It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything personal and personally I’ve needed to take a break to recollect my thoughts & plans for the new year. I usually like to reanalyze a lot of things I’ve learned and possibly need to relearn. During this period of learning and unlearning, I prefer minimizing my comments/thoughts on certain subjects and stay silent…
But… in the face of recent accusations against BIG Hollywood movie stars & fashion moguls, and with the #MeToo movement on the rise, I felt the need to share SOMETHING about what I’m most passionate about.
Before I begin, I want to make it clear that these are my thoughts and I only share my perspective based on what I’ve experienced and what I’ve seen and heard over the years in various communities and environments. I also want to avoid approaching this subject with an extreme POV. It’s not my intention to attack people nor diminish sexual misconduct. I get many people are upset over the behavior of people who have abused their power over the weak, but I’ve learned long ago that this situation has to be approached carefully. Otherwise, people who are falsely accused of harassment could get hurt.
That being shared… let’s get started.
I am a victim-now-survivor of sexual abuse and assault. I’ve had men manipulate and guilt trip me into doing things I never wanted to do. My sexual abuse took place at the age of 14, but the effects of the abuse stayed with me until my 20s. I never educated myself on how to protect myself and say ‘no’ when I was around certain male types… you know, the aggressive ones who can’t take no for an answer.
All this stemmed from consistently trying to please those closest to me growing up. I hadn’t been taught to speak up and if I did speak up about something I did not like, I was met with harsh criticism and punishment.
Back in 2016, around a time I started taking my recovery from my past hurts/pestering wounds seriously (attending support groups), I was sexually assaulted by a man who preyed on my vulnerability.
Those feelings of shame and disgust overwhelmed me once again. I hated myself and continue to struggle with thoughts of shame and self-disgust till this day. I asked myself if I had asked for it because I continued working with a man whom I was having difficulty trusting.
I hadn’t yet trained myself to trust my intuition so when the attack finally happened, I felt angry… more at myself than the man who had gotten away with the crime.
Worse, just like Kate Upton, I felt I had to think of a strategy on how to avoid rape.
Unsurprisingly, I developed PTSD. I battled thoughts of self harm and suicide. I wanted to die. I didn’t see the point of living. To me, my future seemed tainted by my then-present circumstances; there were no obvious signs of a happy future.
It took GUTS, courage I didn’t want to find in myself, to come forward and file a police report, reach out to young women whom I had heard were working with the monster whom had violated my body, and to attend therapy appointments I loathed at first. I did this, thankfully, within the first few weeks after the attack. But I will explain why I nearly bailed out on reporting the attack in a second.
To me, going to these therapy appointment meant I was weak. I was now one of THOSE people who wasn’t normal. I was one of those people who didn’t feel comfortable in their own skin. It sucks when you’ve always been kinda self conscious of your body, but imagine how much you might hate your own body after it suffered violation.
Now… why would I think twice before filing a report? What’s the big deal? Why do victims take years to come forward? Does this make their story false and less important than victims who come forward right away?
What’s worse than feeling scared to come forward and admit what happened?
Fearing that the person whom you reported will tarnish your image, release statements about you saying “you asked for it” or that it was mutual when it wasn’t, and possibly hurt your personal life or work because they have “power” over the minds of the people closest to you or in the industry you are trying to find work in. After all, whom do people believe…? The one whom has worked YEEEEARS in the same industry where you’re barely starting off in or you the rookie? The one who is a family favorite at gatherings, maybe the one who makes everyone laugh and feel better at group outings? The one who can refer you because they are considered “professional” or you, the one who needs those referrals to get the work?
Nothing is worse than a predator who blatantly lies and chooses to act confident being fully aware of what he’s really done.
But maybe it CAN get worse.
It sucks when of all the women who work or revolve a predator, you have to be his next victim.
(Amanda Cerny, or any man or woman who has defended a predator, you paying attention?)
A common misconception about predators is that they’ll attack every. single. woman they come in touch with. Or that you’ll somehow catch them in the act. The worse misconception many have towards predators is that they LOOK or ACT like predators… nope. They act like your average nice guy or girl ( yes, I am a firm believer that women can be predators too. I’ve heard multiple stories already and have met men who’ve been abused so don’t try convincing me otherwise.)
Take a look at nice guy Harvey Weinstein…
Weinstein slipped under the radar year after year. Even if people in the industry knew (because, face it, #theyknew), no one was willing to face the almighty god of hollywood. With millions in the bank, dozens of awards & successful actors/actresses in his movies, who’d take him on?
Keep in mind the generous donations he’d given to charity and political causes over the years…
Who’d accuse him of assault? Who would dare go against this powerful man after all he’d done for the likes of women like Paltrow, Judd, and Streep?
Oh, and of course… with a company practically permitting his crimes, and the people backing him up without missing a beat… what could up and coming actresses fresh on the scene fight men like Harvey with?
A lawyer that would be topped by an even more powerful and far more expensive lawyer? Celebrities who wouldn’t turn away from a beloved friend like Harvey for a raw recruit?
Not saying they shouldn’t have said nothing… this is simply offering perspective to those who don’t “understand” why they didn’t come forward right away.
Side note: no doubt that there are women who would be willing to do anything to get to the top. No doubt there are women willing to sleep, give blow jobs, and kiss up to powerful men to get fame and money, but there are women who felt they had no choice and who were put under pressure… especially when their oppressor is filling their mind with fears that they won’t have another shot if they don’t do ________.
Predators are fully aware of the power they have. They won’t victimize those whom are revolved by people. They don’t go after those who show self-confidence, who trust their own voices, and do not allow intimidating looks or words to pull them down… and if they do, they usually try isolating them.
“Who will believe you?”
“No one saw anything.”
https://youtu.be/wEu7quzUsDk — this is a perfect example of predator vs. prey. (TRIGGER WARNING :: the audio is extremely disturbing. Proceed with caution)
Predators have friends! They can be the sweetest people on earth! Again, they don’t have to look like predators to be predators!
At the same time, I do not endorse women who will use the “predator! rape!” ( *Cough* Melissa Schuman *Cough*) button as a way to get even with someone they hate or because they participated in a one night stand that they regretted afterwards. (Let me make this LOUD and CRYSTAL CLEAR :: If you had a one night stand with a guy/girl you didn’t really like but gave the ok to be intimate with him/her, but then decided you felt grossed out or didn’t like the way things turned out because of it afterwards… DON’T. CRY. RAPE!!! It’s an insult and a slap to the face for those who’ve truly been preyed upon! It’s also a CRIME!) I encourage women to share their stories and stand by and support them in spite of backlash but I cannot do so if they aren’t willing to do their part in coming forward. I revoke my support towards women/man who take a bribe to accuse an innocent man/woman of a crime.
However, this post is intended to shine the light on why many victims don’t come forward right away… so back to my argument.
When I reported my first oppressor (my step father), it was 2 years after the crime had taken place. I was TERRIFIED to come forward. I kid you not, I felt SICK to my stomach when I went to the police station. At the age of 15 you want to be living a normal life, sleepovers and late night school projects included, not going to the police station giving details of the horrors you experienced that took away your innocence.
Although I was mocked for coming forward, I felt peace. I felt I owed it to myself to come forward no matter how long ago the abuse had taken place. Although I didn’t directly deal with the trauma from the abuse in my teens and am finally doing so in my 20s, I still did myself and others a huge favor by coming forward.
In many ways, the courage I found to speak up in my youth empowered me to think, “I’ve done this before and I can do it again.”
I was also encouraged by the strength and bravery of Ashley Judd, Kate Upton, Corey Feldman, and every other survivor who has mustered up the courage to come forward in spite of the years in between that kept silent.
Predators HAVE influence. They can sound convincing. They can make victims feel bad for coming forward. They can make other friends, employees, coworkers, & family members feel sorry for them to the point that they’ll stand up for them *cough* Alec Baldwin *cough*
It’s sick. It’s twisted. IT’S EVIL.
But that’s reality.
With men like Harvey Weinstein, Paul Marciano, Scott Baio, and even James Franco coming under scrutiny, I’d say that in spite of how long ago their crimes took place it IS giving women, men, and children and opportunity to work in safe environments without the fear that they will have to compromise what their consciences are screaming against.
Work environments won’t ever be perfect. Predators will always be around in this world. But there’s progress.
That is why I firmly believe that no victim of assault, rape, or any form of abuse should be afraid to come forward because of the years they remained silent.
My story and your story may be what another person needs to find the strength to make peace with their past, and to say what they were either pressured or ashamed to say. If we’ve shared our stories, then it’s our responsibility to support those who are experiencing abuse and are coming forward about their encounters with predators.
Yes, use discernment and encourage victims to share their full story and the details so we’re not falsely accusing the innocent, but think twice before discrediting their experiences.
There are so many things I wish I could fit into this post. But this is all I will share for the time being.
Happy February, Survivors!
God bless you ♥️