Nobuko Nagaoka was a twenty-year-old woman when she came from Japan to study English at the University of Michigan. Nine months after arriving in America, she was raped.
“For a time, I never spoke about it. Being in this country had been my dream, and I knew if I told my parents what had happened they would make me come home. So I just kept on. What’s funny now is that when I look back on my journal from that time, I see how much I wrote about being raped – almost every entry is about that violence. I can see from my journal what a life-changing experience it was for me at that age and time. It was a very lonely time, a time of a lot of fear and anger. But I never doubted that I wanted to stay in America – learning the English language and studying art was my dream, and I was not going to give that up. I was not going to let the man who raped me take that, too. I think that is where being angry helped me go on.”
“It changed my life then, and it still changes my life now. Slowly, over time, I learned to speak about it. I am very slow to trust people but years ago, one of my closest friends and colleagues told me that she had also been raped, and this created a bond between us that is important to me. I know that I can talk to her about it. The truth is that I have done so many things with my life since that time, and yet some part of the experience of rape is still with me. I think most women probably feel something like that. Every time I hear about rape happening to another women, I feel the pain and anger again, for her and also in myself.”