A friend needed a place to share her story, why #YesAllWoman hit home. I offered my blog space and my writing skill for her to tell the world what happened to her. This is her story, in my words.
Over the weekend, a movement for women's rights took place in the most viral of ways. The hashtag #YesAllWomen took over Twitter in response to the horrifying events that unfolded in Santa Barbara over the weekend.
I refuse to give a name to the perpetrator. I hate when someone commits a crime and becomes famous. Nor do I suspect any victim wants to be famous for their victimization.
Instead, I step back a few and generalize. It seems a logical extrapolation. Guy hates that girls aren't into him. Thinks it's appropriate to plan and execute revenge. I oversimplify, no question. The details of the event can be found anywhere online.
I am going to tell a much more personal account and why the #YesAllWomen not only resonated but also why I still feel compelled to tell my story privately and express any level of sexuality the same way.
When I was a college junior, I had finally saved enough to move out of the house. I had commuted to college my first two years, but wanted desperately to spread my wings. I had been very sheltered and my dad was strict. I am the only girl in my family. He guarded me with a baseball bat.
I was so happy to have some independence. You see, through the years, I had never have spent even more than a night or two away from my family. I never went to camp, I had a few youth group retreats or sleepovers. I visited friends at college, but my time away from home was limited. I had no autonomy.
Enter living on campus at college.
You may have imagined, I lived up the stereotype. The sheltered kid went wild. I flirted, I met guys, I drank more than I should. I went to nightclubs and I stayed up late. I ate when I wanted. I was free.
And that freedom got me forcibly assaulted sexually. There is another word for it, but to use it keeps my post from being published.
And for many years, I have believed it was my fault.
I shouldn't have drank, I shouldn't have gone back to his room, I should have been louder when I told him no, stop, no. I should should should have this that this.
I recoiled in blame and shame.
After he r'ed me, I slinked back to my room. I thought we were just going to watch Saturday Night Live. I had hung out with him so many times before, I never assumed that being alone with him would be dangerous. In fact I felt so safe, I fell asleep.
I woke up to him climbing atop me and trying to maneuver his penis inside my dry, sleepy, body. Everything was a fog except me saying no, please, no. But he did what he wanted to me. And I was ashamed.
I said nothing. I scoured my shame down the drain and prayed away the filth. I stopped going out, knowing that if I went out I was at risk. I convinced myself I was the only one to blame for what happened. I told nobody.
Until I ran into a girl I knew from across the hall. She was a first year student. *She* was young and naive, and didn't know better. She was visibly upset and I asked why. The same young man who r'ed me, attacked her. She held up her arms to show me the bruises where he pinned her against the wall in his attempt to be affectionate. She hung her head and said, I thought he was a nice guy.
I decided that it was time to overcome my shame, that obviously this person was a creep and it wasn't just me. I looked at my neighbor and said, I need to tell you something. My incident had taken place about 10 days prior. There was no physical evidence. Only my word and her bruises stood between him and his word.
We contacted the residence hall director who informed us that we needed to file police reports. My friend opted out at that point, but I had broken the silence and wasn't done. I went to the campus police where I was treated like a liar. I was informed that there was nothing they could do unless I went to the city police department to have a r. kit taken but that after the amount of time had passed, that there was no evidence to prove my case.
Meanwhile, sensing there was no personal justice to be had, I opted for an awareness campaign to at least protect other young females in the dorm. I petitioned student services to offer an awareness/sexual assault workshop. They did, but I heard the murmurings of fellow female leaders that I made up my story to get attention. Then I knew why the hall director brushed me off.
Even women didn't believe me.
The story was that "we had sex but he blew me off and I made up the r. story to get revenge". Well, why not, they continued, she was involved with him and him, why was he any different?
I never really got over that shame. The shame of my fellow women doubting me. The shame that even though I said no, something I did kept me from being believed. The shame that I should not have been there.
I confided in my family. I don't know why I did to this day, because the first thing my dad said was "what the hell were you doing in a boy's room?". And he blocked it out. Because even last year when I dared to mention it again (in relationship to a news story about some athletes r-ing a girl who was drunk), he said, you never told me you were r-ed.
Yes. I did. And I stopped talking about it because your first reaction was to blame me for being stupid and imply that I deserved it. So I never mentioned it again for over 25 years, and now I know why.
Because #YesAllWomen should worry.
You should not trust men to look out for your best interests. Trust yourself. Even your father, who will find it easier to blame then deny that anything horrible happened to you. Because it's easier to blame you than admit that men are dangerous. That society instills an idea that women are objects, not people.
#YesAllWomen, because you and I are sisters.
Because. Because you and I are the same person.