I believe you.

I took a little trip this past weekend to the beautiful Upper Peninsula. I thought that a break from reality and time spent in my hometown with my family would be just what I needed to recharge. Where I’m from, the great up north, is so calming and peaceful and the scenery this time of year is breathtaking. Half of the trees had already turned red, orange or yellow and the other half seemed unfazed by the colder weather. My family lives on a private lake, surrounded only by nature and wildlife. We took the ATV’s out, went for a paddle boat ride around the lake and enjoyed some delicious food, a few drinks and laughs. Even though a lot of terrible things happened to me in that small town, being out at mom’s still feels like an escape for me. And after last week, I really needed an escape.

For a few days prior to our mini-vacation, the Brett Kavanaugh hearing had been all over the news. You couldn’t log into Facebook or check the news without being bombarded with interviews and opinions. Wars of words blasted everywhere you looked. I tried to avoid it, but I just couldn’t. A few friends of mine reached out to me to see how I was holding up. I was told that a lot of sexual assault victims were feeling very triggered by this case. I was awe struck at the outpouring of people who were reaching out to me and others. We had gotten through Brock Turner, Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby and so many other cases. Our voices were being heard, our momentum was still building. But something about this case knocked me right back down. Something about this case triggered me like never before.

I watched Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony on my phone and felt as though I could physically feel what she was feeling. I watched her nervous attempt at humor while asking for caffeine and my heart just ached for her. It ached because I do the same thing when I’m terrified. Maybe if I can lighten the mood a bit, I will appear stronger and less affected. I watched her shake and heard her voice quiver. She powered through. She gave her answers with no hesitation or doubt and she made it clear she wasn’t looking for sympathy. It was frightening how much of her emotion I was absorbing.

I watched Mr. Kavanaugh’s testimony and became enraged. I should have known better than to watch. I knew it would haunt me. His demeanor, his temperament, his words and his body language were all too familiar to me. I do realize that the fact of me been sexually assaulted makes it nearly impossible for me to remain unbiased. I read articles from both sides and tried so hard to stay open minded. But I just can’t do it. I cannot wrap my head around the concept of anyone NOT believing her. Why would she lie? Clearly everyone knows that he is the only one with something to gain from lying. Right? Clearly everyone can watch her testimony and see the pain and the truth. Right?

While I was up north, I got caught up in a Facebook thread and just couldn’t force myself to walk away from it. One of my friends was on Mr. Kavanaugh’s side. Sometimes I wonder if the memories and the torment of my assault are the hardest aspect to deal with. Because seeing people that I know, people that I care about, choosing to NOT believe Dr. Ford, using phrases like “why didn’t she report this 36 years ago?” and “innocent until proven guilty” feels just a bit more painful. I understand the law of the land, innocent until proven guilty. I do. But when it comes to sexual assault, most of the time it’s “he said, she said” and that proves nothing. Not all assaults will have physical evidence and there are so many reasons why they go unreported. Fear of not being believed is at the top of that list. My entire life would be different if the one person I told, back when I was 12, had just said “I believe you”.

So, while engaging in this Facebook discussion, I snapped and told my friend that he had no idea what he was talking about and he needed to just sit this one out. I had never snapped like that before. It was odd for me, because it was so deeply ingrained in my head growing up that if I had nothing nice to say, I should say nothing. So much so, that I was never taught to defend or stick up for myself. So, involving myself in a dispute like this felt very foreign to me. Then he put me in my place by stating that he can feel however he feels and he can speak out about whatever subject he chooses. And he was right. And I was embarrassed once again. I felt defeated again. And before I knew it, I was sobbing on the floor of my mother’s sewing room. I knew I would crash, I just didn’t know when. It was only a matter of time. This was my breaking point.

We have a President who has been accused of sexual assault numerous times and just today stated that it is a “scary time for young men in America”.  I’m afraid I’m going to go over the edge. I fear that I am starting to feel hatred. This isn’t me. I don’t want to be angry anymore. I am only one person. One person who has been raped. One person who has been sexually assaulted again, reported it, but received a letter from the district attorney that nothing could be done. I am just one person. Now think about all the other people this has happened to. Think about all the rage that is brewing among us. Think about the darkness that has been spread in our hearts and how little faith we have in our system. Think about what it feels like to never, ever feel safe. Think about what it feels like to never have justice served and to never be validated. Think about all the people who so desperately want to say “me too” but are just too afraid.

Maybe Trump is right. Maybe it is a scary time for men in America and it should be. Because I’m seriously ready to lose my shit. And I’m just one person.

 

 

 

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