Take Your ‘#MeToo’ and Shove It

The day I was raped was the first time I wore a jean skirt. OMG, I was so excited. Was that the case with you too?

It was up against my green Firebird, just after eight o’clock. It was beginning to get dark. He pushed me against the car, whispered in my ear, and looked behind him to make sure he had an audience. I swear I saw my head go through the window. Was that the case with you too?

And when he was done, I’m not sure how I got home. But I remember his smile. I said “I’m okay” for two days. I tried to scrub him off my skin in scolding hot showers. Was that the case with you too?

For nine years, I couldn’t even say the word “rape.” He took away every success I would ever achieve. He destroyed me. He still owns my legs! Is. that. the. case. with. you. too?!

I am ashamed. I am enraged, watching the world minimize my rape as if it is just a number; as if I am just another name on a page. As if every rape is exactly the same.

Do you think the numbers aren’t out there? Do you think men and women don’t know rape is almost like a handshake these days? Here we are posting #MeToo because it’s the next viral tag stamped on our pain. And the alleged victims who indirectly inspired this tag, can you tell me their names? Don’t you dare Google! Are you listening?

Can you say “Me too?” Am I making you angry? What does my rapist look like? Did you forget?! Did you forget how it felt when you told your best friend, mother, or sister? Maybe you wrote a poem or a blog and shared it online, did you forget?

Did you forget how it felt when all you were trying to do is find your way back to yourself and when you needed support, when you needed to be heard, the world shouted, “Me too!” And shared every detail of their rapes with you as if somehow that pain would keep your head above water? Did you forget?

Because I still have nights I can’t close my eyes and I would risk my own life to avoid seeing his face in my dreams. I have days I can’t take the weight of every way I’ve been violated. I violate myself just to cover the scars! And you don’t get to say, “Me too.” You don’t get to make me feel reduced…

Unless you can name where they are.

When topics like this start trending on social media, it can be overwhelming for survivors. If you’ve been a victim of sexual assault and you are struggling, please reach out to the National Sexual Assault Hotline, 1-800-656-4673 (HOPE).

Your rape did not happen to the rest of the world. It happened to you.

How Being Abusive Helped Me Forgive My Abusers

I used to carry enough anger for every victim of child abuse and then some until I discovered my anger kept me clinging to violence.

When abuse happens inside the home, it’s difficult to escape your abuser even after you are grown. My sisters and I ran opposite directions. We each had different traumas and different symptoms in reaction to those traumas. We were so young.

My oldest sister left town and changed her name twice; severing all ties with the family, including me. My other sister dove into college. When the trauma of sexual assault found her inside the dorm, she ran into the Air Force. Next, she ran to love. While she’s happily married, she draws so much distance from the family, she might as well be gone. Me? I stayed. I am still holding on.

It took a long time to understand and forgive my sisters. It came with a unique kind of pain. While there are great sacrifices in running from your past and great triumphs to be gained, choosing to stay can be the same.

Choosing to stay can be healing if the abuse has stopped and you’re willing to put that anger away. I hear people say,

Abuse is a choice!

I agree. I hear them say,

You abuse because you were abused?! Bullsh*t!
You abuse because you’re an abuser.

Deep down, there’s a piece of me that feels the same way. I know that anger. I know that pain. Those statements and feelings are valid, but they don’t create healing or change. People are not born abusive. Something makes them that way.

I was barely a teenager the first time I hit my sister. I had been watching a movie on Lifetime. At the beginning, a man abandoned his three kids at a gas station. It showed them standing with their toys and belongings. The youngest was screaming as he drove away when I grabbed the remote to turn it off. I headed to my bedroom, fuming with anger, as my sister headed the other way, and I hit her. I hit her and I didn’t feel a thing! I don’t even know why I did it.

I have no memory of the rest of that day, but I do remember the day I hit my mother after she was done belittling me and calling me names. I blamed myself for the abuse after that. I felt like I must’ve deserved it because I did the exact same thing.

If I believe what the majority say, I am an abuser. But I believe I was a victim. I believe my actions and my anger were controlled by other things. It took years to identify and understand those things. It took years to forgive myself for violence beyond my control and convince myself it’s okay to let go of those mistakes. It took years to release the guilt. I still carry the pain.

Because of those experiences, I can look at my abusers and identify the same kind of causes and distinguish their pain. Does that validate the abuse? Does it negate the consequences of child abuse? Does it mean my abusers didn’t have the choice to change? No.

Am I making excuses for them by recognizing how domestic violence and degenerative illness caused my life to be this way? In my younger days, I did. I don’t allow myself to do that anymore. Still, the elements of abuse haven’t changed.

Being able to identify why the abuse happened helped bring understanding. It helped me offer my parents insight into their abuse and the sickness that caused it. It opened the doors to forgiveness that many victims lock before throwing the keys away. It helped bring healing in the middle of pain.

Some people do abuse because they were abused. If they can’t talk about it, if we’re too busy labeling them as abusers instead of acknowledging they were victims; if we can’t show them the why behind the violence, how can they change?

I escaped the abuse. I stayed to break the cycle.

And I’m stronger for it.


18004ACHILD

Surviving

SURVIVOR