In February I was featured in a Glamour Magazine article, “How To Discuss The Tough Stuff” alongside a close friend. I discussed the fact that I have been through an abusive relationship and I have been sexually assaulted twice. I discussed the fact that when I decided to share my story of abuse and sexual assault, I was met with political shaming.
Here’s some background. I attended a high school where being a Republican was almost unheard of and was certainly shameful. The school was very politically informed and the students were encouraged to be activists and to share their stories and opinions... unless you are conservative.
I decided that I was going to turn my experiences into something good and be a voice for those who didn’t have one. I had people tell me I deserved to be raped and abused because I voted for men who are anti-women. No, I’m not kidding.
16 year old me was devastated. I went to a school that supports free the nipple, has gender week, and preaches equality among all genders and sexualities. But because of who I vote for, my story isn’t valid.
It wasn’t just in high school either. When the article written by Maggie Mertens hit the shelves this past February, I got mixed responses. One was so disturbingly cruel I couldn’t help but screenshot and share it on Facebook. This women who “genuinely wanted to tell you from the bottom of my heart you are a rancid piece of trash.” “People like you make me sick,” she went on to say. “You inbred piece of shit, I can’t believe you’d think it's ok to support Trump because of the second amendment when he's trying to take away the rights of rape victims of you and I.”
First of all, how on Earth is he trying to take away the rights of rape victims? Why does it matter who I vote for? Being raped is the most dehumanizing, humiliating, and degrading experience I’ve ever gone through. Therefore I would never try to discredit and further degrade anyone who has been through this. So there is no “you and I." It’s just you.
I was raped at 16 by my then abusive boyfriend, and a second time when I was 18 by someone I thought was a friend. Like I stated, it is dehumanizing, degrading, and humiliating beyond words. You feel like an empty shell, much like you don’t matter. You feel like a used, dirty object. It has absolutely nothing to do with what you were wearing, how much you had to drink, and it certainly doesn’t have anything to do with your political party.
Why do people feel like sexual assault has a political preference? Hillary Clinton seems to think women who vote for Donald Trump are submissive to the men in their life and uneducated. She’s saying we don’t know how to think without our brothers, fathers and husbands. By painting this image of us, she’s painting an image that says we are all in abusive and unhealthy relationships. That if we were on our own we would have different political views.
I wouldn’t wish what I have been through on anyone, nor would I ever dare minimize someone else’s experience. Discrediting the fact that I had the courage to speak out and stand up after being abused and raped at 16, and to keep doing so even after being raped a second time, is like telling me I had it coming because I had a short skirt on. I know Hillary Clinton and others like her are not used to women who see themselves as victims, and just don’t know what to do with someone who is a survivor. Sexual assault isn’t a party issue or a political issue, it is an issue for all humans of every type. It is very real. What happened to us is very real and will stick with us forever.
For those of you who have experienced sexual assault, I believe you. You are not alone and it is not your fault. For more information on sexual assault awareness month visit nomore.org.