Please be advised that the following blog post contains sensitive subject matter and may be a trigger for those who live with present and past experiences with sexual harassment, abuse, and assault.
Social media has been filled lately with the #MeToo stories of sexual abuse, harassment, and assault. The recent attention to the subject has been desperately needed for change. I personally have shared my story(ies) with close friends and family. This has been about as far as it as gone. I’ve seen/heard of too many of my friends and others in my life who have gone through these type situations themselves. This is an issue for both men and women. A person’s gender does not determine whether or not one can help educate, change, and prevent future instances of abuse..
While this has been in the media, I have seen my fair share of people saying things like how someone dresses or their level of intoxication is just asking for an unwanted sexual situation. I can’t explain the feelings that come over me when I read or hear of someone saying it’s deserved or asked for. First, anger, obviously. Who in their right mind would ever believe that someone would wear something with the intent of getting assaulted? This is absolutely insane. Also, I should be able to expect other people to control their primal urges no matter how I’m dressed.
Secondly, I feel a deep sadness that people actually blame the victim. They point fingers at someone who has experienced what is potentially the worst thing that’s ever happened to them.
And third, I feel a fear for every person that I care about and even those I don’t know that they may experience what I myself have.
I’ve had several experiences with harassment and abuse throughout my life. I can remember the boy in middle school who made unwanted advances. I can recall the boyfriend who thought I needed a “push” to be ready for the same things he was, but the cake topper was my step father.
He was ex law enforcement, well thought of, and popular.
I realize now that I should have seen earlier signs. There were snide inappropriate comments and smacks to my backside when it began. While this was uncomfortable, I, in my fourteen year old mind, thought it was as far as it would go. Oh, how wrong I was.
My life changed drastically. Every man I met became a potential predator. I didn’t want anyone to touch me. My view of myself changed. I disgusted myself. I was damaged with no self worth, and I felt like everyone could see it. For the past sixteen years, I haven’t felt comfortable around people. I had to admit to my sweet boyfriend (now husband) what was happening to me after he witnessed it first hand. Had he not caught my step father in the act, I may never have spoken up. Tony cornered me in my room and demanded to know how long I’d been enduring the abuse. His brown eyes were a mix of sorrow and anger. He told me that if I did not speak up, that he would. My relationship with him has been changed. He’s been so tender and understanding about the lingering issues that I’ll probably have for the rest of my life. My heart has been hardened because of what happened to me. If sharing my story will prevent it from happening to just one person, it is worth putting my private experience out there.
Please, if you feel like someone might be making inappropriate advances toward you, no matter how insignificant it may seem, tell someone.