One thing that has been apparent my whole life is the unfair advantage of power that men have over women; more specifically the unfair use of that power against women. We live in such highly sexualized society, where often times more value is placed on a woman’s body than her mind. Within the last year we have seen the news light up with so many scandals of women being date raped and sexually assaulted by their peers. This deplorable act isn’t just happening around Hollywood stars, but on college campuses, the corporate world, nightclubs, and casual evenings out.
US studies show that 1 in 6 women will be raped during their first year of college while incapacitated either from too much alcohol or from being drugged.* The question that I can’t get away from is why some men feel entitled to abuse and violate a woman in that way? I recently listened to a podcast (The No 4Play Podcast) where a group of men addressed the fact that rape culture is real and prevalent on a local level. They also touched on how men who do not directly participate in the culture are closing a blind eye to the what is going around them. What the podcast did even more so was inspire me to share my story.
One of the worst feelings about being sexually assaulted for me was having hours of my life unaccounted for. The morning when I woke up after being date raped was pure confusion. A failed attempt of putting together the timeline of the night prior. The only thing I knew was that I was in the bed of one of my colleagues and could feel that my tampon was lodged extremely far inside of me. I had no recollection of anything that happened in this person’s apartment, no recollection of driving to said apartment (which was at least twenty minutes away from the venue we were at), no recollection of talking to my friends at the after hours event we all went to. My last conscious thoughts were of this colleague of mine (who I was hanging out with for the first time) ordering me a drink at the bar and of me glancing around the room to see who was there. Literally so many moments unspoken for. Moments stolen from me. Moments never to find truth and decency in.
So, I retract my statement, the worst thing about being sexually assaulted is doing nothing about it. I literally was so confused and still foggy from the night prior that I did absolutely nothing. I simply went home. On edge and highly perplexed, I went home and struggled to remove the tampon, that I thought I would need medical assistance to help remove. That should have been incentive to move me in the right direction of seeking help, but still I did nothing. I proceeded to call a few friends that I knew were at the event that night to see if anything strange was going on with me. Nothing. They all responded you seemed fine and were talking to us and that they saw me leave with the perpetrator. One of my guy friends probed more into why I was asking all of this, so I told him, and as any guy that actually gives a shit he was heated to the point he personally questioned this person. Yet no further attempt to find truth and justice on my part. Honestly, I just wanted it all to go away. I wanted to pretend it never happened, bury the ugly memory deep within me.
The next time I went to work I briefly hinted to one of my coworkers that I bar tended with what happened, she automatically stopped me and simply said the same thing happened to her with him! My heart sank knowing that this guy is probably violating so many more women especially considering we are in the nightlife business and there are hundreds of beautiful carefree women at easy access for him to target. Yet those simple words of camaraderie offered me some relief; it confirmed for me that what I presumed happened actually did indeed happen. It was now real and not a figment of my imagination. This really happened and I wasn’t to blame for any of it. Victim guilt started to slowly dissipate.
All those feelings briefly came to a halt when I was aggressively cornered and told by four of the perpetrators male peers that I need to stop spreading rumors. My guy friend I previously mentioned came to them about the issue, and accused the perpetrator of sexually assaulting me. I told them it was not a rumor but honestly I felt so intimated in the situation I couldn’t say anything else! One of my biggest weakness is my avoidance of confrontation. Those men had no right approaching me in that manner especially considering the nature of the situation. They were too concerned about how the image of their business would be affected to actually stop and think, wait, this woman could have actually been violated by our peer. Some of these men were or are now fathers and I can’t help but think that this is the culture they are promoting for their daughters, as well as their sisters, cousins, girlfriends, and mothers to live in.
I’m tired of living in a culture and supporting a culture that is tolerant to the sexual assault of women. I cannot be silent any longer. Surely people will come out and say why now, after all these years. Because now is the time I have finally gained my power to speak out, to not feel ashamed, to not care how other people may view me. Now is when I can say to women your body is just that, YOUR body. No one has the right to access your body unless you grant them that permission; and God forbid it does happen to you speak out. Go to the hospital, press charges, hell have your brother, cousin, father whoop his ass – let the world know that as women we will not tolerate this. As for the men that may be reading this, STOP LOOKING AWAY. Too many times in society we say it’s not my business, but when will it be your business when that statistic of 1 in 6 happens to someone you care about?
Change definitely needs to happen and it starts with each and everyone of us. This issue is not a joke. It’s a harsh violation of not just of a woman’s body but also her psyche. A violation of her trust, self confidence, and her own feelings of sensuality. If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual assault there are many resources out there. (800) 656-Hope is a 24hr help line available to help assist you with seeking the necessary medical and emotional support and other resources you may need. You can also visit http://www.rainn.org.
You have a voice, and that voice matters. You matter.
*Statistic taken from U.S. News & World Report Article: “1 in 6 Female College Freshman Rapes While Incapacitated: Study”