by The Lady Eve

 

You wonder why women don’t speak up right away when they’re assaulted? Look in the mirror, because you are part of the problem.

 

I was 10 years old when two high school boys on my bus sexually harassed me. They blocked my path as I got up at my bus stop. I was terrified and ashamed. I blamed myself for sitting near the back of the bus. I blamedmyself for wearing a pleather skirt. Later, I blamed myself for not making a scene or screaming and shouting because I was trying to be “nice.”

 

I was 16 years old when I was sexually assaulted by a guy in my neighborhood. I was terrified and ashamed. I blamed myself for wearing shorts. I blamed myself for enjoying the attention I was getting from so many guys in the new neighborhood. Later, I blamed myself for being too meek in my objections- for not screaming or punching or kicking because I was trying to be “nice.”

 

I was 21 when I was raped. I hadn’t wanted to go home with him because I had a miserable head cold and had to work in the morning. He said he missed me and we didn’t have to “do anything.” My friend convinced me to go. I said, “No. Stop. I don’t want to do this,” but he didn’t listen. Then he got mad at me. I was terrified for my safety and had no idea where I even was or how I would get home. I turned around and fucking apologized to my rapist because he was mad at me and I didn’t know how I was going to get home. I blamed myself for going home with him. I blamed myself for not screaming or punching or kicking. I blamed myself for being vulnerable.

 

If this is the first time you’re learning of these incidents or some of these details, there’s a reason. It’s because survivors understand the cost of speaking up. We know our lives will be scrutinized. What were you wearing? Were you drinking? Were you too flirtatious? We know our motives will be called into question- why are you trying to ruin this man’s life? We know even our recollection and interpretation of events will be challenged- did you really say no? Are you just claiming it was rape because you’re having regrets the next day? How can it be rape if you didn’t fight him?

 

While I have always been upfront about being a rape survivor, I never spoke of the other two incidents until 2016 or 2017. Why? Because I didn’t think anyone would believe me. Because I was sure they would blame me.

 

Almost every woman I know has a story. And when you immediately doubt Professor Ford’s accusations, you essentially doubt the accusations of myself and every other survivor. You tell us that if our truth is too inconvenient for you, you will just ignore it.

 

I am a survivor and I will not be ignored. You have the choice to be part of the problem or part of the solution.