I don’t usually write on the blog about the same things I talk about in podcast episodes. There are indirect references and links between the blog and podcast content, but that’s usually as far as it goes. I didn’t plan it that way, it’s just the way each of these creative formats evolved.
However, today I feel inspired to make an exception. I mean, it’s not really an exception because I only mentioned sexual abuse in the last podcast episode. Today I am expounding further on thoughts which came to me about this topic.
In recent years, while we have made some strides on behalf of women who have been raped and/or molested inside the rape culture of the patriarchy, we still have a long way to go in having the general populous stand up and show their support. The #MeToo movement has been a great beginning, for sure.
And yet, wouldn’t it be nice if we could ramp things up on behalf of those of us who once fell prey in this culture of rape through no fault of our own? I mean, me too, yes, that’s nice. But me too, what exactly? Me too, someone grabbed my breast once. Me too someone else grabbed my ass repeatedly. Me too, I was raped. Me too, I was fondled. Me too, my father was a pedophile and my mother looked the other way for years while he raped me. Me too, I was date raped. Me too, I had a train run on me because I drank too much at a college party. Met too, a neighbor held me down. Me too what?
I’m ready to take a baseball bat and swing into the knees of Shame. Fuck Shame. How illogical is it that we live in a world where the sexual assault victim is made to feel ashamed of being targeted and assaulted by a perpetrator. Right? What kind of sense does that make?
When I was a kid, if I got caught stealing—as in shoplifting, which happened by the way—security would be called and I would be shamed and humiliated for stealing. The store owner, the security guard, the cops, they all looked at me like I was a grimy piece of shit. Why? Because I perpetrated a fuckin crime, that’s why! I don’t remember anyone shaming the merchandise for looking so appealing or shaming the proprietor of the store for being lackadaisical with the protection of their merchandise.
And yet, we who have been raped, molested, or held down against our will for sexual attack, somehow, we have historically been grouped in with the perpetrators and made to feel ashamed of our victim status. Um, hello! Fuck you and fuck that. I am fifty-two years old and I refuse to die off this planet harboring the secrets inspired by my collateral damage status in a rape culture. Just because I lived through a season of life where I was once helpless prey to a man who felt entitled because of his position on the patriarchal food chain, does not make any of it my fault. You hear that fellow rape people? It was NOT YOUR FAULT.
My husband never knows what I am going to talk about on an episode until he hears it live. We have a daily morning ritual, hubby and I, in which we sit in bed drinking coffee and chatting for at least thirty minutes before we start getting ready for our separate work days. This morning we were talking about episode 44.
As we talked, we marveled—yes, marveled because it’s a big deal in case you’ve ever been raped and moved beyond the trauma to a point of being able to speak casually about it—at the way I was able to talk about having been sexually abused as a young girl without getting emotional.
For a really long time, I spoke so rarely of the sexual abuse of my childhood past that whenever I did try to speak of it as an adult I often cried. This morning hubby and I chuckled together because as we marveled, I sat up in bed and shoved both fists into the air like I just scored a touchdown. Hubby beamed and said he is proud of me. I’m proud of me too.
One of my bucket list dreams is to, one day, wear and distribute thousands of t-shirts that say I WAS RAPED. Uh huh. I want to wear that t-shirt alongside thousands of women (and men, showing their support) as we go about our days doing errands, meeting in cafes, having lunches and dinners in restaurants, dropping kids to school, sitting in churches, attending PTA meetings, and shopping in malls for an entire month.
Because it’s time to turn this shit around and take back our power on behalf of the current and future victims (I hate the word victim, but that’s how it begins with a perpetrator), women and little girls, who are still suffering at the hands of predators all around us because said predators have clearly felt emboldened, not only by their food chain position in the patriarchy, but also by the historical shaming of sexually assaulted people.
For the last eight and a half years (deliciously sober years), I have been telling my story of sexual abuse in various arenas—at Alcoholics Anonymous meetings attended by rooms full of men and women, standing at the pulpit in churches as I addressed groups of women, talking in therapy, talking with friends, talking with family, at formal and informal gatherings, and writing on my blog.
I have lost count of the number of women who have reached out and said “me too” simply because I told my story, women who whispered to me in secret, as if they were ashamed of themselves for having lived through such experiences. That breaks my heart. And the heartbreak I feel for them is less about the fact that they were raped (or sexually assaulted) and more for the fact that they are still carrying shame about their experience, not wanting other people to find out.
#Metoo is a start. High-five to all the women and men standing up in that movement. I would have so loved to see this movement unfolding when I was in my thirties feeling ashamed, carrying secrets and burning with helpless rage, drinking myself towards an early grave. Now that #Metoo is here, I’m ready to take the baton and run this relay to another level. I would love to hear us talking out loud, off-line about what happened to so many of us, we who were once sexually assaulted. I was raped and I’m not broken. I was raped and I’m still fabulous. I was raped and I’m still sexy as hell.
If you are reading this and you have ever been sexually assaulted, I want to remind you that it was never your fault. I also want you to know that I SEE you and you are magnificent and you are beautiful because look at you, you are still standing. You are still showing up in this world, doing all the things required of you in spite of what you suffered through.
And if you are someone reading and maybe squirming under a few beads of perspiration right now, feeling triggered, I think there’s an angel tapping on your shoulder, telling you it’s time for a more fabulous level of living in this life. Discomfort is always a sure sign of leveling up and becoming better. Start telling your story and watch how your wings will grow and you begin to soar through this life. In honor of that happening let me be the first to say: Welcome to the party, gorgeous!