This has been a popular hashtag recently. Unfortunately, it is a hashtag that I can write on my profile as well. I never thought in a million years that I would be able to identify with that on such a deep, personal level. I haven’t actually posted this on my social media profile, just because I don’t really want so many people that I know to know about what happened. I mean, I have told some people, but I have told people that I trust and feel comfortable with. But putting it up on a social media platform like that just seems a bit scary for me. I’m not sure how all my friends would react to that. I mean, I know that I do have some friends who have been assaulted as well, so its not like I’m the only one, but I would feel a bit vulnerable putting that up there in front of people that I actually know. I feel like perhaps they would be upset that that happened to me or disappointed, and I don’t want them to look at me differently just because I am a survivor.
When it first happened, I was so ashamed. I wanted to keep it in, as long as I could. There was no way that I would let this secret come out. I felt like I just couldn’t share this secret with a single soul, it was just something that would have to stay bottled up within me forever. I felt as though this secret was a really heavy secret to have on my chest. I held onto it for 2 whole years, before I finally said something. I can only imagine the pain and stress experienced by the women who don’t share their experiences until 10 or 20 years later. That takes a lot of willpower, to hold on to something so deep like that, and just keep it inside. It hurts my heart when people ask “Why did she say something now, 10 years, later?”. It is because of our culture, the culture that believes that it is okay to assault and harass females, the culture that believes in men more, especially men who hold positions of power. It is such an insult to people, to be questioned with disbelief, after waiting so long to share something that they went through. We have to work harder to change this culture and we need to start to believe the people who do come forward, no matter who long it takes them. It could be 1 day or it could be 50 years, it doesn’t matter; the person still deserves to be heard and believed. No matter how long ago the assault happened, it is still an assault and a source of pain for the person.
It takes a lot of courage for people to publicly identify as a survivor. In writing this and saying it out loud, I have found a good deal of strength, strength that I did not see before. I now see myself as a strong person, who continues to grow each day. I am not the same person who I was yesterday and that is amazing, to feel that I change each and every day. In the past, I have been afraid of change, afraid of losing the parts of myself that I knew the most. But, in dealing with trauma and terrifying circumstances, it seems as though sometimes change is a good thing. The assault took me out of my comfort zone. It made me question things and made me think about how I could improve myself. After going through something so devastating, I felt like my identity had changed. The experience shook me to my very core, shattered my world and everything surrounding me. In re-building, I had to find my voice again and figure out exactly who I was. Now, I’m in no way saying that being assaulted was a good thing. No, the assault was the last thing that I wanted; nobody wants to be treated so horrifically, abused so badly. But in the aftermath, with the help of therapy, I was able to see just how much emotional and mental strength I do have. Of course, I wish that I could have found out those things in a different way. I wish that I wasn’t raped. I wish that I never trusted the perpetrator. I wish that I could go back in time and change things. But since it is not possible to get into a time machine, I am reflecting on these things now.
Our country is going through a new movement. We are seeing, each day, the effect that women can have. We are becoming more vulnerable and speaking out about unspeakable things that we have experienced for too long now. I mean, I think that we still have work to do, but I think that we are making progress, with all these women starting to gain courage and start speaking about their experiences more.
In today’s day and age, “me too” has a new meaning. It has a more significant meaning. And I hope that in sharing my story, other people will find the courage within them to speak out.