Me Too

How the fuck does one write a Me Too story? Or maybe more so, relive the memory in order to share it with others? I say relive because is there really any way to recount what’s possibly the worst thing that has ever happened to you without reliving it? I’ve been watching the Me Too Movement grow in momentum over the last few weeks and it’s truly astonishing to see how many women and men have shared their very personal stories of abuse and sexual assault in all it’s varied, horrifying forms. I’m well aware of the statistics; and of the large number of women who never report, and therefore never become a part of the statistical bigger picture. Facts are: the statistics are much lower than the actual number.

I’m one of those numbers, both the reported and the unreported. How do I tell that story? No one wants the gory details and I don’t have the stomach to put them all on the Internet. But it deserves to be said, doesn’t it? Everyone who’s truly close to me, and even some who aren’t, know my story. I just happen to be one of those people who endured more than their fair share of shit. I fall into a couple different “statistical categories”:

•Child abuse under the age of 12

•Child abuse over the age of 12

•Molestation

•Rape

•Intimate partner sexual assault/rape

•Sexual assault perpetrated by a stranger

•Child Victim of Physical Abuse

• Victim of Stalking

Grotesque, isn’t it? It seems crazy to me that one person, that I, have endured all of those things. I’m a walking statistic. And part of me, probably the damaged part, wonders how I attracted all of these sick individuals; but really, I didn’t attract most of them. My biological mother did…

I guess this “Me Too Story” starts with when I survived a year of sexual abuse at the hands of my mother’s boyfriend, who is also my little sister’s father. I successfully testified and was cross examined at the tender age of 8, and had that man rightfully convicted of Sexual Battery of a Child Under 12 and Lewd, Lascivious Acts on a Child Under 16. He received two life sentences, without the possibility of parole, and two 30 year sentences, to be served consecutively. That was the only one I reported; but only the first of many. I was 5-6 years old when the crimes were actually being committed, but by the time I testified against him I was already getting the shit kicked out of me by my mother’s new husband. That occurred periodically from the time I was 7-8 until I was 12. I have the scars to prove it. Then on to the next boyfriend, Chris. He was a father type figure on and off for a couple of years until one night, when I was 16, he decided to stick his hands down my pajama pants when he thought I was sleeping. I wasn’t. I blacked out for 30 minutes or so until I came back. I pretended to wake up, asked him for a cigarette to act normal while pretending I didn’t know what had just happened, then walked downstairs and puked my brains out. I remember staring in the bathroom mirror after throwing up and feeling like nothing was real. I had no way out. He had the only phone and it was after 3am. So I just shut down. I was stuck at his house until the next morning when my mom was supposed to be picking myself and my little sister up from “visiting him” after he got home from jail. It was just a bad set up from square one. But I didn’t see it coming. I had no choice but to go back upstairs and crawl back into the bed that myself, him, and my sister were sharing. I couldn’t sleep though, so he asked why. I fed him some bullshit about my “back hurting”. So of course, the sick fuck starts to rub it, but mostly my ass cheeks, while I shut down and completely disassociated from my own body…just like I learned to, at 5 years old. I don’t remember anything else between then and the next day once I was home again. I told my mom what had happened after getting really high and she called him and cussed him out. He proceeded to send me flowers, cards, money, and opiate painkillers “for my back” for the next year. Who sends a 16 year old girl money and flowers and drugs to say sorry? I wasn’t his girlfriend? And the drugs? Yeah, totally normal. A year and a half later my mother started fucking and dating him again. She hid it from me (like that made it any better) until I finally just told her I knew; at which point she said “Is it okay? If it’s not I’ll stop.” That ship sailed when she crawled into bed with him again knowing what he had done. So I plastered on a fake smile and said I didn’t care as long as I was never alone in a room with him again. He was the last one of her boyfriend’s I ever let near me.

But now we have to go a year or two back in time. I was walking to a friend’s house one night when I noticed a guy following me. I thought maybe I was being paranoid, he was just walking the same way as me, right? But I felt it. That gut feeling that tells you something horrible is about to happen. I tried every trick those worthless self defense coaches teach you: “Pretend to be on the phone. Hold your keys in your hand. Make multiple turns to shake them off.” None of it helped. At one point he disappeared. I almost took a breath but I could still feel that something was very wrong. Just then, he popped out of a small alleyway between stores and grabbed me. He was significantly bigger than me. We struggled until he got me on my knees with my hair wrapped up in one of his hands while I tried to wiggle away. As he was undoing his pants and saying some things I’d rather not repeat, I remembered the butterfly knife I always kept in my back pocket. Before I could think about it I grabbed it, opened in, jammed it into the inner thigh of his left leg, twisted, and pulled. He screamed and dropped. I ran. I showed up some unknown amount of time later on a since deceased friend’s doorstep covered in blood and shaking with the knife still in my hand. I don’t know what happened to that man. And I don’t fucking care. I never told a soul other than that dear friend of mine.

That one almost made what happened with Chris worse. With him, I reacted. I defended myself. “Fight or Flight” right? Wrong. There’s a third one: “Freeze”. With that man in the alleyway, I fought. But a bit later, with Chris, I froze. I separated from my body and I just survived. Just like when I was a kid. It took years to not hate myself for freezing. I couldn’t stop the thoughts that said “Why didn’t you fight back? Why didn’t you hit him? Why did you go back upstairs? Why didn’t you get yourself and your sister and run? Why? Why? Why?”

See, I knew it wasn’t my fault. People spent my entire life saying that one sentence: “It isn’t your fault.” But, as it turned out, I wasn’t blaming myself for any of these things happening. I blamed myself for not stopping them.

But this story doesn’t end there. At 18 I met a tattoo artist and we started to date. He told me he was 28. I later found out he was 32. I stupidly stayed anyway. He lied to me, manipulated me, isolated me from every single person I knew and loved, even the ones I lived with. He was a new kind of monster, one I wasn’t as familiar with; and so his games worked better because I didn’t recognize them until it was way too late. It all started innocently enough. He had trust problems. He was insecure about me being around men. He wanted to be involved in everything I did. But it ended in him stalking me relentlessly. I remember trying to break up with him over the phone one night. I did it, hung up, and got in the shower. When I got out and went back to my room every hair on my body was standing on end. I knew he was somewhere near. And then he called me. I answered the phone and he said “Boo”. But I heard it through the phone and… my closet? I crept to the door and opened it. He was standing in my bedroom closet. I don’t think I’ve ever screamed like that in my life. Not before then, and not since. There were two locked doors and a deadbolt between the street he came in off of and my bedroom door. He said how he got in was “his little secret”. He said he wouldn’t leave until I told him I loved him and took him back. I already hadn’t slept in weeks because he would show up and call me and make me talk to him constantly. He was embedded in and in control of every aspect of my life. Thus why I was trying to leave him. That night ended with him on top of me, having sex with me, while I cried. He didn’t care, and all I can remember him saying is “You’re going to tell them I’m your man, right? You’re going to tell them you love me, right? That I’m the only one?” The “them” he spoke of was a group of teenage girls whose belly buttons I was driving to the next town over to pierce the next day. He was absolutely convinced there was going to be guys there and that I was lying to him. So all of this, because I needed to make some money and agreed to pierce a couple of 18 year old girl’s belly buttons. That was one of 4-5 times that he had sex with me after I said no, while I cried the entire time, while I physically shook because my body was so against everything that was happening to it, yet couldn’t make it stop. It took me finally losing my sanity and packing two bags of clothes and a $439 paycheck into my Acura Integra at 4 in the morning, and driving 100mph to Wichita, KS., 1,365 miles from home at 19 years old to get away from him. I eventually came back for the holidays but got stuck when my car started having problems. I had gotten a 3 month break, but he started stalking me again. One morning I found him sleeping in his car out front of my then boyfriend’s house. I lost it. I grabbed a baseball bat, beat the shit out of his car while screaming that he was a rapist at the top of my lungs. Stupid son of a bitch got out of the car. That bat and his body became very close friends. He didn’t stalk me anymore after that.

After him I was pretty fucking damaged. It took me two years to stop having panic attacks every time I heard a car like his or saw someone parked outside of my house. It took even longer to stop sleeping with bats and knives and guns stashed under my pillow and throughout my house. It took me a long time to be able to feel like I could thank the male cashier for ringing me up, or to feel like I was allowed to have any friends, especially male ones. It took me months to speak when in a group of people because I was so used to spending hours fighting after an outing because I told someone I liked their shirt or stood with my hip cocked out to one side. And somehow, in that time after him, I still ended up dating two different people who treated me like property. Men who took “No” and “Not right now” to mean “Try harder” or “Guilt trip me until I give in”. Men who felt it was my duty and responsibility to stop everything I was doing to send them pictures of my body or to talk to them or sleep with them. Men who spoke to me like shit and treated me worse.

I always knew they were wrong.

Yet I kept finding them and making excuses for them because they “just need to see that I’m actually a good woman” or they “have trust issues” or “have potential”. Eventually I learned that it is not my job to pay for the misdeeds of other women and that you can not have a relationship with potential. There were some good people I met, ran away from, or fucked up because I was so fucked up at that time. But it didn’t matter. I was convinced that all men were like that once you really got to know them. That they all wanted something from me and it was up to me to decide whether or not the cost met the benefit. Saying I had trust issues is a gross understatement. I still do. But today I do trust people and some of them are men. One of them in particular is my man and he is a good man. I don’t have to make excuses for him or hide his behavior from the people who love me. There are good people out there.

So, as I read these Me Too stories, I think about all of my own stories, I think about trying to write them down, and I get overwhelmed. I started this piece with no idea of what it was going to turn into and as I type this sentence I wonder if I’m going to post it. There’s things in here that people who love me, people who read this blog, don’t know about. And there’s more than I’ve put in here and more than I will probably ever say out loud. Some things have scarred over, I can talk about them almost like they happened to someone else; but others….well, they still live in my nightmares and crawl up the back of my throat in the form of bile some days. Everything falls into the past eventually, but I’m not sure it all heals. I don’t think I can truly say I’ve “healed” from any of these wounds yet, but I’ve learned to live with them; and on most days they don’t control my thoughts and actions or reactions. I’ll take that. I talk to other people who’ve been there. They tell me how they cope and I tell them what I’ve learned. There’s something powerful about telling someone what is possibly the worst thing that has ever happened to you, and them looking at you and saying “Me too.”

by Ashley King

© All Rights Reserved 2017

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It Just Happened

It’s funny how you meet so many people in life, experience so many different interactions; and these interactions help shape what you know about others, and yourself. You slowly learn what you do and don’t like, what you want in a partner, and what you don’t. You learn what qualities matter to you; and those qualities, more often than not, become more or less important with time.

I used to make excuses for people who were dismissive of my feelings or my wants and needs. I used to settle for people who weren’t loyal because they were funny, or who were self centered, but occasionally sweet, because I thought that was enough, and maybe what I wanted. I glazed over things that were unacceptable because it wasn’t quite as broken as the situations I grew up in and I rationalized behavior that warranted immediate excommunication. I settled for less, over and over and over again. I didn’t really know better. So I stayed in relationships I had no business being in just because the thought of going through another shit show of a break up, or having to start over again after attempting to build a life with someone, was exhausting. I was tired of it long before most people my age had even started to discover it. The cost of living a sped up life I guess…

I’ve thought I was in love before, and once before I actually was. But in retrospect, those people were never meant to last a lifetime, no matter how hard they tried to suck one out of me. They were meant to teach me lessons; oftentimes very painful, but necessary lessons. Those lessons included things like what I wouldn’t settle for, what I valued most, what made me build resentments, and how much resentment was too much to get past. I learned where the limits of my forgiveness lie, where my own defects in relationships come out, what makes me happy, and what makes me “hate the way your breathing sounds” miserable. I learned what it felt like when my soul knew it was not meant for the person I was lying next to. And finally, after too much bullshit, I learned how to walk away with my self respect and dignity intact. But more important than all of those things: I learned what Itruly wanted, and needed,all along.

I wanted someone to laugh with, someone who respected me even when they didn’t like my opinions or my actions, someone who truly listened to the things I said, instead of just hearing them. I needed someone who accepted me for the good, the bad, the damaged, and all the in between. I needed someone who could live with knowing my past, without seeing me as some woman to save or a broken bird to be fixed. I needed someone who could support me when I was weak, but could also be vulnerable enough to apologize when they mess up and ask for help when they need it. I wanted someone who didn’t just give up when the going got tough because that was never an option for me and I have a hard time understanding people like that. I wanted someone who felt like home, someone I didn’t have to make excuses for, someone whose actions I didn’t have to hide from my loved ones. Someone who stands up for what they believe in, even when I don’t agree with them. I wanted to be a part of someone’s life, not their entire life. I wanted a partner, a teammate, an “other half” who treated me as their equal. And I drug my way through the assholes to get him. But I have him…

He’s not perfect, but he’s perfect for me. He makes mistakes, but he apologizes for them. I never saw him coming, but he’s exactly what I dreamt of. The timing wasn’t the best, the set up wasn’t great, but the reward has been beyond anything I believed existed anymore. It’s been my experience that when people, myself included, leave a relationship they always say “I’m never doing this again”. And then they go out, find someone who’s the exact opposite of the last one, and they put them on a pedestal that no one belongs on. They paint that person into a picture of what they want them to be, they call them perfect, ignore their flaws, and then act surprised when it all comes crashing down around them. I didn’t do that with him.

Something just happened. He popped up when I least expected it and I just watched. I sat back and let it unfold. I kept my hands out of the mix, I didn’t try to control or force anything, I didn’t try to accelerate the timeline or make him into something he wasn’t. I’m not one for doing that anyway, but I also didn’t make excuses for him. I didn’t need to. I didn’t need to apologize to myself for him because when it was necessary, he handled his shit himself. He carried himself like a man, and so I treat him like one. I respect him, immensely. And when I told him what I needed or couldn’t live with, he respected that and me. And when the time came, I just loved him. It was that simple, I found home in him and I’ve loved him everyday since.

It hasn’t always been a picture perfect fairytale, but I’m pretty sure everything that seems that way is a lie anyway. Love is messy and sometimes, uncomfortable. It shines a light on all the places we’re still broken and damaged. It brings out the best, and the worst, in us. It makes me fucking crazy sometimes because I haven’t exactly lived a life that’s taught me how to have a healthy relationship. But there’s no one on this planet I’d rather give it a shot with. I am so excited to continue to learn how to do this the right way; and for once in my life, I’m with someone who wants the same things as me. And it’s such a beautiful thing. Being with the wrong person will always inevitably lead to suffering. But being with the right person? That changes everything. And I’m so grateful for it, I’m so grateful for him… It’s that simple.

by Ashley King

© All Rights Reserved 2017

Struggle

Some days I struggle.

I carry this sense of impending doom around in my pocket like loose change or leftover lint. I feel a little left of center, a little off balance. Maybe I’m crooked. Maybe I’m damaged. Maybe there’s too many things that I’ve left unspoken, and the weight’s got me bent… but still unbroken.

So now some days I breathe anxiety for oxygen and use anger for strength.
Cause I can only fight as hard as I hate.
And sometimes that fire lightens the weight…
But sometimes it burns me instead.

I never fear the shoe dropping, I fucking expect it and although the years have caused that to lessen, I’ve still learned well how to hold my breath in. I’m a little cautious or completely reckless, balance has never been what I’m best at.

I’ve carried this guilt my entire life, accepting blame for shit that’s not mine.
I was raised to feel responsible, for everything; and it didn’t go away when I got old enough to see. See how broken that thinking is, and how wrong my mom was in the things she did. I was born pure and molded into an apology. Never taught to stand up or fight what people blamed on me. I spent my first 13 years mostly saying “Sorry”.

But evolution is inevitable and eventually the change came. I got a new mom, learned what I didn’t need to say. I stopped accepting blame and slowly dropped the weight. But some things in life, never truly go away.

So some days I wake up, with a belly full of lead, from all of the times that I bit another bullet. And on any given day my spine made of steel can curve into a question mark because not everything is healed. But most of the time, I stand up for myself, I don’t accept blame and take care of myself. I don’t make choices out of guilt, I don’t back down from what I’ve built. I’m accountable for my actions, and nothing fucking else.

by Ashley King
© All Rights Reserved 2017

Substandard Love

I’ll love you when it’s easy,
I’ll kiss you when you’re sweet,
I’m careless and convenient,
I’ll support you when it suits me.

I’ll kick you while you’re down,
I’ll never lift you up,
I’m fucking fantastic,
And you’re never enough.

I’m all the ways you settle,
And nothing that you wished for,
But now my hooks are in you,
And I’ve pinned you to the floor.

Are you feeling trapped?
Baby that’s my speciality.
I’ll knock you down, wear you out,
Suffocate you, breathlessly.

Don’t you know? I’m everything,
And you are just my hostage.
You used to have self respect?
Well baby, you just lost it.

Come taste my love,
It’s nothing but substandard.
You swam onto my island,
Now you’re fucking stranded.

You’re welcome.

by Ashley King
© All Rights Reserved 2017

Dedicated to all the egotistical, narcissistic, one foot out the door, “I’m better than you”, demeaning, condescending, douchebags of the world. We see you. And you suck 🙂

Possible Again

I sat back today and watched him play with his kids, just wild and free, so full of love and life. It was like one of those perfect pictures that bullshit romance novels paint: Dad playing with the older kids in the yard, dogs running around enjoying the freedom, mom a few paces away holding the baby, feeling blessed, laughing wholeheartedly at the people she loves playing without a care in the world. It was perfect. And foreign.

It reminded me of a time when I still believed in white picket fences and happy endings. When families weren’t the people you were trying to become the exact opposite of. He reminds me of when I still believed in true love. When “forever” meant forever and wasn’t just a false promise used as a bandaid over another bullet hole. He makes me feel special again, like maybe people really can love each other for all that they are. He makes me think that fall evenings spent sitting on the front porch watching the kids play in the yard are possible. Like nights spent cuddled up on the couch actually talking to each other, not just existing in the same room, are real.

I’ve always had a habit of ignoring the warning signs. I’m not one of those women who can’t see them, I can always see them. But I would convince myself that I could work around them; when in my heart of hearts, I always knew when and how a relationship would fail.

I don’t have that here.

Everything is still so new and yet, I can’t see anyone else after him. I feel like I’ve finally come home after years of living in some alternate reality nightmare and all the sudden the world is an endless sea of possibility and happiness again. Everything makes sense again. It’s like I finally woke up and everything I once dreamed was possible actually is. Ask anyone who knows me well enough and they’ll tell you they’ve heard me say “Forever is a fucking lie we tell each other to hide from the pain that we know will always be inevitable.” And I said it because I believed it. I don’t know what that says about me… or the people who’ve supposedly “loved me” before, but I know that I believed it. That forever only meant “until this ends in a three ring shit show circus”, or “until I get bored and you get sick of who I am”, or at best, “until we fall apart because people can’t survive all the ups and downs of life together”.

But I don’t believe that now…

I actually believe I could sit back and watch the kids play and grow and evolve for the rest of time with him. I can see fitting into the crook of his body for every night of the rest of our lives. And that’s insane, isn’t it? Shouldn’t it be? It doesn’t feel like it is, or should be. I have always trusted my gut above anything and anyone else and everything I say now is coming from my gut, not some lust drunk, fantasy induced place in my head. I don’t see anyone else after him. I don’t have any “I wonder how long this will last” thoughts. I never wanted to believe in someone this much, ever again. I was completely unwilling to give one more person what I saw as being “too much power over me” ever again. I loudly refused to ever start over or try again.

Then he happened…

And now loving families, and crisp fall evenings, and white picket fences, and even happy endings, are all possible again. And I tell myself that I should be terrified…

But, I’m not.

by Ashley King
© All Rights Reserved 2017

Catalyst 

If I stare at this page for a thousand weeks will I find the courage to write what I think? You were a surprise. Pleasant and sweet. But where I’m from, that’s a precursor to defeat. I’m damaged baby. 

I’m trying to tell you, I really dig you. But I’ve dug before and ended up 6 feet deep. People just don’t love like me. 

I’ve been a novelty, someone’s conquest, a fleeting love at the very best. People only want the “survivor” when she comes without the past. I used to mistake empty hands for love, falling for dogs who just wanted a home, but baby I’ve grown, and I know the difference, between being in love and being a bone. I’ve survived these lovers after feeding their hunger; but only fools don’t learn the danger, the danger that comes from falling under. 

I don’t need fixing, so please don’t try. I’ve spent a decade learning how to fly. I’m not a damsel in distress. I’m an inferno and I can have your back. But I’m not a fucking midnight snack. I don’t play games but I always win and looking at you is close to sin. The way you smile sets fire to my skin but baby, you fuckin’ scare me. 

I breathe easy when I’m with you, laugh loudly and speak so true. But the comfort I feel when I’m with you, makes me think of every thing that was ever too good to be true. I think you’re different, I really do. But you’ll have to forgive my fear of you. You’re a foreign concept, something new. 

Because you make me wonder if maybe it isn’t so bleak. Maybe love isn’t always a one way street. Maybe you can actually see me. And that baby, is what fuckin scares me. 

I’ve grown accustomed to damaged men. The kind that lie and bleed you dry and leave you questioning your own insides. I’ve known betrayal. And I’ve felt the sting of self doubt. Because I believed the words that poured from another man’s mouth. I guess you could say I’m normally guarded at best and somehow you’ve made me drop my defenses and the only experience I have to go on, says that this is fucking reckless. Yet you jar my senses. Like you packaged happy and left it at my doorstep. How the fuck did this fuckin’ happen?

I’ve broken every rule with you. 

So why doesn’t it feel like I’m drowning? Shouldn’t it? Why doesn’t this feel like a mistake? Should it? Why when I’m around you do I feel like I’m home? And why when I’m with you do I not feel alone? Maybe you’re different. Maybe I’m broken. Maybe we’re just two sides of the same damn token. Maybe this is how it’s supposed to be and years of damage blinded me. Maybe we can be good and healthy. Maybe comfort shouldn’t fucking alarm me. 

I know I’m going back and forth but for what it’s worth, this is a first. I told you I’ve always felt discomfort, and that’s not some line I just like to use. You’re something new that I’m not used to and I’m not quite sure what I should do. I want to touch you, really touch you. But if that happens, what will it do? Because I feel like you’re a catalyst; like the second you happen, everything will be different. 

by Ashley King

© All Rights Reserved 2017

Rape Culture Internalized

If we ask for trigger warnings, we’re too sensitive. If we don’t laugh at rape jokes, we’re too serious. If we get raped we’re either “asking for it”,  lying about it, or “lucky to get the attention”. And if we, as women, rape someone then it’s invalidated because we’re just too weak to ever rape anyone. Right?

Welcome to rape culture. The world of sick one liners and serial predators doing 6 months for violating a woman in a way that she’ll remember forever. We live in a day in age where a man can rape you behind a dumpster while you’re unconscious and instead of being described as a rapist, the media will call him “a promising athlete with a bright future”; and of course they’ll mention how that future “is ruined now”. You know whose future they didn’t mention? The fucking victim’s!

American facts are this: If you’re rich, you aren’t a rapist. If you’re a celebrity, you aren’t a rapist. If you’re a promising athlete, you aren’t a rapist. If you’re a woman, you aren’t a rapist. If you’re a husband or wife, you “can’t” be a rapist. If you’re a politician, a television star, a police officer, a judge, there’s no way you’re a rapist. If her skirt was short it wasn’t rape, if she was drunk it wasn’t rape, if she cried the whole time but didn’t say no, it wasn’t rape. If she said no halfway through, it wasn’t rape. If she comes forward after other victims have, she wasn’t raped. If she sleeps around, she can’t be raped. If he’s a boy, he can’t be raped. If you go to a prestigious school, you can’t be raped and you definitely aren’t a rapist. And as mentioned above, if she was unconscious but you’re white and privileged, it wasn’t rape. But if you’re black? Definitely rape. And no, I’m not being satirical or funny. I can show you case after case where judges, the media, and juries of our peers, treated the aforementioned statements as truth. Disgusting isn’t it?

We see it everyday and the sick part is that most of us are either numb to it or have heard it so much that we believe it. Have you ever wondered what a rape victim was wearing or how much she’d had to drink? Have you ever seen a survivor and thought she looked like “the type who would lie about it“? Do you agree that female students should be banned from wearing spaghetti straps while the quarterback is allowed to go shirtless? Do you believe that if women act in a certain way they can stop themselves from being raped? Do you think “it’s pointless” to make affirmative consent a part of our sexual education courses? Have you ever taken part in “slut shaming”?  If so then you are a part of rape culture. They fed you bullshit and you swallowed it, hook, line, and sinker. If that offends you then maybe you should ask yourself why, instead of getting offended about what a stranger said on the internet.

Why am I writing this? Let’s be honest, I’m all over the place, this isn’t my most polished piece, and the words aren’t intertwined in a powerful way that has the maximum amount of impact. But it’s important anyway. And it’s close to my heart. It is my heart because it is my story. I’ve been slut shamed and victim blamed. I’ve been cross examined in court by a man who didn’t believe me, despite the fact that I was 8 with damn near perfect recall. I’ve given depositions and I’ve had a rapist blame it on me. I’ve been objectified, sexualized, and silenced my whole fucking life. I’ve sat next to my male friends as they told rape jokes and made fun of women who require trigger warnings. I’ve had terrible things happen to me and thought “But what if no one believes me?” I’ve had my birth mother look at me and say “Well you know he only did it because of what you did”. “What I did” was nothing more than an excuse my mom’s boyfriend fed her for why he put his hands down my pants while I was sleeping. And for the record, I didn’t do “it”; a fact which I’d told her a year earlier when he’d said I had blown him and that’s what made him think it was okay. But I guess it was easier to continue to date and fuck the man if she chose not to believe me.

I’ve sat at a table of 10 women and contrary to popular statistics, listened as each one told their own sexual assault stories. Truth be told, I don’t know if I know one woman who hasn’t been sexually mistreated in one way or another; and that’s not even mentioning the countless men. And out of all of the ones I can think of, not one reported their rapist/abuser. Why is that? Mostly, they didn’t believe anyone would do anything about it and it was easier to live with without someone invalidating their trauma. Also, they didn’t want to be blamed or shamed for it. They didn’t want to be put through the judicial process all to have a judge put a 6 month sentence on their lifelong trauma. The world is a twisted place and I could go on for days but I truly don’t think that anything will change it until the people start to. And that can’t happen until we start recognizing all the ways our thinking has been slowly distorted over the years. Say these things to yourself over and over again if you have to: only rapists cause rape, men can and do get raped, a man or woman’s sexual history has nothing to do with their assaults, a rapist can be from any socioeconomic class, race, background, gender, or area; and the act of rape should offend you far more than the word itself. Do some research, educate yourself, and stop perpetuating rape culture. If you aren’t fighting against it or educating yourself about it then you just might be a part of the fucking problem.

Rape_Culture

by Ashley King

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