Me, too. | Acknowledging My Sexual Assault

This is not an easy post to write. I am shaking as write this because the only other person who knows this is my husband and even telling him brought me so much shame. I'm not sure how I will be able to look at my mom after she reads this or even some of my friends, but using my voice and my platform to shed light on how often sexual assault and harassment happen is important. More important than my shame. 

When I was around 10 years old I came to Houston to live with my mom. She worked at the apartment complex we lived at, and we would go to a babysitters house in the same apartment complex. She would invite her friends over regularly while we were there. I remember the way he looked at me that made me feel uncomfortable. One day he grabbed my arm and sat me on his lap and grabbed my hips. My heart was beating almost as fast as it is right now, so loud I could hear it in my ears. I knew what he was doing wasn't something that was normal but my 10-year-old brain didn't fully comprehend what was going on. Thankfully the babysitter passed by and recognized the scene looked odd and called me to come with her but never fully addressed it. I was wearing a jeans, tennis shoes, and a t-shirt like any other 10-year-old girl. 

On a separate occasion, he found me sitting alone playing with some playing cards on the dining room table. He grabbed my chin and forced me to look at him because I wasn't talking. I remember vividly that I just wanted to scream and run away. He told me to put his fingers in his mouth "like when you were a baby and sucked on your pacifier". After he shoved his fingers down my throat I gagged and got up and ran to the restroom and locked the door behind me. I don't think I've ever been so scared of a grown up at that point in my life. He followed me and tried to open the door, when he couldn't he said "If you tell anyone, they'll never believe you." I stayed in that restroom for a long time until the babysitter came to find me and told me if I didn't feel well I should take a nap. I told her ok and locked the room door after she left. As I laid in the dark I remember trying to process what was going on in my head. Later that night when I was finally home I convinced my mom that my sister and I were old enough to stay home. 

The next time I felt this familiar sense of panic was when I was 16 years old. A friend had told me she wanted to go on a date with her boyfriend but wasn't allowed to go alone with him. We went to the movies and her boyfriend brought a friend for me to hangout with, at the time I thought was so awkward, but at least I wasn't a third wheel. The friend offered to drive us all home but dropped off my friend and her boyfriend at their houses first. On the way to my house he took a detour and parked at a poorly lit park. I remember feeling awkward and no being able to find my words to ask him what we were doing here, but also wondering if I had done anything to give him the idea that I wanted to have some "alone time" with him. He started talking and put his hand on my thigh and started rubbing it. I knew I didn't want him to touch him but I didn't know what to say. The first thing that I blurted out was "Sorry, I'm on my period." and with the most sinister smile he said "That's never stopped me before." I wanted to vomit in my mouth. I wanted to get out of the car and run away, but I wasn't sure where we were. I remember telling him that I didn't feel comfortable and told him that if I missed curfew I would be in trouble. He told me to if I didn't shut up he would leave me here after he was done. He ended up groping my breasts and trying to make out with me, but I was saved by a call from his mom where she told him his dad needed the car. I shrunk back in my seat and felt dirty, and helpless. 

I remember these memories so vividly because of the intense emotions I felt during these events in my life. The one thought I had afterwards was what did I do to make them seem like doing that was ok? I blamed myself for not being able to speak, for not being strong enough to get out of these situations. For letting fear get the best of me. I was too afraid that I would be the one to get in trouble, that no one would believe me, and what other people thought to say anything. 

I know now that I am stronger than that, and that no one can silence me. That I have a voice and I'm going to use it because shame and fear once silenced me. I'm not afraid anymore. It wasn't my fault. It's not your fault. It wasn't what you were wearing. It's not because you are too pretty. You are stronger than they are for bearing your silent burden. You are more than what they did to you. What happened to you was wrong. I believe you. Your feelings are valid. Your voice deserves to be heard. This does not define you. You are more than what has happened. 

I am sharing my story because someone out there is going to find the power and the courage to tell theirs. To let everyone know that this happens more often that you think. To show everyone that the problem society has been brushing under the rug for so long is here, and it's not going away until you acknowledge it.