Millions of people tweeted or posted how shocked and offended they were by the tape that was leaked last week of Donald Trump saying the “p” word. My inbox and Facebook feed were filled with people reaching out to hear my opinion. For the last 6 months, there has been plenty of news coverage on Donald Trump’s sexual assault charges, rape of his first wife, and misogynistic comments on live television. I have been scratching my head for the last five days wondering, why now? What about this, one of his many attacks on women, finally broke through and caused even the staunchest republicans to turn against him? I wasn’t surprised at all by those tapes. That is exactly the kind of language I would expect from Donald Trump, in any room. I surely didn’t expect those tapes to have such a profound effect worldwide.
I now want to thank Donald Trump for running for President. His campaign has finally caused the issue of sexual assault to be mainstream news for more than a day. In my opinion, when Brock Turner was convicted of raping an unconscious girl, laughed about it, showed no remorse whatsoever then was given a laughable six months in jail because Judge Persky “didn’t want to ruin his life”, that deserved the worldwide outrage and backlash that Donald Trump is getting for saying “grab them by the pussy”.
I’ve been waiting to publically respond to those tapes because I have had trouble wrapping my brain around the frenzy this has created. This isn’t just about a political campaign to me. This issue doesn’t go away after November 8th. SANE-SART via The U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics estimates that one American is sexually assaulted every two minutes. Why isn’t that statistic alone enough to garner worldwide attention and outrage?
Whatever the reason, I am grateful that massive amounts of people are finally speaking up. I have been on my soapbox for the last nine years trying to get people to speak up about their own sexual abuse because I believe that is the only way we are going to stop or reduce sexual abuse and assault. I have been outspoken about my own child sexual abuse and my daughter’s. Every time I tell our stories the person I’m conversing with confides in me that either they or their loved one had been sexually assaulted. I continuously invite others to share their stories on my blog or Facebook page and have even offered to share for them anonymously. So far, not one has taken me up on the offer. They never shared those experiences in public or on social media. Now friends and strangers, men and women everywhere, are publicly sharing their entire “lists” of all the times they have been sexually assaulted.
The New York Times reported, It was the author Kelly Oxford, a social media powerhouse, who got things started on Friday night.
“Women: tweet me your first assaults,” she wrote on Twitter at 7:48 p.m. “They aren’t just stats. I’ll go first: Old man on city bus grabs my ‘pussy’ and smiles at me, I’m 12.”
When she first posted the message, Ms. Oxford said in an interview later, she did not expect more than a handful of replies. “It was such a personal question,” she said. “I thought, ‘No one is going to share anything on Twitter.’”
Yet by Saturday morning, she was getting as many as 50 responses per minute: often-explicit, first-person accounts of molestation. A hashtag had materialized: “#notokay.” The Twitter posts continued to pour in through the weekend. And by Monday afternoon, nearly 27 million people had responded or visited Ms. Oxford’s Twitter page.
Even though I have written a memoir about my childhood sexual abuse and I share a lot of personal information across many platforms with the intention of getting others to speak up and take action, I have never shared my full list of sexual assault experiences. I was ashamed that there were so many. Even with all of my training, I still felt that something must be wrong with me to have been sexually assaulted so many times over my lifetime. I thought people wouldn’t believe me. I know that sexual abuse is way more common than even the statistics show because the majority of victims do not report. What I didn’t know until people started posting their sexual assault “lists” is how common it is that we are assaulted many times over our lifetime.
I am only forty-six years old and have been sexually assaulted by five different men. My earliest recollection is around 5 years old. Three of those men were my own family members. One was a coworker. I’m not even counting all of the groping and lewd remarks from strangers and coworkers that have occurred in my lifetime. One of those family members sexually assaulted me numerous times over a period of three years.
I am grateful the spotlight is being shined on this issue AND I wish the discussions, posts and tweets weren’t so myopic. I hope this rhetoric leads to bigger, broader, problem solving discussions.
What makes someone believe they have the right to do whatever they want to our bodies? What makes someone think it is ok to treat us like we are a piece of meat? #notokay
We are humans, we are not property. We are equal and will no longer tolerate being treated as less than. We have a voice and we are going to use it to bring justice and healing. Jim Rohn, a famous motivational speaker said, “We are the average of the five people we spend the most time with.” We must surround ourselves with people who respect us as humans, respect our boundaries, and model respectful behavior. We need leaders who do the same.