Thursday, October 13, 2016

On Assault and the Evil Orange Monster

I thought a lot about posting this. It’s a deeply personal thing not many people know about, but in light of recent events, I hope my experiences can at least give some depth to current rhetoric. I have never been raped, but I have been sexually assaulted*. To be honest, it feels weird to write that, and I don't ever label myself as being a victim of assault, but I was assaulted. It was never by anyone I was dating (for the record, all very respectful, wonderful men) or was particularly close to, but by men (boys) who thought they had the right to do so merely because I was there and they wanted to.

I wasn’t ever in a “compromising situation”; one occurrence was at work (at BYU) another was at a (BYU) school function (NOT that it matters). I was “modestly” dressed (NOT that it matters), and did nothing to invite their attention, having no idea that the assault was about to occur. When it happened I was so stunned, I didn’t even fight back like I always thought I would. In each of these circumstances, even when reported, I was made to think I had somehow overreacted or that I should feel guilty for “making them” do something that they'd have to talk to their bishop about. I felt ashamed, embarrassed, and weak. I blamed myself for letting it happen. I didn’t even realize until frighteningly recently that I was never the one at fault, and not only did I not overreact, I didn’t react nearly enough. This happens to women far too often, even at a place I loved so much like BYU. We deserve better, our daughters deserve better. We cannot continue to dismiss or turn a blind eye towards actions by a rare group of terrible men who can do so much to diminish a woman's self worth. 

There is nothing that disgusts me more than hearing people defend the low life scum of the earth that made such abhorrent comments about women. It is not excusable. It is not ok. And it causes real hurt and pain. It is comments like that- and their easy dismissal- that enable some men to see women as things and abuse them. Those men are the exception, not the rule, but they are emboldened by those words. I will not tolerate defense of that behavior. I hope that none of the women I know have experienced anything like it, but I know that if I have it is possible that there are others who similarly keep those traumas to themselves. I hope this empowers you to know you are not alone, and what happened to you was wrong. Please, in this election do not vote for someone truly deplorable who degrades women, Hispanics, Muslims, African Americans, the LGBTQI community, the disabled, or any one of God’s precious children. Do not vote for anyone who dismisses assault as “locker room talk”. 

Most of the men I have known would never say, think, or do those things. I am lucky to be married to the living embodiment of kindness, gentleness, and respect. Do not let that disgusting man or his attitudes into our lives anymore. I do not want anyone to feel sorry for me, or to view me as a victim. I don't. I had some great college experiences and met a lot of really good people. What happened to me could have happened to anyone. We need to change the narrative towards women now.

(*Both of these events occurred several years ago. Clearly they do not define who I am or how I see myself. They did not leave me with any physical damage or marks, but they were violations. At the time, I didn't see myself as spiritually or morally culpable for any sort of  'chastity' issue, and tried to forget about it happening.)