In this video, Marc Gafni addresses the suffering imposed on people by what is referred to in the literature as Name Rape in a very personal way. He points out that often, until we experience a particular kind of suffering ourselves, we don’t really understand it.

One of the reasons Marc is so sensitive and devastated and taking a stand against what we’ve called name rape, a phenomenon that was pointed towards by the early feminists—and the actual name of the phenomenon—is because he has experienced it himself in a devastating way. The word name rape, Gafni says, was actually coined, by philosopher Dennis Prager.

Marc Gafni tells his story:

At the core of the smear campaign, the most oft-cited story was that Marc Gafni has confessed to involvement with 14-year-old girls and to molesting a 13-year-old girl, all of it not true. Yet it was written that way on dozens and dozens of Internet sites which evoked hate troll comments: If you see Marc, put a bullet in his head. If you see Marc, rape him with a baseball bat. And on and on of really the most horrific and terrible kind, which just broke my heart and broke my family’s heart and broke the heart of everyone involved with me.

Now, the truth of the matter is that when I was just out of high school, a teenager, 19 years old, I had a several month relationship with a woman who was a freshman in high school. It was an edgy relationship. It didn’t involve sleeping together. It involved limited above the waist contact. It was back in 1979. I was 19. None of us were aware then of the issue of age. We weren’t thinking about 19 and 14.

Gafni continues:

At the time we both experienced it as fully positive. She wrote me love letters that have been confirmed by polygraph—expert polygraph. I actually went to the person who was the former director of polygraph research for the Department of Defense. Expert polygraph confirmed my version of what happened: A, that the experience for both of us was positive at the time, B, very, very limited contact.

Nonetheless, this woman went through a process years later, apparently a therapeutic process. One of her therapists was a woman named Vicki Polin who appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show. I’ve never met her, but she claimed that she had murdered babies in a satanic cult and has been accused often of herself having false memories. Vicki was one of the therapists of this woman, Sarah, and I’m calling her by name because she’s written publicly under her own name. And Sarah is today 50. I’m 55. Sarah for the last 20 years has perpetrated an abuse of the sexual, that is, she’s told a story about sexuality that’s categorically not true. She’s retold her story as an abuse story.

Now, there’s been a double perpetration. A, the story is told around the Web that Marc Gafni is involved with a 14-year-old girl or was involved recently, you know, when he was 50, 45, 40, 30. That’s what you would think by all the accounts. Of course, since the Web is not a responsible organ, the Web is all too often a tabloid but without any of the markings of a tabloid, you read it, you think it must be true. Dozens of posts like that, number one.

Number two, the actual story that did take place 36 years ago I have validated in the only way that I could, through expert polygraph, my version of events. I have pointed out that there are significant reasons to doubt Sarah’s versions of the events. Nonetheless, the story can get replayed on the Web again and again and again and again and again.

Now, do I feel, in retrospect, that we made a mistake in having that relationship? I do. Do I regret it? I do. Having said that, I would much rather have made an innocent mistake between two people who loved each other at the time than have engaged in what Sarah has done which is 20 years of name rape, of abuse of the sexual. And yet no one’s willing to call Sarah out for it, because we’re going to call it victim shaming. It’s not victim shaming. It’s calling out the truth. Sarah’s not 14. I’m not 19. I’m 55. Sarah’s 50. It’s not okay to actually bypass structures of checking facts, checking yourself and engage in a violation of integrity in this form of Internet abuse and name rape.