This is where thoughts become things.

Hi, I'm Daniela. Welcome to my personal lair on the Internet. This is where I write about storytelling, activism, technology and pop culture. Sometimes I post videos. I update my lair when the mood strikes me. Follow me on Twitter for daily updates (@dcap).

A guide for guys: understanding and preventing rape, plus my own story

This post in no way implies that men and boys of all backgrounds cannot be raped. Sexual abuse and exploitation happens to people of all genders (female, male, trans, genderqueer, etc.), all over the world. However, recent news and some insensitive comments I’ve heard on the subway over the last few weeks inspired me to create this post.

One blog post by Daniela Capistrano isn’t going to educate men the world over about rape, but I’m hoping this may inspire loving boyfriends to share their knowledge with their bros and encourage their girlfriends to support the women in their lives through sharing knowledge a well.

Loving women means protecting them from being violated (but not using that as an excuse to see them as weak) and empowering them to protect themselves. Here are some ways to make a difference today/this week/RIGHT NOW. <3 🙂 Be a catalyst for knowledge. Latest News
Hey male homies of The Lair! Here are some recent topics you can discuss at work and with your friends. Just sharing knowledge is a powerful way to support change and to show your girlfriend that you care about gender equality & preventing sexual exploitation.

1. David Shuster calls on New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to immediately sign legislation that ensures rape victims don’t get billed for their own rape kits.

The bill has been sitting on Christie’s desk for nearly ten weeks.

The bill is called S972 and was co-sponsored by Sen. Diane Allen, R-7th of Edgewater Park with Sen. James Beach, D-6th of Voorhees. If it passes, health care providers will be barred by the state from directly billing sexual assault victims for forensic evidence collection. It should eliminate one difficult aspect of what has to be an extremely painful process for rape victims. – via

2. Governor Rick Perry & HPV vaccines for girls

In 2007, Governor Rick Perry of Texas signed an executive order requiring that all girls receive the HPV vaccine in sixth grade, unless parents decided to opt-out. It was seen as a controversial decision at the time because HPV is a sexually transmitted disease and the vaccine acknowledged that adolescent girls are sexually active. However, some strains of HPV can cause cervical cancer, so many saw Perry’s decree as a net positive. Over the past several years, Perry has publicly stated he is proud of the decision and “I did what was right from my perspective.”

This weekend, however, Perry changed his tune about the HPV vaccine for girls. Could it be because he announced his candidacy for the GOP presidential nomination this weekend as well? Nahhh, that couldn’t be it. – via TheFrisky

Often when an act of rape occurs, the rapist doesn’t use protection. HPV vaccines for adolescent girls would at least help prevent that particular STD from being an issue in their life later on, regardless of how they might come into contact with HPV. Perry needs to be hold accountable for backing down.

3. “The Help” is a movie that has inspired many domestic workers to disclose sexual harassment/abuse in the workplace.

In May, hotel maid and West African immigrant Nafissatou Diallo brought charges against former International Monetary Fund director Dominique Strauss-Kahn, claiming he sexually assaulted her as she was cleaning his luxury suite at a hotel in New York. – via Houston Chronicle

Interesting Facts
We can stop rape by educating ourselves and the next generation about gender equality. If all men saw all women as family, friends, and equals — and respected themselves enough to show respect to others — then rape would be something we could look back on as an archaic sign of a dismal past. This won’t happen overnight, but there are steps you can take now to show the women in your lives that you care.

If you’re wondering why some women are bitchy, don’t trust men, or have a lot of anger issues, consider that sexual abuse and/or rape may be a part of their past and that abuse doesn’t just affect the victim — it affects everyone they come into contact with, in one way or another.

Here are some more facts to consider, provided by RAINN:

1. Every 2 minutes, someone in the U.S is sexually assaulted

2. 60% of assaults are not reported to police

3. Approximately 2/3 of assaults are committed by someone known to the victim

Personal Story
I am going to briefly share something about me that I’ve never discussed in a public forum. I have kept silent because I didn’t want it to define who I am, but lately things in the news have been really getting to me and I feel like possibly sharing my story might help the people in my life to see how important it is to educate their daughters, themselves, and their friends about how to prevent rape and support legislation that combats sexual exploitation and assault.

I have put it after the jump just in case this might be triggering for you.

According to RAINN, 1 out of every 6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime. So if I was standing in a room with 6 chicks, that 1 person would be me. Sometimes I am standing in a room with 6 chicks and this crosses my mind.

When I was 15, someone I considered a friend raped me at a party. I had been to that person’s house before. I had spent time with that friend there before. I never thought this person would ever violate me in that way. That experience made me feel less than human. It crushed my spirit. Because I knew him, and considered him a friend, I never reported him. I simply finished high school early to get away from him and the memory of what happened. I felt like my heart and mind had been punched repeatedly with brass knuckles.

Not only did he rape me, he didn’t use a condom and gave me Chlamydia. Luckily, it’s a treatable STD, so I don’t have it anymore. I am very lucky it wasn’t AIDS or HIV. However, for a period of a few months after the incident, I wasn’t aware that I had Chlamydia (often there are no symptoms in women). I had sex with a guy who I really liked and unintentionally passed on Chlamydia to him. The shame, ridicule, and rejection I experienced after that almost destroyed me. I felt worse about passing on an STD than I did about being raped. I felt so worthless. That feeling of not being worth anything at all stayed with me for a very long time.

Unfortunately, that incident at 15 wasn’t my first experience with sexual assault. When I was 2, my sitter’s teen son sexually abused me. As an adolescent, the husband of one of my other sitters was sexually inappropriate with me. And shortly after being raped at 15, a man tried to kidnap me in his car with the intention of raping me. Luckily, he was not successful.

Even now, as I write this almost 15 years later, I am fighting tears. I’m not crying because I feel weak or like a victim, I am over that. I am fighting tears because I regret waiting so long to say something in a productive way. I think my story could have helped some people I came into contact with. But I shut my story away because it makes me feel ashamed.

So, this month I am doing something about that. At the end of August, I will be collaborating with a friend of mine to speak to a group of girls at an organization that provides services to women who have been sexually abused or experienced sexual exploitation of any sort. I’m going to share my story for the first time in a public forum so that these girls can see that rape/sexual abuse doesn’t have to take your life away.

So gents, homies, and bros: If you didn’t know a woman before who was raped, now you do. I hate to even type this, but when I meet a woman my automatic assumption is that at some point in her past, she was sexually abused too. And sadly, most of the time I discover that I was right. It’s as if sexual abuse is par for the course for women in the U.S., and all over the world. A right of passage into womanhood. IT SHOULD NOT BE LIKE THIS.

If you don’t want your daughters to go through what I went through, talk to them about how to protect themselves and educate yourself on the issues. If you know a dude who raped a woman, report his ass. Speak out when people make inappropriate jokes about rape in the workplace and/or around women. Don’t do it for me or other women, do it for yourself. Do it because sexual abuse is a disease that can only be eradicated with knowledge, empathy, and conscious effort.

My name is Daniela Capistrano and I experienced rape and sexual abuse. But I didn’t let that destroy me and now I have a chance to make a difference.

Steps Towards Change
If you’re in NYC, here are some great organizations to explore and possibly volunteer at:
Girls Educational & Mentoring Services (GEMS) is the only organization in New York State specifically designed to serve girls and young women who have experienced commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking. GEMS was founded in 1998 by Rachel Lloyd, a young woman who had been sexually exploited as a teenager.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of NYC
Give just a few hours a month of your time to a young man and help guide him on a path towards respecting and appreciating women. It’s much easier than it sounds — just show up and be there.

Safe Horizon
Safe Horizon is the largest victims’ services agency in the United States, with 57 locations serving more than 250,000 children, adults, and families affected by crime and abuse throughout New York City each year.

I don’t want your pity. I just want you to care enough to support and empower the women in your lives. Thanks for reading.

edit: I can’t end this post without sharing this song and the lyrics in English (if you speak Spanish, you know the song already 😉 ). Both of these songs got me through some very tough times and I hope that any lady, woman, or girl ANYONE who has experienced sexual abuse and stumbles across this finds some comfort and hope.

“Life is a carnival” by Celia Cruz

Anyone thinking that life is unfair,
Needs to know that’s not the case,
that life is beautiful, you must live it.
Anyone thinking he’s alone and that that’s bad
Needs to know that’s not the case,
that in life no one is alone, there is always someone

Ay, there’s no need to cry, because life is a carnival,
It’s more beautiful to live singing.
Oh, Ay, there’s no need to cry,
For life is a carnival
And your pains go away by singing.

Anyone thinking that life is cruel,
Needs to know that’s not the case,
That there are just bad times, and it will pass.
Anyone thinking that things will never change,
Needs to know that’s not the case,
smile to the hard times, and they will pass.

Ay, there’s no need to cry, because life is a carnival,
It’s more beautiful to live singing.
Oh, Ay, there’s no need to cry,
For life is a carnival
And your pains go away by singing.

For those that complain a lot.
For those that only criticize.
For those that use weapons.
For those that pollute us.
For those that make war.
For those that live in sin.
For those that mistreat us.
For those that make us sick.


  • Chanelle Berlin

     This is a fantastic post, Daniela. Thank you for sharing your story. You remain one of the coolest ladies I have the pleasure of knowing.

  • Carolina Rose

    Thank you for your astonishing courage and gift, my beautiful daughter. I write through tears of horror mixed with stunned relief. I learned some things I did not know on this page about you and myself. Puzzle pieces are falling into place about your journey… About the old blurry spaces between us … About the true character of your survival and ongoing victory. It is at once overwhelming and calming. How strange.

    It also spoke to the one-in-six in me … A gentle fomentation. We shall see where that leads. My 60th year brings with it a mysterious desire to be able to sing within others’ hearing without feeling shame and fear. I guess the inward desire to celebrate the carnivale that is life leaks out in all kinds of crazy ways, huh? So now I am smiling because you have inspired me and because I am thinking about karaoke 🙂 … I love you beyond words, Yo Mama

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