As the ripples continue to reach far and wide after Harvey Weinstein’s fall from grace, woman are finally seeing the atmosphere of sexual assault change. It’s a glacially slow pace, but the fact that these conversations are being had is very important.
I was molested by my father as a child and the first person I told was my step-mother. I was terrified to tell her, but I did. Her reply? “You’re paranoid.” She said that to a nine-year-old child. I didn’t even know what the word meant at the time.
My abuse started to become more frequent and I finally broke down at a church event I attended with my cousin. What I didn’t know was that this HAD to be reported, and the woman I confessed to was a social worker. I don’t remember how many days passed before I was pulled out of school and my father arrested. He admitted to the police that he did it and even with his admission, I STILL had to testify against him. That was one of the scariest things I’ve been through. I was a kid and I wasn’t believed. Years later, I was told by my grandfather “that I should have kept it in the family,” I wish I was kidding.
So, when I hear women’s stories years later, my heart aches for them. I know how it feels to be scoffed at and ridiculed. I will always believe a woman’s account of sexual assault. And, I know what you’re thinking, “What if she’s really lying?” Then she should be prosecuted for that because it makes it harder for those coming forward.
Women know that when they come forward, their lives will be under a microscope. What were you wearing? Why were you out that late? You were asking for it. How many sexual partners have you had? And the ace-in-the-hole, how much did you have to drink? As if any of this matters. Stop blaming the victim. Men do not get autonomy over a woman’s body. We go where we want to go, wear what we want and sleep with whomever we want, and that does not mean we are begging to be assaulted.
I’ve heard men say that they won’t be able to approach a woman without fear of being accused. This is the fear women have when a man approaches. Is he going to say inappropriate things to me? Is he going to call me a cunt if I turn him down? Will he assault me for saying no? If you think this is an exaggeration, ask the women in your life.
The courage it takes to come forward with any type of assault is amazing. Women know they will be belittled and called liars, but before you jump on that train, (women, I’m speaking to you) think about your life. Have there been instances where things were said and done that you brushed off as “boys being boys”? Seriously examine how your life may have changed if you had spoken up. It isn’t easy. I get it, but why are you so willing to give men who behave badly a pass? What does it hurt to believe the victim? Even when the victim is believed and there is evidence, sentences aren’t adequate. Brock Turner got six months in jail because it would ruin his future prospects. Brock’s well-being was taken into consideration over his victim’s. Her life will forever be changed, why doesn’t that matter to our justice system?
This is why #MeToo is so important. It is giving voices to many women who couldn’t speak up for whatever reason and showing others that they are not alone. I wish I could say that I was surprised at the number of my friends who said #MeToo, but I’m not. The tide is changing and it’s about time. Teach our little boys what behavior is appropriate and teach our girls that their bodies are theirs and NO ONE has the right to touch them.