How The "Me Too" Movement Helped Me Realize I Was Raped

How The "Me Too" Movement Helped Me Realize I Was Raped

Sexual assault is real, and it comes in many forms.

On October 15, 2017, "Me too" statuses began appearing all throughout social media.

The first status I read simply said "Me, too," but as the hours passed, more and more friends on my Facebook feed posted anything from simply those two words, to the above suggestion, to their personal stories of sexual assault.

From the get-go, I wanted to write "Me too" as my status as well. But I stopped myself when I asked, "But have I ever been sexually assaulted?"

I wanted to post in support of my friends, but writing the words, "Me too" would be a lie because, well, I haven't been assaulted.

Until I started thinking...

Yes, I've been cat-called. Yes, I've been eyed up and down inappropriately by men. Yes, I've been hit on and felt uncomfortable. But to me, I had never considered those to be sexual assault.

Some context about me is that, for a long time, anytime someone close to me shared that they were sexually assaulted I would ask, "What exactly happened?" Not in a demeaning way. I tried my best to explain they didn't have to say anything if it was too difficult. But I asked because I legitimately did not understand what the phrase "sexually assaulted" entailed.

In my mind, rape was a black and white term. But "sexually assaulted" was a different ballpark.

"I was sexually assaulted."

My mind would go:

"Were you raped? Groped? Is cat-calling included in that? Is there a line between sexual assault and rape?"

The more stories I heard, the more I understood. I don't know why it took so long. But when my best friend was sexually assaulted twice and described what she experienced, I stopped wondering.

But with that being said, the context of this article begins with this: I never quite understood the wide scope of sexual assault and what it entails. Which brings me what the title of this article gives away.

I was raped. But I didn't realize it.

It was the beginning of April 2016 –– my birthday weekend. If I remember correctly, just a few hours before midnight of my birthday.

I didn't want it. I said that multiple times.

I said, "Stop." Many times. He kept insisting. He went for it.

While it was happening, I said, "Stop." Every few seconds. "Please, stop..."

He kept going.

It hurt, and I told him that. Because of the pain, I begged him more –– over and over again –– to stop. But as it continued, my begging grew quieter until there was no more sound from me at all.

At that point, my body froze. I couldn't push him off anymore. I put my arms down. I couldn't fight any longer.

I let it happen.

It is actually because of the rape scene in 13 Reasons Why that I am able to put what happens during rape into words. You fight and resist until you realize that they are not going to stop, and suddenly you freeze.

I can't describe how or why it happens. But when I watched that, and then remember my experience, I see the similarity. I fought until I froze. I "let it happen." But that's not consent. I'll say it again. Freezing in the midst of a rape is not consent.

Exactly what happened after is still a blur. But I remember being quiet for a while. He was satisfied because he got what he wanted and thought it was consensual. It wasn't. I actually said to him, "You basically raped me."

He laughed because he thought I was joking. I wasn't. I left to shower. There, I cried.

I was confused. He was my boyfriend. Did he feel entitled to my body? Was he? Did he mean it? Maybe he really didn't know? In my mind, I let it happen. I kept telling myself, "I could have pushed him off. I could have been more forceful."

His laugh had dismissed my statement.

"You raped me."

"Haha, that's not rape," his laugh implied.

"I thought you liked it. That's why I kept going?"

That made me sick to my stomach.

That was only the beginning of the trauma. More happened that following week, and though I won't share the details here, it all traumatized me to the point where I did my best to forget that any of it happened once the drama passed. Especially the night I described.

After all, one coping method for trauma is to pretend that the event never happened.

For the past year, I have rarely thought about that night. I pushed it out of my mind and told myself it was nothing.

It was only today after reading so many "Me too" statuses that I began thinking about my own "sexual assault experiences," when this memory came back to me. For the first time since April of 2016, I asked myself, "Was it rape?"

I told you earlier that I used to have trouble defining sexual assault. In addition, my idea of rape had been molded by what social media always fed me.

Rape had to look like men having sex with me when I was drunk or blacked out, or someone kidnapping me and holding me down, violently attacking me and having his way. That was my idea of rape.

Not my significant other unable to take no for an answer and then telling me that he thought I wanted it, long after I told him multiple times to stop.

Rape by definition is,

Unlawful sexual intercourse or any other sexual penetration of the vagina, anus, or mouth of another person, with or without force, by a sex organ, other body part, or foreign object, without the consent of the victim.

The key phrases here are, "With or without force," and "Without the consent of the victim." By definition, I was raped.

I never verbally consented. I never consented. Somehow, my willpower and ability to fight diminished the more forceful he became. But I never consented, even if my body "let it happen."

It was heavy on my heart to share about my experience once I realized the reality of my experience. Especially if I spent more than a year pretending that it didn't happen.

And though I knew I needed to share, I kept asking myself, what would the takeaway of sharing this be? Especially if so many other women have had it worse than me.

What I want to leave you with is this:

1. My story, as all other women's stories, matter.

My story matters. Your story matters. No matter what the situation was. No matter how "big" or "small" the assault was, it happened. It was real. Your experience matters. You overcame it.

It doesn't matter what people say. It doesn't matter if men tell you that you are being over-dramatic. You are not. It was your body. You had the right to say no. You have the right to know that it wasn't your fault. You have the right to know that, even after it has happened, you are still worth it. You still matter.

2. We, as a society, need to continually fight for change on how this topic is handled.

This is only the beginning.

The guy this situation involved felt that his action wasn't wrong. I hear countless stories where the person committing the assault acts without believing it is wrong. Where did this mentality begin?

And if I had spent so much time believing that my experience couldn't be classified as "assault" because it involved a significant other or wasn't inherently "violent," where did that idea begin?

The truth is that we are emerging out of society's warped mindset of sexual assault, where the victim is always to blame or the assault has to "look" a certain way for it to be taken seriously.

I see that a generation is rising that will no longer stand with that.

I am so proud of all the women and men who have shared their, "Me Too" statuses. Sexual assault IS an issue that needs to be discussed.

Continue sharing your stories. Continue allowing your voice to be heard. Overcome your fear and the belief that speaking up will only lead to more pain. The change begins with us. It begins with those who have experienced and see the scope of the issue.

We are not alone, and we will continue to stand together until some kind of tangible change is seen. No matter how long it takes.

So if you are a victim, don't worry.

Me too.

Cover Image Credit: Instagram

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21 Spontaneous Things To Do While Evading Death

The bucket list to end all other bucket lists.

Everyone should take the opportunity to do these 21 things before they die. If you aren’t considering everything on this list, does YOLO not mean anything to you?

1. Go on an exciting vacation that puts you out of your comfort zone.

No, not another Napa Valley wine tour.

2. Keep a dog.

Or a cat. But just know dogs are better. They’ll teach you so many of life’s abundant lessons. Like not to have nice furniture.

3. Experience nature to its fullest extent.

Hint: this likely can’t be done in an area where you have cell service. Unplug, people.

4. Stargaze at night in an area where you can actually see stars and not smog.

Stars do exist, and they're pretty to look at.

5. Volunteer your time to a charitable cause.

Don’t just write a check to a nonprofit; get out in the world and help!

6. Name a star

C’mon, it’s cool.

7. Learn an instrument.

How fun will it be to show off to all your friends that you can play Hot Cross Buns?

8. Splurge on something.

Save money and then blow it on something that will probably be out of style or out of date within a year. Spending money really makes you feel alive, especially when your checking account balance plummets.

9. Spend a whole day in bed.

Some people claim sleep is for the weak. They must not have good mattresses.

10. Do something out of the blue.

If you have a desire to do something, do it. Your gut is always right, right? Life can't always go according to plan, and it's important to be spontaneous.

11. Be given a standing ovation.

“Everyone in the world should get a standing ovation at least once in their life because we all overcome the world” – Auggie Pullman, Wonder

12. Fall in love.

As cliché as this may seem, everyone deserves to be loved. Even the Grinch.

13. Jump off a cliff.

Make sure there’s water at the bottom of where your jumping, though. No premature deaths, please.

14. Pay for someone else’s meal.

Unless they ordered more than $40 worth of food, because you probably aren’t made out of money.

15. Vote.

You can’t complain about the current state of government unless you had some input in it.

16. Do something on a stage in front of people.

Everyone needs to have the opportunity to get over their fear of public speaking. Do that thing where you're supposed to imagine the audience in their underwear. It'll be more awkward and more fun.

17. Go to a big deal sporting event.

Pay big bucks for those nosebleed seats. You may barely be able to see what's happening, but at least you can say you were there.

18. Learn how to cook something where the name is not the recipe.

Branch out from things like macaroni and cheese and buttered toast.

19. Try a weird diet.

See if it has all those health benefits that it claims to have. Avoiding swamp diet, anyone?

20. Do something your parents explicitly told you NOT to do.

Find out why they said that. Live and learn people.

21. Delete your social media and replace it with actual human interaction.

Pick up the phone, use that expensive phone plan and call someone instead of stalking them on Facebook.

Cover Image Credit: Maddy Mazurik

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We Do The Things We Do For A Reason, To Help Us Find Our Passion

How I knew writing was my love.

Why do we do the things we do? A question I get asked a lot is “why did you start your blog?”

I wish it was as simple as “I love to write!” But it isn’t. I was always a terrible reader, all through elementary school I had the worst handwriting and grammar in the class. It wasn’t until seventh grade that I began to truly like to write. I started writing in a little black journal that read “I can I Will” on the front every night. At first, it was just simple stuff like what I had done that day but eventually, it developed into more.

I would have so much going on in my head, I would just need to write it on paper! Ideas, opinions I was too afraid to say out loud, and even short “movies”. Writing actually helped me develop my true voice. Once I realized that I was one of the only kids in class who actually enjoyed writing papers, I knew it was my calling. It was something I wanted to put my heart and soul into.

My freshman year, everyone had their “thing” whether it be basketball or soccer or dance. My thing was going to the cozy coffee shop in Royal Oak and just writing for hours.

I would just pour my heart out onto a piece of paper and love it! I felt a release and always felt a sense of power when I finished a meaningful article.

The summer I got home from my last year of sleep away camp, I wanted to somehow share my writing with the world. I am terrible at technology so I never thought I would be able to create a blog, but I did! I thought it would only be appropriate to call it "I can I Will" because it was not only what my first journal said but had deep meaning to me for various reasons (a different story for another time). For me, it was not about how many likes or shares my page received, but to see and hear if I had made an impact on others. I wanted to inspire people or in some way make them just think. Think about life and themselves. Think about the good stuff.

As of today, every time I post an article, I feel loved. I get goosebumps from every comment on my post or when people I barely even know come up to me and tell me they read my blog.

So, why do we do the things we do? Is it to make us happy? No. We do the things we do to better the world for ourselves and for the people around us. I am a strong believer in everything happens for a reason. This being said, go after your dreams, do what you want, make yourself happy while also putting smiles on other people’s faces. We do the things we do for a reason, even if we don't know it!

Cover Image Credit: flickr

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