Me, too

I am stunned at Facebook. I think I thought it was only me. That I had been through what I had been through and that others, they went through worse. I have discounted and denied my feelings on all of this for so very long.

I can’t imagine my daughter going through what I have. I will challenge myself as a parent everyday to allow her to know and feel her own power in life. It’s moments like this, where my heart is open to any possibility and I am actively learning. All day and every hour.

Thank you for showing me I am not alone.

‘Me, too.’ My own stories of sexual harassment and assault;

My sophomore year of high school was a year of expediency. I went from hiding everywhere I could to wanting so badly to be noticed. In the beginning, I just left like I needed survive and find places to come up for air between sexuality, between bullshit friend drama, and between asking myself what it is that I really wanted out of my whole high school experience.

Distractions like I was about to endure made me often unreachable by my parents and most trusted friends. There was a boy or two that had come my way, but that kind of depth hadn’t been reached. And the truth was that I didn’t give a shit about him until the day I met him, but I did know his name. He was very popular at school and only started to speak to me due to that physical proximity. He was placed by me at a desk in science. He was a flirt and I liked experimenting with this new sport. It was all a little exciting, I guess.

As we got closer to tests, he started asking me answers. He already had my affection though. He manipulated me by caring for him and fearing him at the same time. Nothing is simple and it wasn’t long before he was scratching me until I bled, twisting my arm until I cried under our desk, and telling me how worthless I was for not knowing the answers or for not letting him cheat. I wasn’t fulfilling my purpose on building him up every day as a woman.

As the whole process endured, I never knew what kind of day it was going to be. The good days when he was almost affectionate and the others. The ones where I was mentally exhausted from hiding my pain. I was thankful for another kid that tried to intercede at times. The teacher did eventually catch on and switched me, he was really perceptive. He didn’t make me explain myself. Months or weeks of intimidation, I really can’t recall. It seemed like years.

That next year, he got a girlfriend who lost her light. You could see it in her face. She isolated herself from her friends. And I knew why. I knew what he was doing to her. I also knew what he made her feel like by loving her. Taking the bad with the good. I, also, had my first serious boyfriend and without telling him my experiences, he said he known that girl his whole life and that so much had changed. He said he wanted to help her, but didn’t know how. It was all swept under the rug. That made me love him more. Despite still being embarrassed from it all, he was my coming up for air in that moment.

I was safe. I knew my self-worth by the end of it all. And I would never let anyone touch me like that again. He’s still on Facebook with our hundreds of ‘mutual’ friends. Fuck you, too, AD.

— -

By senior year I was just about to fall for one of the biggest loves of my life. He was the guy you date for all the right reasons. My mom was proud.

Things were just about to become official for us, just in time for my family and I to take a vacation to Florida. We went to the Kennedy Space Center on the first leg of our trip to see a launch into space. I had excused myself from the pool and went up to the room to make a call. You know, because him and I couldn’t bear the thought of not speaking every minute.

I passed a man on my way up the flight of stairs, not knowing that he turned around to follow me. I opened the door to my hotel room and promptly closed it. I spent time on my call, laughing and giggling. I was so happy to hear a voice I so desperately longed to hear. It was also beautiful outside, so I could see between the thin curtains the sway of the leaves in the trees and….that man. He stood there, waiting, the entire call.

I thought it was strange. I went forward with the plan though to meet my parents in the lobby and left the room. I walked out, walked past him, and went down the stairs. While walking in paths that were perfectly groomed, he snuck up behind me. He got very close and asked me where I was going. How old I was. I did not answer. He told me I was pretty.

I knew in my head that I wasn’t in a good situation. I started walking faster. He matched me, while next to me and said, “how much can I pay you to have sex with me?” I decided to run. He chased me. I yelled to the point that my parents came outside to wrap their arms around me. Crying and panicking, deeply catching my breath.

Police were called. Hotel moved our room. He had disappeared. Everyone was sensitive and professional. It felt good to be with my family.

– -

In college, I worked at a restaurant. There was a man from another place that bussed tables. I was nice to him because he was older. He had a lifetime of being worthless in many people’s eyes. I didn’t want to be like that. They found out he was there illegally and cut him loose.

On his way out out of the door, he asked me to come outside. Curious, I stepped out and in the next moment I was pushed back into a brick wall, groped and kissed. It was all very disgusting and my kindness had been abused. I was strong enough to fend him off and walk back in like it was nothing.

I didn’t look back. I went and continued my shift. My mom was dying of cancer and he was the least of my concern. That was that.

— -

A couple of years later I was back from college break in the summer. I was going to see a friend that worked at a music store. Back when they had music stores. I parked my car to find that a man was pulling up right next to me. Blankly staring and ready to feast. How long had he followed my car? I kept my head down and kept moving. It was broad daylight, so I just had to get from my car to the door of the store. He walked three steps behind me and I could feel how close he was. I felt safe once I walked in though despite him sharing my air. There were people everywhere and my then friend worked in security there. He came out to say ‘hello’, could tell something was off, and had me duck into the back.

That man couldn’t find me and went running around the store. I saw his anger, his frustration, and his frantic on the cameras. He wasn’t getting from me what we wanted and I was unsure how far he was willing to go. I was shaking with fear. Eventually, he left. I had another friend pick me up and we went and got my car the next day together.

A couple days later, said record store friend interrupted me in a group setting at a party. It was the first time I had seen some friends. He interrupted my trauma by asking, “You still telling your story, huh? Perhaps, you shouldn’t have been wearing what you were wearing?” I was caught off guard, as he was the one that had helped me.

I reflected on my chosen outfit. I was wearing sweatpants. I had a hoodie on, with the zipper down low enough to see a cami underneath. I don’t know who I am still more mad at? That crazy man or that crazy friend. I call bullshit though. I can wear whatever I want.

— -

I was held down and sprayed with a fire extinguisher once. In a train car. By myself. From a group of men. I was 23. They were a bit younger. Soaked with chemicals, I was able to fight my way into the next car where there was people. I got off, went to a friends, showered and cried.

There was nothing sexual about it, really. Except that it was them and then me. They chose the first extinguisher instead of rape, so I felt like I should have been thankful? I was frightened and sad. All I remember between fighting them off was asking why, why, why over and over again. They did it because I was a girl, and to them I could be subdued and abused.

I was robbed with my best friend later that same year. We were drunk in a cab and the driver drove us right into that robbery. We were safe, but nothing they did had anything to do with what we were and what they were. They just wanted the money and our things. To me, although unfortunate, there was a clear difference.

— -

Years later, I had babies and was also a Realtor. My number was out there in space and I answered everything to make a little money for my family.

I never figured out who this man was, but he called me from a blocked number every time. He told me what he wanted to do to me and that he was following me.

I had babies in my arms every time he called. I wiped my tears and called the police. My Dad was a judge locally. That was helpful.

Stay away from me and my family. You aren’t sexy. You are disgusting.

— -