley Bowers
    followed this page 2015-03-11 08:54:56 -0700
  • Jayne
    commented 2015-03-11 07:16:39 -0700
    @angie I believe in two sides of every story and I know Ben as an acquaintance. He seems to be a very nice, intelligent, level-headed man. He has never made me feel uncomfortable or unsafe and my opinion about him has not changed. With that said, your previous comment, "your Facebook page doesn’t appear to be that of a victim or someone with PTSD. " is the EXACT issue in our society today concerning rape culture. Seriously. Re-read that and take a moment to step back and think about what you had said. Think about all those who suffer from depression, HIV, AIDS, bi-polar disorder, cancer (the list goes on, my friend). They do not always “appear” to be sick. They do not always “appear” to be suffering. But hey, if you have a magical sense where you can point out other people’s struggles, please start a business because it would be a great service.
  • Jamie
    followed this page 2015-03-10 19:57:43 -0700
  • Shvwn Cooper
    commented 2015-03-10 18:10:13 -0700
    No one has to defend why they’re outing someone for sexual assault. I highly doubt Ben is going to anything to make amends to it, past deleting his facebook so everyone on our mutual friends list can stop tagging him on the article I posted.
  • A O
    commented 2015-03-10 17:49:26 -0700
    @ashley – Very brave of you to post and the recent increased traffic to your blog supports your openness.
    @jamie – I’m projecting, but one way to look at it: Perhaps becoming an advocate is one way to make peace with the past. It’s hard to amend every wound on an individual basis, particularly when people lose touch and/or when people purposely avoid you (given the history). Perhaps fighting to changing the culture that allowed this to happen is one way to feel like they are doing what they can, now, to help the future. For example, and I’m NOT equating, someone who formally (maybe in high school) had very homophobic beliefs could change, becoming accepting, then serve as an advocate and ally later in life (say in their 30s). Would you say that individual betrayed you if you found out about their past?
  • Ashley Manta
    commented 2015-03-10 17:28:43 -0700
    @jamie Thank you for your support. It is much appreciated.
  • Ashley Manta
    commented 2015-03-10 17:28:13 -0700
    @a K – While I appreciate your intention in wanting to protect others with whom Ben may have contact, it is not my or any other survivor’s “job” to report to the authorities. People choose to report or not report for a myriad of reasons. It’s a denial of a survivor’s autonomy to suggest that any action on their part other than healing is a survivor’s responsibility.
  • Jamie
    commented 2015-03-10 17:22:19 -0700
    Ladies, I am so very sorry for what happened to you. I have to tell you that reading this made my stomach drop. I too, know Ben. But only as acquaintances for a few years. As a previous poster stated, he is very anti rape, pro women lately. I often have told him we need more men like him. As a survivor myself, I feel completely betrayed. Like I have been fooled by a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
  • A K
    commented 2015-03-10 17:18:04 -0700
    I hope you speak up to the authorities. Ben tutors high school students and they should look into this for the students safety. As a survivor, I feel this is your responsibility.
  • Ashley Manta
    commented 2015-03-10 15:09:45 -0700
    I am not suggesting nor do I support anyone taking any kind of physical retaliatory action toward Ben. This is about accountability, not vengeance. I continue to hope that he accepts responsibility and takes steps to make amends.
  • ✨⚡️💫theWomantichrist💫⚡️✨
    commented 2015-03-10 14:56:13 -0700
    Clarification : if people are actively threatening Ben’s safety and you would like to refer him to resources let me know
  • Bud Ferguson Jr.
    commented 2015-03-10 14:53:47 -0700
    @ashley im really glad to hear that you would give someone a chance to attone for wrong doings. It sucks that my cry for help years ago was brushed off as “boys just experimenting”. But now ben is being violently verbally attacked for something he hasn’t gotten to speak his piece on. I wouldn’t ask that of anyone….
  • Ashley Manta
    commented 2015-03-10 14:46:41 -0700
    @bud People do make mistakes. And part of being an adult is owning the mistakes you’ve made and making amends. If Ben is as anti-rape as you report, my hope is that he will accept responsibility for what he did in hurting me, Really Brave Person, and Brave Survivor.
  • ✨⚡️💫theWomantichrist💫⚡️✨
    commented 2015-03-10 14:40:58 -0700
    I apologize for naming your experience. It wasn’t my place. However Ashley’s experiences are her own to process and pursue based only on what feels right and is best for her.
  • Bud Ferguson Jr.
    commented 2015-03-10 14:38:51 -0700
    Its not trauma. I’m over it.
  • ✨⚡️💫theWomantichrist💫⚡️✨
    commented 2015-03-10 14:37:22 -0700
    @bud I am so sorry about that trauma in your life and the lives of people you love. However, Ashley is the person best qualified to determine how her situation should be handled. Full. Stop.
  • Bud Ferguson Jr.
    commented 2015-03-10 14:35:29 -0700
    …people make mistakes….
  • Bud Ferguson Jr.
    commented 2015-03-10 14:33:52 -0700
    I was violently raped by two people at once. And I was molested by a man my mother trusted me around. I have only spoke of it vaugly before. Still, people can change and publicly denouncing them as violent people is detrimental to change. All ive seen of ben is outright stance against rape.
  • ✨⚡️💫theWomantichrist💫⚡️✨
    commented 2015-03-10 14:30:30 -0700
    Thank you, BR
  • B R
    commented 2015-03-10 14:27:20 -0700
    @angie – the literal name of this website is
    It is her personal website. She created it. She is the sole contributor to it.
    The blog post was created by her, about her, & on her website.
  • ✨⚡️💫theWomantichrist💫⚡️✨
    commented 2015-03-10 14:25:24 -0700
    The idea that all victims of a given person need to come forward publicly regardless of where they might be in their healing process in order for their stories to count is so frustrating.

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