I haven’t posted anything on here in a while, and this post is gonna be pretty different from anything I’ve written before; but April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and as it’s coming to an end I feel like I’m ready to speak out about how this affects me personally. So here’s my story.
Prior to 2016, I was not a feminist. I had never felt as if I was treated differently because of my sex. I had never felt uncomfortable being in a room of men simply because I was the only person around with a vagina. I didn’t understand that in today’s society, inequality was and is still alive and well. I was naive.
Naive to the fact that sexual assault doesn’t just happen in crime shows. Naive to the fact that most women have experienced sexual assault in some way. Naive to the fact that it can and does happen to any one in any place at any time. And I was very naive to the fact that it could happen to me.
I had to wake up to that reality in January 2016 after I was raped in my home.
Thinking back to that night makes me sick to my stomach. I had invited him over that night. He was my friend. I’d had a bad day and needed to be with a someone who would listen. He had been in my home many times before. My family was sleeping in the same house. I had no reason to believe that this night would be different from any other.
He forced me to drink alcohol. He told me that it was no big deal every time I said no. He told me that I wanted this every time I told him to stop. I had no control. I had no say in what happened in that room. I had no voice.
But now I have my voice again, and I’m using it.
I had never been afraid in that way before. I was paralyzed from the shock of what was happening to me. I was afraid of what was happening, and I was afraid of what people would think if they knew. So the next morning, I got out of bed and tried to pretend that I was ok. I thought, “it’s over now. I should’ve done things differently. I should have stopped it.” But now I know there’s nothing I could have done that would have stopped him. Now I know that it wasn’t my fault.
There is no rational reason why the events that occurred that night happened, but they did anyway. And they continue to happen every day to men and women everywhere and it has to stop. Something has to change so that people know that consent is not optional. So that people pay for their actions when they take away a person’s right to control what happens to their body.
I understand as well as anybody that sexual assault is an uncomfortable thing to talk about. I really do, but if there isn’t a conversation, there won’t be a change.
The conversation about sexual assault isn’t half as uncomfortable as having someone rob you of the freedom to control your body. It’s not as uncomfortable as feeling like you have no say. It’s not as uncomfortable as having to sit down with your mother and a police officer and describe to them every disgusting detail of the things that have been done to your body. It’s not as uncomfortable as going to the emergency room to have invasive tests done, not knowing what kind of results they might have. It’s not as uncomfortable as seeing the man who assaulted you continue to live his life without any consequence when you have to wake up every morning for months and months reminding yourself that it’s over and that you’re safe now. And it’s not as uncomfortable as having to make the transition from being innocent and naive to being a victim.
We don’t talk about the flashbacks that victims experience that leave you cold and shivering, in tears because you can’t escape your memory. We don’t talk about how difficult and frightening it is for victims to confront their sexuality after experiencing an assault. We don’t talk about how hard it can be for victims to trust anyone intimately after they’ve been abused.
We don’t talk about the fact that the aftermath of a trauma like this doesn’t just go away. It follows you for the rest of your life. And we learn to adapt and live with it and eventually move on to a place where it isn’t something we think about every day, but that doesn’t mean we ever forgot how it felt.
No one should have to know what that feels like which is why Sexual Assault Awareness Month is important. So that people don’t forget that this is a problem. So that people realize that this isn’t just something that we hear about in the news or see on television. It happens to the people we love, and we shouldn’t stand for that. We shouldn’t accept that as being just the way things are. So that we can make a change.