Leading up to the election, Facebook was confusing because, rather than keeping in touch with each other, people were ranting about their political agendas. And that’s not a knock— I totally get it. I was scrolling through in fear, day and night, too afraid to share my own feelings.
Facebook has this way of showing us what we “want to see.” If you’re blue, you see blue. If you’re red, you see red.
Or, you have a lot of family and friends that are blue, and a lot of family and friends that are red. So you see it all. That’s the boat I got stuck on.
So when the video came out about Trump’s “lewd” comments, and several women came forward about being sexually assaulted by him- a presidential nominee- and both family members and friends of mine posted about how it “wasn’t a big deal,” or how “boys will be boys,” or how those girls were “lying just like #CrookedHillary,” I felt the need to share. I almost felt forced to share.
October 14th, 2016
Because of these comments and my own family and friends defense of them, I came out about being sexually assaulted when I was 15 years old.
It was during my prep period, right before the end of the school day. I pressed “share,” and went straight to the soccer game I was about to coach. I turned my phone on “silent.” I was sweating throughout the entire game, cool with nerves, hot with anxiety.
At first, I was absolutely blown away by the overwhelming support I received from friends and family, friends of friends, and family of friends. Over 300 people “liked” or “reacted” to my post. Over 30 people sent me private text messages. I received countless inbox messages of not only support, but of other people’s stories. Stories of violence. Stories of abuse. Stories of sexual assault.
But you know how when you show up at a party
and later on nobody remembers you were there?
But if you stay in and you don’t show up to that party,
everyone notices you were missing?
Yeah, well, that happened. And that was depressing. And I’m not going to apologize for that one, because I’m done saying “I’m sorry” for what’s happened to me.
The worst part about coming out about surviving sexual assault is how many people ask you who did it.
The next worst thing though, is how many people disappear.
When you get everything ripped away from you at age 15, your mental health is fxxxed:
I overanalyze every text message I send. I reflect on every facial expression everyone ever makes when they look at me. I dwell on things I said when I was eleven years old. I know I’m doing a good job, but I never think it’s good enough. That’s anxiety.
Some days I question why I even get up. Some days I feel like there is a hole in my chest and I don’t know how to fill it. Some days I wake up crying and nobody can make it stop. That’s depression.
I don’t trust anyone. I panic when someone sneaks up behind me. I panic when no-one is sneaking at all. I panic when I can’t find a bathroom. I just panic. That’s complex PTSD.
So I thought about every message that was sent to me and I cried for everyone else who has been hurt. And I cried for all of the people in my life that turned on me by ignoring my reality.
November 7th, 2016
It’s the night before the election, and yet another loved one posts something that tears me apart. Something along the lines of how, if women were as strong as men, they wouldn’t have to worry about being raped.
In a fit of anger/sadness/confusion, I proclaimed my relationship to the people I love in every way I could think of. I reiterated being sexually assaulted at 15. I came out about being raped when I was 20. I began to open up about the abusive behavior I suffered for years.
At school, kids walk around with Trump / Pence signs, probably mostly unaware of the things they stand for. In class, I try to stifle my emotions. I walk around in fear.
November 8th, 2016
The news is on and votes are being counted. It gets close to 11pm. I am so overcome with my own anxiety— a tight chest, a sore throat, a pounding headache— that I decide to leave the results ’til the morning and go to bed. Mary goes to bed too. We have faith in humanity. I have faith that, at the very least, the people I love might see what has happened to me and countless other women and men. I have faith that anyone who loves me will recognize the monster they are feeding.
November 9th, 2016
My alarm goes off at 5am. The results flash across my phone. Immediately, I cry. I pull the covers back over me tightly, and I cry.
At 7am, Mary and I get to school breakfast, and the world seems silent.
Later that day, a Muslim student tells me about his brother being cornered while walking back from class, but “luckily he carries a cane.”
A female student cries in my class, worrying for her future.
An asian student’s head hangs low, and he worries about the validity of the marriage of his two moms. He worries about his own citizenship.
Another student who saw me at a walk for survivors of sexual assault just makes eye contact with me, and silently cries at his desk.
A black student writes an apology letter: “…Most of all, do you know what I'm truly sorry for? I am sorry for your life. Your life is going to be hard. ‘But life is already hard,’ you might say. Well life is going to be even harder.”
December 5, 2016
I’m still processing. I’m still trying to understand how anyone who loves me could also dismiss my reality.
So no, I’m not saying I think all Trump-supporters are racist, or all Trump-supporters are sexist. Misogynist. Homophobic. Islamophobic.
I’m saying that you knew this, and you didn’t care.