Trigger Warning: Discusses Rape, Harassment, Assault, Controversial Issues, and very intimate details about my life. If you are not comfortable reading this, then please continue to the next article. For kids under 16 parents should be advised.
“What first prompted you to move and why you’re so passionate about women’s rights and rape culture”
So the person who asked me this is a personal friend of mine who I met while we were working at a less than reputable place in Louisville, KY. When we first met I had only been in Kentucky for a couple of weeks, we clicked instantly and she became one of my closest friends which is part of why this article is being posted. This post continues below the break.
I have always known that Vermont was not the place for me, when I was a little kid I attempted to run away several times but in child-like innocence I would pack too much and not be able to carry it, pack the wrong things or get about half a mile away before I would get hungry/tired/scared of the dark and would head home promptly to my nice warm bed. In that bed I would dream of far away places, magical and enchanting like New York City, and as we drove past open fields I would day dream about galloping full speed across the Scottish highlands. I was constantly reading books about every other culture that I could find, when I was five or six I was obsessed with Ancient Egyptians and read every single book I could get my little fingers on and understand. I had a high reading level to say the least.
School did not make me living in Vermont any easier, I was not in the ‘in crowd.’ A lot of people say that small towns are safer, better and more respectable than big cities and in my experience that is just not the case. Cabot is a beautiful town, but it wasn’t safe for me and getting out of Cabot became my goal in forth grade. What really sealed the deal was when I was 13.
A few things happened when I was 13 that really effected my life, there were some family issues on both sides that left me feeling very angry and very alone. The adults in my life were not how I needed them to be and it was a lot. Depression runs in my family pretty deep, I certainly wasn’t new to the concept at 13 and it got pretty destructive. I made some bad choices, burned some bridges and pushed as many people away as I possibly could. As the adults in my life were doing their thing I fell into a less than stellar crowd and made a less than stellar ‘friend’ who later raped me. Being 13 was absolute hell. He told the group of friends what happened as if I were into it and of course, small town, news travels, questions got asked and guys started to get a little more aggressive in their advances. After all I wasn’t a virgin anymore. Not only that but when I went to the Vice Principle of the school she did nothing. She didn’t report it. I disappeared from my head for three years and shut everything down. I had also caught on to cutting, something I hadn’t even thought about until the nurse had to come to each of our classes and talk to us about it because it was becoming an epidemic across the US.
In the time that I dissociated I made some really amazing friends that brought me back to being me, even when I was the biggest jerk to them sometimes. When I finally came back to my own head and actually started to be able to remember my day to day activity I was 16 years old… It had been three years of what? What do you even call the space that you are in when you’re dissociated? For those who don’t know the feeling of dissociation it’s like a vacuum pulling yourself out of your body and sometimes you watch “yourself” and sometimes you don’t. Imagine watching your body from the back seat of a car but it’s NOT you and you know it. That’s kind of what dissociation feels like.
I was unreasonably hard to deal with, especially because during all of this time I was still being sexually abused my my peers. I hated physical contact, when people would touch me it would make me nauseous to the point where I would get dizzy. The word sex turned my stomach and even putting in a tampon was too much, the thought of hands down there made me so incredibly sick to my stomach. It still does sometimes, I have never been able to have a healthy sexual relationship with myself because of this.
It took me a really long time to get out of these cycles of finding unhealthy or abusive relationships, at least that’s what it felt like. I always found myself in a dangerous or fucked up situation. I stopped trusting myself. I miscarried when I was 19, in my mind that was my fault, I hated myself. I destroyed friendships that mattered the world to me. I went back to the one person holding me back over and over again because it was all that I deserved and I was scared of something better. This mentality ended up with me in the hospital the first time for my anxiety, the second time was because I overdosed on my newly prescribed anti-depressants. It was really really brutal and I really really needed help.
There had been so many times in my life that things could have changed if someone had stepped in and stood up for me when I was a teen. If I had even let them step in. The things I went through left physical scars on my body, self inflicted and otherwise that will probably never fade. People accepted what I went through, accused me of lying, asked me what I did to provoke it, told me and reminded me it was my fault over and over and over again. And that was all in a small town in the USA. Where we don’t have gangs or massive drug violence. I wasn’t stood up for when I needed someone to stand up for me, partially because the adults in my life really did have really difficult things to deal with on their own. I understood that. I want to change that.
When I think back about all of these things I want to change all of that history and give my teen self the information of what was happening, what rape actually was and how to get help after it happens, how to deal with depression and anxiety. I wish I hadn’t felt so alone and I wish I had the resources on hand to be able to change it. Then I think about my future and if I ever have children of my own, the information they will need to survive and how I can provide the best life for them I can and I look at our current social situation and I get worried. Rape Culture is so prominent and Women’s Rights are getting punched at daily. I still am scared walking down the street alone at night and I am a well equipped 23-year-old woman, what about my future 17-year-old daughter when she sneaks out of the house one night to go hang out with what’s his face? Will she have everything she needs to feel and be safe? Will she be prepared if something happens?
I do not want this future for my daughters or anyone else’s daughters. I want them to love themselves fully and without regret and have the resources to do so even when things go wrong. I don’t want them to be embarrassed to wear bikinis, or feel in danger wearing a short skirt on a hot day. I want them to be able to dance and laugh fully and often. And if I want all of these things than I need to be the one to change how women and their rights are viewed every single day. I model with my scars because they are a part of me, just like my piercings and tattoos. I write on here about all of my adventures because I fought like hell and goddamn it I deserve it. I will be damned if I let them win. I fight for Women’s Rights because we deserve them, we are human. We deserve to love ourselves unconditionally and to have the ability to take care of our bodies. I fight against Rape Culture because I have an amazing little sister who I love who is 14 now and if something were to ever happen I would want someone to stand up for her. I want her to have those resources she will hopefully never need.
I hope this answered your question, K <3
NOTE: PLEASE if you ever feel like harming yourself call the National Suicide Hotline, open 24/7! There is help and you are not alone, we care and we are here for you! Phone calls are anonymous or personal as you want them to be:
National Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
IF YOU HAVE BEEN SEXUALLY ABUSED: There is help a phone call away, 24/7 through the National Sexual Assault Hotline. Please talk to someone, you are not alone <3 Just like the Suicide Hotline all phone calls are anonymous or as personal as you want them to be:
National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE