This Is My #MeToo Moment
Updated: Oct 17, 2019
On average, there are 321,500 victims (age 12 or older) of rape and sexual assault each year in the United States, according to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network. I tend to stare at these numbers whenever I see them. My mind goes blank for a few seconds as I process the information. I always go back and remember, like a movie, a few scenes from the times I was abused. And then I turn the camera off and shove the pictures deep down inside me. But no matter how much time passes or how many sessions I attend with my therapist, I never forget.
I often wonder why the memories remain, why I can’t just “get over it”. For me, one of the difficulties is that I have never heard the words I most want to hear. My abuser has never said, “I’m sorry.” In fact, he has never acknowledged any abuse took place. Nor did the woman who saw his actions and kept silent until her death. Nor have the men who surrounded him and knew about his actions, including my family minister. Nor the court mandated male psychiatrist who first treated me. In fact, that doctor asked me every week for six months when I would stop making this story up.
But the body keeps the score. That’s the title of an important book by Bessel van der Kolk, M.D., the founder and medical director of the Trauma Center in Brookline, Massachusetts and a professor of psychiatry at Boston University School of Medicine. As reported by Nature Magazine, van der Kolk states that severe trauma is ”encoded in the viscera’” and demands tailored approaches that enable people to experience deep relief from rage and helplessness. My current doctors no longer need for me to discuss my abuse. They manage its after affects; whether from my anxiety, PTSD and chronic insomnia or my IBS and other gastrointestinal illnesses that are common to women who have suffered abuse during their childhood or teen years.
Now we have Professor Christine Blasey Ford who is claiming Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her at a party in high school and is demanding a full investigation by the FBI before testifying in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Professor Ford didn’t ask to come forward and talk about this episode in her life. Neither did Anita Hill in 1991, when she was forced to speak in detail about the sickening abuse she experienced by then Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas, who, to this day. remains silent on the court, a snake waiting to strike out against any pro-woman case that comes before him. I watched every moment when Anita Hill testified, my abuser in the same house. He asked me if I believed her. “Every word,” I replied.
I remember the first time I told anyone what had happened to me. It was to the man who was my fiancé at the time. He hit me. Later, my mother told me to never tell my story to another man as none would marry me. My husband found out about my abuse after we were married. That’s because I had a nervous breakdown, following the death of my grandmother and the loss of the only safe home I had lived in as a child. My husband believed me and has protected me ever since.
My abuser still lives. I don’t know if he hurt anyone else. I suspect he did. But don’t call me a survivor. I have done more than survive. Despite the abuse and the fact that so few believed me, I have thrived.
And this is my Me Too moment.