For 31 months I have faced hopelessness, inexpressible anger, overwhelming terror, persistent flashbacks, sleep deprivation, consuming sadness and unbearable shame and guilt.
Clinically I have PTSD, trauma and a mood disorder. Personally, I was raped.
The first time I was 17. It was a friend.
It wasn’t a lifetime movie in a dark alley. It was a high school party and someone I knew for years. A son of a well known suburban family.
The first time I tried questioning it to a figure of authority, I was asked how much I had drank that night. I learned that alcohol excuses assault. That male privilege excuses consent. That white supremacy prohibits dissent.
The second time I was 24. “Old enough to know better.”
I was a peace corps volunteer in Rwanda. It was a friend.
It wasn’t a stranger, or a fearful shadow. It was someone I had known since my third month of residency. It was someone I talked to on a daily basis and trusted.
When I told my family, I was asked how much I had been drinking. Didn’t I know better?
Boys will be boys. Men will be men.
Like Donald Trump said, I couldn’t be raped. I wasn’t pretty enough.
And even if I was, it couldn’t be classified as rape, men are just going after what they wanted and “grabbing it by the pussy.”
I have been shamed, guilted, disbelieved, ridiculed, criticized and pitied.
I have tried to raise my voice and be honest, and Ive been painted as a hysterical woman. I have tried to make peace with myself, and be forgiving, and I’ve been flooded with public perpetuation of rape.
I have tried to free myself from my demons, from these men who stole my soul and my future —
— and we just elected one as President.
And so for the past six hours I’ve laid awake in my bed.
And tonight it wasn’t because of my recurrent flashbacks or night terrors.
It is in fear of the future.
Fear of a climate that outwardly acknowledges, accepts and perpetuates discrimination, oppression, white supremacy, marginalization, xenophobia, racism, and rape culture.
Fear of a country where a young girl raped is painted as a result of her misdeeds and not a question of what our country is teaching our children is acceptable.
But the thing I’ve learned from living in fear these past 31 months, and these past nine years…. fear makes you dangerous.
Fear makes you brave, for there’s no other choice if you wish to survive.
Fear makes you strong, because you’ve lived through unspeakable terrors and still you stand. Fear makes you angry, and angry people have the power to make great changes.
And so I will channel this fear. As I hope you can too. And not fall at the feet of this great American terror, a climate of oppression and hostility and perpetuation.
I will be brave. Empowered. Hopeful.
For we must remember, when you have nothing left to lose, you have everything to gain.