No one talked about it.
No one said anything. You didn’t tell your friends. You didn’t tell your parents, and if you did there was nothing they could do. They told you to hide it, asked the circumstances and made you feel like it was probably your fault. Judges didn’t care, police didn’t want to help.
Then the whispers start.
“That’s awful, truly, but wasn’t she asking for it with her behavior?”
“She shouldn’t dress like that. What was she expecting?”
“At least she finally got laid.”
“No, he would never. I know him. He’s not like that.”
“I bet she made it up for attention.”
This is what I had been used to hearing when I was growing up. If any form of rape or sexual assault happened, you just swept it under the rug.
He was a linebacker for our football team and weighed about 150 pounds more than I did.
He thought that gave him the right to touch my thigh and work his way up. I shifted my chair as far away from him as I could, but he kept advancing.
“C’mon, you know you like it.”
His words still haunt me. I didn’t tell my parents; I knew what their response would be. I didn’t tell my friends; I didn’t want them to see me as someone that sought that kind of attention. I didn’t tell the teacher; he probably wouldn’t be able to do anything about it. So I moved to the opposite side of the classroom.
I shouldn’t have done that.
I should have fought, I should have yelled and I should have told him to stop then punched him.
I should have done something.
But I’m not the only one. One in five women in college will be sexually assaulted. 42 percent of women who are raped don’t report it. Georgia laws regarding sexual assault are vague at best, applying them to only instances in the workplace, psychotherapists and hospitals. In 1,000 rape cases, 994 perpetrators will walk free.
But others are changing this. Others are taking a stand. Others are speaking out about sexual harassment and rape. And I am so proud of them.
They give hope to younger generations. Younger generations no longer have to accept this kind of attention as something all women must go through. They no longer have to put up with it to get a job or promotion. They don’t have to take it anymore, largely thanks to the MeToo movement.
The MeToo movement started with Tarana Burke in 2006 and progressed into a national movement that brought attention to the abuse of women in media and entertainment industries.
Now, it has become a social media hashtag that provides an outlet for victims to voice their experiences and inspires confidence in young women. Young women are now being educated on their resources to stop this unwanted attention and their futures are being rewritten.
While laws in Georgia regarding these situations are still largely flexible, the MeToo movement is bringing much needed attention to this social issue and providing closure for several thousand people.
I never want what happened to me to happen to anyone. It took me a long time to rebuild my self-esteem and push away the shame that it brought. But now I am so much happier with where I am. I have a loving family and wonderful friends who guided me through that time. I’m now very open about my story so that younger generations will know it is never okay to be treated this way without consent. I am so proud of where my generation is taking a stand and I never want them to stop talking about it.
So keep talking, keep spreading this message and keep brightening the future for younger generations.