I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the “Me Too” campaign. It’s designed to bring more awareness to sexual violence against women by those affected posting “Me too” on social media. But by its very nature, it’s a very personal subject, one that many are loathe to talk about.
My thoughts automatically went to this: I can’t help but wonder how many women won’t post “me too” in such an open forum because of who it was that abused them. They might feel trapped into silence.
I won't be silent any longer, but I will only reveal basics.
I was molested by a relative growing up. I didn’t even have words for what was happening to me, so I never told anyone until years later.
When I was seventeen I was date raped repeatedly one night, and once again I had no words for what had happened until the term “date rape” was coined years afterward and the awful memory of my experience came raining down on me.
And then as an adult, my husband from my thankfully short first marriage raped me repeatedly. Because I was married to him, I didn’t know that it was rape when I said no but he refused to respect my choice. I was too embarrassed to tell anyone that he insisted on forcing himself on me whenever he wanted.
It took me years to come to terms with the experiences I had and to recover from the shame I felt. I learned that it’s not my shame to carry, but theirs.
Forgiveness for what these men had done to me took a few years also, but I knew I had to forgive them or have no peace inside myself. I hold no ill wishes toward any of them, I freely forgave them so I could be free myself.
There is so much more I could say about each of these experiences, but I’ll leave it at what I’ve said already. I’d like to encourage women to speak out, to reach out for help when needed, to get counseling and support. We need to maintain awareness of sexual abuse, we need parents to recognize the signs and believe children who tell them they are being abused (mine did, thankfully!), and we need to be vigilant about teaching our children (boys and girls) that sexual abuse is not okay.
For help, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673. They are a confidential support organization and will direct you to a local support provider if you want it.