A person I admire and respect sent this essay to me, and gave me permission to share it.
She, like many of us, is distressed and alarmed by the recorded sexually predatory talk from Donald Trump.
Here’s her story.
It’s been challenging being a part of the human race the last few months. The ugliness, the despair, the nasty rhetoric…it’s hard to justify any of it and even more difficult to face it day after day. I guess, if you’re like me, you just care and want to recognize some humanity in humans again instead of all the hate.
Many of these assaults are “just” words. Social media as the format. A platform to hide behind and say horrible, awful things to friends and strangers. So does any of it actually matter? Words, I mean, what do words hurt?
If only the last civilized thing about us could be the way we treat each other, the way we speak to each other…it would be easier if we could love each other again.
I’d love to say none of it has bothered me, but the bombardment of sexism, misogyny and anti-female rhetoric has become more than I can handle. I know it’s in fashion for some people to mock the oft used phrase “trigger warning” but for some of us, it’s a line of protection we need.
I was 18 years old, from a typical small Iowa town when I left for school at one of Iowa’s universities. I’d had a serious boyfriend but we decided to date other people. I met a guy. He was a big deal. On the football team, which was in the middle of a run of many back to back appearances in national playoffs. It started out fun.
Then we were sitting in his dorm room talking with his roommate who all of a sudden left. And things were getting kind of amorous while we sat talking on the couch when all of a sudden he is pushing me facedown on the floor. My clothes were off, his clothes were off.
He made it clear what he wanted to do and I said, “No, I can’t”.
I said, “Stop. Please stop. No, I don’t want to do that. Stop.”
I tried to move. I couldn’t move at all. I was 5 feet tall, 100 pounds. He was 6’4” and outweighed me by at least 130 pounds. I was immobilized.
He didn’t stop.
He didn’t listen.
He ignored me.
I finally just whimpered into the pillow and waited for it to be over.
A guy I had just started dating sodomized me. I bled for three days. I spent the next days in a state of confusion. I thought he liked me? Why would he do that? It was an odd shock and unsettling feeling to know what he wanted was the only thing he cared about.
I saw him again a few days later. I was not a confrontational person but I felt a nagging feeling to say something. I simply told him that I didn’t understand how that had happened and that it was not a cool thing to do.
He became angry. He practically spit at me, “What are you complaining about? It’s not my problem you’re inexperienced!”
I was so surprised but I bought it. His line. I BELIEVED HIM WHEN HE SAID IT WAS MY FAULT.
I never reported him. I was too scared. I mean, we’d been dating, who would have believed me? No one, that’s who. No one. To this day, all these years later, I still feel guilty I wasn’t brave enough to file charges because I don’t know if he did it to another girl and for that I’m truly sorry and ashamed.
Months later I was hanging out with friends and we were having one of those deep talks you only have with people you trust and I talked about it, and kind of laughed it off I guess. My friend Tyler looked at me with such shock and pain, “You were raped! That is not your fault! You said no, you said stop! You were raped!” Then he grabbed me and hugged me hard and told me he’d help me if I needed anything at all. Like friends are supposed to do.
It took someone else verbalizing it to admit to myself that I had, in fact, been raped. By someone I thought I knew. And they had blamed it on me. It took an even longer time after that to even say aloud “I was raped. I am a rape survivor. I was a victim of sexual assault.” I didn’t say it aloud until well into my 30s.
I still have never said much but to a few trusted friends. It’s something I try to leave in the past. The last thing I want to keep feeling like is a victim because I’ve spent my adult life trying to be a strong, confident woman. But it’s hard when I turn on the news and see a Brock Turner story…I’m angry and sad all over again. I open up the newspaper and read real quotes from real politicians and I’m traumatized all over again.
I’m tired of being reminded I was once a victim when I see people who over and over and over treat women as less than, treat women as whores, treat women as slaves, treat women as trash. I’m afraid for my daughters. It keeps me up at night.
Maybe it’s just words. Sticks and stones, right? Just words. I’m sorry….my bones feel very, very broken right now. And I’m not OK with that. I’m going to keep fighting for women to have a voice and be treated fairly. I hope more people will too. -Anonymous