#MeToo

… That’s what I’ve been reading about and am so encouraged by. But since I don’t have much (or any) social media presence, I couldn’t share my story that way. So here I am sharing this way, because it’s time that all of these stories be told; it’s past time.

When I was 5 years old, I was able to be out and about in the neighborhood, all by myself. How was I to know (or be careful) about “bad things” that might be going on in our middle class neighborhood in the San Fernando Valley? How was I to know to be untrusting of the next door neighbor, the father of my friends, the man who “invited” me into his closed garage, who gently put me on my back on the hood of his car, who told me to keep our secret? When he touched me repeatedly over the next two years, telling me how nice our secret made me feel, even when the pain of his penetration was telling me otherwise, how was I to know that this was wrong? When I one day I told my mother that I really hurt “down there” and she told me to just be quiet and stop whining, how was I to know that I should have been protected? How was I to know that I was being molested? (That level of molestation stopped when I was about 7 years old, when my family moved out of that neighborhood.) How was I to know?

But there was another kind of molestation, of child abuse, going on in my own house … at the same time. When I was 3 years old, my mother often said “wait till your father gets home!” When I heard his car, I would lie face down on the stool of the chair and just wait for him to walk in and spank me … hard. How was I to know? This spanking continued in a different format (hitting with objects) till I left home to live with my friend’s family when I was 15 years old, and then permanently left to attend college at 17 years old. How was I to know? When I told my parents that I was going to college, my father’s response was, “No, you’re a girl, you’re too stupid, and I won’t pay for it.” How was I to know? Fortunately for me, I was driven … and stubborn … and strong. I left home, worked 35 hours per week and went to the university full time (graduating in 4 years). How was I to know that this physical and verbal abuse was not right, that this was not the way to treat others? How was I to know that I was not alone?

So here I am many, many, many years later and each time I’ve had the courage to talk with others, to share my stories, the pervasiveness of sexual and physical harassment became more obvious. We MUST tell our stories! We must ACT now! We have to CHANGE NOW, to allow each person to be respected, trusted, and loved. #MeToo … but never again!

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