TRIGGER WARNING ⚠️ THIS POST CONTAINS TALK OF AND DESCRIPTIONS OF SEXUAL VIOLENCE.
When Adornia offered to send me one of their lariat necklaces they gave me the option of choosing my own words as part of their Adornia Speak Up campaign. There were a lot to choose from but when I saw the #MeToo necklace I knew immediately that that was the one I wanted. Not only because it’s something so personal to me, but because ONE HUNDRED PERCENT of the profits are donated to RAINN which is the largest nonprofit anti-sexual assault organization in America. It was an easy choice at the time. But the campaign is about letting people know what the words on the necklace mean to me and now that it’s time to actually do that in a very public forum it feels a lot more difficult.
The founder of Adornia, Mo, is an awesome and understanding woman who didn’t pressure me to tell my story at all. I didn’t even have to post about the necklace given the sensitive nature if I didn’t want to, it was always up to me but I felt compelled on my own behalf. I didn’t participate in the ‘me too’ movement. I watched and supported, I shared other people’s stories on social media.. but I never told my own stories. My very first experience with sex was troublesome, to say the least. I was underage, very inebriated, and felt pressured into having sex with two other underage boys. Not at the same time, but one after the other like I was an amusement park ride. Obviously that traumatized me and affected my sexual life afterwards being that that was my first and only experience with sex until that point. Then, when I was 16 an adult male in my family molested me while he thought I was sleeping. He thought I was sleeping because I was terrified of what might happen if I didn’t pretend to continue sleeping. I didn’t tell anyone until he did the same thing to my best friend later. Neither of us were believed. When I was 17 another adult male assaulted me. This time, it was much more terrifying. He wasn’t much older than me, probably in his early 20s. He was a friend of my extended family’s that I had just met that night in the company of my cousin and boyfriend at the time. We all had a great, drunken night that a lot of teens and young adults do but at its close, after everyone had gone to sleep he climbed on top of me. I didn’t pretend to sleep this time. I said no, I pushed him off, I fought. But in the end I was taken out of the house, into his truck and raped. So that’s my story. My stories. There are hundreds of different stories I could tell you about being inappropriately touched or spoken to in a sexual manner that was way out of line.. but the stories chose to tell here are the ones that still affect me to this day. They’re the ones I talk about in therapy. They’re the ones I’ll have to talk to potential partners about for the rest of my life. If you’re not aware, Tarana Burke started the ‘me too’ movement in 2006 to help survivors of sexual violence (particularly black women and girls, and other young women of color) find pathways to healing by telling/hearing stories and providing resources to them. Since then it has grown into a viral phenomenon that seems more about spreading awareness. Before me too, a lot of us didn’t know how many people (including people they knew) were personally affected by sexual violence. A lot of people didn’t know that I was one of them.. and I was fine with that. I never wanted anyone to see me as a “victim” or “survivor” of sexual abuse because I thought it would change people’s perceptions of me or that people wouldn’t believe me. I thought the label of either victim or liar would follow me around forever but ‘me too’ showed me that, unfortunately, most of the women in my life be it online or in person have stories of sexual harassment and sexual assault in one form or another along with many of the men I know as well. I started to see people getting tattoos, wearing shirts, making patches, painting the hashtag on walls around town, etc. and as silly as it sounds it really did make me feel less alone. It made the label of sexual assault survivor seem less scary to own and identify with, if that makes sense? Whether I choose to share my stories or wear this necklace I am still a victim of sexual assault. But ‘me too’ made me feel like a survivor. ‘Me too’ made me more comfortable sharing my stories with OTHER survivors and feel less alone. So that’s what ‘me too’ means to me. That’s why I chose this necklace and that’s why I’m going to wear it as often as possible. Not because it’s pretty, not because I’m proud to be a part of a popular movement, but because I hope it and this post will help other people feel less alone.
If you are a survivor or someone just interested in learning more about the me too movement, I highly suggest going to METOOMVMT.ORG and reading about the history and vision of the movement. If you’re a survivor they also have toolkits to aide in healing and a comprehensive list of resources that they give to you based on your location so you can seek help wherever you are in the world.
If you are in need of help, RAINN offers a 24/7 National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline number. You can call 800.656.HOPE (4673) to be connected with a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area. It is 100% confidential and you do not have to give them any identifying information.
Calling the National Sexual Assault Hotline gives you access to a range of free services including:
- Confidential support from a trained staff member
- Support finding a local health facility that is trained to care for survivors of sexual assault and offers services like sexual assault forensic exams
- Someone to help you talk through what happened
- Local resources that can assist with your next steps toward healing and recovery
- Referrals for long term support in your area
- Information about the laws in your community
- Basic information about medical concerns
You can also access 24/7 help online by visiting online.rainn.org.
THIS IS A POST FROM MY INSTAGRAM ACCOUNT @JENNDECIMA POSTED ORIGINALLY ON FRIDAY MARCH 1ST, 2019 AND ADDED TO THIS BLOG ON MONDAY DECEMBER 23RD, 2019.