As I sit down to write this, I’m not even sure if I’ll post it. First of all, it’s something I don’t really want to talk about, and I feel exposed. Secondly, I rather be a leader than a follower. That being said, I think it’s important that people hear from a ‘normal’ person. Hollywood is currently shining a light on sexual harassment, abuse, assault, and rape. I agree that we need to shine a light on the issue, but I’m not sure Hollywood is the best way to go about it. I think a portion of society doesn’t even believe anyone from that industry. There is also a disconnect between Hollywood and the rest of us. The same would be true for politicians and athletes. Our society has created these bubbles and associated ideologies, whether true or not, with each.
As a child, I was sexually assaulted. Unlike many women and men, I spoke up immediately. The problem for me was that the person that was supposed to protect me chose not to. Sexual harassment lasted most of my childhood and teenage years. Not only did I feel like I was carrying this burden around, but it impacted me emotionally. From my perspective, it was my fault. It was also our family secret, which meant I was alone. I was terrified to sleep at night. I thought he might actually get drunk enough and rape me. None of it should have happened, but it did.
I finally got the help I needed thanks to my high school boyfriend. He had a dream one night and confronted me about the issue. I confirmed that his dream was my reality. I eventually confided in a counselor, and it got more complicated from there. I’m not going to share the details of it all. I do want you to know that I found some peace, and I even forgave the individual. Now I don’t want you to think too much of that, because I still have another person to forgive. I have not been able to do that, and I carry anger with me every single day. I know what I have to do, but I’m not there yet.
I wish both men and women would speak up sooner. I wish we would do a better job of teaching our children to speak up when they feel something is not right. I wish people would take responsibility for their actions. When we wait to address the matter, it takes something away. It takes something away from the victim and dulls the entire issue. People start wondering how so many people could be harmed. Why doesn’t someone speak up? I get their perspective, because it doesn’t make sense. Why does fear have all the power? Victims shouldn’t have to worry about consequences, but we do. I faced negative consequences for telling that counselor my story; however, I also found my voice.
We are facing so many issues right now, and I don’t have the solutions. I do know that open communication and respect make a huge difference. Victims need support and understanding. You don’t get to decide how to define their experience or their emotions. Not one of us is the same, so why should the reaction be?
More than likely you know someone that has experienced some form of sexual abuse, harassment, etc. It might be a friend, sibling, or even your own child.
- One in five women will be raped at some point in their lives
- One in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18
- 34% of people who sexually abuse a child are family members
- Rape is the most under-reported crime; 63% of sexual assaults are not reported to police
*Statistics from National Sexual Violence Resource Center
The statistics are scary, but they are the facts. Several of my friends have been impacted by sexual violence. If you are a victim, please speak. I assure you that you can find healing by speaking about your experience. It can be behind closed doors or to a group of supportive victims. It takes time, and it will probably never feel right. What happened to you wasn’t right. It also wasn’t your fault. Find your voice!
I didn’t want to lecture you or replay it all in my mind, so I’ve kept this fairly short. I simply hope it helps someone or educates you. I’ll end with one of my favorite quotes.