[Trigger Warning: This blog includes information about sexual assault, abuse and harassment as well as PTSD and may be triggering to some.]
I am sure you have seen the hashtag by now and I know I am a little late to the game on this one, but whether to dive into this was a difficult decision for me at this time in my life. Sometimes it can be just as traumatizing as the event. For me, that has been the case for the last 3.5 years. For those of you wondering, it’snot always like this, sometimes it’s healing to talk about it. For me, it’s just difficult because I’ve been dealing with some exploitation of my experiences, harassment and it’s happened rather publicly so it has all come with its own drama and trauma that I am now dealing with. So I have been nursing my PTSD, but I am slowly getting back to being able to leave the house and get a handle of things. I cannot stress how important SELF CARE is.
What is #MeToo and Why Does it Matter?
The hashtag #MeToo was created by Tarana Burke an activist and survivor. Tarana’s story feels familiar as I, too, spent time as a camp counselor and a survivor. Tarana understood what I am just now understanding – complicity. This is such a systematic issue that even as survivors we are taught to be complicit. We are taught that if we don’t say anything that it will benefit us, that WE will feel better for it and that we can just move on. That is not true, that is a lie. It benefits everyone but you. It silences you. I don’t think that I realized that until recently. Silence is complicity. I have to admit that part of healing and recovering from this sort of trauma is caring for yourself and learning self- preservation. Instead of teaching survivors that it is okay to be silent we should be empowering them and emboldening them.
If my voice can help one person come to peace with what happened to them, or help them get help – then I will use my voice. This is bigger than that though, this is a societal change. This is a movement. #MeToo will hopefully be jarring, it will hopefully shock you. Hopefully enough to make every person rethink the way we treat women and what causes rape culture.
This is me at about 3-4 years old. I was curious, adventurous, loud, innocent, happy, creative and normal kid. I loved going to the country and catching frogs and lizards. I loved to sing and dance and read and I was incredibly articulate for my age. I loved to explore and I was probably the most independent toddler you’d ever meet. It’s hard to imagine that the following summer I would learn just how cruel the world is. A neighbor caught his son kissing me behind his garage. I remember him getting angry and there being yelling, then he sent him inside. He took his belt off and walked towards me. The next things I remember is just how cold the metal from the garage felt on my back and looking down at the twigs scratchy my bare feet and legs. I was wearing my swimsuit and he smelled like beer and wore khaki shorts. It’s amazing how even at 4, I blamed myself. I felt disgusting and I knew something wrong had happened to me, but I immediately wanted to hide it. I felt gross and ran to my backyard. I hopped in our aluminum pool sinking to the bottom quickly adjusting my suit and screaming. I stood up, picked up the hose that had been filling the pool and stuck it in my bottoms – the cold water felt so good. And finished rinsing the now pinkish blood off of me. I didn’t play much with the boy anymore, not unless he came to our yard. I watched from my screen door as they moved, not long into the school year. His parents stopped showing up to our BBQ’s and there were neighborhood rumors that they were divorcing and that was the cause for their move.
After that I remember getting a lot of rashes and itching a lot and my Mom having to purchase vagisil and it still hurting, burning and itching. Not long after this incident, I was 5 or so – another neighbor told me how babies were made. Well sort of, they weren’t much older than I was. For the next couple of years I remember making my sisters touch my belly and telling them there was a baby in there and they couldn’t tell anyone. I think they thought I was playing. Maybe I was – I don’t remember now but what I know is it was probably a call for help either way.
Aside from that I had nightmares after this and would wake up with cold sweats. I had trouble sleeping and sometimes even on school nights I would wait up until after 1 am when my Dad came home.
I think we forget that Sex Crimes are about power. A lot of times it isn’t about the victim at all or who the victim is it’s about regaining control and power.
#MeToo is about taking that power back. It’s about bringing light to the shadows and showing the world that silence is complicity and we will not be complicit. We cannot change as a society until we accept that there is a problem and learn what that problem is.
I was 7, when I remember my cousin beginning to molest me. It went on until I was 14. I have already spoken on this and cannot continue to relive this one. How many of us didn’t have a relative or friend of the family though? I’m willing to bet there are fewer of us that have not been assaulted.
It’s not just about assault though, it’s the objectification. “Whoa, when did you uh grow up?” By 10 I was so tired of the attention my body got me that I duct taped my bare breast down under my clothes.
In 2010, I was diagnosed with PTSD. Earlier that year I was raped by a friend, but I didn’t believe it was rape – because I was married and I felt guilty that I complied. I did not admit to myself or speak about it until 2015.
None of us are alone, no matter how alone we feel. Healing is such a process. I started this blog thinking how well I could articulate experiences and that hopefully it would help some but this was harder than I thought. I don’t think this will be the last time I speak on #MeToo.