There is a viral post going around on Facebook that says “If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote “Me too.” as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.”
When I saw this post one part of me wanted to shout out my story at the top of my lungs and the other part of me wanted to run away and hide. Thoughts ran through my mind like… What would my family and friends think? What would people think of me if they knew the truth? Lots and lots of shame fueled thoughts ran rapid.
But something felt seriously wrong about not speaking out and for the first time, I realized that this is not just about me. It’s about the millions of women who have experienced sexual assault or harassment. It is my RESPONSIBILITY to share my story so that it can help heal others.
This is the first time I’m choosing to share my story publicly. After seeing the overwhelming amount of “me toos”, I feel a serious need to let anyone reading this know they’re not alone.
When I was a freshman in college I was sexually assaulted by a friend one night after a party. After it happened I felt completely and utterly confused, alone, terrified, so much shame, anger, sadness and deep depression. Things got so bad I ended up having to leave school.
I felt completely alone. I was too ashamed to share it with anyone. I felt like it was my fault. I shouldn’t have drank that much. I shouldn’t have put myself in that situation. On and on and on blaming myself for what happened, so it was no surprise that I was too ashamed to tell anyone.
For the next 4 years, I lived deep in the depths of depression. There were days that I didn’t want to get out of bed. There were days that I simply didn’t want to live. I only told a few people what had happened. My own parents didn’t know until a few years later. There are still people who are close to me that don’t know.
When I was about 23 I decided it was time to get help. I couldn’t go on like I had been. I was pretty much just trying to survive the day to day. Thankfully by divine intervention, I was led to a woman who changed my life. She was a therapist *angel* who worked with me for many years to help me heal my pain.
What I’ve learned the most about the process of healing is that it comes in layers and it takes time. It’s taken 13 years and I’m still peeling back the layers and discovering more healing that needs to be done. This has been both the most gut-wrenching and beautiful journey I have ever been on. There were days I honestly didn’t see myself making it out of this alive and there were days where I discovered how strong I truly am.
After it happened I didn’t have the support that I needed and I don’t want another woman to think they have to do this on their own. Reading every brave woman’s story and sharing what happened to them has made me feel stronger than ever. I have never felt less alone and that has given me the courage to speak up.
By exposing the truth we can start healing the shame that we’ve been carrying around. This is no longer my “dirty secret” that I tried desperately for years to keep hidden. Secrets only fuel the shame. Darkness can only thrive in darkness. It’s not until you bring it to the light that it can be healed and transformed.