I’ve been trying to write this for awhile. In fact, I’ve been writing about this for a long time, but have never had the courage to share. The strength to confront. The trust to hear the reaction.
But it’s gone too far. I’ve lived my life fearing what has happened to me will happen to me again, or will happen to my sisters, or someone else I care about.
I still fear sharing what happened to me with more than just the few people in my life I have entrusted my story with.
So I won’t. I’ll just give you a little bit. And I hope that little bit will be enough for you to understand how “locker room talk” doesn’t just stay in the locker room. It goes far beyond the concrete walls, smelly uniforms, and male banter.
Here’s what a lewd comment does to a 15 year old girl:
Holds you down in the basement of a home you thought you were safe in.
Shoves a pillow over your face so you can’t scream for help or say no.
Sweats on your face as your throat dries up and tears flood your eyes.
Steals the innocence you thought would be your choice to give away.
Shames you for being dirty.
Calls you a liar.
Calls you a slut.
Doesn’t call you at all.
Sexual assault is something I have lived with, hovering over my head, weighing down on my body, bleeding out of my eyes. Sexual assault is something we are ashamed of talking about, because it’s something we grow up thinking will never happen to us.
I grew up thinking I was strong and smart, with a “good head on my shoulders.” All of that was ripped away from me when I was so young. I believed I was dirty. I believed I was a slut. I believed it was my fault.
So when you say that a lewd comment is just locker room talk, know that it coming from somewhere. Know that it’s happened to your daughter, your wife, your friend.
Lewd comments are not just offensive. They’re hurting us.
My name is Kaleigh. I was sexually assaulted when I was 15 years old. I am a strong and smart, and I have a good head on my shoulders. And I need your support.