Why I’m not on the bus for the Women’s March on Washington

Do you want to know why I’m not on a bus to DC right now?

For the last several months, I’ve been working to get an order of protection against an abusive ex-boyfriend. As my pals know, it has been an insanely stressful, emotionally draining process — and I’m not on a bus because I’m going to court on January 20.

Graphic courtesy of the Women’s March on Washington.

Although court is nothing new (I’ve been in and out for this since then), the last time I had to face this man was the morning after the election. Over the course of the short time we were together — and the longer time we have not been — I was repeatedly told that I am nasty. I have had my job and safety threatened, my physical appearance torn apart, my intelligence and character demeaned. I have been told many times that I am undeserving of the opportunities that have come my way, that the relationships in my life are shallow and phony, that I am worthless, vapid, disgusting (and worse). I was told by a man what I could and could not do, and that I better not question it because he would be out there “to make sure I suffered.” I was told these things by a man who thought he had the power and the right to determine my worth and dictate my actions.

Over the last year, I heard those words again and again and again — but not just from this man, but from the TV, from news networks, on Facebook statuses, from the mouths of those who belong to the political party founded to represent and empower the people. I saw it echoed across Twitter and in hashtags, I saw it make headlines. I watched a man hypnotize a population with blatant disregard for the facts. I watched a man brag about women as if they were meaningless objects, and then determine their value based on how worthy they were of his attention. I watched at rallies how words could be used to ostracize and alienate the same way words were used against me.

At my first court appearance, I was broken. More than broken — I was destroyed. It was 9am on November 9 and after initially drafting this with hope and positivity in my heart, I watched the election turn. I deleted the note in my phone and I cried, feeling as if I had lost more than just my candidate in the election — I lost faith in my support system. For so long I imagined that America wouldn’t stand for this — and that I didn’t have to either. When the results came in, I couldn’t shake the hopeless, hollow, defeated feeling when I realized I didn’t deserve as much as I had convinced myself I had.

Then I watched women I respect and admire reject that bullshit. And every day since then, I have watched women I admire — the women I am privileged to call my colleagues and friends; the woman who raised me to believe I am worth what I believe and not what anyone tells me I am; and the only woman who I felt had more to lose than me on November 9 — showed me that I did not have to stay trapped in my bed as I had sentenced myself to.

I have watched the women I love and respect make signs, donate money and time, send phone numbers, knit pink pussy hats, and most importantly — come together. I have watched as women have rallied to support each other and unite in the face of opposition.

I’m choosing to say this now because I know that as upset as I was on November 9, I will never stand hollow, hopeless and defeated again. And that’s because of the women who have empowered me to have my own voice, the women who inspired me, and the women have supported me throughout this to give me the courage to speak. I might not be physically with you on January 21, but I am behind you.

Thank you.