We are in precarious times with all of the firings of celebrity men. Let me first say this, please let the justice system work. We are a society that believes in a fair trial and innocence until proven guilty. This is a time for cautious balance. As a survivor, I am triggered daily by all of this. I go back to my own experience and relive it and I have to say, it is just as raw and awful as it was the very day the incidents (yes plural) occurred. You see, I was a mere child of about 10 years old. It happened quickly and was from no stranger but a trusted family member. Any schooling I had about stranger danger would not have prevented the abuse I endured. I miraculously did report and my parents said that it was a well known fact that this is how this family member was so next time, just don’t answer the door when an adult is not home. So, when the other family member crossed the line with unacceptable bad touch, I told no one. After all, I was now under the impression that it was just the way things were. Time rolled along and many other acts of unwanted attention from men in the workplace happened as well. I married and experienced both verbal abuse and rape. Yes, rape. I do not consider what I endured to be anything but the word rape.
A pivotal point was when I made the choice to leave an abusive husband. Divorce is never easy, however it is a time to learn about yourself. I learned that the childhood molestation was impactful and framed the way I made decisions. I went back to my parents and this time, the reaction was a lot more harsh. I was told that I made all of it up. That was a hard one to wrap my brain around. I now had children of my own and vowed that never would I ever allow anything to happen to any of them, regardless of wether to my boys or my girls. Having my parents dismiss the childhood experience was just as awful as it was when it first happened.
As I listen daily to the news and what is being revealed I have seen some positive things happening. There are constructive positive conversations and revelations that this should not continue. Every positive remark however, tends to also have a negative remark that sends me reeling. Here is a short list of what I would like everyone to understand about sexual abuse.
- No matter the situation, it is never ok. It is not ok in a work situation, in a relationship and not even in a marriage. Any sexual action, from touch, kiss and beyond must happen ONLY when it is consensual. Both parties are ok with the action, not just one.
- Sexual assault scars your soul forever. You will find peace and healing eventually, but it alters your emotions. Your whole way of handling life is turned upside down.
- Do not judge the person who has been violated. Notice, I did not use a specific gender. It happens to both genders. No one asks to be assaulted.
- Victim is not a positive word to use. I was not a weak person who just let things happen. Even as a 10 year old, I resisted. I should never have to explain that to anyone. I am a survivor and that is a tough word too because it means I went through something that no human should have to.
- We do not want your pity. This is a part of who I am and I now make choices and decisions based on my experiences. So, when I am not open to sleep overs for my children, do not judge. Understand that my whole focus now is to prevent my children, my angels from every enduring one ounce of what I went through.
- We want long lasting change. The kind of change that begins in how we raise our children. Teach your children to respect one another, be kind to one another and if someone says no, then that is the answer.
- We want the ability to report things that are wrong and not fear repercussions. I have been reading so many posts from women who have lost jobs, quit jobs and have had many more things happen to them that makes my experiences pale in comparison. Unless I am mistaken, we are living in 2017 not 1920.
- Understand this with clarity, I believe in a fair trial. I do not find false reporting to be acceptable under any circumstances. That is just as wrong as assaulting someone.
So friends, as you scroll through the immense amount of opinions, remember that every 98 seconds an American is sexually assaulted. Read that again, every 98 seconds an American is sexually assaulted. Don’t you think this needs to stop? Remember this, the number reflects those that are reported. Mine was never reported. Please have empathy for everyone when commenting. “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.”