In the midst of the allegations against American Film producer, Harry Weinstein, the #MeToo movement has reemerged, creating a safe space for victims to share their stories in hopes of saving the next girl, or perhaps to coming to grips with what has happened to them. I say reemerged because the #MeToo movement was started by Tarana Burke, a longstanding advocate for sexual assault victims. The hashtag from the movement has reappeared on social media and in the past weeks it’s been used more than 825,000 times on Twitter after actress Alyssa Milano called for survivors of sexual assault to share their stories.
The unraveling of numerous allegations against Weinstein has opened the door for many other women to use their platforms to share knowledge of what’s happened to them, and what unfortunately happens to many women every day. 1 out of every 6 women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime. Thankfully, this story is one that did not result in rape.
At the age of 17, the summer before her senior year of high school, she was the victim of sexual assault. The attacker was a family member and her life has not been the same since. This is the first time she is sharing her story with someone other than a close friend whom I called immediately after. The incident left her feeling helpless, invaded, and amongst all things she felt fear. She still feels that fear, 7 years later at the age of 25.
As a young girl, her mother constantly went over what she described as “bad touches” on areas of her body that should not be touched. She never thought an inappropriate touch would actually happen to me, but it did and it hurt her, not only physically, but the emotional pain that it has caused is just as bad.
This was person that she trusted, an elder. Someone in my family that she did not expect to approach me with “come here, let me play with your body,” as he reached for my breasts. I fled away from the house, and immediately phoned my best friend to tell her what had happened. In this moment, she was able to share her story with her and help her through the situation, yet when the phone call ended, and she was home in her bed isolated with her own thoughts, she could not help but to think why me?
She remembers the shower after, the tears burning worse than the hot water that was pouring onto my skin as I tried to wash the unusual touch away, but that would be nothing compared to the fear that has followed in the years since the incident. Immediately after, she questioned what she had worn, if it may have provoked her attacker, because society does that to us women. It leads us to think that because our skirts are too short, tops too revealing that we deserve to warrant behavior from men that is and should always be unacceptable. She’s since missed out on certain family events, functions, things as simple as dinner because she’s been afraid to face her fears of what was done to me. In fact, she’s still afraid to the point that she hasn’t told a single-family member, besides a younger sister, in a failed effort to prevent it from happening to her as well.
So yes, she too has been the victim of sexual assault, and it was not committed by a stranger, an employer, or some rich movie producer- this was done to her by a family member. Someone that she never thought she’d have to tell this story about today.
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