I was raped, repeatedly, over a period of many years by the man I called my father. #metoo
I drank too much one night in college and said no. He didn’t listen.
I have been whistled at, stared at, and had unwanted and unwelcomed advances.
I know more women who are survivors of some type of sexual trauma than aren’t.
Me too. It’s not just a hashtag. For many women, and people in general, it’s a set of lived experiences. Trauma that cuts deep to the core of who we are. Me too is a way of vocalizing the trauma that has occurred in our lives, the sexual violence that has been perpetrated against us. Me too is a way to unite survivors and let those who aren’t ready to speak out know that they aren’t alone. Me too is a shared experience; maybe you weren’t raped but your trauma is real and valid and painful.
My sexual trauma effects every facet of my life, even to this day. It shapes my parenting (read about my experience parenting as a survivor here), effects my relationships with friends, my relationship with my husband. My trauma means that I have a hard time sending my 4 year old daughter into unknown situations without me. My trauma means that I am on high alert every moment to protect my children, myself, my family. My trauma means that the most natural thing in the world, breastfeeding my infant, is complicated by anxiety and flashbacks (read about my breastfeeding journey as a survivor here).
#metoo means that when a survivor comes forward, I believe them, always. I don’t need proof. The proof is the bravery that it took to come forward in
the first place. Sharing that you have been violated in such a personal manner is one of the hardest things that survivors will ever do. The statistics point towards the account being true. One of the major reasons survivors don’t report is fear of not being believed. We need to change this. Perpetrators need to be brought to justice. Survivors need to feel supported in reporting. The survivor shouldn’t have to prove that they were violated, theperpetrator can prove that they didn’t violate.
#metoo effects us all. Your best friend. Your mom. Your sister. Your brother. Your cousin. Coworker. Doctor. The man sitting next to you on the bus. The woman who serves your coffee every morning. Your spouse. Your child. Sexual assault is an epidemic. If you haven’t been directly effected it’s almost certain that someone close to you has. Sexual assault forever changes the survivor. It forever changes the people who love and support them.
Walking down the street can become a terror. Grocery shopping is a victory. Showering with the light on forcing you to view the body that was so violated is an act of bravery. Taking out the garbage alone, walking your dog, being home alone, walking to your car at night. All things that a survivor views differently than a non survivor. Recovery is every moment of every day. You forget what it’s like to feel safe, or if you were assaulted as a child, you never knew in the first place.
My trauma has had some positive effects. My compassion for others knows no bounds. My love for my children is fierce and unending. I have connected with survivors of all types to share my story and offer a shoulder for those who need it. Sharing my trauma has allowed others to feel safe sharing theirs. My relationship with my husband is solid; I have nothing but trust in him. Being a survivor of sexual violence has made me aware, alert, and cognizant of danger. My trauma has made my relationships stronger, deeper, more real. I know what matters in life and I don’t concern myself with much else.
#metoo. It’s not just a hashtag. It’s an experience. A powerful movement. During this moment in time survivors everywhere are acknowledging their experiences, publicly and privately, in a powerful manner. The implications of #metoo are far reaching, but the message is out. Sexual violence is an epidemic. Education is crucial. Every experience is valid and real. Your trauma matters to someone. Your trauma matters to me. You aren’t alone.
If you need support or resources these are some of my favorite organizations that work to support survivors of all types of sexual assaults and abuse.