When I saw the hashtag #MeToo all over my feed this morning I had mixed emotions. Excitement, happiness, relief that people were willing to talk about their experiences and any awareness surrounding sexual harassment, abuse and assault is great. But also uncomfortable, nervous feelings. These were the feelings that made me realise I needed to write this. To be honest, I’m not even sure where I’m going with this post but I wondered how many other girls were as scared as me today to even hashtag those two words.
I’m not going to go into detail of my experiences but I was a victim of sexual abuse for a long period of time, I was too young to really understand what was going on and to this day I still haven’t taken the time to deal with it.
I tried to go to therapy but honestly it made me feel worse. I wanted her to tell me it wasn’t my fault, I wanted some form of comfort perhaps that I’d been seeking for years but instead I was attacked with personal questions I wasn’t ready to answer. ‘Was it your dad?’, ‘Was it a family member, friend?’
She gave me facts about how likely it was that this person was to re-abuse or assault someone else. She told me I should tell her. Told me to approach the police because if I didn’t he might do it again. It was everything I didn’t want to hear, it made it all very real.
The words I remember most are ‘Its a wonder you’re as okay as you are, are you sure you are not having any other bad thoughts?’
That’s the thing isn’t it, it happens so often it sort of becomes normalised in the wrong ways. People will share tweets but its still so hard to turn to your closest friend and say ‘I was sexually harassed and I’m not okay.’ Its still something we’re all so scared to talk about. People still fall silent when the term even comes up in conversation. But it happens so often. The hashtag brings that to light.
Since trying to go to therapy, I’ve been reluctant to talk about it. But today reading about other peoples experiences I think its important that its spoken about not just so others can relate but also for myself.
I’m a pro at blocking out memories and building up walls, so in the past even thinking about this would make me feel uneasy. It made me feel guilty, dirty and I blamed it all on my younger and more vulnerable self. But its not my fault. It wasn’t my fault then and it isn’t now.
If you’re reading this and you’ve been through a similar experience it wasn’t your fault either. I promise. You might not believe this now but you’ll reach a point where you can be at peace with yourself.
I still get angry with them, I still sometimes get scared at night which often affects how I sleep and my experience has completely affected how I am with new people. Both sexually and even in friendships. It takes me a while to become comfortable with people. If you’re fairly new to the scene and you catch me on a bad day even hugging me could be a challenge for you.
BUT I don’t blame myself anymore, I still look back on my younger self with pity and sadness but I would tell that little girl to hang in there.
I have a long way to go, probably a lot of therapy sessions too (with the right person) but I’m still hanging in here. We are all struggling and that’s okay.
Of course I’m not glad it happened to me, I’ll never be thankful but I’m proud of the woman I am becoming because of my experiences and I’m grateful to have the opportunity of being women’s officer again this year so that I can run events such as ‘The Reclaim the night’ march to help raise awareness surrounding this topic and to help spread the word that IT IS NEVER OK.
If you can get down to similar events near you, please do. Don’t be afraid to talk about it and welcome those that need to speak with open ears. Everyone has a past, but how we deal with it can completely change our futures.
Hang in there. -Michaela Violet