We Need to Talk About Sexual Assault in Light of Ford vs Kavanaugh
The past month or so, specifically the past week, has been hell for sexual assault survivors.
More hellish than any other recent public outing of sexual assault such as Bill Cosby or Harvey Weinstein.
Sadly, this is because the accused is a political figure up for a new political position. And politics makes people really volatile and mean.
I have been SO sickened by the things people have said over the last week.
People have said things like “Whoops, I guess I’m a sexual predator because I touched girls boobs without asking.” “Sorry I might have touched a girls butt when I was 5. Now I guess I belong in jail.”
If you touched a girl’s boobs at 12 without consent, then yes that was sexual assault and wrong. If you touched a girl’s butt when you were 5, then yes that was wrong. Sure, at 5 you probably didn’t know what sex was. You were probably copying what you saw someone else do.
That doesn’t make it ok.
That doesn’t make it not sexual assault.
That means that, at 5, someone should have told you that wasn’t ok.
And at 12, you should have been in trouble.
The fact that grown adults are laughing about sexual assault is disturbing.
If, at 5, I saw someone punch someone else in the face, and then I went and punched someone in the face on the playground, that is wrong even though I don’t know it is.
And my parents or teacher would absolutely tell me it was wrong and I would be in trouble. And then I learn that punching people in the face is wrong.
I’ve also seen people say things like “She should have spoken up sooner and gone to the authorities.”
I honestly cannot believe we are still hearing this one.
For the love of God people.
I feel like the whole world has said this until they are blue in the face, but I will say it again.
Sexual assault is a dehumanizing, terrifying, soul-sucking thing.
It is one of, if not the, most traumatic thing a person can go through.
As a kid, I used to say that if I were ever raped, I would want them to just kill me so I didn’t have to live life after that.
I don’t feel that way anymore. But, that is how traumatic it is.
Victims feel dirty, ashamed, embarrassed, like it’s their fault, less than human, etc. They want to forget it because it is traumatic to remember it.
Men and women who have been to war don’t speak about the things that happened over there often, if at all. Some may. But most don’t. Because it is traumatic!
Going to the hospital and being poked and prodded immediately after being raped is like being raped all over again.
Going to police after being raped or sexually assaulted and being questioned for hours on end is traumatic.
Going to court and having to recount your rape or sexual assault all over again is traumatic.
Going to court and having to face your abuser is traumatic!
So, most victims stay silent until things in their life bring it to light. Aka, until something in their life triggers their PTSD and they have to address the trauma so they can move forward in life.
Coming forward is terrifying.
Being held down and having a penis rubbed up against you is terrifying.
I had a boy in middle school ask if I wanted to see his penis.
We were alone in the waiting area for the counselors. The secretary had walked away and the counselors were with students with their doors closed.
He unzipped his pants, I said no, closed my eyes, he whipped it out, and walked over. I covered my face and prayed he didn't rape me or touch me with it.
He didn't and I was 'lucky,' but I was terrified and ashamed and felt dirty and many emotions that made speaking about it hard. Much less if he'd pinned me down and touched me or worse.
Thankfully, after tearfully telling my principal, he was removed from school permanently because my principal was amazing!
In middle school, this boy on the bus who sat across the aisle would come sit next to me, pinning me between him and the side of the bus. I don’t remember everything he did. But, none of it was touching me in inappropriate areas. I do remember that the first few times I would push him away, but he was much stronger than me so he’d ‘win,’ and I’d just be pinned against him and the bus.
I also remember always being as still as possible so that I wouldn’t upset him. I would just sit facing forward, waiting for my stop so I could escape.
There was one specific time, the time that finally made me say something to the bus driver, where he wanted me to have some of his skittles.
I told him no.
I didn’t want to give him the idea I was interested.
But he took the skittles, one by one, and very forcefully shoved them into my mouth, through my very tightly closed lips and made me eat them.
It was awful.
I still remember sitting there terrified, hot with fear, hoping nothing else would happen.
Thankfully my bus driver doubled down on him and I was safe from then on.
I was at a wedding vendor event for brides. I went to mingle and network. A limo company was there. I was chatting with the guys representing them.
I could tell one of them was a creep. We will call him Bill.
He was very clearly hitting on me even though I’d said I was married. He kept talking about his ex wives who were married when he met them and so, according to him, being married didn’t mean anything.
Bill wanted to show me the limo.
In my head I was like "No, no, no. NO!"
I even told him “Um, I know what a limo looks like. I’m good.”
But he just kept pushing and pushing and pushing.
So, out of the compulsion to be polite, something women have ingrained in them, I said yes.
The WHOLE walk to the limo I was chanting to myself "Do not get in the car. You will not step in that vehicle. You will not get close enough to be shoved in. Do not get in the car!"
He insisted I get in and check it out.
“I’m not a creep or anything.” he said. “As if rapists announce themselves before they rape you.” I thought to myself...as I freaking got in!
So, I got in and I was instantly shaking.
I did NOT feel comfortable.
I felt like I was trapped and helpless.
I scoped out the limo for a weapon of opportunity and saw some glasses and whiskey decanters. But, in a small space how hard could I really swing those?
Then, my best friend called and I kept her on the phone as long as I could without basically saying “I’m in a limo with a really creepy guy and I need you to be on the phone so nothing horrible happens. K? Thanks.”
Eventually I had to hang up. So, then I just snapchatted the entire limo a few times and said “Ok, I am good, let’s get out.” And moved towards the door, which he was technically blocking, and prayed he didn’t make any moves.
Thankfully he truthfully had no ill intent because he got out and let me get out with no hassle.
I'm so lucky that he wasn't a rapist.
That was one of the MOST terrifying moments of my life.
I just knew I'd sealed my fate by getting into that car.
The most disturbing part for me is how I felt after the fact.
Because, I'm the one who has always been there for women, affirming that they have nothing to be ashamed for. Affirming that they were wronged. Affirming that the other person was guilty. Affirming that it was sexual assault or rape. Affirming that they have no guilt at all, no matter what they did or didn't do!!
I know better.
I had parents who taught me what being a victim was like and that it's ok to feel those things but that it's all lies. That it's not in any way a reflection of you.
I knew that if anything had happened, it wouldn't have been my fault.
I knew that I did nothing wrong.
I knew that talking about it immediately and telling my husband immediately was what you're supposed to do if you are sexually assaulted.
I knew all.the.things. I was a woman who'd been taught that it's not your fault and speaking up is best.
And yet, I felt sooooo dirty for a long time. Weeks at least.
I think more like a year or so total. Anytime I thought about it, I wanted to cry and shower. And “nothing” even happened!!!
I didn't tell my husband for a few days. When I did, he was perfect and kind of course. He was so sad I didn't tell him sooner and begged me to never keep something from him again. I was so relieved to tell him and thankful for his support. But I cried.
I was still embarrassed and felt guilty and dirty.
Because I "knew better". Because my awesome parents also taught me how to try to avoid being a victim. And I felt so stupid for "getting myself into that situation".
I remember one specific moment when I was pacing in our kitchen telling myself that ‘it wasn't my fault. He shouldn’t have pushed me. He should have known better. He should have just left me alone. I am the person that tells other women they have nothing to feel dirty, embarrassed, or guilty for. I've told numerous friends this throughout the years. So why do I feel this way? Why am I doing the very things I know not to do? Why am I not telling my husband?’
I was lucky though.
Nothing ‘happened’ though.
And yet, even I was hesitant, and have still been hesitant to talk.
Even I was ashamed and embarrassed.
Even I felt dirty.