DEAR FRIEND

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Submitted Date 10/27/2018
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There is so much that is going to happen, and I wish I could tell you I know you will get through it all.

When we are in high school, you will be bullied because the boys will want attention you are not ready to give them, nor should you ever be.

They will say sexually explicit comments objectifying your body. I want you to know nothing is wrong with your body. They are wrong. I should have told you this more often, but like you, I was too young to appreciate the value in verbalizing such words.

When you say “NO” to their advances, they will make fun of you. The next thing you know there is a rumor going around that you are a lesbian because you told the boys “NO.” I know you were not a lesbian, not that anything was wrong with it. What was wrong was why they were saying this to you. I know now that they were just trying to make you feel inferior, to take your power away from you.

I realize now that you were being sexually harassed before you or I knew how to handle it.

When you go home to talk to your mother about it, she begins to question whether you are a lesbian. She completely misses the point and ends up dismissing the harm of the taunts. Instead, she joins them in questioning your sexuality.

This is when you begin to question yourself. I wish you wouldn’t! I know you do because I witnessed it.

As an adult woman, I have thought about what you endured considering the #metoo movement that is happening today. The focus should not be on your sexual orientation, but rather on their abuse and retaliatory behavior for saying “No.” I know she is your mother, but she is betraying you by failing to protect you and failing to use this situation as a learning opportunity on how to handle sexual harassment.

Their taunts do not deserve the power you are going to give them. You will start to wonder if they are true, thinking everyone including your mother sees something you do not see. I see you. I wish you could see yourself the way I did.

In your twenties, you are going to be raped and I was there to witness how it affected you. All I can tell you is that it does not last long but long enough to violate you. You will wake up to a man you know on top of you. You will exclaim “No” several times, but he rapes you and leaves you wondering how your bottoms came off.

It lasts just long enough for you to feel him inside and to get him off of you using what self-defense you luckily learned. He will not immediately leave but you will scare him. He assumed you were unconscious or drunk, I think. As he gets himself together after falling into the closet, you will sit there frozen in shock as he explains he thought your “No” meant “Yes.” Words will be exchanged, and he eventually leaves.

You don’t even use the word rape for weeks, as you are overcome with numbness and mood swings to the dismay of your immediate family including your mother. You finally tell your mother whose reaction is the opposite of what you expected from her. She blames you. She accuses you of being promiscuous.

You tell her you are considering going to the police after talking to your doctor. You already went to the doctor before you told your mother. She will seem a bit mad. I am not sure if it is because she was not the first person you told or something else. She warns you not to press charges. She fears everyone will think you have HIV. Everyone? I still do not know who.

Already feeling more victimized, you decide not to file charges. You know you washed away the evidence with two weeks’ worth of showers. You will keep going over in your head the things your mother told you and the feeling of disappointment and shame you will bring her. I think you feel some shame too.

You felt like you had no voice back then, but I want you to know that you do now. As a woman, we all have a voice and it is being heard.

I just hope the #Metoo movement creates a home in the world different than the one we grew up in.

There is a hope that when a young girl confides in her mother about being sexually harassed or assaulted, her mother will protect her and set an example on how to handle herself.

There is hope for all women that they will be given the resources and the support to defend themselves and speak out against their abusers.

There is hope that women will be less inclined to freeze when targeted.

There is hope that more women will take up self-defense and feel more confident to stand their ground when it comes to their bodies.

There is hope that no one will fault her.

There is hope that no one will say she asked for it.

There is hope that the perpetrator’s actions will be seen for what they are—reprehensible.

There is hope that a woman or a young girl like yourself will not be silenced.

 

Sincerely,

You Know Who

 

Photo by Kristina Flour on Unsplash

Comments

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  • Miranda Fotia 5 years, 4 months ago

    That "boys will be boys" attitude is so harmful to young women. We shouldn't have the blame turned around on us when we are victimized. You deserved support and a hug from your mother. It wasn't your fault. Thank you for sharing. #metoo

  • Jacqueline Hemingway 1 year, 9 months ago

    Great piece Kerri. Although we are working towards progress in this area, it is painfully slow moving and so many that grew up putting up with those harassing encounters with men, we bring them into the here and now. Old ideas and norms don’t just go away. Men who grew up with those macho male stereotypes still have them, maybe some change, but the past is still there. We may keep quiet about it, deny it, but just because we are talking about equality doesn’t mean we truly have it. It saddens me that so many well-intentioned movements fade away. This piece was written three years ago. Where is the #metoo movement now? I know it is still out there, but when was the last time it was mainstream? Our memories are long, but our actions often are short lasting. Has sexual abuse, sexual harassment and rape gone away? No. So why do we only stick with a movement for such a short time? I’m not sure I have the answer…

    • Kerri McLaughlin 1 year, 9 months ago

      Thank you for your words. I would love to talk more if you have time.