We’re all on edge over the next justice that will be placed onto our United States Supreme Court. Dr. Christine Beasley Ford told her story yesterday to millions of people, trembling with each word she said. Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh lied his way under oath about everything he has done and said (come on, someone who is innocent wouldn’t jump down the throats of everyone who was asking questions he didn’t want to answer.)
We don’t get to decided who the victim or survivor is. We need to listen to the stories of sexual harassment, sexual assault and rape from survivors themselves. We need to get uncomfortable while listening to these stories because it happens too often, every 98 seconds too often. We need to understand that coming forward is not an easy choice.
It’s not something that’s decided overnight. It’s not the victim/survivor’s fault over what happened to them.
While I was in college, I couldn’t tell you how many stories I’ve listened to about a boyfriend who assaulted their girlfriend because, “you should do this for me.” I’ve heard the story about going out where, “he followed me home.” I’ve listened to countless, “I said no.” I can’t keep track of how many stories I heard where, “he seemed like a nice guy” came up. Don’t even get me started on the, “I still have nightmares.”
It’s heartbreaking and infuriating. It’s daunting and confusing. It’s scary and all too real.
I don’t recall ever meeting a women who hasn’t been assaulted in someway, shape or form. It’s as if it’s a right of passage to be assaulted, something we should expect to happen in our lifetime.
I mean, statistics don’t lie. Will I be the 1 in 3? 1 in 4? 1 in 5? 1 in 6?
Women of color are less likely to report an assault or rape than a white woman.
47% of transgender people will be assaulted in their lifetime.
Native American women are 3.5 times more likely to face assault and rape due to isolation and lack of resources.
46% of bisexual women have been raped, compared to straight women.
We’ve been conditioned with these thoughts and questions:
Boys will be boys.
Maybe if you didn’t drink so much, nothing would have happened.
Are you sure you weren’t leading him on?
Why didn’t you just say yes?
What were you wearing?
You’re going to ruin his future.
He’s a nice guy.
Are you sure it was actually rape?
Why didn’t use report it?
Why didn’t you report it? The whole point of this entire thought.
The reason why women do not come forward about their trauma and experience is because we’ve been taught that rape, sexual assault, harassment of any kind, doesn’t really happen.
We’ve been taught that if we don’t talk about it, then it’s not real.
We’ve been taught that there is no possible way that someone could control another person’s body and feelings.
We’ve been taught to blame the victim/survivor than the rapist.
We’ve been taught that these cases go no where.
We’ve been taught that justice can never be served.
You don’t have the right to tell a survivor when it’s time for her/them to come forward. You don’t have the right to discredit their experience. You will never, ever, understand the pain they carry with them day in and day out until you’ve lived it yourself.
Survivors are called survivors because they’ve had to live through the fear of knowing that saying no could mean whether they live or die.
I’m looking at you Republicans a part of the Senate Judiciary Committee, don’t you dare call Kavanaugh a victim in all of this when a women looked at you dead in the eyes, painted the chilling pictures of her experience of sexual assault. How dare you discredit her story when her life was ruined before it could begin when she was in high school. He had a choice, he made his bed, he lied on top of her against her will in that bed and now the truth is out. And it pisses you off because the truth can’t be a lie.
There are so many men who have committed such crimes that continue to receive praise and support – Trump, Weinstein, Lauer, Moovnes, Kavanaugh, Louis – that they’re seemingly untouchable; they’ll never receive punishment for what they did. People think, “Oh, think of their lives that will be ruined! Think of the good name they made for themselves, he’s never done anything wrong before! Why didn’t she come forward earlier? He’s a reputable man.”
That sort of mindset is our problem.
It can take years for survivors to even begin to talk about their experience. A women doesn’t come forward for the hell of it. Believe me, anyone who is a survivor of sexual harassment, assault or rape, the last thing they want to do is relive and vocalize a play-by-play of their experience to people they don’t even know. The people who have come forward in the last year have done so because injustice is still happening and we need to fix it. That’s why Dr. Ford came forward, as she said, as a civic duty.
Survivors are conditioned from societal expectations to let their experience go, move on and live their life as if nothing ever happened. I’m sure that’s what happened with Dr. Ford and countless other women who were attacked by these boys (yes, boys) that have been exposed and those who’s times have yet to come. They all came forward to tell us, the people and public, what each powerful white boy has done. If we don’t say something, they’ll keep getting away with it and we will perpetrate the same toxic culture we’ve been conditioned with since the world was created.
If you are a survivor: you are loved, you are valued, we believe you and it’s not your fault. It’s never too late to come forward. It’s never too late to use your voice. It’s never too late to stand up for what’s right. It’s never too late to put the power back into your hands. It’s never too late to put privileged individuals in their damn place.
We can’t be afraid anymore. Our time is now.
Time’s up on sexual predators. Time’s up on the rapists. Time’s up on serial attackers. Time’s on white, privileged, cis-men to say who’s a “real” victim. Time’s up on the GOP.
Time is up on all of this bullshit. If we want change, we have to vote them out. Stand up for what you believe in. They’re hearing us, it’s time for them to listen.