Nearly every woman I talk to has experienced some sort of sexual trauma at some point in their lives. Many more than once. This includes but is not limited to, ass grabs, uncomfortable rubs against us, sexually aggressive comments and gestures, forced kissing, and rape. These actions come from our boss, our coworkers, our friends, our teachers, guys we meet in the club, guys we don't even know, our boyfriends, our uncles, our brothers, our fathers. I am not going to sit here and tell you all why this happens, or who is at fault. But I will explain my experiences in the hopes that some people out there might begin to understand the shame and embarrassment that come with such an experience. Then maybe some might understand why we suffer in silence with our sickening and crippling secrets.
It is very common for people to say that most sexual assault victims were asking for it in some way. Asking for it by dressing in a short shirt or exuding so much sexual energy that it was impossible for anyone to control themselves. The first time I was sexually assaulted I was in my bed at home. I had my jammies on. I was six years old. It was more than touching, I was assaulted. I never spoke of it. I swallowed it and let it fester until I was thirty five. I told my therapist and a friend. I felt so ashamed. I knew I couldn't do anything about it so I tried to process the trauma as much as I could. I will never confront my abuser and I will never get justice. I will always remember it.
When I was in grade school I had a teacher grab, pat, and rub my butt and my legs. I remember going into the police station with my mom and telling them what I had experienced. I was met with a lot of, "Are you sure he touched you like that? Maybe it was more like this?" We were also told that it was the second time this teacher was caught. I'm pretty sure he went on to teach after that. I will always remember it.
When I was in college I was pinned up against the wall in the dark corner of a nightclub and forced kissed by a man I had never met. He grabbed my face and held me there while he rammed his tongue down my throat. I can still smell the smoke and cologne. I figured this is what happens to women. Suffer through it, swallow it and move on. After all, I was drunk, I was wearing a short skirt and I was dancing in a provocative manner.
Was I asking for it any of these situations? Some would argue that I was and even if that were true, I was never given the opportunity to even say no. My choice, my safety, part of me was taken from me without my consent. Every. Time. These acts are not ok. And what's worse is that I sit with them and I suffer with them. Why would anyone believe a word I say? Its been so long, why speak up now? Because I am tired of hearing ANOTHER story of a women feeling shamed into keeping such a terrible and dark secret. I am also tired to keeping this deep dark secret. Maybe if more of us talk, more of us come forward, we can shift this disgusting reality for the women of the future. Our daughters will know that its ok to talk about it and our sons will understand the pain. I hope to hell that I am raising boys who respect and honor all humans and I hope that if they are ever in a situation where they feel compromised, they will know its ok to talk about it, they are worthy of justice and that there is absolutely nothing wrong with them and everything wrong with their abuser.
So to every woman out there who is holding onto that secret, I believe you.