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I recently went to a leadership conference where I had the privilege of listening to different speeches from men and women from all over. I attended a talk on sexual assault, and how we need to support and protect survivors, as well as raise awareness of sexual assault and rape.

It's a shame, but the speaker of the seminar pointed out an undeniable truth: that only people who have been sexually assaulted or know someone close to them who has been sexually assaulted care enough to want to make a change. By sharing these stories of these courageous men and women, I hope to raise awareness and share the idea that no matter what, we all should care enough to make a significant change.


@metoomvmt on instagram.com


I posted on my social media and asked if anyone had a story they would want to tell. Here are a few of the responses:

*Names have been changed for confidentiality reasons

1. Hannah*, Age 19.

@metoomvmt on instagram.com

"I was assaulted twice at 15, once at 16, and once at 18."


Unforgiven

I placed trust in you

That you thoroughly betrayed in the hallway one afternoon

Was my 'no' unheard?

My plea for you to stop?

Frozen

From the feeling of your hands trespassing my body

My hips, to my waist

Underneath my shirt

Numb

As you slid your hands places in which they were unwelcome

Trespassing places on my body of which you had no right to

I just wanted to talk

To spend time getting to know you

To experience what I thought was kindness you shared with me

Oh, how could I have been so naive?


Unforgiven II

I had not spoken to you since

Lost

Pushed against a wall in another hallway

Lips forced against mine

Hands wandering in places I wanted to be all but familiar to you.

Speechless

Frozen

Hurting

Why did you do this to me?

What did I do to deserve this?

I run out onto the court with a smile

No outward trace of the harm to my spirit displayed on my face as I played

All the while my mind continued rewinding that awful moment in my head

I will never forget your name

Or your eyes that lusted for a body I no longer wanted to own.

2. Taylor*, Age 19

@metoomvmt on instagram.com

"It was with a friend of a friend. We had matched on Tinder, but it was one of those things where you just swipe on someone because you recognize them. I didn't expect much, and I actually thought he was a nice guy, so we had hung out one night prior to get to know one another.

It was really late in the night and the only reason I was up was that I was crying about something my ex-boyfriend had said to me. He asked if I wanted company and if he could pick me up. I said yes because I wanted someone to talk to. We ended up going back to his apartment to talk, but I honestly didn't expect anything to happen and was just in the mood for a friend.

We ended up having consensual sex that night. The next day, I felt awful because I realized I was trying to use sex as a distraction from my emotions and did not want to lead him on, so I asked if we could meet in person to talk in my dorm room. I told him that we should just be friends. He tried to kiss me again but I said no. He didn't listen.

He didn't listen and kept going, taking off my clothes. After saying no twice, I shut down and froze. I was scared and upset. I didn't know what to do, I couldn't speak. I just laid there while he raped me. Afterwards, he put on his clothes and left, and I just cried in my dorm room, alone. I told myself that it was my fault because we had already had sex once. But I know now that that does not give someone the right to assume consent."

3. Mary*, Age 20

@metoomvmt on instagram.com

"I was at a college event and a guy (I was friends with) showed up almost wasted. I was with friends and we played games, danced to music, etc. The guy started to grope my butt multiple times without my consent. I was uncomfortable and moved away but I never said anything.

He continued to follow me and 'accidentally touched my butt or grabbed it,' and at one point I went to some people I knew hoping they'd help stop him. Instead, they told me that he's just a little touchy when he's drunk, and if I didn't want it, then I shouldn't have shown up.

There's no excuse why I should feel uncomfortable at an event. I didn't ask for it, and I'm still not asking for it - don't blame it on the alcohol. Hold this guy accountable because there are other drunk people who don't grope others."

4. Grace*, Age 19

@metoomvmt on instagram.com

"I was 18 and he was 23. I didn't even know that I had been assaulted numerous times until my friend explained that many of the things I experienced during that relationship weren't okay. I ended up having to quit a job I loved because my ex kept harassing me, and when I told my boss, he did nothing. Evidently, my boss told him about what I said, because my ex messaged me months later yelling at me for "lying about what happened", and ended up making new phone numbers just to contact me.

I never pursued a trial because I didn't want to relive what happened to me. I also didn't experience any post-traumatic stress until months later, and even though many symptoms have subsided now, I still am reminded of what happened to me from time to time. But every time I am reminded, I take a deep breath and tell myself that I am worthy of love and respect and that nobody can take that away from me. That's what has helped me the most throughout the process."

5. Hayley*, Age 20

@metoomvmt on instagram.com

"My freshman year of college, I had a thing with this guy, Jared*. Jared seemed really sweet and nice, and I was really into him. He knew I'd never had sex before and said he would wait until I was ready, which made me so happy. One night we were getting intimate, and he kept pressuring me to go further.

I kept telling him no, but he wouldn't stop. He kept saying how he can keep going, even when I told him no and that I didn't want to do it. He kept pressuring me and eventually I gave up and told him yes. This was the first time I had ever had sex, and it was non-consensual. To this day, I find it extremely hard to say no to guys in sexual situations, for I have a fear that they won't take no for an answer.

I haven't seen Jared in two years, but he came to my workplace last week. I had a panic attack for an hour and a half, all while having a smile on my face before I could finally run to the back storage room and cry without anyone noticing. Seeing him put me in a funk for about a week, and even brought along suicidal ideation. I have been terrified to talk about this situation but I'm starting to accept that it's a problem that I need to get help for, and that I'm not alone."

6. Claire*, Age 19

@metoomvmt on instagram.com

"This one guy from Tinder hit me up at like 3 am and I wasn't doing anything so I agreed to hang out and he came to pick me up. I got in his car to find out he was drinking but still continued to go with it. We drove to where he worked at a recycling yard and we started fooling around, and I started giving him head and he would not let me stop giving him head.

We started driving because he said he wanted to have sex at his place, and he lived about an hour away. The whole time he literally was shoving his dick down my throat. We get to his place and he starts recording me, and I ask him to stop. I tried to get him to stop but he grabbed me and kept repeating, "It's fine, It's fine". Finally, we left his house and went to a gas station to get snacks.

I was the only one who went in, and when I came out, he wasn't there. He had thrown my stuff out of his car and driven away while I was in the gas station, leaving me there with no way to get home.

The second time I was sexually assaulted, it was also from Tinder, about a month after the first time. I went to this guy's house and he immediately started telling me about how I need to respect myself more. We started fooling around and he began to physically hit me.

I got up to leave but he wouldn't let me leave and kept trying to pin me down. I got up and grabbed my things and ran to try to reach the door, but he beat me to it. He shoved me on my knees and made me give him a blowjob. I found out after that he had herpes."

7. Anna*, Age 19

@metoomvmt on instagram.com

"I was sexually assaulted by my boyfriend when I was a freshman in high school. We had been dating for a few weeks and we were on our way out of our junior high since it was the end of the day. My school had our lockers listed in alphabetical order so he was in one end of the building, a more secluded area, and I was in the other.

I met him after school at his locker where he led me to this staircase I didn't even know existed. It led to a side entrance of the school that didn't have any security cameras. He pinned me against the corner where the security camera no longer was in view and first just groomed me until he then decided to push down my leggings and finger me. I was only like 14, and I didn't know what to do. I felt guilty about being a bad girlfriend so I didn't say anything."

Hearing these brave stories really made me think about the expectations our society places on men and women. It is completely unfair that consent is misunderstood. The absence of 'no' does NOT mean 'yes'. Coercion until a 'yes' is NOT consent. You cannot consent if you are intoxicated or unconscious. 'No' means 'no', and 'yes' means 'yes'.

We will not allow our voices to go unheard. We will speak out for those who cannot, and we will continue to fight until something is done. I long for the next generation to not understand why we had to have these marches because rape culture will be absolute by then. I want every woman, man, and those who do not define themselves as either who have been mistreated in such a way to know that they are so loved and so brave.

We have a long way to go as a society, and I am so proud of the #MeToo movement because it has given strength to so many survivors who need it, myself included.

#MeToo

Resources:

Sexual Assault Hotline - 1 - 800 - 656 - 4673