Thirteen is a number with high significance in my life. Not only was I born on that day, but it was also the year that I was sexually assaulted for the first time. In the past year, I have been able to share this story for the first time. While it was initially something that I thought people would hate, it turned into something so much more.
In 2017, I came forward about my sexual assault. I have never been one to have followed a traditional route, and my assault was no different. I was inspired to talk loudly about that period of time in my life after the #MeToo movement came about. Knowing that I had a whole army of women and men who would stand for what I believed in gave me joy. It is in that indescribable bliss that I truly cannot put into words. As a writer, it is a rarity that I am at a loss for words. But with the incredible power of activism, I have yet to find the words that describe this particular feeling that lies from within.
Just as a word of caution, my assault was not a texbook defintion of what a sexual assault should be. It can be extremely difficult to comment on the people who say that my own assault wasn't really just that: an assault. However, by the power of other women behind me, I have found my own power. Being molested is a heavy weight to bear, but knowing that there are people behind me gives me the strength and courage to persist.
Recently, the woman who assaulted me died. As sad as it may seem, I got a sense of catharsis when my perpetrator died. It was as if a hush came over my soul, ready at any given moment to heave a sigh of relief. Do I feel bad for being happy? No, not at all, and I think that it's somewhat normal. My life is no longer a reflection of someone who hurt me, and it makes me extremely happy. Death is one of the most final, and certain things that can come in the face of humanity, and with her death, it felt like I was finally free.
Activism, as used in its most recent form via the Oxford English Dictionary, is "the policy of active participation or engagement in a particular sphere of activity; spec. the use of vigorous campaigning to bring about political or social change." The thing that has made me an activist has definitely been the force behind my fellow activists. Making my own impact on the world involves other women who want to also make said impact on the world. I wouldn't know how to find my own voice if it was not for the people I surround myself with. The saying goes that "empowered women empower women." I find that this is not only a true statement in activism, but a motivating factor for activists everywhere.
Now, I am no longer afraid to talk about my sexual assault. Admittedly, there are times when I am probably too open about that time in my life. However, there is a voice, and while it was silenced for a long time, it now comes through in my own work. It's not only for the women who have found their voices, but for the women who have not. I want those who are in silence to know that I hear you, too. One day, you will find your own voice. Until then, though, I am ready to be a voice of those who cannot speak. Situations in life can sometimes be uncontrollable, but with activism, I get to control my own voice. And that, it seems, speaks louder than the silence that once came over me.