I have been overwhelmed by the gratitude I have been feeling after reading all of the stories that have come to light from the #Metoo movement. I feel so proud and impressed with all the woman who have had the courage to come forward and share their stories publicly. I forget too often that there are others out there who share in our pain and that we don’t need to walk alone. I’ve been wondering, what is my #metoo story? What do I have to share?

Sexual assault and harassment are not always done by strangers in dark alleys in the night. Sexual assault and harassment come in all shapes and sizes — from the people we trust, from people in positions of power, even from people we are in consensual sexual relationships with.

My “Metoo” story is about growing up feeling like my only power as a female came from sex — that this was the only way to succeed, to gain status in social circles, be accepted, be loved. I had been conditioned to believe that I was not worthy, that being treated like shit was just how the world worked. I honestly don’t know when this notion was planted in my head, and I didn’t even know that was how I felt until I was asked by a therapist to write a letter I wouldn’t send, to all of my sexual partners telling them how I felt about my experiences with them. Well fuck, I thought, that will be a lengthy task, and I put it off for a long time, feeling like it was a mountain I wasn’t ready to climb, and I had no idea why. When I finally started that daunting task, I was shocked by what I learned about myself, and about how others had been treating me, and how I’d let myself be treated. To look at what I’d written for my first ten sexual experiences and to find that only one of those ten partners had respected me and my body made me feel sick. What was worse was that I’d thought, this is sex, this is what I deserve, this is how women are treated, so why would I complain?

Now this is where most people insert all their guesses about why a girl with no sexual experiences had nine bad ones right off the bat. The first guess is daddy issues, am I right? If every man was like my father, I would live in a perfect world where every woman found a man who would worship and adore her. I can’t think of anyone in my life who has treated me better, loves me more, or could be more of a feminist then my father. What went wrong? How did this happen to me?

Our society failed me as a woman. Not only should it be obvious not to sexually assault and harass women, we should be teaching every boy how to be a man — how women’s bodies are not here for his pleasure or something that he gets automatically as a right of passage into manhood. Every girl and woman on this planet deserves to be loved and respected, especially by anyone who has the privilege of having sex with her.

I am not yet a mother. The closest I have come to the feeling of wanting everything in the world, and more, for someone else, is for the girls I used to teach. Those beautiful, smart, funny, talented girls started taking classes from me when they were eleven and twelve years old. They were the perfect age to be excited about the world, and they had yet to be tainted by anything. I would have given anything to protect those girls from all the sexual experiences they were yet to have.

I want to live in a world where my girls can sit in a room with other woman and not be able to say “me too”. I want to not be worried and scared for girls to become women — where we can be excited about our sexual partners and the intimate beautiful things that can be created between two people. We need to stop the slut shaming. We need to address that age-old question of why a man gets a high-five when he gets laid and a woman is called a whore. Sex can be, and should be, an amazing experience enjoyed by two people. I wish it hadn’t taken me as long as it has to realize this.

To the girl that’s been raped by her boyfriend, taken advantage of by someone in a position of power, the countless times you’ve been made to feel worthless, unloveable, disposable.