Given the mass amount of media coverage around the Brock Turner sexual assault case this following week, I couldn’t help but find myself forced to face a lot of heavy emotions in regards to my own sexual assault.
While reading the survivors statement she released to the internet, I was shocked by the similarities between her disgusting experience and my very own.
Every sexual assault is different. No two are the same. Though, I must say, this piece hit me right in the heart, time and time again often transporting me back to a place and time I don’t like to revisit.
“Ruin a life, one life, yours, you forgot about mine. Let me rephrase for you, I want to show people that one night of drinking can ruin two lives. You and me. You are the cause, I am the effect. You have dragged me through this hell with you, dipped me back into that night again and again.”
I inserted a few quotes from the Survivors piece that really spoke to me. In fact, I swear I could have written them myself. This is what makes me most sick. As I am reading something another person, totally unknown to me has written, I feel her words rolling off the tip of my tongue not from her memories, but from memories of my own. Someone knows nearly EXACTLY what I went through. Another person feels what I felt… what I feel.
This is not okay.
“I was not only told that I was assaulted, I was told that because I couldn’t remember, I technically could not prove it was unwanted. And that distorted me, damaged me, and almost broke me. It is the saddest type of confusion to be told I was assaulted and nearly raped, blatantly out in the open, but we don’t know if it counts as assault yet. I had to fight for an entire year to make it clear that there was something wrong with this situation.”
Very few people in my life since I left my hometown know of my sexual assault. I don’t speak of it often. Not because I am ashamed, oh hell no, and I have almost three years of therapy to thank for that. I don’t tell my story, because it’s not an experience I am happy to share.
However, after reading this remarkable young woman’s powerful words, I now see the importance in doing so. I see the importance of sharing the wicked details from the journey of your trip to hell and back.
I kept quiet for too long and as a result of this, many people from my hometown took it upon themselves to tell my story for me.
This, again, is not okay.
“After a physical assault, I was assaulted with questions designed to attack me, to say see, her facts don’t line up, she’s out of her mind, she’s practically an alcoholic, she probably wanted to hook up, he’s like an athlete right, they were both drunk, whatever, the hospital stuff she remembers is after the fact, why take it into account, Brock has a lot at stake so he’s having a really hard time right now.”
I don’t have Facebook. In fact, the main reason I don’t is because of the social media bullying that followed my assault. Internet trolls – you know who you are.
What amazed me most (yes, amazed me) about the Brock Turner media parade is when a friend brought to my attention the amount of people from my hometown who so brutally scrutinized me after my assault, now posting articles about “Rapist – Brock Turner”.
So many of these people, who to this day, refuse to look me in the eye, are capable of sympathizing with a woman they have never met. This part doesn’t amaze me as it is human nature to hear another human’s tragic experience, to feel their pain and support them. What is amazing is that the majority of these people who I grew up with that are reposting these articles, refused to believe me, let alone support me.
So many of you inspected me, probed me and judged me like I was an animal who deserved nothing more. You sat at The Red Lion over pints of Bud Light calling me filthy names and discussing my Sexual Assault as if it was the weather. As if you were there.
You were not and I hope none of you ever are in that position. Your small mindedness couldn’t handle the strength it takes to come back from a life-crumbling trauma like Sexual Assault.
You all left me broken.
None of you could ever consider that your hometown buddy, a white, wealthy, popular and privileged man could do something so terrible to me, and somehow, you are able to look at another man, Brock Turner and call him a monster.
Let me ask you, what is so different between the two of these men?
I guess that is why they say everyone is an activist on the Internet. Repost a meme about “Rapist Brock Turner” and suddenly you’re a good person! Good for you! You support Sexual Assault victims. Oh wait, except the ones you know. That would be entirely too inconveniencing.
The dialog might go something like this….
“I might actually have to stop talking to the man who assaulted her. That just seems exhausting. Lets just pretend he didn’t do anything. But her, that little brat who put a real damper on our small town system, lets make sure she feels real uncomfortable for what she did.
For being sexually assaulted, staying the night in the hospital being violated yet again by a savagely invasive rape kit, followed by years of intense counselling.
And how dare she call 911? She should have just gone home and slept it off instead of creating all this drama.
Let’s show her how unwelcome she really is so we can go on with our easy breezy lives “
“According to him, the only reason we were on the ground was because I fell down. Note; if a girl falls help her get back up. If she is too drunk to even walk and falls, do not mount her, hump her, take off her underwear, and insert your hand inside her vagina.”
I know I sound harsh. To be quite honest, I think I should be granted to express a little hostility on this matter. In my opinion, I have remained relatively calm and quiet for three long years while so many others have voiced their views on this particular event. I can only hope that those of you who have spent years bullying me have possibly grown. Maybe, you now see the truth. Maybe this Brock Turner case has given you perspective on the harsh reality of Sexual Assault.
I know that by sharing her story, this girl has made a difference and if even a fraction of that difference is allowing people who were so brutal to me, to sympathize with someone else who has been through something similar to what I have, – then hey, I’ll take it.
As a Sexual Assault survivor, you wake up time and time again fighting the same demons you did the day before, and that takes bravery.
Considering that Sexual Assault is real and happening around you when you maybe couldn’t before, takes bravery too and for that, I thank even the people who to this day, don’t believe me.
Consideration is a powerful step.
“My independence, natural joy, gentleness, and steady lifestyle I had been enjoying became distorted beyond recognition. I became closed off, angry, self-deprecating, tired, irritable, empty. The isolation at times was unbearable. You cannot give me back the life I had before that night either. While you worry about your shattered reputation, I refrigerated spoons every night so when I woke up, and my eyes were puffy from crying, I would hold the spoons to my eyes to lessen the swelling so that I could see.”
Like I said, this story isn’t all that different from mine. To be clear, the gory details vary but the bones fall together. As I write this, sweating like I just ran a marathon, wiping tears of victory from my eyes, I realize that I don’t know that I will ever be comfortable publicly sharing my entire story.
The reason I choose not to share my Sexual Assault story is because it wasn’t a story I had the power in writing. That story was given to me, forced on me, even if I fought like a ninja not to have it, I own it.
If three years of observing the boring trolls around me has taught me anything, it’s that I have plenty of stories to tell. Pockets full of stories better than their own.
Not just the one they like to tell about me. The one they know nothing about.
I have seen this beautiful earth, I have married the love of my life, I have built relationships that can withstand even the deadliest of storms and those moments are where my greatest stories live.
To my perpetrator,
It is okay to make mistakes. It is only human to flaw. It is okay to be afraid or scared when you’ve committed a mistake so large, you don’t think you can come back from it. It is never okay to lie when it comes down to this. It is in all of us to forgive. I am a forgiving person who has been waiting for simply an apology since October 13th 2013. If your day of being capable of giving that never comes, please know that I no longer carry any hate for you or anger in what you did to me. You carry those awful things with you every moment you lug around that massive, yucky lie you created. You can keep my Sexual Assault story as I have carried it around for far too long. 923 days, to be exact and after all, it does belong to you. I only want the part that comes two years after the incident, the part where I rise above you and your bored followers. That is the best part of the story, anyways.
“Right now your name is tainted, so I challenge you to make a new name for yourself, to do something so good for the world, it blows everyone away. You have a brain and a voice and a heart. Use them wisely. You possess immense love from your family. That alone can pull you out of anything. Mine has held me up through all of this. Yours will hold you and you will go on.”
I want to thank everyone at the Saskatoon Sexual Assault Awareness and Information Centre for teaching me the difference between being a Victim and a Survivor. I want to thank Megan for opening her door to me and allowing me to spend hours weeping in front of her while somehow making it totally not awkward. Most recently, I want to thank Debbie for giving me the opportunity to work on the Sexual Assault Crisis Line, where I answer calls from Sexual Assault Survivors who are where I once was. I am so passionate about helping these people and I find in so many ways, they help me too.
To the woman who wrote such a powerful piece to give the world, all while hers was falling apart. I thank you. You lit a fire under my fingers to share some personal frustrations I had left deep in my belly for far too long. You are a force to be reckoned with and Survivors everywhere are lucky to have you fight the battle with them.
To the people who have always loved me and supported me like it was their day job. You know who you are. I owe my strength to you and I persevere time and time again because you march beside me (even when its not always convenient for you). XO
“And finally, to girls everywhere, I am with you. On nights when you feel alone, I am with you. When people doubt you or dismiss you, I am with you. I fought everyday for you. So never stop fighting, I believe you”
**I know this isn’t 30 lines or less, cut me some freakin’ slack 🙂