This isn’t for your attention.
This isn’t for your sympathy.
This is me finally putting into words twelve years of harassment and assault.
I refuse to live another day under the weight and the burden of these demons.
The first time I was sexually assaulted I was a junior in High School. We were admittedly drinking underage at this guy’s house with some of the older college kids I regularly hung out with. He was a sports star and I was rather unpopular. He said I could sleep on the couch so I didn’t drive home drunk. After everyone left, we started making out when things became aggressive. He shoved his hand down my pants and I laughed out of nervousness. When I realized he was serious, I told him, “No”.
Imagine a 110lb. girl trying to push off a 200lb. football player.
You don’t. You can’t.
He pulled down my pants as he pulled down his. He forced himself on top of me. He whispered, “Just the tip, I swear.” I cried and begged him not to. I was a virgin. He finally gave up because he literally didn’t fit. He passed out on the couch, his pants still below his ass, and I cried on his doorstep waiting to sober up enough to drive home.
I told my best friend the next day and even though she hugged me, I could tell she didn’t believe me. Her reaction implied that I was just looking for attention. This is when it became clear that speaking up would never be an option. My confession wasn’t safe, or valid, even within my closest friendship. People would never believe me. I could hear the whispers already, She probably wanted it anyways.
I struggled with intimacy and relationships for many, many years. Like several women I know, it didn’t end there.
One time in college I was drugged at a party, abandoned by the friends I was with, and woke up in an unfamiliar bed. The stranger actually saved me from a group of young men I didn’t know. He pulled my limp body from the circle, put me in his car, tried contacting my friends who ignored my calls, and drove me back to his house. He slept on the couch so that a stranger could sleep in his bed and recover from being drugged. I don’t remember anything from that night. My assumption has always been I was assaulted in some way. I’ve always hoped he found me sooner than that. (Andrew, I’ve thanked you a million times in this life and I will thank you a million more.)
My Astronomy professor (45 years my senior) propositioned me for sex under the guise of meeting for a cup of coffee (he was my mentor at the time). I shrugged off his constant advances until he gave me a less-than-passing grade for the class at the end of the semester. I threatened to report him to the Dean for misconduct. I passed the class with a corrected “C” on my transcript. I didn’t go back to that campus out of fear that we would cross paths.
A guy I went on a date with ONCE sent me an unsolicited dick pic after I posted a photo with my now husband. (Actually. Several men have sent me unsolicited pictures of their dicks. It was appalling, but I never had the courage to say so.) This time though, I threatened to post his name and contact information in a sexual assault support group. We share several mutual friends and I had no qualms outing him for being the perv he is. His response was, “Word.” Thankfully, I never heard from him again.
Five, Six, and Seven through who knows how many because it happened so many times I lost count.
When I worked in bars, mainly hosting karaoke, I was sexually assaulted repeatedly. Here are some of the most notable:
- One of the bartenders helped carry the equipment to my car at the end of a show. I had to load my front seat with my laptop and other breakable things. When I closed the door and turned around to say goodnight, he pinned me against my car and kissed me while he pulling his dick out. He begged me to touch it and started playing with himself. I reminded him of the girlfriend who was waiting for him at home. Thankfully, he dropped it without pushing things further, but I pulled over a few blocks down the road and puked. A few weeks later I found out he was convicted of sexual assault of a minor.
- Similarly, the brother of one of the venue owners walked me out to my car after a show and then forced himself on me. He grabbed my face and forced his tongue into my mouth. I pushed him away and he came after me again, this time groping me aggressively. I pushed him as hard as I could, slid quickly into my car, and locked the door. He banged on the window and put his foot in front of my tire making it impossible for me to leave. I cracked the window and begged him to step away. It took me threatening to call the cops to get him to let me leave. I asked the manager of the karaoke company to take me off the account, but he never did. I had to work that specific venue for months after the assault. I’m still afraid my silence led to someone else being hurt by him.
- I lost count of how many times my ass was slapped or groped, how many times I was kissed on the cheek or lips without my permission, or had inappropriate things said to me under the distraction of loud music and dim lights. It pushed me into a deep depression for many months. I began to hate the one and only thing I was proud of myself for building. Being a bartender or entertainment host meant that I asked for and deserved this kind of attention. Right? At least that’s what I had to convince myself in order to have the courage to continue running my business.
The latest but, fearfully, not the last.
I was drugged and raped while traveling through Cambodia. The police did nothing to expedite the report (I was a tourist and would be surely leaving soon) or charge my known attacker. I couldn’t even get the support of the United States Embassy. Though I was drugged, with time I began to remember. Despite having the support of an amazing friend and a loving significant other, I slipped into a deep depression, developed severe anxiety, and was diagnosed with PTSD.
Though I’ve come a long way in my journey towards healing, I know I will never full heal. I walk into rooms with my headphones on and my eyes cast to the floor. I am often afraid of a harmless hello. I can’t mentally or emotionally handle most social situations (something that never bothered me before). I will never fully believe in myself, my worth, my safety, or my beauty ever again. I pray this is the last time I am assaulted, but I know it probably won’t be.
The above list doesn’t even mention the dozens of times I’ve been called a slut, a whore, been physically hit because I denied advances, or verbally abused by men in power.
Since coming forward earlier this year about being raped during my travels, HUNDREDS of women reached out to me sharing their own stories of assault. Some women I’ve never personally met. Some I admire as inspirations. Some I know very well. Some I consider the strongest women I have ever known.
Most have never been vocal about their assaults, but today on their feeds I read the devastating and courageous words, “Me too.” We are finally shedding light on this fucked up beast, but something in my gut is telling me it will not be enough.
To anyone who is still living in the darkness of their assaults or feel they can not come forward with their stories publicly. To any woman or man who has had their sense of security, peace of mind, their physical space or their physical vessels violated, ever, in any way. To all the resilient, beautiful, courageous souls who took this opportunity to confront their demons in order to raise awareness of the severity and prevalence of assault occurring in our every day.
I see you.
I love you.
I support you.
I am forever here for you.
You are not, and will never be, alone.