Written by Anonymous
We all have experiences throughout our lives, but sometimes we have ones that we never tell to a single soul. It might be rare, but it happens. As much as we can have a support system, there are always secrets. One in particular is weighing on me lately to share in detail. What sparked me to finally come out was the fact that I see so many people on social media making light of such a serious act. Sexual assault, rape, molestation, it does not matter, sexual assault is sexual assault. It takes away a piece of who you are. It can slowly eat away at you destroying you inside. It plays with your mind and emotions, and our trust is quickly pulled out from under us. The list goes on of the impacts it can have. We all handle situations differently, but one thing is for sure, sexual assault victims all feel violated.
I remember the first time I ever encountered a form of sexual assault. I laughed about it at first, because I was young and I thought it was part of the exam. To this day it is still somewhat fuzzy, but I remember asking someone if that was a normal thing to do during a gynecological exam. They laughed and said no. Yes, you heard that right. They laughed. A family member no less. They did not seem to take it seriously, so why should I. It must have been nothing. I just recently, though many years later, asked someone their opinion. They just looked at me with these shocked and sad eyes. They assured me that was not normal. I struggle to remember at times if it really happened or if I imagined it, or maybe I was mistaken. Then I realized, why would it be on my mind so much and so clear if it never took place? I remember it as if it was yesterday, and I remember feeling weird when it happened.
I can remember every single encounter, forever burnt inside my mind. Another time I was drinking, drunk but not passed out. Now, is that my fault? I always wondered if it was. You read all these stories of both young boys and older men getting off with a slap on the wrist blaming the women stating the women were drunk. So that must make it ok right? Wrong! It doesn’t. Drinking does not give the right for men to take advantage of a woman because she is under the influence. You still NEED consent. Being incoherent or passed out is NOT consent. NO means NO.
I recall at least two college camp rapes where this happened. I was outraged at people protecting and standing up for this predator. There are absolutely under no circumstances excuses for sexual assault. Going out to have a good time and being tipsy, drunk, or just having a few drinks is not an all access pass. As a teenager, we would sneak out into the woods to hang out with friends and drink. They boys were always much older and all over me. Not asking, not being respectful, and putting their hands all over me up my shirt and down my pants, and knocking me onto the couch they had out there. They assumed it was all fun and games. Partying does not mean a woman is willing to be touched and groped. When I got away from them, another guy took me in the woods, not unwillingly, but he was trying to do more than I wanted. He stopped, but it took a more than once for him to take a step back, which once should have been enough. Being drunk should never be a factor in how far a man chooses to go.
Another time, out drinking and much older, I liked the guy I was with. I had just broken up with my husband and was a bit wild. I will not deny that, but I do not feel that gives an open invitation because I might have been drunk more than I could handle. Some at this point might see a pattern, but again, drinking or being drunk is no excuse when a woman is coherently telling you no or to get off of her This guy seemed very nice, caring, and genuinely trying to take care of me, but I was not so eager to have unprotected sex. I tried to tell him to wait or stop as there was a point he was hurting me, not realizing it probably because he was drunk as well, but then I just let it be. I also would have liked him to use a condom. I found a little blood later on my pants, which I was not exactly clear on where it came from, the front or the back. He kindly brought me home and was very affectionate in doing so. Maybe it was my fault because I was too drunk to bother caring, and did not make myself clear enough. It wasn’t like I shouted it out loud enough, I did only make one attempt to tell him to wait a minute. I was not in the best place at that time in my life either. It was possible I was the one to blame and regretted it afterwards because I was not coherent enough to get my point across of using a condom or not having sex at all. I wasn’t prepared for that to happen. We had a good time all night, and I did like him. It just wasn’t who I was. I was not a girl who did these types of things. As I said, I question myself all the time with this occurrence.
In reading so many stories online about women being taken advantage of when they are drunk, I am learning that a true gentlemen would have either just taken me home, put me in a cab, asked if I was ok, or listened to me. They would have been looking out for me rather than getting laid. I have been around men in bars or parties, they did not act or do the things these guys did. Guys feel it is OK to just grab a woman because she is being nice in a bar or even flirting. That is not a free pass to grab someone without permission or touch them inappropriately. Why is this acceptable? Because it is a bar? Because everybody is drinking and that goes with the territory? NO, you still need to be aware that a woman has the right to not want it to go further than what it is in the moment. It does not matter how nice and caring someone is if it gets to a point that it shouldn’t. It always starts that way
In today’s society we are teaching boys and men that this is acceptable. Again, I say… IT IS NOT! Teach them. Raise boys to be respectful of women and vice versa as it happens to men too. Anybody is at risk from predators, but I am so heart broken, saddened, and sickened to keep hearing stories all over from sexual assault victims coming out or afraid to come out. They feel they will be blamed, made fun of, or called a slut. I have my reasons for keeping my story anonymous. They are good reasons, but I should not need one. I want people to know they are not alone. I want them to hear my story either way. Knowing who I am is not going to change the message.
Often times it can also happen with people we already know, as in family members. For me, that was an encounter that I found even more horrific. I can tell you I was between 14 and 16. He wasn’t blood, but he was married to someone who was. He would always nonchalantly touch me, rub my shoulders, lay on top of me, wiggle his toes on me in between my legs sitting on the couch watching television like it was nothing. I do not think I need to get too graphic there in saying what he was trying to do. I was somewhat numb and confused by it all. I was a teenager. Still a kid. Was it a big deal? Was it normal? Was I thinking too much into it? I was very confused by it to be honest. I did not want to accuse someone of something that was in my head. At first I ignored it. Then when it continued to happen and got worse as time went on, I started to get weird around him and not want to be alone with him.
I always was afraid of what he would do. He would give me liquor or alcohol trying to be cool. It helped relax me from being full of anxiety around him, but I think it all came to the forefront for me when he helped me take off all my clothes except my undergarments so he could give me a massage on the floor. He knew I liked when my back was tickled when I was a little girl, so he would do it for me. I did it, not realizing his intentions. He took advantage of that information he knew. I did feel incredibly weird about the situation, but was he just being nice to me? What did I know? I felt so uncomfortable and guilty. So why did I agree to do it? I really could not answer that question, but nothing was more terrifying than when I slept over his house on yet another occasion of him being inappropriate. I should have known better that this was not the best move to keep doing, but when my family member asked me to come over to spend time with her and hang out, what was I supposed to say? I don’t think he cared. He was an alcoholic, which does not excuse anything he did. I just never thought he would go as low as to do such acts with a child.
During this particular sleep over my fears of him going even further did happen. I remember not being fully asleep and feeling him sit next to me on the couch. I remember him slowly putting his hands up my shirt and touching my breasts and moving over them. I wanted to throw up. I pretended I was asleep and rolled over, because I just wanted him to stop. I was afraid of how far he would go if I just laid there still in shock. I remember him pulling me trying to get me to turn back over, and I just forced and pulled myself away from him praying he would go away, and he finally did.
Through every incident I think back on when I was with my now ex-husband, and it was difficult to be intimate at times. I truly thought that I had gotten over each experience, but to this day it still makes me cringe. It is always in the back of my mind. It doesn’t quite ever leave you completely. You heal, but you still have that part of yourself that remains tainted by the experience. I still have nightmares here and there and fall into my moments of seclusion. I also delve into defensive mode with trust issues, but I work through it. I don’t think trigger moments will ever go away.
In recent events where the topic went viral due the Trump fiasco, I was astonished to read some of the stories that were being tweeted. I even shared my own tweet of being a victim of it when I saw harsh and hateful tweets. People shaming the victims. This is a VERY serious topic that needs more attention. We need to reach out to each other, help each other, and be there to talk. Sometimes just talking helps ease the pain or numbness it caused. We can’t be afraid to speak out or stand up to predators. We can’t let them get away with what they did. We need to keep protesting this.
The reason I kept my experiences to myself, except for a few friends later down the road, was because when I went to the family member about her husband, she blew it off as it was nothing. Then she told me the asked him and he said he doesn’t remember. She had the nerve to act as if she did not believe me. She chose to believe a man who she was divorced from for cheating on her so many times. How could this be? How could you be willing to finally open up and get shot down like that? That is when I chose to stay silent. If family does not want to hear you, than why bother.
Do not believe this. Do not do what I did. I made that decision out of anger. I was hurt and lost even more of myself by family members acting as it was nothing, my fault, or I lied. I can’t stress enough how you should NEVER let anybody make you feel like this. No is No. Stop means stop. Nothing is your fault in this scenario. Nothing makes it acceptable whether sober or not, whether you are flirting, or whether you work a certain profession, NOTHING!
All you feel is fear. Many questions run through your head of will they believe me? Did I let someone down? What will happen if I say something? So many questions. Questions that do not matter. All that matters is saying something. Tell anybody who will listen and believe you if others don’t. Someone will. I regret choices I made in the past, but I no longer blame myself. I blame them. I blame the people who hurt me. I used to be so very angry, and I let it consume me. Do not do this. It is a traumatic experience, but we have control of what we choose to do after the fact. We can raise our voices. We can make sure it does not happen again or to anybody else.
I let people silence me, and I made that choice. No more. I now speak out, I advocate for it, I have no problem coming out and stating I am a victim of sexual assault. If I can be there for another victim or tell my story, or just help one person, it is worth it. Sharing our stories can change lives. It can let others know they are not alone. It is so important for that reason alone. I know it is a difficult step for all the reasons I stated above. We are terrified of the outcome of speaking out due to the backlash, but it will be a weight lifted off of your shoulders. Trust me. It frees us from those chains we feel held back by.
Never be afraid to free yourself from someone else’s hold on you. I can provide so many words of wisdom or advice, but in truth, there is nothing I can say that will necessarily make it easier. It is not easy by any means, but it can help you. It can hopefully give you more courage that we all have inside of us. I can also hope it touches those out there, whether a victim of sexual assault or not, and that it helps and lets people see the strength we can have in numbers. We are united, and stronger together. We do have a voice. The more we talk about it, the more we are raising awareness. We can do something about sexual assault, and we can teach and educate others to be aware. We can make sure nobody gets away with it as they have been. We can make sure they learn to respect our rights. We can become survivors, and we are survivors.
“Set yourself free, and always know it is NEVER OKAY!”
The best way to fight back is to not let sexual assault make you a victim for life.
With so much love,
Once a victim, now a survivor