Once again, President Trump has taken it upon himself to ridicule victims of sexual assault, and while my heart hurts because of this knowledge, it has certainly felt this way before.
If you pay any attention to the news these days, the name “Brett Kavanaugh” is certainly one that rings familiar. Kavanaugh was nominated by Trump to become an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court on July 9, and ever since that day, it’s been nothing but controversy and flame.
Professor and psychologist Christine Ford accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault; she disclosed this information to a therapist years before his appointment.
And instead of believing her, or even giving her the benefit of the doubt, or doing the most logical thing and recognizing that no one makes up a rape case on the off chance that years down the road, the perpetrator, which there would have to be some sort of intense and likely warranted spite towards, would hold a position of immense power, Trump tweeted this:
This, ladies and gentlemen, is where it gets personal.
It’s no longer a secret that I am a survivor of sexual assault, and that my rapist left more than just bruises upon my body, he left bruises upon my soul. Four and a half months of abuse left me struggling with complex post-traumatic stress disorder, relapsing into anorexia, and battling suicidal ideation.
But I didn’t report it.
I didn’t report because when I threatened to, he pulled out his pocket knife, and I still have the scar on my left hand. Every time that I look down, I am reminded of the danger that comes with sticking up for myself.
I didn’t report because his friends were my friends, and I didn’t want to lose the people that were close to me.
I didn’t report because I was gaslit. The day after one of the worst incidents occured, he showed up to my house in the morning to make me waffles, and when I tried to confront him about the night prior, he said that nothing happened, that I was crazy, that I might be schizophrenic. After this happened multiple times, I began to trust his words over my experiences.
I didn’t report because reporting means being physically violated again in order to obtain “evidence”, and I didn’t think I could handle that.
I didn’t report because he was my boyfriend, and I still loved him. Stockholm Syndrome is not a myth.
I didn’t report because he was the person who I had trusted the most, and he was the person who hurt me the most. How was I supposed to trust anyone else with anything meaningful, ever again?
I didn’t report because for the longest time, when I tried to talk about it, my body violently reacted against my will. When I first told my best friends, I threw up. When I first told my therapist, I began to convulse. How the hell was I supposed to tell people who didn’t even know me?
I didn’t report because I knew how the system worked; I wasn’t raised with blinders on. I didn’t want to be asked what I was wearing (a cross country meet t-shirt and sweatpants), if I was drinking (no), and if I was leading him on (I was doing everything in my power to push him off).
I didn’t report because I thought that other people had it worse, and I felt bad complaining.
I didn’t report because I was ashamed. I was raised in a Christian environment and I have read the Bible three times. People who are raped and don’t scream are condemned. My body did not let me scream. I froze. I thought it was my fault.
I didn’t report because when I worked up the courage to tell my best friend, after spending an hour shaking and dry heaving as I tried to muster up the words, she invited me to confession.
I didn’t report because my family was going through enough, and I thought the news would wreck them.
I didn’t report because he told me nobody would believe me if I did.
I didn’t report because saying the words out loud made it real; saying it out loud turned the mud I was wading in up to my knees to quicksand.
I didn’t report because I was sick. I was trying to fight an eating disorder relapse spurred by these very events, and each bite required my full attention; fighting to stay alive required my full attention.
I didn’t report because I have PTSD, and with that comes memory holes. If I can’t yet remember some of the explicit details of what happened because my brain is trying so desperately to protect me from them, how can I build a case to take to the courtroom?
I didn’t report because I was embarrassed.
I didn’t report because I just wanted so badly to move on, to leave it in the past, to numb out and close my eyes.
I didn’t report because I was conditioned to believe that I deserved the abuse that I was enduring.
I didn’t report because I was scared I was hurting I was bleeding I was begging I was fighting I was shivering I was dying I was raging I was lost I was alone I was trapped I was overwhelmed I was still just a little girl I was still grieving my innocence I was still holding onto the hope that things could get better I was still believing that I could pray it all away I was still counting on God to rescue me.
I didn’t report, but I shouldn’t have to.
I didn’t report, but I shouldn’t have been raped.
I am one of tens of friends, hundreds of acquaintances, thousands of women across this country with a story untold.
But that does not mean that our stories are invalid, or embellished, or mere fabrications of a hormonal and confused, oh so silly girl.
You ask us if we want to wreck their futures when they’ve already wrecked ours.
You won’t hold boys responsible for their actions but you hold us responsible for how we instinctively react to the unthinkable.
You normalize this behavior from the moment we walk through the doors of a Kindergarten classroom and you say that he hits her, teases her, and pulls her hair because he likes her.
And she will grow up and she will not report because she has been trained to think that this is normal.
I did not report. Perhaps someday, I will. But today, I am working on liberating my soul more than I am working on capturing him. I am trying to mend a shattered covenant with gentleness, with time, and with this ridiculously elusive element that we call “hope”.
And don’t you dare come to me, Mr. President, and invalidate my suffering because I did not tell.
Don’t you dare.
We stand together, our voices amending the chinks in our armor, and we speak to the few until we can speak to the millions; let us heal in our own right, let us breathe, and until it has happened to you, let us be.