A few days ago, I copied and pasted a status on social media that began with the phrase ‘me too’. The ideas behind the status or hashtag is that if everyone who has experienced sexual harassment, abuse or assault posts it, there will be a greater awareness of the frequency and ‘normalcy’ of these incidents.
When I originally pasted the text and posted to my Facebook feed, I did not elaborate, I did not go into detail. I will here and now.
*TRIGGER WARNING* Discusses Sexual Assault
If you have ventured below the warning, then I have some things to tell you.
18 years ago, I was raped. It was my first Sexual Experience. I lost my virginity to a rape. I was 19 years old and living overseas at the time. I was drunk and high at the time. I can’t honestly remember what I was wearing.
I remember it hurt. I remember feeling betrayed and ashamed. I stayed ashamed for 18 years. I am no longer. I blamed myself. I justified the behaviour. I made excuses. I didn’t say NO out loud or loud enough. I decided to drink and take drugs. I didn’t want to be labelled a virgin anymore. I wanted to have sex with this person.
I didn’t want to be raped, lying on my front. I didn’t want to be kicked out of his room when I finally got out of the bathroom to find him playing Xbox. I didn’t want to be broken up with the few days following. I didn’t want to make almost a decade of poor decisions about sexual partners and how I deserved to be treated. I certainly didn’t want to be called a slut for seeking comfort in someone else’s arms a week after I was raped. In one week, I went from ’Virgin’ to ‘Slut’.
Before that incident and many times after I have been whistled at, had men help themselves to handfuls of my anatomy, been subject to workplace sexual harassment, been taken advantage of by workmates, mostly in positions of authority to me.
A Facebook friend of mine whom I don’t know in real life, has taken objection to this campaign, concerned it diminishes the horrific nature of rape and sexual assault when ‘lumped in with’ (their words) apparently lower grade harassment such as cat calling, having someone push their erect penis against you, or verbal abuse.
In my eyes, they have missed the point. This is not about lowering the importance or diminishing the severity of rape and serious sexual assault, it is about RAISING the importance and severity of ANY sexual harassment, abuse or assault. It’s about tearing down the boundaries between perceived levels of these behaviours and standing up and shouting IT’S ALL UNACCEPTABLE. This is not an excuse to create divisions, this is not an opportunity to race to the bottom and compare trauma. This is not a time to spout ‘Well, it could have been worse’, to those brave enough to speak out. This is a moment in time for the society that WE make up to say “THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE!” Whether it’s a wolf whistle, a pinch on the bum, unwanted touching, rape or someone been killed by their partner. THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE.
This is less an issue of sexual boundaries and more one of trust, respect, fear and safety. If we build a society based on respect, loving kindness and compassionately supporting everyone’s right to feel safe at all times, at all ages we can flood the world with the way we want to live rather than focus on what we don’t want.
So, #metoo. I have accepted what happened to me. I choose how I let it affect me. I have the power to forgive, heal and be stronger for it.
My life is dedicated to helping others heal. If this has raised issues for you that you would like to discuss with me, please get in touch or contact your local Centre Against Sexual Assault and speak to someone there.
Every day I make the world the place I want it to be.
The standard of behaviour you accept is the standard of behaviour you encourage.
Peace, Love and Rock’n’Roll,