Trigger Warning: sexual assault, rape
“How are you?”
I usually tell people I’m fine but lately, I’ve been really tired. Sure, I’m taking 21 credits this semester, scheduling specialty doctor’s appointments and starting to think about life after school. However, I’m more than mentally tired — I’m emotionally tired.
I remember when the #MeToo movement started gaining steam. So many women began sharing their experiences of dealing with sexual assault and harassment. I spent an entire day thinking about the perfect post to write on Facebook and all I could physically do was copy and paste the generic status. It was that moment that I realized I still have trouble talking about what happened to me.
Kavanaugh’s nomination hearing was tough for me mostly because it was a political spectacle that highlighted why victims don’t come forward. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, one in three women and one in six men in the US experience some form of contact sexual violence in their lifetime. 63% of sexual assaults are not reported to the police.
It’s a brave thing to come forward. But the bravery doesn’t stop there.
I’ve had to continue with my life. I still had to take the Q38 bus to school. I’ve had to continue work in group projects with people I’m uncomfortable with. I’m guilty of laughing off the casual sexism I see in my friends, coworkers, and bosses. There are so many times I bite my tongue.
The truth is that there are a lot of things I do to make others comfortable. As I think about entering a male-dominated industry, I’m becoming more conscious of this behavior. We all deserve to be in a place where we feel comfortable. Sports offices are not immune as the Nike, Carolina Panthers and the Dallas Mavericks have had to examine and fix their toxic cultures.
Seeing more people take this issue seriously means the world to me. Lately, it also leaves me with a heavy heart. As a teaching assistant, I’ve gotten the opportunity to discuss these topics with college freshmen. It’s really encouraging to listen to these young men and women think critically about these issues. However, I worry. I wonder if I’m really getting through to them.
The #MeToo movement is not about one person, but a collective group of people. It is about bringing awareness to a serious issue and supporting one another. Loads are lighter when other people are carrying them with you. One male student in my class said firmly, “Never be a bystander” when asked about how he was going to create a positive culture for women. I almost broke down.
Sometimes I need to be reminded that I am not alone in this fight. And I also need to remember it is also okay to tell others that I am not “fine” right now.