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A Six-Second Scream For All Women In Seattle

Katie Kuffel was losing her nerve.

On Friday evening, Kuffel, 20, stood toward the back of a rally that had been hastily organized in response to the shootings at University of Santa Barbara the week before. A 22-year-old man had gone on a rampage, killing seven, including himself. His 140-page misogynist manifesto, found later, spurred an online movement, #YesAllWomen.

From the Internet came the rally, which was advertised on posters around the city and promised a six-second scream. Women could also tell their stories of being hurt to those gathered at Westlake Park in downtown Seattle.

Kuffel debated whether to share her story. Maybe another time, she said. Her voice was a bit shaky and she had tears in her eyes. 

[asset-pullquotes[{"quote": "They say the Eskimo have so many words for snow, but in our culture, we don't have the words to talk about our realities.", "style": "inset"}]]Two years before, as a student at University of San Francisco, she got a ride home from an acquaintance. He raped her, beat her and left her for dead. Someone found her and she was hospitalized. She left school and moved home to the Seattle area.

“I didn’t report it then,” she said. “I still haven’t reported it.”

She carried a homemade sign that explained why: "Because walking home at 1 a.m. would have been safer than that ride from a 'friend.' Because with a dislocated shoulder, 16 stitches and a nearly collapsed windpipe, I felt my rape would be seen as my fault."

Kuffel started talking about what happened in the last year and even more so this past week. Gerri DeSouza, her partner of six months, was with her at the rally.

“I’m devastated,” DeSouza said. “No one deserves that. He’s still walking around and hasn’t experienced anything against him.”

When it came time to scream, Kuffel and DeSouza put their hands on their hearts. And when they screamed, with some 300 other women and men, it didn’t sound angry or scared. It sounded joyous — and a little like singing.

Across the plaza, Alia Kusumaningrat, 18, said the event was literally about finding her voice.

“We don’t have the tools to talk about this, you know, words,” Kusumaningrat said. “It’s hard to articulate these feelings because I don’t have the words.

“They say the Eskimo have so many words for snow, but in our culture, we don’t have the words to talk about our realities,” she continued. “Like rape culture, we have a word for that. But what’s the opposite of that? Consent culture?”

Kusumaningrat grew up in Indonesia. She moved to Seattle on her own at 16. She said she has started learning about feminism in college. The knowledge is empowering, she said, but it’s also exhausting.

“I’m so tired of this,” she said. She talked about guys who complain of being “friend-zoned,” when a girl says she’s not romantically interested. A close male friend stopped hanging out with her recently because she wouldn't hook up with him, she said.

“I don’t want to give you sex, so you won’t even be friends with me?” she said.

As Kusumaningrat spoke, Katie Kuffel walked up to the stage. The scream had warmed her up. Kuffel grabbed the microphone and said, unwaveringly, “My name is Katie Kuffel, and I am a victim of rape and assault.”