My #MeToo story
I struggle, even now with admitting this publicly, but I was raped. It was a week shy of my sixteenth birthday when someone had assaulted me, held me down to the ground, took off my clothes, and violated every inch of my body. A huge part of myself died the night I was raped. Still to this day I find it hard to obtain some sort of closure or at the very least ease to my deepened pain. I was utterly powerless in that moment and the fear that surged through me felt like I swallowed hot coals that were resting heavily inside my chest.
The nightmares refuse to evade my sleep, and some events from that night escape my memories because my brain declines the reality of reliving the horror.
For an extended period, I told no one what happened. I would not dare to even admit it to myself. I felt ashamed, afraid, and as crazy as it sounds, guilty. I felt an extreme amount of guilt that it was my fault that I had been raped. My justification for the self-blame was that I shouldn’t have been wearing what I was wearing, that I shouldn’t have walked through the woods alone late at night, and that I shouldn’t have been so stupid. Then a small part of me thought maybe I deserved what I got for being so reckless and dressing a little too provocatively for my age. I became depressed for years afterwards and took on a series of complex emotions like, vengeance, culpability, restlessness, fearfulness, anger, extreme sadness, and much more. The occurrence ate away at my sane mental capacity like flies to rotting fruit.
Mostly, because society does not talk about such tragic topics, I felt entirely mute and alone.
Recently, however, a movement has been circulating the social media sphere spreading awareness to masses of people about sexual assault, sexual violence, and sexual harassment. The movement is called, “Me Too”, and whomever posts, tweets, Instagram’s, etc., those two words as their status informs the public that they too have undergone some sort of sexual abuse.
As I logged onto my Facebook page and scrolled down my news feed, I saw countless women posting the words “#MeToo” to their page. I immediately recalled the first time I encountered a similar instance—my #MeToo instance. Over the years as I tried to heal from the event, I became acutely aware that I wasn’t the only one who experienced sexual assault, but that fact did not completely resonate with me until now. The “Me Too” trend has brought together thousands of women (and even men), to shed light on a cause that needs more attention.
Although this movement has surfaced recently this year, “Me Too” has been around for 10 years, founded by Tarana Burke, a black activist. Burke calls her movement, “Empowerment through empathy” to unite survivors of sexual abuse, assault, exploitation and rape.
Alyssa Milano, Hollywood actress, has revisited Burke’s “Me Too” campaign to vocalize the publicly made affirmations of sexual abuse against movie producer, Harvey Weinstein and others like him. When breaking news hit that Weinstein had sexually assaulted many actresses and co-workers, the subject went viral, and Milano along with other famous women decided to use their platforms to make sure this subject of sexual assault stayed in the public eye.
I decided to get a couple of opinions from some of my Facebook friends on the matter, to gain some insight on what the movement of #MeToo means to them. Maria Elaina, a fellow Facebook friend, confirms her support for the cause by explaining, “For some, entire lives are ruined by keeping it in and not even mentioning it.”
Maria understands that to heal, move forward, or possibly prevent rape and other sexual advances made without consent from happening, the world needs to communicate more about the subject.
Dylan Chudoff, one of my male millennial Facebook friends, like Maria Elaina, agrees that “If people take time to read and listen to some of these stories, it does give perspective to the horrible things that people had to witness and go through.” Along with Maria and Dylan, a young woman named Kassandra Zimmerman commented on the subject as well with a little more depth to her own firsthand experiences with sexual assault.
Kassandra bravely revealed that she too had been sexually abused when she was just around four or five years old. Her babysitter tried to get little Kassandra to give him a blow job. Frightened and confused that a supposedly trusted older male figure would try and take advantage of her like that, Kassandra grappled with the horrifying reality that numerous other children had most likely experienced similar situations and that it had gone unnoticed. To her, she luckily had a fortunate accident when she was three years old of stumbling on a pornographic VHS tape; this clued her in on what sex was at an early age. Although most parents are reluctant to inform their children of such fornications—especially at a youthful age—Kassandra raises the notion that,
“People don’t talk about sex around kids, and so many children are sexually harassed because they don’t understand what’s happening to them. They trust adults and haven’t been told that it’s wrong.” This movement clarifies Kassandra’s notion that more people should talk about sexual abuse and more parents should inform their children.
For me, I will forever be haunted by the depictions of my rape, but knowing that there are other women out there brave enough to say #MeToo has given me confidence that my rape will not define me. This is the time to stick up for our rights to consent, as women, as children, and including men, that no one should be allowed to violate those rights.
We will not take sexual abuse anymore. No means no! If you or someone you know has been or is being sexually abused please call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673.