This was hard to write, so I’m sure it’s going to be hard to read. If you know me, probably harder for you. If you love me, the hardest. Please do not feel obligated to talk to me about this or act weird around me. For the most part, I don’t want to talk about it. But I feel we are at a crossroads in our country and you need to know that sexual assault happens to regular people. Those that you may not find that attractive. Sexual assault is not about sex, it’s about power. There are a lot of times you are going to wonder why I didn’t report anything. Why I put myself in that situation. I encourage you to look at this through the lens of who I was, who I am, and what we know about women who report sexual assault. If you have any triggers-I encourage you not to read this. If you are my parents-I really encourage you not to read this because I would love nothing more than to protect you from the knowledge that #metoo.
The first time I was sexually assaulted was between my 6th and 7th grade year. I wasn’t yet a sarcastic, scowling teenager. I had developed more than most of my peers and it was something I was terribly insecure about. I hated it honestly. Everything about my body I hated but I liked the pool. Waynesville still had a decent public pool and my mom would drop us off. It was safe. I was floating on my back and some older boys (8th graders I think) thought it would be fun to swim over top of me and touch my breasts. They “didn’t see me”. Their girlfriends laughed. I had no help. I had no support. I was alone. What do you even do in that situation? Boys will be boys right? They were just playing around. I probably misunderstood, right?
I introverted hard. I stopped enjoying pools. I was more insecure about my body than ever.
The second time was when I was in high school. My friend had convinced me to go a cast party. I didn’t want to go but I liked a lot of people that had done the play so I agreed. I was sitting in the recliner and a friend of mine’s boyfriend was massaging shoulders. Drama kids are really touchy. I don’t like to be touched but I wasn’t as bad as I am now when I was 15. I jumped and he told me to relax. I told him no thank you. He told me I was uptight and tense. He massaged to hard. His hands moved towards my breasts and reached the tops of them. I jumped and moved. I was uncomfortable. I looked around for anyone who had seen-they hadn’t, they were too busy watching the movie. I moved next to the most assertive person I knew at the party. The guy complained loudly that I was uptight and weird. The person sitting next to me said it wasn’t weird to not want to be touched by someone I didn’t know. I felt better. I didn’t tell anyone what happened. What if I imagined it? Boys will be boys. That t-shirt I was wearing was really sexy, I should have worn a sweatshirt. I should have slapped him. (if you haven’t caught on…I didn’t do anything wrong and those responses to this are what is wrong with society.)
I introverted hard. I stopped going to cast parties. I was more insecure about my body. I made it clear to everyone that I hated being touched. That reputation remains with me today.
The third time is harder to write about. I’d rather forget about it. I’d rather you not know. I don’t owe you the gory details of my life, nobody owes you that. But I feel you need to understand that this doesn’t just happen to congress staff members in tight little skirts. This doesn’t just happen to women who don’t dress the way you think they should be dressed. This happens to women in their own homes while wearing sweats. I was in my own house. This guy was over. We had talked for a couple weeks and he seemed okay. Younger, Army band, smart. I told him I was just going to work on unpacking my house. I had made it very clear early on that I was not interested in a sexual relationship with him. Not even a little bit. I had thought he had agreed with me. I had thought that because he had said, “I agree.” We were sitting in my living room and I was sorting pictures. He obviously thought when I said I was not interested I was just playing hard to get. I was not. I’m not hard to get-I’m hard to keep. I stood up to stretch and he grabbed me-tried to hug me. I told him that I wasn’t interested and tried to move out of it. He pulled me into my bedroom and tried to “cuddle” me. Why didn’t you scream? Why didn’t you run? Why didn’t you kick him in the crotch? This is why you need a gun. I was paralyzed with fear. This guy was bigger and stronger than me. I was alone. He could actually hurt me. He rolled me on my back, pressed his knees into my shoulders and took his penis out. The sheer joy on his face made me want to vomit. I closed my eyes so tight so he couldn’t see the fear there. I didn’t want him to have the satisfaction. I couldn’t move. Physically immobile. He ran his penis along my lips. I clenched my jaw so tight I swear sometimes it still hurts. He tried to shove it in. I wouldn’t open my mouth. He grabbed my jaw so hard it bruised. He got bored. He got off me. Zipped his pants up. Tried to “cuddle” me again. I counted. He gave up. I relaxed. I drove him home. I drove him fucking home. He yelled at me the entire way. He called me names. He called my phone and yelled at me more. I blocked his number. Why did she let a stranger into her house? What did she think was going to happen? Did her pants need to be that tight? She probably sent him signals that she wanted him.
The last time I was sexually assaulted I won’t give you full details on. I can’t. I can’t tell that story. I should have reported it but who would have believed me? I invited him in. I went on a date with him. I made the choice to wear that tank top and those jeans and that alluring cardigan. I drank that one beer. I should have known better. His career could have been on the line for someone like me. It was obvious I was asking for it.
Do you see how ridiculous that all sounds? These “men” took advantage of their power. They were physically stronger than me. Each more capable of inflicting damage than I was. They stole my power. They stole my voice. They stole my right to feel safe in my own body, in my own home, in my own bed. They damaged me further than I will every admit to myself. When you tell me that the women who are strong enough to tell you that a man in power has assaulted them was asking for it, where the proof is, what did she gain out of it, or you start to defend them you are telling me exactly what I always knew. That their lives, reputations, and personhood is more important than mine. When you elect them to positions of power you have participated in taking away my voice. When you choose not to believe them you choose not to believe me.
These were just the times when I was physically sexually assaulted. I’ve been threatened because I didn’t want to date a guy. I’ve been sent pictures I didn’t want to see. I’ve had sexually suggestive things whispered to me. I’ve been leered at so much that I changed my clothes.
When you listen to these stories. Listen. You’re so quick to judge what the victim could have done differently. Why did I have to do anything differently? Why wasn’t I just allowed to live like the boys were? It’s going to be really easy to shrug at this because you know a lot about my life. I’m asking that you don’t. Because no matter what you think about how I live my life- I never deserved any of this. This is something that taints my world view and I won’t ever get that back. It is in the back of every relationship I have. It is why I don’t go out alone. It’s why I am nervous in crowded elevators and on crowded streets. My life has changed because boys will be boys. I’m harder to date because I’m constantly worried that he will hurt me. I’m terrified to talk about it because I’ve seen what you say about other women. But. #MeToo