Friend, I am going to talk to you about something that is hard. I want to shirk from this, but know that the hard things need to be discussed.
It seems as though most women in our lifetimes have had someone touch us in an uninvited way. We’ve been put into uncomfortable situations, but felt we didn’t have a way to put a voice to this discomfort.
Or maybe we’ve been in a position that began as one we wanted, but progressed to a point where we didn’t know how to push the breaks and – as a result – we ended up going farther intimately then we wanted to. Farther then we had planned.
Maybe we felt it was easier to continue, then to say stop. Perhaps we were afraid to cause a scene, to have someone potentially lose interest in us, or to be made to feel that we had led someone on.
We’ve forgotten, perhaps, that we have a voice, that we have a right to draw the boundaries which we feel comfortable with.
Or maybe our consent was taken away from us, and we didn’t have a choice or an option to say no.
I’ve been a victim of both.
At a very young age I was asked to ‘play a game’ with the son of my babysitter. The ‘game’ involved me going into the bathroom and pushing my shorts and panties down around my ankles. He told me to bend over the toilet while he came behind me.
During the ‘game’ his sister opened the door and asked what we were doing. In childhood innocence I turned to her and said, “We’re playing a game. Do you want to play, too?
I tell you this, friend, so you know that whatever you’ve encountered, suffered, or been a victim of – you have never been alone. I tell you this with a heavy heart, partly because this experience is difficult to recount, but additionally because it’s difficult to wrap my head around the idea of others knowing about this part of me.
However, if working with teens has taught me one thing – it’s the power of sharing our stories, finding common ground, building support, and then being able to heal. This not only aids in my healing, but yours too. Our shared histories, our shared voices, enable us to find a unity that within we can find empowerment.
Giving voice to my story allows me to recapture the power that I lost in that bathroom so long ago.
Friend, in this situation my power was taken away. I wasn’t given the option to voice consent, or to scream no.
There were other times where I found myself with a partner going along with sexual advances that I was either not comfortable with, or didn’t want to engage in at all.
In addition, there have been instances when someone has said something to me, or touched me in a way that made me feel uncomfortable, and I stayed quiet.
Why, friend? Why did I do this?
Because of the reasons I stated previously. I was afraid to cause a scene. I didn’t feel comfortable stopping. It just seemed easier to go along with what was happening. There were also times I was afraid of losing the interest of the person that I was with.
I’d forgotten that I have rights and it is my responsibility to assert those rights. No one else is responsible for taking care of me, nor should someone else’s well-being ever come at the expense of my own.
With this is mind, friend, I encourage you – no – I IMPLORE, BEG, and PLEAD with you to use your voice. Listen to yourself, trust what you hear, and then act in accordance with what is best for you.
There is no one who is worth your time, effort, or energy who will ignore your wishes and boundaries. There is no one who is worth your worry or concern who will make you feel guilty or ashamed for the lines you have established for yourself.
If they do?
THEN THEY ARE NOT FOR YOU!
It’s as simple and as hard as that, friend.
Yes, there may be situations out of our control that we carry from our pasts, that will always be embedded in our hearts and minds, but there is comfort in knowing that we don’t carry those burdens alone. We carry them together. We empower, support, and love each other.
For the rest, we need to find a sense of true responsibility to ourselves – to protect, care and love ourselves in such a way that using our voices is never something we question or doubt.