I have received a lot of feedback regarding this blog since I started it. The stories ranged from my best friends to people in my ex’s family. I cannot be more grateful for you- you who sent words of encouragement, you who shared your own stories, you who empathized with me. Those of you who reached out to me? Thank you eternally for your contact. It is truly wonderful to connect with you and hear your powerful narratives.
The one sentiment that I keep running across in these messages is ‘thank you for saying that’, ‘thank you for speaking out in public’, and ‘I know what that’s like’. This should not be a trend in conversation. I should not have to hear this from my peers.
I speak out (now) about my experiences because I am tired of hiding them. Am I over it? Of course. Am I sensitive to certain topics? Sure. Though I am pretty desensitized to media and communication (because of how I choose to view it), I still feel the fall-out of many assault-related incidents. I feel pain for women who are victims of campus assault. I cry for women who are victims of domestic abuse. I cry for those humans who aren’t taken seriously- who are looked at as ‘sluts’- and are shamed for their actions against their perpetrator. I see you and I hurt for you.
This post stems from a conversation I had with one of my best friends- a woman I have known for ten years- a woman who has literally seen me through the shits and shallows. She has been there for me- through cases of PBR and cases of wine- and has never wavered in her love. It’s difficult to think about life-long relationships, but she is that human for me.
Recently, we were watching Harry Potter: And the Bullshit of Bullshitzekeron and she mentioned how ‘proud’ she was of me for speaking up about my assault. It took me a minute to realize that she was talking about my rape experience- a thing I mentioned briefly along with the experience of other abuse in a blog. I didn’t even realize she was talking about that because I never bring it up. Who wants to hear about that?
It took me a hot minute.
Did I mention that?
I guess I did.
It’s not a thought to me anymore, dear readers. It is a thing that happened and it was a thing and it is in the past and goodnight. I am who I am and I have moved on, etc. But she made me reflect on that moment- who am I to ignore it? Who am I to forgive what happened? If I do, I only support that idea that assault is okay.
And so, here it is- when I was sixteen years of age, my then-boyfriend, whom I had traveled across states to see, had invited his friend over. The intentions were clear to him, apparently- not me. When said friend arrived, boyfriend blocked the door. He helped hold me down while his (and this is just me recounting the facts, not being a body-shaming dick) obese friend writhed on top of me. After it was all said and done, I was told to leave and go sleep in my designated bedroom (he was from a nice Mormon family, y’all). I was nothing. I was a shell.
The next morning, he came upstairs and whispered to me that I was a ‘slut’ and that I ‘had asked for this’. That motherfucker gas-lighted me all the way from PA to NY and all I could do was cry or internalize it. I didn’t tell anyone for years. Why would I? It was disgusting. I felt culpable. It was my fault. It was just a thing that happened because I was stupid enough to let it happen.
Thousands of women experience the same thing every single year…so why bother mentioning it?
My friend’s response to a flippant comment I made is why I bother. Women who have experienced this type of cruelty is why I bother. Women in general is why I bother BECAUSE: one out of every three women you know has been affected by sexual assault. BECAUSE: every 2 minutes an American is sexually assaulted. BECAUSE: 54% of my age group is at risk for sexual assault. Because this is important. It is not a joke.
I normally pride myself on my transparency in life- I’m not one to bullshit around the bush. But she was able to call me on something I’ve been silent about. She was right- why should I ignore the pervasive issue of female assault? One can’t ignore how it is treated in our media. Every single day we see a new case of assault- and every single day we do our best to ignore it. Someone will do something. There will be some sort of law enacted. It could never happen to me…
Our media ignores what it means to survivors of assault- it makes it okay to feature subjects where violence against females is totally acceptable. While I am a total consumer of media and understand the necessary prevalence for violence against anyone, I fail to see the fun in the idea of violence against women now. Maybe I’m getting old. I don’t know. There has to be some other way to entertain ourselves.
We don’t get to ignore this now. Women must stand up for themselves and for what they believe in. I’m not the greatest example because I took years to come to terms with my sexual assault, but I refuse to believe that it’s okay for any woman to be silent moving forward. If something happens, say something. Sitting on it is only detrimental to you. Trust me, I know.
You get to be happy.