#metoo? – I am a survivor but feel excluded
Trigger Warning: This post discusses sexual violence, rape, sexual assault and sexual harassment.
I am a survivor of sexual assault and rape. It took me years to even recognize that this is a fact. I always imagined it to be other people, not me. I minimized my own trauma, I pushed it away, I didn’t want to think about it. But it is like the saying goes, you can’t bottle things up, eventually they will catch up with you. That also very much holds true for the #metoo movement. It seems like it was a wake up call for society, for those who have never been through trauma but also those who have. No one was aware of the magnitude of sexual assault and sexual harassment in today’s world. Well, to be fair, I kind of was aware of it because I have supported people with mental illness for a long time in a volunteer role. The majority of people who struggle with their mental health have been through sexual abuse or sexual assault.
How I felt about the #metoo movement
For myself, the #metoo movement was a confusing one. I had just started to acknowledge some of my past, and then this movement came along that very much is linked to the kind of things I was struggling with, But I didn’t feel part of it. One reason was that I was still not aware of how much had happened in my own past and that kept bubbling up. I was also still easily sliding into the mindset of what I had been through really hadn’t been that bad. But the reason that mostly bugged me was that they were not talking about extreme cases, they were talking about groping butts and using degrading words. I didn’t see those as trauma, or as anything that needs to get primary attention.
I now understand that I was secretly invalidating other people’s traumas. What is trauma, what still affects you today, is not based on the severity of what has happened, but how it makes you feel. For some, a random slap on the butt might be something they can shrug off, for others, it could very well destroy a lot of their mental stability. Everyone’s trauma is valid, and no one should ever feel like it is okay for anyone to touch them against their will. And whoever says that there was no “no” might have actually never asked a question, but just went for it instead.
Diversion of Attention
One thing I still believe though is that because sexual harassment and smaller incidents have become part of the #metoo movement (that was initially about sexual assault and rape), the more severe cases are yet again pushed under the rug. No one talks about trafficking, sexual abuse of children, or sexual abuse that continues for years in domestic relationships. Those are the victims that still have no voice, that are still under represented, that most people don’t hear about. While it might seem like an inclusive movement, it seems often exclusive, about white rich women talking about how they got groped at a party. Again, I am not invalidating anyone’s pain. But it just shows a skewed picture of what sexual assault and violence really is.
How the whole #metoo movement got hijacked by the more privileged reminded me a little bit of how the body positivity movement was first led by people who got discriminated because of their obesity. Now celebrities are talking about their too tiny butts or their wrinkles under the hashtag #bodypositivity . For something to hit the mainstream, many need to be able to relate to it, so it gets washed down, which then excludes those who actually would need visibility and support.
I love the #metoo movement though because it is another step into the direction of equality and consensual sex. I also want to add that men can be very much victims of sexual harassment and sexual assault as well, and anyone who thinks they shouldn’t be part of the movement, are gatekeeping. They are excluding those that need support. And that is just rude. One of my ex-partners had been a victim of sexual assault and he suffered still very much from the consequences of what had happened to him. The shame that male victims of sexual assault carry is immense because men are supposed to be strong, not victims. #metoo shouldn’t be about gender. It should be about standing up and saying that a certain kind of behaviour is not okay and will never again be socially and societally accepted.
My Own Experiences – Sexual Abuse During Childhood
As I said in the beginning of this post, I am a survivor. And for a long time I didn’t know I was a survivor because my brain fortunately had been successful in pushing away the pain from the past. I suffer from Dissociative Identity Disorder and Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder due to abuse during my childhood. While some of that abuse was emotional and physical, a lot of it was unfortunately sexual. For a long time, I did not remember those parts of my childhood. The Dissociative Identity Disorder means that I compartmentalized some of my most horrendous memories so I am able to survive.
During the last couple of years the memories have caught up with me, and I have been having flashbacks of some things I rather not want to share in detail. There are parts of me that had to live through a hell of complex and systematic sexual violence for years, starting at around 4 years old until I was about 9 or 10 years old. This is maybe not the kind of #metoo stuff that most people talk about, right? Yeah, told you.
And the Story Continued …
But that is not it. For some reason, I continued to end up in situations where I either was sexually assaulted, raped or sexually harassed, over and over. There was the one time at school when I was 10 and some boys from secondary school pushed me into the school toilet cubicle and pulled down my pants and touched me everywhere.
Then there was the time at the Scouts when I was 11 years old and this one guy locked us into the utility room. He pushed me on the ground, rubbed himself all over me, pulled my clothes off of me, and started touching me everywhere, hurting me for hours. He even made me go outside naked, and forced me to walk home without wearing any clothes. My upper body and breasts were bruised for weeks, my inner thighs were purple.
When I was about 14 years old, three guys from the handball team, you’d call them jocks, sexually abused me in the basement of the school for months, almost daily. They pushed me on the ground, they forced me to get naked, they degraded me, they laughed at me. Eventually they spread pictures of my naked abused body all over the school, covered in bruises, covered in their semen and their urine.
When I was 18 years old, I was in a relationship with a very abusive guy, let’s call him M. M loved to wake me up in the mornings with his penis in my mouth, hurting me, even holding my nose closed so I wouldn’t instinctively close my mouth. I often had bruises in my face from those acts and had to wear a lot of concealer and make up to not be questioned about them. I never said no, because I was scared. He was a drunk, he was abusive.
At around 20, I was at a party, a huge party. I went outside to see who was hanging out there. All of the sudden, my upper body was pushed on a table, my stockings and underwear were pulled down and I got raped anally. Not by one person, by three. Three guys whose faces I didn’t see, did that to me. And the funny thing? Once they were done and had left, I pulled my clothes back up, and went back inside as if nothing had happened. I was in shock.
Up until I was 24, I shared an apartment with my sister. She hung out with dubious people and there were a lot of drugs involved. I mostly stayed to myself and locked my door at night. But that one night I didn’t. I got awoken by my door opening and five guys coming in. I got pulled out of bed, forced to be on my knees and one guy after the other orally raped me, yelling stuff about how I was paying off my sister’s debt right now. After they left, I stayed on the floor of my room for two days, not moving an inch.
The last time I got sexually assaulted was when I was 31 years old and I was a patient at a hospital. I was tied down for my own safety, and heavily sedated, and two male nurses touched and assaulted me while I couldn’t move, nor scream.
Additionally, i have been groped against my will so many times in my life, that I can’t even count it and probably have forgotten about some of those instances. I had guys just grab my vagina when I passed them in a club. I have had men rub themselves on me in buses, subways and trains. I had men sit next to me on public transport, suddenly putting their hands in between my legs. I have been in elevators with men who pushed me against the wall and touched my breasts.
I never reported anyone for what they had done to me. And I don’t think I ever will. I was too scared because they were all in some kind of power position, they all had power over me. I don’t want to go through the ordeal of people not believing me. I also have not shared these things with anyone who knows me in real life, because I am afraid of judgment. That is one of the reasons why I don’t feel part of the #metoo movement. I don’t share those things with those who know me.
I am very unsure about why I have been assaulted and harassed so many times. Part of me thinks that I might have encouraged men with the way I dress or the way I behave. But I know that just puts me in a victim’s kind of position. I do believe that some men can smell out those that are easily abused, assaulted or harassed. Because we wouldn’t fight back. I wonder if I can ever wash that smell off of me, or if I will forever have to be scared of being sniffed out by the wrong kind of person.