You have seen these two words circulate over the last week after a celebrity posting of it. I want to tell you these words were some of the hardest words to write on Facebook/Twitter. Not hard just for me but also for the 100s of friends and family members you saw post them. You may have not known that me or this person had these experiences. These words are sadly shameful and embarrassing for many. Which sucks because something happened to us, we didn’t do anything wrong. But that’s the point of it all right? In solidarity we all come forward to tell of our pains and struggles with two simple words.
Then I started reading comments on others’ posts. I know the comments sections are the worst thing to do but I felt this one was going to be different. For the most part they were empowering, full of “sorries” and “I never knew.” Then I saw comment after comment making these women and men feel like their experience was “no big deal.” That the experience that wasn’t a really sexual harassment or not close enough to being sexual assault to be that important.
Mind you most people who typed those two words did not include their story along with it. This was supposed to just let others know how often this happens. Yet I saw comments and even whole articles assuming what happened. Like articles and comments written about “cat calling” being normal and shouldn’t be made into a problem or complaint. Comments of it being the woman’s responsibility to be strong and stand up to an advance by someone they do not know who is trying to take a compliment too far.
It is not okay!! It happens daily to me. I’ve been catcalled more times than I can begin to count. I have had men pull over their cars to ask me out. I’ve had an older man in the last year pull over while I was walking down the street and ask me in complete openness to lift my top and show him my boobs. These are strangers. This is not small, this is a big deal. As a society though we have made it a “norm.” By making this seem normal we are making these feelings smaller than they are. You are making these feeling a thing we should not worry or complain about. If these feelings are made small and someone is made to feel embarrassed and ashamed of complaining about them then what about the “bigger things.”
A lot of the details are fuzzy. This is mainly because there was alcohol involved. A friend and I had chatted up a group of guys at the beach bars. They were buying us shots and drinks. We were all dancing and having a good time. At the end of the night the bars closed and we headed to the beach. I remember making out with one of the guys and I also remember getting dizzy and laying down. Did I get sick and puke in the water? Was he taking care of me? What happened to my friend? I woke up the next morning in my own bed with the hangover feeling. I looked at my phone and I had a text from someone not saved as a contact in my phone, “You didn’t do anything with me you regretted last night?”
Why would he ask it like that? Then not only to do I feel my head pounding but I feel the pain of scratches on my back. Then that feeling you get when you had sex that was not something you were in control of, a soreness that is hard to describe and I never want to feel again. Then glimpses of that time on the beach came back as I realized I was still in the dress from the night before but I was missing my underwear and it was nowhere to be found. I could remember being in the brush along the beach edge and this man pounding into me. I remember people walking by and he laying heavy on me which is how I ended up with stick cuts and a rash on my back and ass.
All kinds of feelings flood in when something like this happens. He never responded to any of my texts and I actually responded back with “No regrets.” I couldn’t remember this guys name. I couldn’t pick him out of a line up if I tried to. I thought about how much I drank. It was partly my fault too, right? In my drunken state was I ok with what was happening? Did I say no? I couldn’t remember and after sometime the story I told in my brain was it was a night I got too drunk and had sex on the beach.
You see we find excuses to cover up the shame and embarrassment of something happening to us. Yes I was drunk. Yes I was out looking for a fun night. No I was not okay with what he did. No I should have not had to put any blame on myself.
I’ve had a few friends open up to me about similar situations. From strangers to people they actually know and trust. Both men and women being made into someone’s “treat” for the night. I vowed to be stronger for myself. Make sure my guard was up and take care of those around me. Then it happened again.
Someone I knew and trusted this time. A friend is what I called him. For me I take that term friend to heart. You are someone I care about and love if I call you a friend. This friend and I had some “benefits” as some may call it. We had never had sex though. He would call when lonely and I would let him come over we would make out, touch each other, oral and then pretty much knew we didn’t want to have sex with each other and fall each other cuddling. We had open conversation about sex changing things and I told him often I didn’t want to. I trusted him
It was two weeks after I had spent the night at his place for the first time. We had both gone to a mutual friends house party. I remember going to his place tired and he said not to worry he would get me home safe the next morning. I remember kissing. I remember falling asleep. This time I didn’t have that I had sex last night feeling. It wasn’t til we were texting two weeks later he asked if he could come over. I just wasn’t feeling having him over though. I jokingly told he didn’t want to come over and just be left with “blue balls” like normal anyways. He shot back with “well you felt great the other night after the party and I was hoping we could do that again.” “Was I that bad you don’t even remember.”
I didn’t remember. Was he making this up? I’d done it again? I messed up. I let someone take advantage of me. I responded to his text with a LOL and blocked him from everything I ever talked to him on.
Both of these men probably do not feel like they did anything wrong but in the back of their minds know it was not right. The first one asking about regret, was covering his behind by making sure I didn’t have it. While my second story, he later wrote me an apology of what he did.
I don’t write and share these two stories with ease. I am not doing it for sympathy or for advice on how or how not I should feel. I write them for you to understand, I am not the only one to have this happened to them. I am not the only one to have feel like they are to blame. Even though they may have never told you, this has happened to your best friend, your sister, your barista or supermarket checkout person, your coworker and it happens to men too.
No matter how serious you feel the situation is, it is not ok for you to say it is no big deal. It is a HUGE deal. We can not diminish other people’s feelings about something that had happened to them. I don’t have an answer to how to change this. What can do is we can all work together in being better to each other.
It’s not okay. ME TOO…
“As always Keep smiling, Live Life and Love Life. Let’s meet again next week and chat about something new!”