The recent #MeToo campaign has gone viral as people share their experiences of sexual violence. The campaigns stated aim is to raise awareness of how widespread the problem is, and it has certainly achieved that. The response has, inevitably, been mixed and new hashtags have begun trending to diversify the issue further. #HimThough has been one of the most popular, and aims to draw attention to the perpetrators, rather than the survivors. This campaign has grown at a very poignant moment; so here are some of the stories behind the statuses. The issue cannot be contained to 140 characters, so here are the stories of three women who have experienced sexual violence.
It has been a few turbulent days already with this #MeToo campaign, which has triggered a lot of emotions and memories. Yet I feel like I'm suffocating. My first experiences were already back when I was 12-13 years old, but I was raped the first time when I was 15, then by different boyfriends at ages of 18, 19, and 20. It would be under the influence, or completely sober, asleep waking up to his touch, coercive, or a lack of ability or in fear to say no. I've told all my partners about the previous abuse, seeking support in any potential event of breaking down during sex. Two of them still assaulted and raped me. A little more than 6 months ago, my then boyfriend sat down with my parents and told them everything about the abuse, the assaults, and my mental health (obviously not including his own acts), without my knowledge about it. I had deliberately kept this all from my parents, as my relationship with my parents is not stable enough and I find little trust in my family overall. We then broke up. Not only did he assault me and abuse me on several occasions, but he also told a story that was not his to tell, without my consent. It was yet another violation, and just like so many times before did I feel absolutely helpless and controlled by men in my life. I now feel even more scared about ever telling my story to anyone, and it is very lonely.
I was out on Friday night with my sports team for team dinner and night out. During the dinner I was sitting near the men's team goal keeper who was excited for goal keeper bonding and we got on well. As he got more drunk through the night he was talking about how I was his "soulmate"; something I sort of shrugged off as drunk chat. As we were walking from dinner to the union he would slide his hands up my skirt onto my bum which I repeatedly told him to stop doing. He would hug me tightly from behind and kiss me on the cheek. He kept talking about how I was the prettiest girl on the team, he thought I was super sexy etc which I said made me uncomfortable and he needed to stop.
At the union I took the opportunity to put space between us, sitting and chatting with other teammates. Yet he somehow ended up next to me again kissing up my arm and into my neck, again with me telling him to stop. I grabbed some girl friends to dance and they were acting as a bit of a buffer until again he pulled me in to dance and I tried to manoeuvre spinning away and pushing him off of me. Eventually I grabbed some friends and went to the toilets just for a break and really struggled catching my breath. We went outside to get some air and after a mild (for me at least) panic attack, I went home, and my female teammates went back up into the bar and told him off for what he did
I then got paragraphs and paragraphs from him apologizing and telling me how he loves me like a sister (keep in mind we met 3 weeks ago) and wants to salvage our friendship. I told him to leave me be and we can discuss what "no" and "stop" means at the next practice if he needs clarification. He kept messaging me throughout the next day until I told him, for what felt like the hundredth time, to leave it until practice Wednesday
It left me in a huge funk the whole weekend. I avoided going to the gym or library because I was just really disgusted by the idea of anyone looking at me. I exfoliated my whole body really aggressively trying to get the gross feeling of violation off my skin and have been wearing my baggiest clothes recently just to feel like my body is mine again
The first time I was ever sexually assaulted, I was about 6 years old. I had walked out from my room late one night to go to the bathroom and saw my (then) step-father sitting in the living room. On my way back, he told me to come sit with him. I didn’t know it at the time, but he had been drinking and watching pornography. When I sat down, he stuck his hands in my underwear and began touching me. When he was finished, he sent me back to bed and said, ‘We’ll continue this the next time’.
That night marked the beginning of years of sexual abuse. When his actions were revealed to the public, his co- workers said that the situation was my fault and that he would never do something like that without me ‘enticing’ him. I’m still not sure what adult would blame a child for a man raping her, but I can assure people that things like this happen much too often. Our current culture is one of asking women, ‘Did you do, or say, something to make them do this?’, ‘Did you wear something to make them do this?’, or even ‘Were you walking by yourself and let them do this to you?’. We need to move on from asking these questions and start holding people accountable, without assuming that the women are at fault for things that men choose to do to them.