The Sound Of Silence.
Do I write this? Do I not? Okay just do it.
In wake of what’s been going on, I’m not going to talk about my exact experience. But what I do want to talk about is the response to my experience.
When my sexual assault first happened, I told a friend and an ex-boyfriend. They wanted to help, but I wouldn’t let them. I was consumed by Catholic guilt that I did something wrong to warrant it. My logical brain said “I can’t win any case, I didn’t take a rape kit.” I confronted my attacker the day after it happened, he said, “you wanted it, and besides, you were drinking underage.” This left me conflicted and silent. I felt shame.
I didn’t tell anyone for years. I then told a serious boyfriend once when I felt there was trust. I was wrong. He completely freaked out, punched a wall, and screamed “how could you do this to me?!” I ended up consoling him? I stayed with him. I’m not sure why. It took me years to learn my worth. That left more of an impact on me than the initial attack. Again, I went years silent.
I would see brave souls openly talk about their attacks. Part of me didn’t believe them at first because, how come they don’t have shame like me? I also equated them to a girlfriend my brother once had who was a compulsive liar and who DID lie about her assault. (She also lied about having breast cancer while my mother was going through her first time with breast cancer.) I thought, “oh anyone who’s so candid to talk about it must be a liar.” But with my own personal growth and listening, I realized the problem was me. Not the brave souls talking about their experiences. I started to believe them more.
I rarely talk about this experience and everything around it because I never wanted people to think of me as weak. And as much as I love attention (I’m a performer, hello?!), I didn’t want people to think I was seeking attention. I didn’t want the image of me being a bubbly happy person to vanish. I didn’t want people to walk around on egg shells or take me seriously. I don’t take me seriously. But I’ve learned, there’s a time and place for jokes. Then there’s not.
I slowly began opening up to people. I talked to others who went through the same experience. It took me almost 10 years after the attack to tell my parents because I didn’t want them to think they failed as parents. Because they didn’t. They’re the best and provided me so much love when they didn’t know I truly needed it.
I’m 26 now. I’ve been harassed and assaulted since. I had my ass grabbed on the street one night and when I told people, everyone wanted to talk about what I was wearing and what time of night it was. We need to stop that behavior. We need to confront the behavior of the attackers. I did nothing wrong that night and I was wearing what I wore to work that day. I’m thankful I managed to get out of that situation without any more harm and without using mace. I still really need to get mace.
I hear your words, but I also hear your silence because #MeToo.