By Emily George
Shame. Guilt. Confusion. Rage. Sadness.
These are the feelings I have when I think about my past.
I was sexually abused for the first ten years of my life by more than one person. I was raped twice as a teenager by those I considered friends. I woke up more than once with a strangers hand in my pants.
Not one of these incidents was ever reported.
I was afraid. As a child I attempted to tell someone what was happening to me, but I was not believed. After that I assumed no one would believe me, so I suppressed everything. I shoved it to the back of my mind so many times that my mind was so full it busted wide open.
I am not afraid anymore. This is my truth.
I was born with a vagina. It is my responsibility to make sure I am not raped; at least that is what I am told. No one has ever told me why. Why do I live in a culture that teaches “do not get raped” instead of “do not rape.”
Sometimes I find myself stuck in moments of time where reality does not make sense. Apparently this is common for people like me.
People. Like. Me.
I am in a group I never wanted to be in. I am a statistic, and I never had a choice. I never had a choice yet the stigma that surrounds my truth makes it difficult to voice it.
I will look you in the eye as I tell you of my past and watch the discomfort move through you. You do not know what to say and you do not want to talk about the ugly realities of this world we live in.
But I will tell you, because these things need to be talked about. My truth is that 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 5 boys are sexually abused by the time they reach age 18. My truth creates drug addicts. My truth perpetuates prostitution, sex slavery, and crime. My truth causes suicide. My truth creates prisoners. My truth becomes a cycle for many: abuse after abuse; assault after assault. And still our culture shies away from it and teaches us not to get raped instead of teaching do not rape.
As I tell you that I have been raped you ask “What were you wearing? Were you drunk? Were you flirting with him?” and I ask you “How is that relevant?”
I must be mindful of where, when, and how I walk, how I dress, who I smile at, how much I drink, who I have sex with, and how many people I have sex with. I live in a society that won’t believe I had nothing to do with being raped. I live in a society that assumes I must have been asking for it.
I am forced to accept the fact that I will never receive justice because statute of limitations protect pedophiles and rapists. Some people do not remember what happened to them until years later and some can’t face it until then.
I am here to speak these truths, because your reality is not the reality. I do not care that I am making you uncomfortable, and I will not stop because change only comes when the comfortable become uncomfortable. It starts by talking. It starts with educating. We need to teach our children what rape and consent is. We need to watch for signs of our children being abused and educate people on what those signs are. It is our responsibility to protect each other. If you see something, say something. No matter how hard it may be.
I wish someone would have saved me.
Editor: Sherrin Fitzer