This morning I opened my Facebook feed and at the first ‘Me too’ post I knew what it was about without asking. I debated all day about if posting was just jumping on a bandwagon, or if it was adding my voice to something worthwhile. I spent most of the day on my computer working, with my feed in the background quickly filling up with stories that made my heart ache, but that reminded me that I’m never alone. I don’t think I’m posting to "give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem", but more for those who are seeing these posts and wondering if their experiences are valid or those who are struggling to find their voices.
Because 16 years later there is still a voice in the back of my head that says it wasn’t that bad, and doesn’t deserve to be written about.
Because 14 years later I can still hear my best friend’s voice telling me the next day that I had wanted it, and the guilt of being so intoxicated that I couldn’t entirely remember what happened; although the bruises told their own stories.
Because 13 years later I can remember the nauseating feeling that it was my fault because I didn’t say ‘no’ clearly or loudly enough. This time I didn’t need anyone else to tell me it was my fault, I carried the blame and didn’t speak a word of it for 12 years.
Because for several years I was lost in a blur where consent meant as little to me as it did to those who crossed lines.
Because I still sometimes have moments where I feel shame for flinching at a lover’s [consensual] touch.
Because I was 13 when the first assault happened, and 27 when I was ready to go to therapy to start undoing the stories I had built up around myself.
Because for all those years in-between, I knew I was one of many, and would look at women around me wondering if they knew the same pain and if so, how were they able to carry themselves so strongly that I couldn’t see the cracks?
Because where I felt weak I learned to be hard, but love taught me that being hard is not the same as being strong, and that softness is not the same as weakness.
Because I’m 29 now, and just this past year I learned that it wasn’t my shame to carry and felt the difference between feeling like a survivor instead of a victim.
Your experiences are valid, whether it's an unwanted caress, verbal advances, or rape.
Your experiences are valid, regardless of your gender or sexual orientation.
Your experiences are valid, even if you never put them into words.
Your experiences are valid, period.