Warning: discussion may be triggering for victims of sexual violence
It is late at night. I cannot sleep. I did not watch the circus surrounding the Ford/ Kavanaugh “main event”. I did not want to, I knew it would be a trigger for me. But try as I might to avoid it, it was everywhere. It was an “in your face” story that was talked about everywhere. I am sure I am far from the only female awake tonight and struggling with the fallout caused by a seemingly endless parade of memories of past abuses and transgressions. Memories triggered by the Ford/Kavanaugh story. I feel compelled to add my voice to the millions out there who are saying: No more! I have not wanted to write about it – I still don’t, but feel moved to do so
See, that’s the rub. When you have been assaulted in any way you take the blame for it on yourself. You think … “there must be something wrong with me”. You think you somehow brought it all on yourself. Shame, guilt, pain all become a toxic soup that poisons the mind and the soul. Shame keeps us silent. Guilt, though undeserved, keeps us chained to a past event that we have (and had) no control over. I am grateful to Christine Blasey Ford for her bravery in speaking out – it gives other women the courage to do the same.
So, this is my story – or at least the parts I am willing to share here.
I remember that awful icky, sinking feeling when a man put his arm around my shoulder when I was a small girl. I remember the nausea as his palm pressed upon my flat chest. Somehow, I knew he was not expressing any kind of innocent affection. And I remember the vast relief I felt when my mother, sensing my distress, made an excuse to extricate me from his “loving” embrace.
I remember the boy I dated who told all his buddies that I was “easy” and that he’d slept with me. By doing so he put a target on my back. I would spend the next several weeks or more answering phone calls from strange boys who wanted to take me out. It was disconcerting. It was scary. And when I found out about the lies it was both embarrassing and enraged me at the same time.
I remember a man propositioning me with offers of money if I would go into a bedroom with him when I was barely twelve.
I remember the date who slammed me against the wall because I dared to say no. On a different occasion another had me pinned to the floor, while I fought and screamed until I was rescued by another boy. I shudder to think what could have happened.
All of these instances and more made me feel like an ‘it’. IT and I don’t mean intelligent technology or inter-terrestrial. IT or thing. My feelings never mattered to these men. To them I was no more than an ends to a means – a way to satisfy their lust. ‘Things’ don’t experience terror, pain, or shame. ‘Things’ do not experience heartache, for things do not possess hearts, or brains, or anything worth considering in the eyes of the predator. You really are ‘just a piece of meat’ to them.
It took years for me to release the chains of shame, guilt, fear, and all the rest of the ingredients of the toxic soup society had helped prepare for me and for all girls and women.
I know that not all men are like this, but I am one single individual who has had way too many encounters from an early age with such egotistical, selfish bullies. And there are millions more. It saddens me to think of all the billions of girls and women the world over who continue to fight off unwanted advances, unwanted attention, unwanted assaults. (Who would want to be assaulted or raped?)
I know there are good people in this world – both men and women. And I know it is past time to say ‘no more’! Let us teach our children respect. Respect for themselves and for one another. Nobody should ever feel like they are not a person – like a thing!