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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  • Angie Weisel
    commented 2015-03-10 14:23:37 -0700
    It’s not personal, it’s a public forum.
  • Ashley Manta
    commented 2015-03-10 14:20:00 -0700
    I’d like to point out that when I posted this blog initially, it was myself and another person naming him as our rapist. Now there is a third person, who, because this post exists, reached out to me and shared that he raped her as well. She also shared that she has never disclosed to anyone before today. So if we’re going to be accurate, it’s he said/THEY said.
  • B R
    commented 2015-03-10 14:17:47 -0700
    Yes but, Angie…this is her own personal page. Not a courtroom. This is her own personal recollection and recounting of the incidents. If you come to her page and throw doubt at her personal story, then yes- you are accusing her of lying.
  • Angie Weisel
    commented 2015-03-10 14:15:36 -0700
    Again, no one has accused her of lying. Just saying that until it’s proven, it’s not a fact. It’s he said/she said.
  • B R
    commented 2015-03-10 14:12:07 -0700
    Just a couple things I wanted to add for clarity for others who may be reading these comments.
    @angie – when a victim accuses someone, it is no longer “speculation” on her part- so that doesn’t make sense. Speculation is forming a theory without evidence.
    Also, a class action lawsuit would be a lawsuit brought by a group of people seeking relief against one entity. In this case, Ben would be one person so his pursuit of a class action lawsuit would not hold up against another person would not hold up.
    @hilary and @ashley – the statute of limitations, in the state that I am assuming this happened in, is 12 years for rape. If the victim was a juvenile, the statute does not begin until the victim turns 18.
    I just wanted to add that in for clarity and so that all parties discussing this are arguing from the correct perspective.
  • Alyssa Niemeyer
    commented 2015-03-10 14:08:11 -0700
    I never had the guts to outright accuse my assailant of sexually assaulting me. The fact that you have not only helped others to share their own experiences, but is commendable in just that it is difficult to do! I always find it interesting how some people immediately accuse these women of lying. Why would they lie? This isn’t a court room. And for those questioning why not the police – I can tell you. There is a statute of limitations on rape. And even if they are not past this statute, when I went and had a SAFE kit done, I was told in no uncertain terms that they would have to find proof, or he would have to admit his guilt. They basically told me that I waited too long for it to go anywhere in the court system, and I only waited four days before going to the hospital. Imagine being a pre-teen. Funnily enough, in health class, they don’t exactly tell women what to do in circumstances like that.
    And the people saying, “he never did anything to me! he seems like a good guy!” Well, I hate to break it to you, but frequently people who do bad or hurtful things don’t run around saying they’ve done them. Not all rapists wear trench coats and skulk in corners. Hence her whole bit about acquaintance rape.
    It’s sad that the instantaneous response in some people is to accuse these women of lying. They aren’t gaining anything for themselves. And frankly, they may have saved someone else from getting hurt.
  • Angie Weisel
    commented 2015-03-10 14:05:35 -0700
    What I am trying to accomplish is simply to put it out there that it is possible that Ben is innocent. Btw, your link was a waste of time.
  • ✨⚡️💫theWomantichrist💫⚡️✨
    commented 2015-03-10 14:03:37 -0700
    @angie This is not a court. Ben is welcome to pursue Ashley legally if he chooses. You are not his lawyer, and you are not accomplishing anything of value in this thread, apart from risking re-victimizing Ashley, promoting ideas commensurate with existing rape culture, and generally getting my hackles up. If your goals are to continue in your own baseless speculation about Ashley, her story, or the contents of her support network, can I gently suggest that you make a swift and silent egress?

    Moreover, as a legal professional, I assure you that a “class action” lawsuit is not at all the appropriate course of action here. Ashley has consulted with a lawyer already and knows her risk exposure to legal repercussions.

    So given that you’re not helping, at all, what is it you are trying to accomplish?
  • ✨⚡️💫theWomantichrist💫⚡️✨
    commented 2015-03-10 14:00:05 -0700
    @angie Also, if you remain a friend of Ben’s here are some resources for you so that you may be a good support to him — a far nobler task, I’d wager, than remaining here in-thread.
    Recommended reading for friends of people accused of abuse:
  • Angie Weisel
    commented 2015-03-10 13:59:18 -0700
    Hillary, to the contrary. I’m suggesting that no matter how much time has gone by an assailant should be brought to justice. As far as the “speculation” you all might want to use the word before Ben has a class action law suit against you. Until he is proven guilty, or anyone else who is accused of anything, they presumably innocent. Fact. Have a nice day.
  • ✨⚡️💫theWomantichrist💫⚡️✨
    commented 2015-03-10 13:58:02 -0700
    @angie I don’t believe we’ve met. I’ve known Ashley for seven years, and she is a very close friend.
    I am glad that Ben treated you respectfully in your interactions and that you have remained safe in his presence.

    However, you’re doing a pretty big disservice to your claim that you’re not being disrespectful. Most of the people in this thread know Ashley far better than you seem to, and have been primary supports for her during her recovery, as she was for us, and especially, Me.
  • Ashley Manta
    commented 2015-03-10 13:56:23 -0700
    @angie The statute of limitations for my rape has passed. The others are free to go to the police if they choose, and if the statute of limitations has not passed. However, statistics show that most rapists are never convicted for their crimes, whether because they are not reported or because there is not enough evidence to convict.
  • Angie Weisel
    commented 2015-03-10 13:55:35 -0700
    Joellen, let me clarify that I knew Ben more than just to pass him in the halls. We were friends. I spent a lot of time around him. How well do you ever really know someone? I guess you don’t. However, I know him better than most of you know her.
  • ✨⚡️💫theWomantichrist💫⚡️✨
    commented 2015-03-10 13:53:51 -0700
    And I’m saying that while your intention might not be to be disrespectful, calling what Ashley has shared “just speculation” and stating that she doesn’t “look like” someone with PTSD is /extremely/ disrespectful, intentional or not. I’m offering you the opportunity to see things from our perspective, and potentially reframe.
  • Ashley Manta
    commented 2015-03-10 13:53:12 -0700
    @lindsay – The article I wrote on bullying was before I decided to name him publicly. I used a pseudonym (but notice how the names are similar? Brent = Ben) because at the time I didn’t know that I was not the only one and I didn’t want it to become a he said/she said debate. Now that I know there are others, I am naming him. Because if there are three, there are likely more. And they deserve to know that they’re not alone.
  • Angie Weisel
    commented 2015-03-10 13:52:48 -0700
    I’m not being disrespectful of anyone. I didn’t say that he didn’t do it or that I don’t believe her. I asked a question and I attempted to point out the fact that this is all currently speculation. Nothing more.
  • JoEllen Notte
    commented 2015-03-10 13:52:48 -0700
    We live in a society that deems it perfectly acceptable to tear a rape victim’s life apart with all manner of accusations and insinuations about their character, sexual prowess and morality but that jumps up to scream about life ruination when it is the name of a rapist on the line and it happens ALL THE TIME.

    That is only one reason people don’t report.

    As for, “I know him and he never raped me so, i don’t know….” Yeah, people who seem nice and normal commit rape. Comments like this are part of the larger problem of the world thinking rapists must fit some stereotype of a “bad guy” when often then are just people who also commit rape.
  • ✨⚡️💫theWomantichrist💫⚡️✨
    commented 2015-03-10 13:51:29 -0700
    @angie Because how they heal is up to them, for starters. Secondly, the police, historically, do very little for rape victims, especially after more than 72 hours have passed. Barely 50% of cases begun make it to a court room. As a rape crisis advocate, it used to be my job to accompany victims during their forensic exams and help them interface with the police in the aftermath of their assault. Legal action is not the right choice for every victim, and after the statute of limitations expires, the police will do nothing.
    Are you suggesting that if a victim of rape “waits too long” to process what has happened, that he or she should have no recourse whatsoever? Should be silent forever? Should protect their assailant with their silence?
  • Lindsay Wise
    commented 2015-03-10 13:46:25 -0700
    Just to clarify, I am not alleging that you falsified information, just that this came in my newsfeed and I was curious due to you growing up in the same area I grew up.
  • Lindsay Wise
    commented 2015-03-10 13:44:26 -0700
    Why did you name a different person as raping you, specifically your boyfriend when you were 13 instead of this Ben, when you wrote your piece on bullying? Curious. Please see the excerpt from your previous post/blog below:

    “The Rape

    In the spring of my 8th grade year, at age 13, I was raped. I didn’t realize it at the time. I lacked the basic vocabulary to describe what had happened. All I knew was that one minute Brent had his fingers inside of me, and the next minute it was his penis.

    I hated him for what he did to me. How he made me think my body was the only part of me that would ever get a man’s attention. How he made me feel like I was just an object for pleasure. How he made me lose respect for myself. How he told the whole school that he “had sex” with me and earned me the reputation of being a “slut.” The kids at school were cruel. I was called “slut” and “whore” as I walked down the hallways to class. Welcome to high school "
  • Angie Weisel
    commented 2015-03-10 13:43:38 -0700
    Why haven’t they gone to the police now? They’re brave enough to share their stories with strangers on Facebook, but not the police?
  • ✨⚡️💫theWomantichrist💫⚡️✨
    commented 2015-03-10 13:43:00 -0700
    I am deeply curious at the trend to place responsibility for her assailant’s actions and their effect on his reputation onto Ashley’s shoulders. Ashley has placed herself in a position of far more vulnerability and scrutiny than it is likely her assailant will ever face. Perhaps people could be a bit more respectful.
  • ✨⚡️💫theWomantichrist💫⚡️✨
    commented 2015-03-10 13:40:08 -0700
    @angie There are tremendous barriers to reporting, especially as teenagers. As Ashley mentions here, and elsewhere, it took /years/ for her to realize that acquaintance rape was a thing that occurred. Many of us grew up with the understanding that consent was either not sought, or didn’t matter. Add on top of that the stigma of teenage sexuality and a lot of mixed signals about the value of autonomy — as a teenager I was in Ashley’s shoes too, and I never reported, either. I didn’t know my assailant did something that was wrong — only that it hurt me. But at that point in my life, a lot of people were hurting me in one way or another. It felt like f*cked up was just… normal.

    Also, unless you are a doctor of psychiatric medicine, it is not up to you to diagnose or fail to diagnose anyone. Someone’s facebook feed is not even a valid collection of data for good reason.

    People who hurt people are not entitled to have their privacy protected by their victims, simply so that everyone is “polite.”
    Raping people is not polite.
  • Angie Weisel
    commented 2015-03-10 13:34:52 -0700
    I went to school with Ben. He never did anything that made me feel uncomfortable. I’m not saying you’re lying, but I’m wondering why you and these women haven’t taken this to the police. No one else has come forward publicly, that I have seen and your Facebook page doesn’t appear to be that of a victim or someone with PTSD. Until someone proves something you shouldn’t be dragging his name through the mud.
  • Shvwn Cooper
    commented 2015-03-10 13:34:13 -0700
    Ruining his life with a facebook blast IS EXACTLY what’s needed. Facebook pulls more users than any network in the world, you’re a fucking idiot. “Confront him privately” yeah, so it triggers another assault. How the hell do you make logic out of that? Carry on, article shared, I have a massive fucking network.
  • ✨⚡️💫theWomantichrist💫⚡️✨
    commented 2015-03-10 13:25:00 -0700
    @bud ferguson First of all, I want to thank you for sharing what happened to you. I might gently suggest, however, that perhaps if someone has raped (now counting) three women that we know of, that perhaps their reputation ought not be our first concern as survivors. Ashley has staked her own name and reputation on her claims, and you do her a great disservice — and risk a lot of damage — with the acidity of your expression.
    If the man in question decides to come forward and pursue Ashley for naming him, that will be his choice, and would be due course under the law.

    I daresay that raping people is far more impolite than naming one’s experiences and the persons who caused them. Perhaps you’d like to reframe?
  • Bud Ferguson Jr.
    commented 2015-03-10 13:16:08 -0700
    Okay so here’s my thoughts on this. If something like this did actually happen, have some couth about it. Rather than blasting someone who who I’ve seen as a decent human being and ruining their lives, confront them personally. And before you come at me with “white male privilege” this and that recognize that I am a survivor of rape and molestation. To ruin someone’s life with an internet blast is fucked.
  • Ashley Manta
    commented 2015-03-10 12:27:00 -0700
    I just edited to clarify – thank you for asking!
  • Jenna Delaney
    commented 2015-03-10 12:26:17 -0700
    Ah. I see. I think only three people, including yourself, were mentioned. Which is why I was confused.
  • Ashley Manta
    commented 2015-03-10 12:24:27 -0700
    The most recent screencap (about study hall) is from a fourth person who was sharing her experience with Ben that made her feel uncomfortable. She is not saying that he raped her. I’m not screencapping the conversation with Brave Survivor because she gave me very specific details that could be identifying and she’s asked to remain anonymous.

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