Disclaimer: the article below was accepted by a Stigma Fighters as an expression of the author’s experience of living with trauma and mental illness. The author’s statements are hers alone and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Stigma Fighters leadership team, the values of our organization, or the feelings of our community members. For a complete statement from the Board, please click here.
#MeToo? Probably Not
By Sarah Smith
Probably not #metoo. Not me, but possibly you. I hope you! I sincerely do! I know the #metoo movement was for all assault and harassment but I find it unjust. I actually pretty much hate it. I think it is ridiculous to compare catcalls to rape and say they are similar in any way. I’m not the only one that felt this but so far as I know I am the only one talking about it, and I will talk about it because my eight years of being molested as a child are a bit more traumatic than you being called a slut. Sorry, but they are. I’m sorry for your harassment! I hate that it is “ok!” I hate that we are treated in such disrespectful ways! I hate that the men, or women for that matter, aren’t being held accountable for their actions.
I also hate that you claim to know what it is like to have someone touch you when you do not want them to touch you and you scream either externally or internally and you are helpless.
I realize there are different levels of what #metoo represents but it angers me. Because it puts us into a big blank box of just women. All women. Well, I’m not every woman. I am me. I am separate. I am different. I stand behind every woman. I truly do (well unless you are a horrible person then go fuck yourself). Be yourself be strong… shit be weak. Be yourself be determined or lost and on a journey to find yourself. Be fragile and be confident about being fragile! I am fragile. I know it and I need support all the time and as soon as I was told that it was ok to be fragile my entire life got less burdened and lighter. You are allowed to be fragile no matter what you have gone through. But are you really #metoo? Is #metoo to broad and undefined. YES! It was unfair to put it out there like that.
I participated in #metoo on Facebook as did almost every other woman in the country. But what good did it really do? I know of a few guys that were blown away by how many women wrote “#metoo” in their status on Facebook. But what did it really mean? What did it really accomplish?
I am all about support for women but I am even more about support for survivors of sexual assault, rape, molestation. Men included. I honestly don’t mind catcalls, it’s flattering to me. But I mind being raped or put in a position where I have to choose to have sex or get raped. This happened recently to me and it was awful. I was meeting someone for the first time and like an idiot, I went to his house which was far away and he had “planned” so many amazing things. He had really only planned to just get his way with me and violently. He pulled my hair hard. He pushed me around and I was really trying hard to participate to appease him. I didn’t want to get raped. I didn’t want to get hurt worse than I already was going to. I had a choice to make. It was awful. How do you decide something like that? He made me call him Daddy… my father is a pedophile so this was especially unpleasant. He made me beg for it harder, what do you do? He held me down and I was his rag doll. What do you do in a situation like that?
Despite that assault. Despite being molested the first eight years of my life. I am a strong woman and I can strongly say #metoo. Am I proud? Hell no! I am proud of the fact that I am strong enough to say it. I am strong enough to talk about it. I am strong enough to write a letter to the Utah Police department to help get my brother put in jail after he was caught watching sadistic child porn. He will never serve time for what he did to me. The statute of limitations makes it impossible but at least I can let my voice be heard. I can say what happened to me. I can point to my predator and say he is to blame and this time people are taking me seriously and doing something about it. Not as much as I’d like but at least now he is on the sexual offender list.
As far as for the guy that assaulted me. I told him he was a “convenience rapist.” I called him out and will never speak to him again. I don’t know what else to do. He said, she said will make my case unwinnable. And honestly, I willingly participated to avoid getting raped so what case do I really have? It’s horrible! So #metoo! #metoo! #metoo!
If you are one of the lucky ones that got a cat call or an unwanted advance at work just know you are lucky, as sick as that is, you are lucky but I am still sorry it happened to you!
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TRIGGER WARNING: GRAPHIC DESCRIPTION OF SEXUAL ASSAULT
First let me face the question that has been bothering me the most. “Why is this on Stigma Fighters?”, well, it is the second article in a three-part series I was commissioned for about sexual abuse. The first article I felt was ignored, no one cared about my life story, story of my life. So working with Stigma Fighters we thought about what we wanted to bring to the forefront about sexual abuse. #metoo was brought up. My strong opinion was looked at as a challenging article. So I wrote it! My strong opinion is mine! Stigma Fighters simply gave me the chance to share my opinion and I am grateful to them for it and I hate that they have gotten such a great deal of backlash. They simply said yes you can share your thoughts not realizing how upsetting it would be to some of you. And most of you on Stigma Fighter Facebook hated it from what I saw. However, however, there was enough woman out there, enough men out there supporting what I said that I am extremely proud of that article as flawed as it might be. As twisted as my words may be spun. Stigma Fighters saw how much my trauma affected my mental health but quite a few of you, unfortunately, missed the memo. The second article ‘#metoo? Probably Not’ could have talked more about PTSD, flashbacks, the cutting, and how I was not too long ago diagnosed with BPD. A lot of you readers have agreed or disagreed but let me tell you more about me so you have a better understanding of my point of view and why the connection of mental illness and sexual abuse is strong in my world. Come stand in my shoes, please!
I grew up in Mormon Utah. I was the youngest of eight kids and was taught that women were meant to be home and raise babies essentially. My dad is a pedophile, my brother is a pedophile, my nephew is a pedophile. That is at least three known generations of pedophiles in my family. I strongly doubt my father’s father wasn’t a pedophile as well and I strongly doubt his father wasn’t also and so on and so on and so forth. My grandfather killed himself on my father’s 18th or 21st birthday, I don’t know which story is accurate for both are told by family members. But it was on purpose in a cruel last torment he put my father through in his life. So there is a lot of mental illness in my family. Severe mental illness. I was born into it and was never even given a chance to have a healthy brain. While the trust part of my brain was developing I was being assaulted so trust for me is very difficult. I have been in therapy for almost twenty years trying to fix the damage that was caused to me as a child. I am on several medications to help with my dramatic mood swings and night terrors. I still have compulsive thoughts and actions but for the most part, my cocktail of medicines keeps them at bay. Every day I have to have three alarms set on my phone so that I don’t forget to take my handful of pills because if I miss even one dose I will lose mental control and it is awful. My anxiety goes through the roof, my agoraphobia kicks in, my depression gets overwhelming, the compulsion to cut takes over and I don’t think about it but just do it.
That is my mental illness though. That is not me. That is not who I am. I am Sarah! I am strong and opinionated, passionate, smart, kind, and lovely. I make people laugh and have courage. I obviously piss people off too which is never my intention but I am also not scared of it.
So the point of my original article was again this. Harassment is not the same as assault, period end of sentence! You are allowed to feel as awful about them as you want but they are still very very different. Both are very bad! Let me repeat my opinion on that, BOTH ARE VERY BAD!!!! Neither should be tolerated but even the judicial system sees them as different.
I want to talk about #metoo as well and make sure you understand exactly what you are following because I believe you do not if you believe it is for harassment. “Activist Tarana Burke created the movement as a way to connect with survivors” and “she created the campaign as a grass-roots movement to reach sexual ASSAULT survivors in underprivileged communities.” This is from HuffPost, written by Alanna Vagianos. The # was added and sent out over social media and it became unjustly not what it was originally supposed to be.
Survivors! What does that mean to you? I survived getting a root canal, it was awful but I survived. How about you survived climbing a mountain? Do you think these are the things she is talking about? Do you think Tarana Burke meant surviving crossing the street or do you think she meant something far more wicked and awful? Because I believe she did. I think she meant surviving being held down and forced to have your legs spread apart and hurting and bleeding and then surviving the shame of that. Surviving the possible pregnancy. The accusations of you being a whore. The inner voice that always questions what if you had done something different or what if you had actually deserved it? The mental illness that follows. The unstable emotions. The crying, the fear. The PTSD. The Night Terrors. The Flashbacks. The terror of not knowing if you will ever be able to truly make love because all you know is this disgusting thing that was done to you. Will you be able to love the man or woman you were meant to or are you too scarred for life? Is life worth living?
Yes it is! You have to know that these things are all a part of the predator’s power and that they are not allowed to have them. You must take them back little by little, every single day! And it will be difficult and painful and you will cry a lot. You will demand from God why? And if an answer comes… well, I am still waiting for my answer so I honestly can’t say. But some days you will feel sunshine on your face and for a moment not feel the anguish inside and just feel the glory of the beautiful day. And some days the sun will feel like torture like it is taunting you. However those days, those days when you still get up or not but remain alive you will know how immeasurably strong you are! Those days are what #metoo was what I think, I THINK, was supposed to be about.
I’m a mom and I love it! I like inviting people into my world and making them feel as comfortable as possible. I love all things cheese, jokes included. I’ve had a pretty rough life but therapy and a good attitude have really helped me make the best of things. So welcome to my world, make yourself at home!