Light Up the Darkness: One Woman's Experience with Sexual Assault
Late Thursday night on November 9th, a woman courageously came forward on Twitter stating that she had been sexually assaulted numerous times at Twitter meetup events over a course of years. This triggered the timeline, causing more women to come forward about being sexually assaulted at different Twitter events, myself included. Many people were disturbed by the allegations; and some could vouch for the women coming forward stating it happened. But why now? Why now with numerous counts of assault allegations? And the answer to that is there is a cleansing and healing process going on, and rape culture must be stopped.
What is rape culture? Rape culture starts off as sexual harassment with rape jokes, victim blaming and catcalling. It continues with stalking, flashing or exposing, non-consensual photos and unsolicited dick pics. It crosses over into abuse and assault with groping, revenge porn, sexual coercion and intimidation; then becomes explicit violence with molestation, rape and murder. With everything that was named plus so much more, why aren’t some things considered rape culture? There are so many different levels to rape culture. So many people believe that its only rape if some strange man snatches you on a dark street. So many of our predators were people that we knew and trusted, not a stranger you never met. It's your big brother's friend Alex who comes over before your brother gets home from football practice, or your neighbor Mr. Turner who've you known since age 6 but now you've hit puberty and you've grown into a teenager, or your supervisor Mr. Warner who squeezes your shoulders when he walks past your cubicle, or your classmate Andrew who goes around the classroom taking pictures of girls who wore skirts that day. It's not always a random sexual deviant on the prey, and that alone is a terrifying thought for so many women who have received any assault or abuse.
Unless you've been living under a rock, you are aware of the numerous assault, rape and sexual molestation allegations that has been going on in Hollywood for some time. Some of the biggest A-List celebrities have been coming forward and it is crazy. The celebrity with the most current accusations is Film Producer Harvey Weinstein. Harvey Weinstein has been accused of sexually assault from a total of 57 women including Angelina Jolie, Lena Headley, Ashley Judd, Gwyneth Paltrow and Lupita Nyong'o. The extremely odd thing about Lupita Nyong'o coming forward is that Harvey Weinstein only denied her allegation. So, out of the other 56 white women that came forward, you chose to pick and deny the one black woman that did? Trash. The sad reality is that black women are consistently disrespected and unprotected. And that trash behavior showed the past few days on Twitter with multiple women coming forward yet being called liars and hoes because that's their "boy" and "he's a family man" and "I know his character, he would never do anything like that." Why is victim blaming the norm? Why is sexual assault normalized to where the victim must suffer in silence? Take a look and see where black women are placed in society and that will answer your question.
The first time I was sexually assaulted I was 11 years old in the 6th grade. A boy touched my breast without consent. I immediately let him know that it was wrong but the response I received was "Man I'm just playing with you. Quit being serious." At the time I did not know it was sexual assault, but I knew I did not like it. For years I suffered in silence to not seem "so serious," normalizing the foul behavior. So repeatedly I was sexually assaulted, sexually abused and raped. The age-old question is always "Why didn't you go to the police?" We did; I was 14, and my parents and I went to the school and the police to file a sexual assault case. Nothing happened, and I was called a liar. It was on videotape, yet I was a liar being a young black girl in an all-white school.
That memory with other incidences, as well as being raped at ages 18 and 19 were repressed in the back of my mind for years. I didn’t want to think about it nor talk about it; I only wanted it to be a faded memory. But of course, life doesn’t work out that way. I shared with a friend this sensitive information about myself one night in early 2016. He was very supportive and I was thankful. The next morning, I woke up expecting to feel better about the situation. I didn't. I felt even worse. I didn’t regret telling him, but simply just the thought of everything made me sick to my stomach again. It took me over a year to be able to repeat the story again.
With the countless women coming forward in Hollywood, Twitter and possibly real life about their experience with rape culture, it's time for this planet to wake up. These are your mothers, wives, daughters, sisters, grandmothers, friends; and even if she doesn’t belong to you, she belongs to someone. From young girls to young women to senior citizens, women are sexually assaulted and raped every day. So, the next time you see your friend or anyone being too aggressive with a woman, interfere. There is nothing more disheartening than someone seeing the act being done and doing nothing to stop it. For the women who have experienced different variations of sexual assault or abuse, I am sorry. I pray for your strength and resilience. Never feel pressured by anyone or anything to be over or start healing from being sexually assaulted. Take as much time as you need. As someone who has experienced it all including being raped multiple times, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. Healing is a tedious process. Therapy, talking with family or friends, calling sexual abuse hotlines or simply writing your thoughts in a journal can help begin your healing. Remember than it is not your fault and that you are not alone.