I followed a little of the Ford Kavanaugh hearing yesterday. Mostly though I’ve been reading comments left by other women telling of their experiences of sexual assault, harassment, rape, and abuse. It’s been really hard and I found myself crying. A lot. I woke up crying this morning too. It feels very isolating. I don’t think these things ever go away. No amount of therapy, talking about it, having a good life now, takes away the brokenness inside. I am forever changed. And it is always relived. I still see it playing out in my life.
I feel sad and disempowered and fearful for 14 year old me who was raped. Who started drinking the next day because I couldn’t make sense of the world. Who blacked out the first time I drank. Whose next sexual encounter was 2 days later in a drunken state with 2 boys. Who on 3 occasions woke up from black outs with men fucking me. Who twice received unwelcome sexual attention in the workplace and nothing was done when I reported it. Who, at age 20, would wake up distraught and fighting my boyfriend if he tried to cuddle me while I was asleep (I once kicked him, jumped out of bed, and ran through the house to escape). Who still chooses men who seem less physically threatening. Who still feels incredibly endangered when faced with an even vaguely threatening environment.
It’s easy and convenient to minimise small events; the unwarranted flirtatious texts, the unsolicited dick pics, the requests to ‘send nudes’, the ‘just for fun’, the ‘little secret’. I may even laugh at these things in the moment, but later on they’re not so funny. My first reaction is still defense (laughing) and only with some space and time can I access my feelings. The cumulative effect is large and draining.
Almost as bad as all of that is the sense that there is no one to turn to. There is the societal urging to ‘get over it’ and ‘rise above’. I can’t do that all the time. It’s painful to be the Phoenix rising. Yes, I may no longer be debilitated by my fear and brokenness but it is never gone, the scab is never truly healed because it gets picked at regularly in small ways. And in sad ways, I pick my own scab too.
I’m tired today, and I don’t know the way out. But if I get vulnerable with you, you may see me, you may hear me, you may remind me that I’m not alone, that my sisters got my back. If I get vulnerable, I’ll be shown the way out.