TRIGGER WARNING: The following contains a detailed account of the various sexual assaults I’ve experienced.
I’m six years old. I’m playing with an older neighbor. She traps me in her room and makes me lower my pants. I don’t want to. But she’s older than me and says I have to. She says I only have to count to ten then I can pull them back up. “OneTwoThreeFourFiveSixSevenEightNineTen.” I pull them back up quickly. She changes the rule, then. I have to lower them and put my hands in the air. No counting. She’ll say when I can pull them back up. The rest of the memory is blocked. I don’t remember.
I don’t say anything. I don’t know what happened. I’m scared. I’m confused. I’m ashamed.
Life moves on.
I’m eleven years old. I get cat called.
I’m thirteen. I get groped.
This becomes normal. I’m no longer phased. Life as a woman is dealing with constant sexual harassment and assault. What happened to me at six years old is just part of a longer list of trauma now. There’s no need to say anything to anyone.
Life moves on.
I’m eighteen. I’m in an Intro to Feminism class. We are learning about sexual violence. We break off into small groups. Our section instructor asks us to write down our own experiences or, if we don’t have one, to make one up. I write down what happened to me at six. The instructor takes our stories and passes them around to other students to read out loud. I hear my story from someone else’s mouth.
I cry after class. The section leader asks if I want to see a counselor. I decline. I tell nobody. I’m being stupid. It was no big deal. I don’t even remember most of it. It’s been twelve years.
Life moves on.
I’m twenty seven years old. I go to San Diego Comic-Con as a fresh young blogger looking to make connections. A Hollywood producer follows me back on Twitter asking where a good party is. I tell him what bar I’m at. He comes and joins me. I’m excited to make a friend in the industry. We drink. He gets handsy. He kisses me. I’m scared. He has power. I do not. He runs shows. I write about them. He invites me back up to his room. I decline. He unfollows me on Twitter. He stops talking to me. He’s not my friend.
I tell my best friend. But other than that, I tell nobody. Who would believe me? Who would side with me? My life could be ruined. I remain silent.
Life changes. I find it hard to move on.
I’m thirty years old. The #MeToo movement has begun. I start to feel emboldened. I start to tell more people what happened to me at San Diego Comic-Con. Sometimes I name him. Sometimes I don’t. I’m still afraid.
I’m thirty two years old. Judge Kavanaugh has been nominated to the Supreme Court. Christine Blasey Ford recounts her experiences from high school. People ask ‘why didn’t she report?’ I know why. It’s scary. It’s confusing. It’s shameful. There’s power dynamics at play. There’s pressure. There’s judgement. It can be life destroying. Her experience is playing out on the world stage, and yet she has the courage to come forward. So maybe I, too, have the courage to say #MeToo and this is #WhyIDidntReport.
I’m scared. I’m ashamed. I’m confused. I feel vulnerable. I feel like my life could be destroyed. I feel like maybe what happened to me wasn’t a big deal. I feel like people will say it doesn’t matter. If we are seriously able to put a sexual abuser into one of the highest positions in the country, the message is clear: it doesn’t matter.
I can’t move on now.