One of the newest twitter hashtags, Facebook status, internet trends to come out is the #MeToo. As many of you may know, multiple recent allegations of sexual assault have come about against film producer Harvey Weinstein. In response, women (and men) around the world took to the biggest platform, the internet, to stand in solidarity as well as show the magnitude of the issue of sexual harassment, assault, and rape, and I have felt pulled to finally say “Me Too” as well.
It was never easy for me to acknowledge the violation that was forced on my body and mind at such a young age. I wasn’t aware of the size of my breasts, let alone the fact that they were a distraction. I had only seen talk of sex in textbooks or when we had gender separate meetings to answer any of our “pressing questions”. I wasn’t in tune with my sexuality, how was I supposed to be? I was only 13. Then my body and what it meant to others and how it made others feel and what it made others want to do was shown to me one day in a simple email that took away any form of innocence I had left. My body was made into an object useful only for a man’s pleasure and my mind struggled to comprehend the meaning of this boy’s words.
I became more cautious after that. No more tank tops or shorts, after all even the girls said it was my fault that I had provoked him. If that was true, I was the only one that could change it right? So I tried to cut my breasts off. That would solve the problem… It didn’t exactly work though, and left a scar that later added to even more self-hatred. My parents didn’t know what to do as they were frantically running around trying to figure out who the hell this perverted kid was and when we did, the school administrators let it go and gave him more attention and care than they did myself. So I went to therapy. I sat in a dark little box, across from a stranger I was quite literally paying to listen to me, and talking about how I hated myself… as a 13 year old. The boy that sent those emails and took a piece of my soul has moved on, as I did and am still trying to do. But he doesn’t have to live everyday with the words he typed out one morning constantly running through his mind and be in the body that was the target of those derogatory terms. I’ve forgiven him now, but won’t ever forget – as it was a big point in my life that led to my eating disorder, chronic depression and anxiety, and ultimately self-harm/suicidal thoughts.
You see, sexual harassment and assault doesn’t stop after the harasser/assaulter “apologizes” or is caught or punished (if at all). It isn’t over when they finally realize that no means no or if they don’t at all and leaves the room when they’re “finished”. It never ends for the victim. It is a constant memory that stirs fear, hatred, anxiety, pain, and suffering within the sufferer. I personally am not as angry anymore. I have learned and thankfully been able to grow, but here I am years later, still struggling from repercussions. That is another thing that people do not realize. The repercussions to sexual harassment, assault, and rape are endless. Every 98 seconds, another person is made the victim of sexual assault* While the number of sexual assaults has decreased by 63% from 1993, it is still an issue* It is not an issue that is selective only females, or whites, blacks, Latino(a), Asians, old, young, straight, gay, bisexual, transgender, fat, skinny, poor, or rich, it is a worldly issue that needs to be discussed, addressed, and solved. Yes, I have been the victim of sexual harassment and sexual assault. Yes, it was difficult and yes, it took a part of me. But, NO it will not define me, nor will it stop me from doing the things I love, with the people I love. It will not be a defining characteristic in my life but rather my life will be a definition of strength and perseverance.
So finally, here I am, saying #MeToo, for myself, my little sister, the girls that I babysit, my roommates, hall mates, classmates, for the women that have overcome rape and abuse, and for the women that are working hard to overcome their traumas. You too, can overcome it. You too, are strong.
* RAINN: Rape, Incest, and Abuse National Network https://www.rainn.org/statistics/scope-problem