In the finale of The People vs. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, Marcia Clark (as played by Sarah Paulson) reveals to co-counsel Christopher Darden that she was raped as a teenager, and then goes on to explain just how much that one event drove her forward professionally — even as it held her back emotionally. Like many instances on the series, it is unembellished, taken directly from the memoir Clark published after the trial, Without a Doubt. Recently, she has spoken about the incident for the first time in years. Marcia Clark's quotes on her rape illustrate just how and why she advocates so strongly for victims.
In Without a Doubt, Clark recounts the story of her first rape case as a district attorney. "The victim asked that she be assigned a woman prosecutor," Clark says in her book. "I was the only one available." She goes on to describe that within an hour of her first meeting with the woman, she felt so physically ill that she had to leave work. Clark couldn't understand what had brought it on so suddenly until she began to connect the dots between her meeting with the rape victim and an event that had occurred many years earlier, when Clark was only seventeen.
After her high school graduation, Clark's parents gifted her with a European tour run by a Jewish youth group. Clark told the story again to The Hollywood Reporter.
"It was all girls, and there were two male waiters that were trolling us, serving our group but trolling us, and one asked me out and one asked my roommate out. I said no. I didn't like the cut of his jib, you know? Always trust your gut, kids. I was tired, and they were going to this cafe. So I went back to the hut where I was staying, to lie down, and woke up to find him sitting on my bed."
According to Clark, the waiter convinced her to go out with him and some of her other friends, and being around her friends began to make her feel somewhat at ease. "I suppose I could have run," Clark says in Without a Doubt, "but I was held there by some inexplicable imperative not to offend him. Pretend everything is all right, I told myself, and it will be." Though her instincts told her otherwise, Clark began to doubt herself, citing his behavior as "uncomfortably intimate, yet somehow respectful" in her book. He eventually invited her back to his room to listen to music and Clark went, again second-guessing her gut instincts. Once there, the waiter started to come on to her again and, when Clark tried to leave, he threw her down and raped her.
"I said, 'Well, I think I've got to go,' and I start to head for the door, and then he grabbed me and said, 'You're not going anywhere.' He sucker punched me, threw me on the bed. And I screamed and screamed, and he laughed and laughed and said, 'No one can hear you.' And they couldn't."
Afterwards, Clark says she felt worthless. The place where she was staying was by the ocean and that night she went out into the water with the intention of taking her own life. To THR, Clark said, "I got all the way up to about here [below her nose] because I was going to kill myself. I felt so worthless. And then I got mad. All I could feel was anger, which probably saved me." She buried the event for years, and it wasn't until her first rape case 10 years later that it all came back up and she began to deal with it. "Denial is sometimes the only comfort you can offer yourself," she says in her book. "Because once you let yourself feel, the misery is endless."
That event, including Clark's resultant pain, anger, and denial, led to her not only empathizing with victims but becoming very protective of them. In regards to the Simpson case, she not only felt for Nicole Brown Simpson and her family, but identified with Nicole as a woman who had also dealt with abuse. Clark's story is important because it is a story many women share, and one that deserves to be heard.