This morning I was listening to a syndicated hip hop morning radio show here in Dallas and one of the personalities announced a sexual harassment claim a young woman made against activist Jesse Jackson. This personality then asked the question, “Why do these women wait until years later to say something?” She then suggested that if it hasn’t happened in the last two years then you shouldn’t say anything because no one wants to hear about it. I was taken aback to say the least for a number of reasons. For one, this personality is a woman. Secondly, I actually am a big fan of hers as prior to her radio career she was a popular female hip hop artist I grew up listening to. Thirdly, I couldn’t believe a person, let alone a woman, then a woman with the platform she has, but any person in general would blatantly advise any person who has been sexually assaulted in any way to just not say anything after a certain amount of time because no one wants to hear about it. I’m in my car like seriously ma’am, that’s the primary reason why people who have been sexually assaulted don’t speak up in the first place. They fear they won’t be believed and no one is going to listen. Especially when the accused holds a certain title.
Every story that has come out I have empathize with. Having to hold such horror and trauma in for so long is nothing short of torture, a feeling of shame, and guilt. Most of these women had to look their abuser in the face for days at end while working on sets with them, attending industry parties and dinners, and even having to take pictures with them for promotions.
Not being able to share what happened to them because of the influence and status the abuser had is an intimidating and threatening feeling. Who’s going to believe me, and if they did, who’s going to do anything? These men, because of their influence, title, and status all have one thing in common. For them to do this so many times to so many victims they had to have felt as though no one could touch them. This gave them a feeling of entitlement. The power they felt they had justified their claim/ownership over their victims.
I’ve had people I worked for flirt and make sexual innuendos towards me. This one time I felt like I couldn’t say anything because for one I needed my job and feared retaliation and two, who do I tell. This person had been at this institution and a member of the community in which the institution belonged way before I came on board and probably before I was born. He had tenure and history. The administration, staff, church, and community had a relationship and obligation to him, not me. When I finally had enough, I told. Of course he denied everything and I was the one who was fired only two weeks later.
That incident however isn’t what provoked me to empathize with the accusers who had come forward after so many years. In that particular incident I had vindicated myself because I spoke up. I have never carried any burden, guilt or shame when it came to that matter. However, I was adept to empathize with these women because I too was sexually assaulted on a number of occasions by the same person and I have yet to say anything about it.
I hadn’t told a soul for more than likely the same reasons why most of the women who are speaking out now didn’t say anything. Who would believe me? Not that my assault was any more or less brutal, but who would especially believe me when my abuser was none other than my very own husband at the time.
A couple of weeks ago during a therapy session my ex-husband came up in discussion. Talking about him visibly irritates my soul and I knew my therapist could see the change in my demeanor when he came up. I acknowledge my adjusted disposition by openly admitting to her right then and there my disdain for this person. I even suggested to her that I would talk to her about why at our next appointment. The entire following week I debated back and forth about was I really going to relive all of that shit and talk about it. I chose not to.
I chose not to because even in this very moment I want to break down and cry and I’m getting angrier by the second. Who wants to relive rape? Who wants to admit that they married someone who could hurt them in that way? Who wants to feel powerless all over again? I don’t talk about it so I don’t think about it. Which means I don’t feel anything, but not really.
I hate this man. With a passion. I don’t want to feel hate because it’s such a strong and negative emotion that to me means that he still has this power over me, but I do. And when I think about what I went through, I, in a way hate myself for not being strong enough and for allowing it. Right now, I am pissed just thinking about it.
He felt like he owned me and he was entitled to treat me however he wanted. I was married to him so he could have sex with me any f’ing way and any f’ing time he wanted. I was nobody. I had no say, I had no control, I was nothing. The tears didn’t make him stop. Me begging and pleading with him didn’t make him stop. In fact I think the tears, the pleas, and the screaming only appeased him the more because it showed him I was breaking.
This went on for years, which in its own way says that he was getting off on hurting me and having this power over me. I couldn’t believe this was my life. I had no one to talk to about it and nowhere to turn. How can your husband rape you? Is all I heard when I thought about saying something. Why would your husband rape you? There were times I compared him touching me to when my uncle was abusing me when I was a little girl. Absolute powerless. Then there was this one weekend.
One weekend he raped me over and over again for days. He made me stay in the bedroom on a bare mattress while he came back and forth, in and out of the room only to have sex with me in the most horrifying and hostile way. I wasn’t able to walk for days. I was so badly injured that going to the bathroom was pure pain. All I could do was lay there and cry.
I’ve been divorced from him for almost ten years so I know it’s been at least that long that I have been holding this in. I’ve never said anything. Til this day I still feel ashamed. The only way I can think to not deal with it is to not think or talk about it but all that does is produce this immense hatred inside of me. I’ve even thought about killing him because of what he took from me.
I’m glad I’m finally sharing this but I have to admit doing so has put me in a not so cool place. I hope more women speak up though and talk about what they have gone through no matter how long ago it was. People are going to have their opinions and judgments but someone needs to hear your story. Someone needs to know that they aren’t alone because that’s exactly how they leave you feeling, alone. It’s a shameful experience for the victim but we don’t have to feel ashamed anymore. Call out those assholes who feel they are entitled to do what they want to your body because of their “power”. Don’t let people’s criticism silence you. I know for me it’s time to heal and if not for those women coming forward, I could have likely gone another ten years or so without saying anything. That and hearing another woman pretty much say shut up about it.
Sexual abuse and violence, in my opinion, is probably the most devastating thing to live with. You wouldn’t understand it if you’ve never been through it. So to those of you who haven’t experienced it but you still feel a need to speak about it in judgmental way while giving your opinion, STFU and I mean that with all sincerity and love.