05/10/19 Three Years Later, On Sexual Assault

Sometimes I think of what defining moments are. I think about what mine would be, and I hate the fact that it’s the moment I lost all trust in guys, questioned who I was, and lost a bit of who I think I was meant to be.

I’d like to explain a bit about what being sexually assaulted does to some girls (keeping in mind, everyone copes differently). I viewed what had happened to me as having been my fault. I got too drunk, I trusted (and liked) him, and I had gone up the stairs with him willingly. But the fact remains, when someone is too drunk to say no, or in my case, too drunk to say anything, what happens next should not happen at all. 

After that night, I remember when the first person asked me if it was true, and I burst into tears and ran out of my class. That was person number one. After that, my other friends found out, and they laughed implying that I should have known what type of guy he was, and asking why I would have got myself into that situation in the first place. To you: if I could go back, I would never have smoked and drank with him. I would never have gone up those stairs. I would never have wanted to feel like I had given him something I could never take back, and I would never have wanted to have the next years impacted by what happened.

After that, all I wanted to do was regain control of my life. That’s what some people might find ironic: after experiencing something like that, your autonomy is lost. How do some girls (like me) try and regain their autonomy? By sleeping around.

I remember that summer all I ever wanted to do was hook up with people. When an opportunity arose, and this one guy actually told me I was too drunk to have sex, I yelled at him for leading me on. In the days after this I asked myself who I even was. I knew what it was like to have something done to you you didn’t want, yet I yelled at this guy for not sleeping with me? I was so desperate to get back to myself, and to feel like my sexuality was my own, that I let it get the best of me. I’m still sorry for having done that, but at 17, fresh out of high school, it was hard to cope with what had happened.

Going to university, I realized I had to be drunk to have sex. And I’m not saying just a little buzzed – I’m saying pretty wasted, enough to have confidence resulting from the lack of mental capacity to think about what I was doing. I had to be drunk enough to stop thinking because it’s amazing how trauma follows you around. The smell of latex made me cry (pretty weird when you tear up because someone is blowing up balloons!), the mandatory sexual assault workshop during o-week made breathing hard, I started seeing myself in my Gender Studies textbook when girls would talk about sexual assault, and I didn’t know how to deal with it.

Honestly, I still don’t know how to deal with it. Having girl friends who have had similar experiences (and it makes me so sad that this is so common) has been the most important aspect of me moving on. It’s incredible how a “he shouldn’t have done that” or validation of any kind can help you come to terms with a traumatic experience. 

I wouldn’t say I’ve “moved on” (because do you ever really?) but I try and recognize when my decisions become reckless due to a want to regain control. After another extremely unpleasant situation, I pleaded with myself to stop letting these experiences rule my life. Yes, that first experience has an extreme influence on how I think of love, sex, respect, men, drinking, rape, coping, and many other things, but I can’t give him the power to mess up my life. I’m trying hard to surround myself with the good guys, the good listeners, the good friends, and to get through what happened when I was 17. 

I’ve had multiple men call me a “man-hater” and this really hits hard. I’ve chosen to trust the guy I’m with now to show me that not all guys are like the ones I’ve experienced in my life. I look at my dad, who’s the most amazing guy I’ve ever come across, and I find hope in knowing there’s at least some out there. But it always stops somewhere.

I now feel like there is a line for what men can understand when talking to a woman who has experienced sexual assault. I’ve been called a man-hater by guys I thought were my friends, and it’s difficult to explain to them that by 19 I had three different defining experiences that I’ll remember forever, and I’ll hope my daughter never goes through. It’s hard to not be scared of being alone in a room with male friends when you’ve had someone you trusted show you that they are predatory. It’s hard to not have a vendetta against men when you can count in double digits how many sexual assault experiences you’ve heard of, when you’re only 20, and those are just from the girls who trust you enough to confide in you. 

I want to end this with the statement, I do not in any way hate men. I hate rapists. I strongly dislike people who think it’s funny to joke about something that has the power to make you question who you are, and to take over your life. It is the most isolating experience. It makes you hate yourself.

So to the guys: instead of attacking me for thinking I hate men…please be patient with me because I have experienced firsthand the dangers of what SOME men do when they’ve had a couple drinks and think no one will find out. Show me that you are the good guy, the good listener, and that you recognize what these men do is wrong. I know that the bad is only in some men. But please don’t call me a man-hater. I’m just trying to get through things.

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04/30/19 Love Note to the One Who Feels Too Much

Often i think i’m too soft for this world. “Are you okay” will always send me into tears, when ambulances drive by i think about it for hours, and the love i’ve given other people, has commonly not been given back.

I fall for people extremely hard. The reason for this, i think, is because i see so deeply into who people are. I like and love for the 4am conversations we used to have when we both knew we’d have to be at school by 8, or for the way you’d always tell me you loved hearing me speak because i’d teach you to see things in a different way, or for how you always know my next move because you know my body language and the signs of a shift in mood. I love the nights where you confided in me, and for the times i realized i’d remember you always.

Other than romantic relationships, i have found it difficult to maintain friendships as i get older. We are all building our own lives, in different cities, with different friends, hobbies, loves, experiences. It’s hard to come back together and expect everything to be the same. The truth is it isn’t, and it never will be again. I find this hard to accept.

Especially lately, i’ve become ashamed of how soft i am. Things have become so heavy for me that i cry at the drop of a hat. The only way i can explain why this happens is that there is so much going on inside of me that i can’t compartmentalize it anymore. I have this constant want to be involved in others’ lives – to know the details, be there for them. 

To the softies, learn to reel this in. I have found it so hard to accept that i can’t (and sometimes won’t want to) be there for everyone. You can’t pour from an empty cup. Be there for someone genuinely and whole-heartedly, but put it in its place when you need to.

To those who aren’t so soft, please be patient. I remember, and i hope others do as well, that tears are just a sign of passion. They’re a sign of care, understanding (or a want to understand), and most importantly, tears are a sign of strength. I think writing this is an effort to convince myself of this, because i know how much admiration i have for someone who can open up to me. I’m not sure why i don’t regard me opening up to someone else in the same way.

My point is just that being soft is not being weak. Being soft is being affected, being a good listener, being empathetic, nurturing, the one who’s always there for people. But being soft is definitely hard – a lot of the time. To those like me, don’t stop being soft. Show the depth of your emotions with those who deserve to see it. Don’t become hardened by the shitty world we live in. Stay gentle with the ones you love, but most importantly, with yourself.

For others, please be patient with us. We’re trying to get through a world that affects us in ways many people don’t understand. Just be there, and try and put yourself in the shoes of someone who feels too much almost every minute of every day. We are rare finds, but our complexities of course, make us an acquired taste. Just be kind, and be there.

04/24/19 To The Girls

I’ve been wanting to write something like this for so long. I want to talk about how i cried the first time i heard Kanye’s Violent Crimes 

And about how going into university, the smell of condoms made me gag and panic myself into tears

And how between the ages of 17 and 20, my friends and i started to bond over being severely mistreated (and in some cases, sexually assaulted) by boys we had trusted, or guys we had made mistakes with.

In the intro of Kanye’s song, it’s said that “it was all part of the story, even the scary nights”, and every time i’ve listened since, this line has hit me just as hard as the first. After high school, my perception of love and sex were extremely distorted. I came to realize that so many of my friends had had traumatizing sexual experiences, and i started to wonder whether being violated is an integral part of being a woman. This thought still scares me.

Although in writing something like this i’m primarily doing it for myself – to organize my thoughts and compartmentalize the traumatizing experiences i’ve had – i still struggle with the concept of sharing my experiences, and feeling like i don’t need to articulate what i’ve experienced in order to be believed, or at least to be respected or listened to. 

I have the utmost respect for anyone who chooses to share their traumas, and i think power, solidarity, and needed understanding comes from movements like #WhyIDidntReport or #MeToo, but i also just want to emphasize that you do not owe anyone an explanation of what has happened to you. You have the right to categorize your own experiences, and your experiences are valid. If anyone ever confides in you, please remember this. With the prevalence of rape culture, and especially the shocking statistics of campus sexual assault, we NEED to speak up. But speaking up does not have to mean exposing the deepest parts of yourself.

Now at 20, and going into my 4th year of university, and having learned what sex is – respectful, gentle, intimate, loving – i feel so sorry for the girl i was before. To feel like sex was always going to be rough and painful, and knowing the person you were having it with didn’t care whether you were even conscious while it was happening, i can’t even imagine being that girl anymore. And i can’t imagine how many girls have felt this way, still do, or what girls turning 15, 16, 17, will soon come to see things this way.

Girls, we need to know how much we are worth. Our bodies are OURS. Know that someone who waits until you’re too drunk to say no, is dangerous. Someone who doesn’t leave you alone once you’ve said no, is dangerous. A random 28 year old who stops you on the street and tells you how tiny and pretty he thinks you are, and is okay with sleeping with someone 9 years his junior, and doesn’t stop once you’ve said no, is dangerous. And these experiences stick with you.

So stop them before they start. Walk your friends home. Be there for each other. Stop rape jokes. Keep your phones on vibrate at night. Let your friends know they can call you at any time of day for a ride. I would rather be called at 4am than have a heart to heart the next day that results in tears and deep down knowing my friend’s life is now changed. 

Girls, build worth in yourself that is deeper than how fuckable you are. Make sure on those drunk nights, you know your boundaries, and be around people who respect those. We are so much more than how we’ve been treated.

without meaning

I’m thinking about how meaningless relationships have become nowadays. I am so tired. I am so tired of knowing so many details about lives of people who could go months without speaking to me. I’m tired of thinking a connection has been established and will be nurtured, just to realize you’re meaningless to them.

I’m tired of constantly being told people haven’t met someone like me, simply because I listen and genuinely care about their lives, struggles, and what makes them who they are. When was the last time someone asked you how you were and questioned you when you said “fine”?

And how many people do you know that preach about being there for people, but don’t practice what they preach?

Where is meaning now? How are any of us supposed to be fulfilled when the extent of our connections is through “streaks” or “likes”?

I can count on one hand how many people I feel deeply connected to, and I am so thankful for them. I am just so done with the people who make me feel meaningless.

I think this needs to be another new beginning, of knowing meaningful relationships are the ones that need to last, and that relationships that drain us, are never worth it.

Easier said than done, I know, and not every relationship has to be extremely deep, but I am so done with the people who so obviously don’t care about others. Ask each other. Be genuine. Be curious! Care. Please just nurture relationships, be there for your friends, your acquaintances, and anyone who seems like they need a pick me up. It is so much more important than we realize.