My intended blog post for this week was originally going to be on women being against women; are we our own worst enemy? Instead I want to shift gears a little and talk about something that has been weighing on my heart, my mind and my soul lately.
You’d have to be living under a rock to not know what is currently going on in the media surrounding Brett Kavanaugh and his Supreme Court nomination – and the woman, Christine Blasey Ford, that has now come forward recounting her story about an attempted rape in high school, by none other than….Judge Kavanaugh. You’d also have to be living under a rock if you hadn’t heard about the fact that she has now had to go into hiding to protect her family and keep herself safe from the death threats she’s been receiving.
Yes, you read that correctly. She has been receiving threats to her physical well-being by people who have no clue who this woman is and who only care that their precious nominee is having difficulty wading through the waters of the #metoo environment. All politics aside – I don’t care about the nomination – I care about what we as a society has to say about the ass backwards treatment of this woman, who from all accounts is an honest, trustworthy, hardworking and brave, warrior for women by putting herself out there and coming forward.
Read any social media post about this story and you will see the divide it has created; from those claiming she just wants fifteen minutes of fame, believing she is making it all up, to those that are cautiously supportive (many of whom are women) and curious to know why she is just now stepping up to tell her story. Why is, ‘right now’ the right time for her to share this event that happened 35 years ago when she clearly should have had the wherewithal and guts to do it back then, right?
I can say this because *I am* Christine Blasey Ford. Women don’t come forward because of all of the crap this woman is going through right now. We’ve seen it play out time and time again and we think to ourselves, “I don’t want that to be me! I don’t want to put myself or my family through that!” And so we stay silent. I work in an environment where I’m the minority, being female, so there’s this perception that issues like these further solidify the thought that women can’t ‘hang’ in a man’s world. The less attention you draw to yourself, the better. Plus, it is a deeply personal issue for me because it happened to me – it is my story to tell, and only mine. And I’m not ready to tell it yet.
But, why don’t women report sexual assault more often?
The emotional toll alone can cause some women to crumble, and I mean crumble, as in completely fall apart. Women who are sexually assaulted are more likely to turn to drugs, alcohol, abusive relationships or bodily harm. When dealing with how to process assault, many women find themselves turning to these types of coping mechanisms. For me – it was alcohol. Regardless of whether or not women use anything to cope – the damage done to the emotional well-being of someone who is assaulted, is irreversible. In the days, weeks, months and possibly even years after an assault, you are still trying to process that it even happened – let alone come to terms with all the baggage it brings with it, so yes – it is extremely emotional. And there are times you’re not sure you’ll ever heal.
We blame ourselves.
I cannot tell you how many times I have spoken with women who have shared the exact same sentiment when recounting their sexual assault. Why do we feel such guilt and blame when we did nothing wrong? We blame ourselves because many times our assaulter has made us to believe it is our fault – that we are to blame for our own rape or attempted rape. And society has placed this warped sense of blame on the victim as well; that if someone is assaulted then they must have put themselves in a situation to make it possible. That thought process couldn’t be further from the truth yet is continually perpetuated by people who know nothing about what it means to have been assaulted.
We are scared.
Can you imagine the fear this woman must have felt as a teenager? Teenagers are emotional beings by nature because of all the hormones surging through their bodies, so can you honestly say that if it were you – you would have boldly stepped up and outed your fellow classmate? Gone through the process of filing charges and having every detail of that evening dissected? Uh, probably not. Even as adults, when an assault occurs there are immediate fears that pop into your head. For me it was; will this person threaten me or attempt to violate me any more? Will this person harm my family next? Will this person attempt to defame me all to protect himself? Will anyone believe me?
We want to forget and attempt to resume a normal life again.
Most can only imagine what goes through the mind of someone who has been assaulted. Sadly though, as sexual assault becomes more prevalent in today’s society; every 98 seconds someone is sexually assaulted, more and more women (and men) are learning what it feels like to have their whole lives violated in a way you never thought humanly possible. Our natural inclination is to want to forget; to put it behind us and move on. If we can forget it ever happened and just put on a smile, move about our days and lives and careers and shut it out, then all will be just fine. I wish I could say that it hasn’t impacted my life in ways I never thought conceivable, but it has. It’s a fact we deal with daily and it will stay with us forever. It’s a part of who we are now – so we can’t go back to the way things were before.
We couldn’t control the situation.
This one is big for me personally. I’m a tad bit of a control freak. I enjoy knowing what’s up ahead and being a mega-planner of my life is something anyone who knows me can tell you I am very good at doing. In the corporate environment, controlling what we can is something we speak about often when leading our teams. But we cannot control everything that happens to us in life. I cannot imagine a teenage Christine Blasey having to process the emotions, the blame, the fear and then on top of it – the ‘what-ifs’ of; ‘if I had just done this – or if I had not drunk that one beer’, what could the outcome have been? We think about the what-ifs on an, almost, daily basis. And each time we process them we are left with the same conclusion. In no way could we have prevented what happened to us; not Christine Ford, not me, not anyone.
We are traumatized.
While this can be an all-encompassing aspect of assault – the trauma experienced is something people often times don’t consider. Because it’s not something you can process quickly and move on; you can’t just have a therapy session and all of a sudden you’re miraculously healed, and there are times when the trauma of what happened consumes you. It can suck you in and you can wallow in its pain. When going through the healing process, remembering that each day is a milestone and that each day is a fresh start to move forward, is the beginning to letting the trauma subside. For me, it was journaling and reading. The more I’d read about assault and ways in which I could cope in a healthy approach, like writing it all out, helped me to accept and process my emotions in a way that made me feel like I was making progress.
When I was going through the healing process my husband bought me the book, Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience and Finding Joy, by Sheryl Sandberg. I highly recommend the book to anyone who is going through a difficult time in their lives and having to process something they’re not necessarily comfortable with or didn’t plan for. What the book helped me do was to process my emotions, accept the trauma it had done to me mentally, physically and emotionally and to finally begin to tell myself that this wasn’t my fault; that what happened to me couldn’t have been prevented.
We could be made to recount our assault again – and again – and publicly.
Could you risk your career, your family’s protection, your life as you know it and put your reputation on the line to stand up for what is right? Probably not. I certainly am not at that point in my life. The brave conviction she has shown in the face of all of the scrutiny and adversity has been empowering – enough so that it gave me the courage to write this piece. Coming forward also takes on different meaning depending on the person and situation. Coming forward to your therapist, your friends, your family or your colleagues, like Ms. Ford did, is still coming forward. While it doesn’t involve the legal process it is still you acknowledging to someone else other than yourself, that this assault occurred. For me, the openness of it all, putting my family through the process and opening my world up to people who don’t even know me, is something I am not ready for – and I may never be ready for it, and that’s my decision to make.
Bottom line: There are a myriad of reasons why women (and men) who have been assaulted do not come forward, or wait and come forward when they feel ready to tell their story. And regardless of their reason(s) – it doesn’t mean it didn’t happen!
One of the most infuriating aspects of watching this unfold is that our own President has questioned the validity of Ms. Ford’s claims. Having a daughter himself, it baffles me (yet sadly does not surprise me) that he can so callously write off her assertions as if they’re nothing but lies meant to derail the nomination process. If the tables were turned, he’d be using the largest megaphone (twitter) to publicly annihilate an assaulter of Ivanka, or someone else who shared his same agenda. Don’t even get me started on the ridiculously moronic statement by North Dakota GOP Senate nominee Kevin Cramer who stated the accusation “was absurd” because it didn’t actually go anywhere. All of this, their statements, is the real absurdity in the whole matter.
Assault is assault. It has no agenda.
Changing the conversation
How do we progress as a society to allow for more bravery of women (and men) to come forward and tell their story? To not be afraid that in doing so they won’t be victimized all over again. How do we move past the politics of it all and see this for what it is; the assault of a woman 35 years ago that has impacted her life in ways she never expected. And that in the end – there is a price to pay for what happened to her. Like I said earlier, I don’t care about the nomination and that is not why I wrote this piece. I wrote it because it has sparked something in me to speak out in support of what she is going through and the difficulties she is now faced with in telling her story.
Most can only imagine what this woman went through when she was a teenager but I can tell you – because I’ve been her – that she is going through hell – all over again. And why now? Because it was time. It was her time.
I’m getting there…it’s a process – and maybe one day, I’ll be as brave as her.
-Confessions of a Corporate Mom
#assault #metoo #silenced #whyididntreport #confessions #confessionsofacorporatemom
Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to share your story.