To not be ashamed and to feel that we CAN talk about it, and to also let people know that what happens to you CAN be talked about because that’s how we heal.
That’s how we become stronger, and that’s how we help others become stronger as well. Most importantly that’s how we STOP it or at least make it happen less frequently.
But for the longest time, I DIDN’T talk about it.
Why? Because the majority of sexual assault that has happened in my life happened while I was traveling, ALONE, for the most part to places that people are already afraid to travel to.
I didn’t want my family to be more afraid than they already were.
And I didn’t want other WOMEN to be afraid or to NOT travel (especially to some of these amazing places around the world that do carry more risk of sexual harassment and assault.)
So I talked about the ways to AVOID it, instead of what actually happened to me.
But you know who that helps?
And certainly not the people that think they can do whatever they want to people and think it’s completely okay.
I don’t want to be a victim, but part of NOT being a victim is being able to go through the process of healing (which yes, does include TALKING about it.)
So here are just a few examples of what HAS happened to me (some are a bit more jarring than others so be forewarned.)
On my travels in France, I woke up on a train to a man sitting directly across from me, jerking off like 13 year old boy looking at his first Victoria’s Secret catalogue. I did not confront him, I quietly got up as if I was exiting and proceeded to the next train car to find a conductor. I was in a country where I didn’t speak the language well, so how would I have explained it anyway? (It brought back a similar memory when I was about 12 years old and approached the window of a car to have the man in the car do something very similar as he spoke to me and my friend.)
I woke up on a night bus in Spain to total stranger rubbing and caressing my feet. (Maybe that’s not my butt or boobs, but anyone touching me without my permission is NOT okay, and where exactly was that foot rub leading to?)
I had a cab driver in Egypt zip down his pants as he was driving, expose his genitals to me and hand motioned for me to jerk him off. I responded not in fear, but in anger. I threw my coffee and breakfast roll in his face, which made him more upset. He began to turn the car to an on-ramp in the OPPOSITE direction of the bus station he was taking me to, at which point I reached over, grabbed the steering wheel and yanked it back in my direction, veering the car to the edge of the road, where I opened the door, grabbed my bags and got the F out of there, just as my bus was getting ready to pull away from the station.
And the most traumatic situation for me, which happened in Israel near the Sea of Galilea of all places, I was with a man who I had been “romantic”with a few times previously. In the darkness of the room during an intimate moment, his friend came in and tried to switch places thinking I wouldn’t notice (with a few other men in the room outside possibly lining up? ) In the darkness, I kicked someone (I am not sure who) HARD in the genitals and locked myself in the bathroom for several hours. Naked and afraid and feeling like a completely used P.O.S. wondering if I should escape outside the bathroom window in all my nakedness to try to hail a cab?
Some of the instances, I was naive and just pretended for a while that it DIDN’T happen or that it “almost happened” and I considered myself “lucky.”
I have swept other instances aside because I was intoxicated, which definitely doesn’t justify anything AT ALL, but hey, guys use it as the excuse, right? So if we have a few too many drinks or god forbid they spike our drink, that gives them free reign over our bodies too, right?
Things like this happen ALL over the world, across all different types of cultures, to BOTH genders, and it DOES NOT make it okay.
Anytime you use someone, or make them feel less of a person for something you DO or say to them, it is NOT okay.
I know I am a small fish in a BIG HUGE world, but if my story (or stories) help someone else stand up for themselves to use their own voice, then hopefully it has served a purpose.
To all those that have shared their own stories. I hear you and I link arms with you, as your sister from another mister, sending all my love that whatever happens to you in this life, IT does not DEFINE you.
Always remember that you are infinitely beautiful and worthy and divine, regardless of what someone has done TO YOU or how someone HAS TREATED YOU.