THE NIGHT THAT WILL HAUNT ME FOREVER
Following the most recent events in Hollywood 'sexual harassment', 'sexual assault' and 'rape' have become a topic of conversation and with more and more people coming forward, it really seems that perhaps thing might finally change for the better.
HOWEVER, it does seem like the conversation has been restricted to the work place, which I for one find ridiculous. I mean, not being too dramatic about it but let's face it - women get harassed, assaulted and raped daily in all environments and whoever thinks otherwise needs a serious reality check.
Truth is, most men don't get it.
I sat across the table from two super intelligent men last week and had a conversation about this. When I said: "every woman on the planet has encountered some form of sexual harassment (at least) or sexism in her lifetime, they genuinely found that hard to believe. One of the men's wife was sitting right next to him and was nodding her head in agreement, so he turned to her and asked: "you too?". I could see how shocked he was when she said "yes".
The details don't really matter (brush against your boobs on the bus, ass grab in a club or the good old classic "here pussy, pussy, pussy" sounds made as you walk down the street). How thick your skin is and whether or not you see any of the above a "big deal" or not doesn't make any difference either to be quite honest. I can tell you for a fact that I do not get "offended" and I have been known to slap guys across the face who dare touch my bum and have a right old go at silly boys who think they can just harass me on the street because I have a vagina. But the fact is that this sort of sexual inappropriate behavior is wrong and there are enough women out there who encounter far worse for this to continue being a topic of conversation till things do change EVERYWHERE, not just in the work place.
So when Kate asked me to share her story so that her voice can be heard, I really had to say yes. Her chilling story of the night she was raped by her "date" is truly heartbreaking but it reminds us that we are not alone and that it is never too late to come forward.
Here is her story in full, unedited, raw, brave and honest, just like she is:
"Females ages 15-19 are four times more likely than the general population to be victims of rape, attempted rape, or sexual abuse. Being sexually assaulted is a devastating thing to experience. You are over powered, helpless, and weak. Those are things no one should ever experience, I wish I hadn’t. Being overpowered is the worst feeling ever, being held down and having things done to you you don't want to happen is terrifying. Helplessness is a quality no female wants. When something like this happens you would like to think that you would be able to fight him off unfortunately I just froze. The next thing would have to be weakness, being in pain and not knowing what to do. No girl should ever have to endure the pain and suffering that I encountered on that night and every night since then. The guy that did this to me is a sad excuse of a man. Fifteen percent of perpetrators are seventeen years or younger. Seven out of ten rapes on women are committed by someone the victim knows. I was one of those seven girls. Almost every night I have a recurring nightmare. These are common among victims with PTSD to happen greater than 5 times per week. I awake in a panic. I’m gasping for air in order to keep myself calm, drenched in sweat. Forgetting is not an option. This tragic night sends chills down my spine. My body be taken advantage of and swallowed by the evil is a thought I can not fathom. The night that my life was changed was the night I realized to keep my morals and protecting myself first. The noisome smells and crying sounds of that night still haunt me. His truck was musty and smelt like a locker room from the football equipment that was in the back. He had a black ice air freshener but it didn't drown out the smell of sweat. The truck was clean but the reasoning for it to be was so he could get his job done without distraction. Getting in that truck that night with him was the worst decision I've ever made. I will never forget the sound of the engine starting and being revved up. After we were on the road, it was silent. You could hear my heartbeat from a mile away. The screech of the tires stopping will forever be engraved in my mind. The last words he spoke to me were words that should not be spoken to anyone. He was describing what he was going to do to me in the most dirty, unpleasant way. The sight, smell, and sounds of being overpowered, helpless, and weak were intimidating. The feeling of being overpowered is when someone gains control of someone or something by using force. That night, I was overpowered by the car, and my so called “date.” I did not have control of the car, I was being held down and having things done to me that I didn't give consent to. Being touched in places I didn't wanna be touched. The things he was doing, I never thought would happen to me. I was scared and knew that I was not going to be the same person I was before I entered his truck. This night I was definitely lacking protection and support. My brain was not acting effectively and I was not capable to fight myself out of the situation at hand. Me being helpless and not getting him away in time is my biggest regret. Being incapable of protecting myself is frustrating because I know how strong I am. I never thought I would freeze in a situation like this one. Weakness would also fit in with me being helpless. I can’t think of a time where I was this weak. The guy that ruined my fifteen year old self. I was stupid for trusting a guy that was two years older than me. How could he not find someone his own age to love and care for? Me being so young I didn’t know any better. I told him I didn’t want sex and he said he wouldn’t. I told him I didn’t wanna do things with him and he said okay. He made me have sex, he made me do things, and he made me not so innocent. Not so pure. He had taken advantage of an innocent, desperate, and naïve little girl. He took things from me I can never get back. My first kiss and my first time being intimate with someone. There is a very slim chance that once you are alone with a predator, like him, that you will be “okay” afterwards. A very slim chance that you will be strong enough to stop it. If you are one of the women who can stop it, good for you and be glad you could. This has affected my relationships with guys since it happened. I cannot even let a guy touch me. It brings back so many memories of that night and it is to painful for me to go through. I have tried talking to guys again but I don’t want to get close to them and it be just like before. I cannot even be in a truck with a guy without having horrific thoughts and flashbacks. Being in class with guys and having them say stuff to me triggers the gut wrenching words that came out of his mouth. Sometimes I think I hear his voice and I turn and no one is there. I feel as if his shadow is always following me around and he will attack again. I will always see what happened that night when I kiss another guy, do things with another guy, or even just ride in a truck alone with another guy. I hate this pathetic human for doing this to me. I am suppose to be happy and having the time of my life but, I’m stuck in this stage of guilt and self pity that I can’t have fun. My involvement n pageants is a great way to spread the word about sexual assault. With using sexual assault as my platform, I could reach out to girls all across the state and let them know they are not alone. I want to get my story out and help as many people as possible come forward and report the assault and get the man who did this to them in trouble. I am wanting people to go see someone if they need to. Even if they just need a counselor or a therapist then they can step out of their comfort zone and go and do that. The next pageant I complete that requires a platform I will be using this. That night was a huge shock. I was touched in places I did not think I would be touched. My mind was going in a million different ways trying to think of what to do. I was overwhelmed with the fear that something terrible was about to happen and I did not know what to do about it. Being uncomfortable in your own body is one of the worst feelings in the world. I have been uncomfortable with myself and any guy since this night. This happens to girls all across the nation and I am one of them".