Okay, so the last few days have been really, really hard on me. I’ve mostly just been really, really angry. And I couldn’t quite figure out why until my therapist mentioned that these conversations in the media about rape and sexual abuse bring about a lot of nasty victim-blaming that is often so coded it’s hard to put a finger on it. And it’s true. I haven’t had flashbacks at all, thankfully, which means I am coping really well, but I have felt surprisingly comfortable and vindicated in saying “I was sexually assaulted and I stayed around someone who said things like Trump thinking “boys will be boys” and then my friend abused me. I think it’s important we don’t shrug this off because I want my daughters to grow up in a world knowing that we take this shit seriously”. Maybe it’s the pregnancy that’s making me feel safe to do this or maybe it’s time. But I’m sick of holding it in.

My first instance of abuse was a sexual assault at 14(I don’t use rape her because there was no GENITAL penetration and in my line of work in law enforcement, there is a technical distinction that requires this YMMV and how you characterize it is your personal choice) in which a friend threatened to rape me to another male friend. Male friend warned me and flipped the fuck out on our abusive friend. I wrote it off because boys are stupid or so I was told all my life. He sexually assaulted me later that day at school during school hours. There were nuns only feet away from where we were. It was awful. And I was a really goody two shoes who had never seen an erect penis (let alone felt one) before so I didn’t even have good words to describe what happened to me. Because I was raised by sex-positive, consent-explaining parents, I knew what he did was wrong. I had this “edge”. I reported it to school officials by the end of the day but I didn’t leave after it happened because I didn’t have a hall pass. I was more afraid about being stuck in ISS than being raped. Because it didn’t seem like a real possibility. I tried to get an extra pass at lunch from our principal. I tried to tell her what happened but she fobbed me off because she was “too busy” to listen.

Administrators told me to keep my mouth shut because it would “ruin his life”. I stated that after he finished doing what he did and I was crying, he insisted his little sister (who was like 3 at the time) “liked it” so I should stop my blubbering. I said this because I was concerned for HER welfare even if they wouldn’t listen to me. Nothing was done. Nothing was reported. And those initial contacts with administrators made it clear I was NOT telling my parents. NEVER. The invalidation of those contacts was simply too much for me to bear. It was worse than the initial trauma. My doctor says that this is often the case for many survivors he sees. The initial rape was traumatic but the invalidation, doubt, and shame following were far harder to bear - often because they are emotions thrown at you by “trusted” people. You are the most vulnerable you’ve ever been. I couldn’t face my parents doing it to me (later I would find out my mother totally understood as the victim of sexual abuse who still sees her own parent deny anything happened as an almost-60-year-old). My doctor says it is more common in the cases of young people reporting abuse for this very reason. Basically, he says I should take care of myself. That it’s good if I want to speak out and feel safe to do it but to know that this CAN be triggering - sometimes even more so.

The worst part of this is I wish I could say that things changed after my time. But they didn’t. That school district had a serious sex abuse scandal when I was in graduate school. Similar players - some who had been involved in covering up what happened to me - similar responses to the victim and her family coming forward. She was routinely sexually abused by a coach on school grounds when she was 14 and 15. It was covered up because they were going to win state that year. He groomed her and put her on the pill. He found ways to bring her wherever he knew they could be alone. And in the end, the local newspaper reacted by publishing a photo of them talking perhaps too closely on the sideline with an anonymous headline “Coach accused by minor player of sexual abuse” or some source. Yes, so anonymous. Her parents later sued the paper and the assistant coach (the abuser), head coach, AD, and school board members were all indicted for the abuse and/or cover up. Several received prison sentences. But people still lament the “destruction” of this sports program... as if it is her fault?! Her whole family felt it impossible to stay in town and moved. They were blamed for “running away”.

So, if you are a survivor, know that a lot of us are feeling many feels right now. Know that you aren’t alone. This is unfortunately normal for you and many others. I’m so sorry if you reported only to be doubted. It’s not anything you did. People just refuse to believe it could ever happen to them, to their kid, to their spouse, etc. It’s easier to blame than to look at society and see things that need to change. You are worth it. And I’m so sorry it happened to you. Feel free to share here if you feel comfortable. I just thought I would share what is very much bothering me today. This is absolutely a safe space with many hugs.