Before I begin, I want to start off with a little warning. This may be triggering for anyone who has been a survivor of sexual assault. Whether you read forward or not, I support you and I'm proud of you. You are not alone ❤️
National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-4673
I was 16. The summer before junior year. Ever since, I've been scarred. Haunted. It took me almost 3 years to finally sit and think about what happened that day. And every time I do, it leaves me in tears. "Why me?" "What did I do to put myself in that situation?" "Why didn't I do anything while it happened?" "Why didn't I speak up after?" "Why do I hate myself more than I hate him?" "Why has it taken me 3 years to finally cry about it?"
It finally took stories of other people coming out for me to finally acknowledge it. And I don't even know how to put into words how I feel after doing so. They ask you if you wanna talk about it, but there's nothing to even talk about. You can't explain why you're crying, you just are. You feel so alone, but the worst part is, you're not. Many people, men and women, have experienced their own incidents. And while it's comforting to know your not alone in how you feel, it's unsettling that so many others have gone through this also.
You don't come out to target the person who did this to you, you do it to show others they aren't alone, to being awareness that this does happen and at alarming rates. But you also do it to finally recognize it yourself. To prove to yourself that you aren't overthinking, that you did experience what you experienced, and that it's okay to admit it. You don't look for others sympathy, but to support yourself.
It's scary to finally tell your story, to speak it into existence, especially when it's often faced with backlash. "What did you do to put yourself in that situation" "we blame everyone but the victim" (a true Tweet I have seen this week) "are you sure that's what happened" "women lie about this all the time" "they were young" "they would never do something like this" "funny how these stories all come out at the same time" "where's the proof"
How are survivors supposed to feel supported with comments like these? With universities not investigating cases brought to their attention? With it being hard to have any proof, especially when they don't speak up till years later? How are we supposed to feel protected when thousands of cases get dismissed every year? When we aren't taken seriously?
Why is it our job to make sure we don't put ourselves in these situations, because if you do, you deserve it? Why is it our job to watch what we wear, what we drink, who were with, how we act? Why is so little focus put on keeping people from doing it in the first place? Why is there so little education taught on consent? No wonder people feel scared about allegations being brought up about them when they are uninformed. They aren't taught that consent can be taken away in any situation and anything further is not contented. They aren't taught that persuading and coercing someone into doing something isn't consent. They aren't taught that saying nothing is not consent. Or that once inebriated, consent can no longer be given.
Instead of focusing on making sure people don't put ourselves in these situations, we should be focused on keeping others from DOING IT. Just because I decide to hang out with someone alone or decide to wear a tank top and shorts doesn't mean I deserve it. Doesn't mean I give them the right to do what they want to me. Doesn't mean it's my fault.
"Why didn't you stop it?" "Did you say no?" Anyone who has not been in these situations will never understand what it is like. You can say no, and they'll keep going. Then you realize they aren't gonna stop. You freeze. Part of you is in shock and doesn't know what to do, and part of you just wants it to be over. And in situations where you know the person, you think "oh they wouldn't do that to me, they care about me too much to". For me, it was my first boyfriend right after we broke up. You freeze to not want to make it worse. Time stops. Don't let anyone tell you that you should've done something to stop it. Don't let someone tell you what you went through. Don't let someone tell you how you feel.
For everyone that has stood up and come forward, I'm proud of you. It's not easy. And for those who have yet to, it's okay. Don't let anyone force you, don't feel you have to. You're brave. No one can take that away from you. As sad as it is, there are people around you that understand. And I promise every single person that does is here for you. I am here for you. Always. ❤️