The blog post below may be triggering to survivors of physical or sexual assault. This is your pre-scroll warning.
It’s SAAM or Sexual Assault Awareness Month but saying SAAM is much easier. This is a sensitive, hard subject to discuss but I feel it’s much needed. This year marks the 22nd anniversary of SAAM although we can trace the history of Sexual Assault back to the 1940s. Click here to read the history!
It saddens me as I type this. Sexual violence is common. You may feel alone. You are not. “Over half of women and almost 1 in 3 men have experienced sexual violence involving physical contact during their lifetimes. Additionally, 1 in 3 women and about 1 in 9 men experienced sexual harassment in a public place.” Click here to learn more facts!
The story I am going to share happened to me when I was 12. This was four years after a family friend broke my trust and sexually abused me. I think I was starting to trust that I could be alone with the opposite sex and not have fear. The next year I was going to start middle school and I was grateful to finally have a new chapter in a different school. I have only told a few ppl but this is the sisterhood so I know it’s safe. 🥰
I am a nerd. Back then, was no different. I was either writing poetry, reading Shakespeare and Edgar Allen Poe, or playing outside. This particular day I was leaving school…. and one of my classmates Erick* asked to walk with me. Most of the kids lived in the same neighborhood and walked together. I didn’t think this was odd. We talked as we walked away from the building. A few feet away, he realized he had left something in his locker. He asked me to wait outside for him while he returned to the building. I waited outside and when he reappeared we continued our walk.
Erick grabbed my hand and I thought I had just won the lottery. I thought he legitimately liked me. There is a pond in the back of the school that everyone migrated to. We walked behind the school and over to the pond, but at this time in the day, we were alone. He grabbed my waist when my back was turned to him and I jumped, surprised. I wasn’t expecting him to grab me and as I tried to squirm away, he fought against my efforts and groped me. I used all my strength and in trying to get away I tripped and fell in the mud. I reacted, grabbing my backpack and running off. My brain didn’t fully comprehend what had happened until I reached my house. I wanted to forget it happened.
I confided in a friend at school and she said words that still ring in my ears:
“I believe you, but he’s Erick….he gets away with that all the time.”
I stared at my friend in shock. I didn’t say anything. I wanted to forget it happened and previously I didn’t have a good experience at this school. One reason I was gratefully anticipating my new chapter. Erick kept appearing at my locker throughout the day, which made me more nervous.
Pretending I was okay….like it was a normal day made me feel like a fraud. I felt stuck between two worlds, one where I was safe and unaware and one where I questioned my choices. Erick grabbed my arm in between classes off to the side.
“Did you tell anyone?”
“Leave me alone.”
“Did you tell anyone?”
“I don’t know what you are talking about.”
“If you do tell anyone I will tell them you’re lying. No one will believe you. Ever.”
“Let me go!” I yelled
At this point, a teacher looked up and I escaped to class. It was the last time I allowed myself to be alone with him.
Through therapy, I have learned that most of my racial identity issues originated from situations at that school for several reasons.
“Your voice is your greatest superpower.”
I was told that by my first therapist and I repeat that to myself when I feel defeated, unseen, or weighed down by my emotions. I will never stifle my voice again.
My voice matters. 📢
My truth matters. 🏽
YOU matter. 👇🏽
*Name has been changed
The National Sex Assault Hotline is available 24 hours a day at 1-800-656-4673.
Trauma and substance abuse are undeniably linked. Some people are driven to addiction as a method of coping with severe trauma. Others lead a lifestyle of addiction, which predisposes them to traumatic experiences. Click the hyperlinks to learn more!
Helping Survivors is an advocacy center that helps people victimized by sexual assault or abuse. Their website is a compilation of information about different instances of sexual violence. They offer resources to assist survivors and their families, and continually add more! Find out about them and their resources here.
Sexual Assault in the Workplace – click here.
Help is available. ❤️
Remember, you can always call your sister 💋