When I was blowing out the candles on my 26th birthday cake this January, I had no idea that less than one month later I would become a statistic.
My name is Kait Hanson and I’m a wife, daughter, sister, writer, chef, athlete and friend. I’m also a victim of sexual assault.
I always thought, “Oh, it will never happen to me.” But it did and it turned my life upside down.
I was sexually assaulted on a Thursday afternoon in my own living room. I was sober, working from home and wearing baggy sweatpants, a bleach-stained t-shirt from college with no makeup on. A trusted individual came into our home and assaulted me. What makes this worse in my mind is that this individual’s sister was present the entire time and she did nothing to stop it. I confronted my assaulter, demanded he leave and reported the incident to police.
If you’re naive like I was, I wrongly assumed victims of sexual assault put themselves in high risk situations where drugs, alcohol or elicit behavior was present. Drunken antics led to risky choices and the next thing anyone knew, the night before was hazy and unclear. I work in media, so the stream of incidents portrayed on the news was not foreign to me, but something that could never happen.
Unfortunately, many times sexual assault does not end for the victim when the attack is over. After the assault, I had a constant feeling of paranoia, violation and the notion that I was alone. I felt like the only person I could talk to was my husband, that people would judge me or that my situation would be downplayed. I lived in a constant state of fear that it would happen again. I was afraid to ask for help and part of me of me was ashamed. The fact is–I was not able to handle the situation alone.
Two weeks went by where I went without sleep and existed in a constant state of anxiety. It was at this time that I finally sought the help I so desperately needed.
I want anyone who might be scared, afraid or in a similar situation to know that asking for help is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign of strength. There is absolutely nothing to be afraid of or ashamed of.
As time has passed and I’ve talked about what happened more and more, I’ve distanced myself from what happened, but rest assured, I have not forgotten the incident.
I’m passionate about telling my story, because sexual assault and harassment does not have a face, a gender or a sexuality. It doesn’t know age, religious beliefs or race.
I am proof that sexual assault can happen to anyone, at any time, in any place. No one is immune and if you think that you are–you are as naïve as I once was.
If you are reading this as a victim, know you are not alone, you are not crazy and you did not deserve this. You will not only overcome these feelings, you will triumph in a greater way than you ever thought possible.
Until we start talking about sexual assault more, we are marginalizing victims, their stories and the emotions assault and harassment can evoke. Right now, while you’re reading this, someone, somewhere, is being sexually assaulted. In fact, it happens every 107 seconds – a deafening statistic.
The more we become aware, the more we advocate and the more we break through the social norms of society, the better chance we have at taking a stand against sexual assault and harassment.