This is difficult to write, even for me…someone who uses writing as an outlet to work through my innermost feelings. It’s even more difficult knowing this will be shared publicly. In the light of the recent events with Harvey Weinstien (who I met and worked with), the wonderful Me Too campaign on social media, and after much careful thought and prayer…I felt as though I needed to come forward and share my story. If it helps even one person deal with their sexual harassment or abuse, the world will be better for it.
I’m a victim of sexual abuse. I’ve experienced sexual harassment many times in life (hello cat calling men at gas stations when I was cough 13 cough), but we are taught to laugh it off or just take it as a compliment. For generations we have taught each other that these things are alright, and to a certain extent (I’m talking the harmless whistles and whatnot) I believe they are. I mean, is it annoying? Yes. But were you harmed? No. It wasn’t until I was sexually abused that everything really took on a whole new meaning for me.
I didn’t feel as if I could tell my story to anyone because the immense feelings of shame I had. Theres this stigma around abuse like that, no one wants to talk about it or hear about it. It’s taboo. That only left me feeling more alone and more isolated. I was so confused about my situation, especially because this individual was at one point my boyfriend. This made it much harder for me to comprehend. Can it still be abuse if it’s your significant other? If you’ve been with them before in a loving way, can it become abusive? I was shamed into thinking it couldn’t be. I just chalked it up to things that can happen in a relationship. I didn’t really know better, but I knew no matter how I tried to frame it, it did not feel good and it tore into my core. Internally, I knew something wasn’t right and that I needed to talk about it, but the shame (and the boyfriend) wouldn’t allow me to. A lot like Harvey, this man used my love for him as his power over me. I kept my mouth shut for fear of loosing him because he made me feel like I wouldn’t exist without him. I allowed this to transpire after the abuse because I felt weak, damaged. Then I found myself lying for him with our parents when he would hurt me. It was a terrible cycle and a horrible cage I allowed myself to be in. Instead of talking about it, I lived with it for years. I let that be my baggage when I eventually left him and met other men. I let that be the way I saw myself and the terrible things he said to me were the things I heard ringing in my head over and over again for years.
Until one day, one glorious day, I finally felt safe enough to tell my mom what had happened all those years ago. I had gotten closer to God again and felt like part of my healing meant I needed to open up about things that had happened, so I told my mom everything. It was so hard to do, relive all that pain again. I had spent so much time running from the shame and the pain that I honestly had convinced myself that it didn’t effect me anymore. Boy was I lying to myself. It was like a an anchor, attached to my ankle always weighing me down. Even now, I believe I have a tendency to downplay the effect that this situation had on my sense of self. It’s easier to blame other things, things more acceptable like “daddy issues”, moving a lot, and rejection from the business. All much less taboo than someone I loved abusing his power over me. I was so close to drowning in my own life, but talking about it helped release some of the hold it had on me. It helped me get rid of my anchor.
I allowed these things to weigh me down in my life and in my choices, but when I opened up and talked about it, I realized I was none of those terrible things that I told myself or allowed myself to believe. God loves me just as much before and after these instances in my life and when I wept, He wept with me. He felt everything I went through and was right there with me, begging me to see myself the way He saw me.
My biggest advice is to talk about it. Don’t allow yourself to marinate in any hurt or abuse…sexual, emotional, or physical. Don’t allow someone to use any sort of power over you. You are beautiful and you are worthy of a real relationship, not one with abuse. You don’t deserve the sexual abuse or harassment that haunts you. Don’t allow these horrible people to win by living out the rest of your life in a narrative they created for you. Shine your light, even in the darkest moments. Shine it on the abuse and watch it fizzle out, lifeless. I pray that these words may help someone realize that they don’t have to accept the abuse or harassment. I pray that these words help to heal you as they’ve helped me. I pray that these words help someone love themselves again as I did. I pray for the ones that feel the need to sexually abuse others or use their power against someone else, may their need to break down others to build themselves up diminish, may they find God and heal their own hearts. And I pray that if we all shine our light on these situations, this will stop being a hidden problem and turn into something we can all talk about freely. I pray that the light helps the darkness retreat. After all, “The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:5
God is here for you. I am here for you. I believe you. I see you. I cry with you. I love you. Me too.