Seeing the #MeToo statuses are sadly no surprise to me, but it makes me feel not alone in the burdens I have carried: the feelings of shame. The reasons behind why I hated myself. The reasons that confident girl kind of disappeared. Sexual harassment/abuse is something we have endured since man walked the earth. It does not make it right. Not one human owns my body nor do I own theirs whether man or woman. In my belief, my body is a temple and there are parts of me that are and should remain sacred, or so I thought.
It’s important to raise your children with awareness interacting with others as well keeping close tabs on their internet interactions. Nothing can be 100% full-proof but knowing everyone is on the page, being aware of the warning signs can save someone from years of mental, emotional, and physical turmoil.
I’m trying to muster up sharing a couple of my stories here. There are too many harassment stories to tell and as long as I am alive, we will encounter with some kind of sexual harassment nearly every day. For me, personally, this is not about getting back at my abusers—it’s just fact. I’m not at all looking for pity or apologies from my audience. I want this to be public because my life story can be a lesson to our future or simply touching with someone who has been similar instances. One day, my disease will most likely be the reason for my end here on earth, but sometimes our death can be the start of a huge impact on others that could save a life.
As a child, my mom was teaching me some lessons of responsibility by checking the mail independently. There was a neighbor across the street who seemed friendly and would often speak to my mother, in a neighborly fashion. On my daily mission to check the mail said neighbor was acting oddly and was talking me in an inappropriate way, trying to lure me over to his apartment. I ran. From that day, he would avoid talking to my mom at all costs. I remember seeing him at a gas station, he hid from us appearing uncomfortable by the look of me. If he didn’t have bad intentions, why the shame I thought and, somehow, I felt like I was invading him.
I became friends with someone around the age of 12, someone that I thought enjoyed my company and my personality. He was a bit older than me so he was a teenager. When I grew older I tried excusing it to him being hormonal. Thing is, I did not want nor asked for these inappropriate actions. Anytime I tried hinting or sharing with anyone, “You allowed it. You knew right from wrong.” He exposed me to pornography. He exposed me to lewd acts. I didn’t want that. I wanted a friend. I wanted safety in a friendship. I was a child. I was numb and drained. It went onto until I was 18. I had been extremely excited to attend college after graduating high school. There were a couple of years I did not interact much with him because I was dealing with my cancer. I stupidly talked to my abuser online—it was nothing but sexual with him. Whatever I could do to fulfill him sexually, I did. He was attending the same college I wanted to attend. I told him I was gearing up to apply. He explained what areas of the campus he would take me and outright said, “I’m going to rape you.” I broke. I lost it. For the first time, I felt murder in my heart. I felt crushed. I never thought I wanted someone dead. The rage was more than I could endure. While I threatened to go to the authorities, I was frozen. My mind kept saying, “This is your fault. They’re not going to do anything.” I started abusing narcotics to numb my emotions. I wouldn’t sleep for a day or two at a time then sleep the day away, rinse and repeat.
All of this is… incredibly difficult to post especially in the public eye. A bit before all that occurred with said “friend”. I was touched inappropriately, every morning from 5:30-6am by someone in a professional setting. A place where you are supposed to be safe and feel safe. For years it would play it repeatedly my mind, “Maybe I am overthinking this. Maybe they were supposed to do that.” Even to this day, extreme stress or grief can cause flashbacks to those moments.
In my search for decency and healthy relationships, it allowed more unhealthy instances to cross my path. I thought it was how I was supposed to be treated by men. I was their puppet and they had to be pleased. Unhealthy sexual relations for years. Deep down I knew it was not how anyone should be treated. Anytime I was the “big sister” anyone, I would become overprotective and a bit neurotic whenever they were dealing with their own relations with guys. How I wish I could have taken my own advice sooner rather later. I have come to healing and relearning the importance that sexual harassment is NOT OK. Anywhere or anytime. Toxic relationships are NOT OK. You are worthy. We are worthy.
My mom received a lot of pent-up attitude and rage from me as I was not one to express my emotions very well to her, at least when it came to the darkness and sadness. For this, I felt awful. I did not want my mother to feel like a failure. Parents, watch for signs. Talk with them. Hold their hand and say, “When you’re ready, I am here when you need me. No judgments.”
I loathed anyone’s hands on me. I didn’t matter who you were. I did not hug my best friend, Sara, until the 10th year of our friendship. There was a time I loved being hugged then it turned into something I avoided. It made me feel claustrophobic and, on hard days, it still can be challenging.
There has been much healing through prayer, therapy, and journaling. Some days are rough but I learned to hug those I trust. I love showing love and I don’t want my perpetrators to destroy the beautiful person God has built me to be. We are not obligated to share our stories, no one is. So if you are reading others stories and don’t wish to share yours or you feel bad for not sharing your story, stop right there. Do not. This is not a competition or a rule. You are just as valid. You are not unnoticed. For me, the healthy vulnerability sheds my shame. Shame is the root of my depressive meltdowns. It has been one of those things I believe we are taught not to share. Just shove it away and move on. Awareness is so important for change amongst our hearts—so we can treat one another with respect. Man or woman. Look at the heart. Next time you interact with someone, ask yourself, “Am I respecting this person?” or better yet “In what way am I not respecting this person?”
To my perpetrators: You made me hate something that was meant to be beautiful: sex and my body, overall, just me. You made question my self-worth. You made me do things I did not want to do. No does, in fact, mean no. There is no such rule, “If a woman says no, it really means she wants you.” Hatred festered in my heart, but it did not win. You did not win. You will know and understand what you have robbed of me and others. Every evil thing we do will have consequences.
But I’m not crazy, I’m just a little unwell
I know right now you can’t tell
But stay awhile and maybe then you’ll see
A different side of me
I’m not crazy, I’m just a little impaired
I know right now you don’t care
But soon enough you’re gonna think of me
And how I used to be, me –Unwell by Matchbox Twenty