A Bit of a "Heavier" Read
I posted this back on my personal Facebook page back in January 2018 when this situation came to light- now that I am blogging and I control my own platform- I feel like its important to get this out there again so reposting this off my page so it may be familiar to some--
I very solemnly use Facebook as a platform to voice my personal opinions and views about topics that have any controversy to them, but this is something that has really fired me up and upset me beyond words and frazzled my brain today and something I feel I need to add my two cents here so bear with me a minute— this may just have been the hardest thing I’ve ever written but it’s too important to stay silent about
I have been following the trail of the horrific crimes Larry Nassar has committed for a bit now and listening to the current trial and every single victim impact statement that has been made. Today I was able to watch his sentence ruling and I am filled with so much sadness, disgust, anger, and hurt - and words I can’t even put a name on. I want to vomit. I want to cry. But I am proud and I am joyed to have witnessed such a remarkable judge give each woman impacted her time and due diligence of telling her story that has decided to come forth. And then I was saddened again. I have read and reread comments on the articles and videos discussing the trial- that victim shame over and over and over again. “Where were their parents?” “Why didn’t anyone report it sooner?” “Why now?” And on and on and on and on and on. And I fell apart. Completely apart.
You see, as a child- I was sexually abused for many many grueling months by a male caretaker (NOT BY FAMILY- Non blood neighbor I feel it’s important to address that) - I didn’t report it. I didn’t even know “it” was. I didn’t know what to call “it”. I didn’t even know “it” was bad.
I was given special toys and trinkets and got to go to special places with this person because I trusted them - Why would they do anything to hurt me when they told me how beautiful, smart and special I was? They were an adult, adults are always right. Adults make the rules, children follow and do what adults tell them to do. That’s what young children are told. I knew “stranger danger”- this wasn’t a stranger, this was someone my adult parent trusted- so I should too. Many parents like my own, do not have a sexual education talk or discussion with their young child/ children because it’s “uncomfortable” and “school will teach it” or they are “too young to understand”
100% wrong. So so very wrong.
It was only in 7th grade when a parent signed a permission slip for our gym class teachers to teach us Sex Ed for a health class in school and we briefly in class talked about rape, molestation, and sexual assault - and for the first time in my life I put the two and two together and I realized what had happened to me. “It” finally had a name. And “it” was bad. I was 6 when “it” happened and I was 13 when I could tell you what ACTUALLY happened- it had a name and it wasn’t just “it”. 7 years- SEVEN YEARS - it was not reported because I didn’t know when I was 6 “it” was wrong and “it” was a crime. A very serious crime that people go to jail for.
At 13, 14, 15- I still didn’t tell anyone. I internalized the things I learned in class and the events that had taken place in my youth and repeated it over and over and over in my head until I myself thought I came up with a made up story and I didn’t even believe myself anymore. It was such “old” news, I don’t even know where this person was - what difference would it make?- I felt it was now insignificant. And I never told anyone for years because I didn’t think it would make a difference.
And it could have. It might have.
And I can’t even begin to describe to you the immense guilt and anger and sadness I feel on a daily basis, all the way into my bones, in every fiber of my being, because I didn’t report it. And then I’m mad I didn’t report it because I didn’t even know I was supposed to say anything. And then I get mad I wasn’t given the resources and tools and proper terminology as a child to know what sexual assault was. And then I get mad at the adults in my life who failed me, by not talking and teaching me terms and concepts children don’t just “know”- and thus I feel I have failed others. A sexual predator will always be a sexual predator- there is something wrong with them. Normal, sane, and healthy people do not hurt and abuse innocent children.
Years later with lot of reflecting - I realized that by not speaking up I may have subjected another, and another, and another little girl the same abuse I endured myself as a child. You can’t even begin to imagine the extent of the guilt I carry and it is a weight you will never understand unless you have personally lived through.
So don’t you dare for on second blame any of Nassars abused girls, and any other woman, man, boy or girl, who have experienced sexual assault- and the parents who “didn’t know”. Look what happened- over 150 women have been affected by the actions of one sick man. Over one hundred and fifty. Is anyone understanding the extent of this? So many girls had no idea what happened to them because they didn’t know what to call “it” or that it was bad- same as I when I was 6.
I am not writing this to put the spotlight on myself- in fact, only a very select few have ever actually been told what happened- look I love a stage and to be the loudest person in the room- but I wish I, or anyone else was holding the microphone, wasn’t for this reason. My reason to tell you my story is so you realize you never know who in your life is or has silently suffered- it’s your mothers, sisters, daughters, wives and friends. And not care, nor wish, to go into details of what happened in my youth. And since then, not once have I ever seen or called myself a “victim”, “survivor” or let what has happen to me define who I was and who I now am. I have always let my hard work, character and ethic do that. I make the choice to stand up tall every single day and work hard in my school and work, my activities and hobbies, my friendships and relationships, and the attitude I choose to have and give off to others each day. So please- absolutely DO NOT apologize to me. DO NOT tell me how sorry you are I had to go through this. I am strong, I love and I know love, I have a nice family, a supportive husband, great friends, a wonderful career, I am healthy. I am blessed. I experience all of what life has to offer each and every day- I travel, I meet other people, try new foods, try new things, make new memories and experiences each day. I make mistakes, I learn, I grow — and I do it with a head held high because there is too much to miss out on with your head down, and tears in your eyes, shut away from the world. I am in control of my life and no one gets to take that away from me. Others have a much harder time doing so after such an event-
Which is why I write this in the first place. I am asking you for something- to open the dialogue- to talk to your children openly about private parts and why they are private and what to do if anyone touches them- but give it a proper name. I am so completely baffled why in today’s day and age and society there is such a stigma surrounding sex and words associated with sex. It’s a penis, it’s a vagina. They are scientific names. There is nothing dirty or shameful about sex and reproduction - they are a real part of life. It is special and it is pleasurable- and it needs to be talked about - so that when it is not special or pleasurable or consented to- a voice and a name is given to the action so the appropriate actions are taken.
So many of you have children, or are pregnant, or are trying or are around children- and it is the responsibility of each and every one of US to teach our children right from wrong- to honor and respect one another’s bodies - and no means no means no means NO. It is up to us to open up dialogue about sex, rape culture, and sexual assault- no matter how uncomfortable the conversation is. Do not skip talking to your children when they are little because you feel like they are too young, or won’t understand, or will ask too many questions- keep it short and simple at a young age- but don’t pretend the issue doesn’t exist. Don’t sweep it under the rug because when you think “that will never happen to my child” or “I will never let that happen” you take away someone’s powerful voice- their words, their tools, their resources to come and talk to you god forbid something should happen-and we all horrifically witnessed what just happened with this trial. Rachael Denhollander was the first woman to publicly accuse Larry Nassar of sexual abuse. And she was the last of more than 150 women and girls to confront him in court during Nassar's sentencing hearing for criminal sexual conduct. As she said in her statement “how much is a little girls life worth?”
So I beg of you 2 things.
One: talk to your kids. Sexual assault has unfortunately always been a part of history, we just hear about it more now thanks to easy access to mass media- but it is up to us to teach our children from a young age about consent and what no means (I was absolutely appalled by the recent Aziz Ansari story) and teach them about these unacceptable and criminal actions so that not one more person has to be subjected to such a heinous crime. Same goes with adults who are predators - to not be afraid to talk to you, to speak up, and be speak and be heard without shame, regret, bullying, or denial. Believe them- do not discredit them.
Two: this one is more personal request- because I have chosen to talk about my own personal experience publicly among you all on the internet- a topic that is not easy or light to talk about- I please ask you refrain from further questions about said event- or if you see me, don’t bring up what has happened to me to me, or my husban, or my family- those doors are long closed. I am in complete control of my life. I don’t owe that person any more time, or another word about it and I have been successfully living life 🙂 like I said, I never considered myself a victim or survivor (though some get closure in doing so, so please let every person deal in their own way- some like the #metoo movement- I personally dont- we all have different ways to come to terms and acknowledge what was taken without consent let the person cope with what is best for them) I wouldn’t have come up to you and said “Hi my name is Aneta- I was raped as a kid, nice to me you- how are you?”
IT DOES NOT DEFINE ME
So don’t let one personal fact of my youth change how you feel towards me- and please be kind and respectful to others who chose to step forward- either for help or just to tell their story, so that others can learn from wrongs and make and be the change. It is through talking and action change possible. Silence will not do anything. Denial will not do anything. Shame will not do anything.
If you haven’t lived through an assault or molestation- and been subjected to being violated without a choice- you can’t even imagine the extent of relief that comes from someone hearing you out- and believing you. That’s what we need to work on as a society in order to see a change.
So hug your little ones extra tight tonight- and those of you that were subjected to an assault- know that there is always someone who will believe you. Do not stop until you find someone who will hear you out. Do not lose hope. Keep that chin high. No one is allowed to take that sparkle from your eye.
Thank you Judge Aqualina for changing the way we look at and handle sexual assault cases against anyone in the future. I can say I’m going to bed feeling a little more relieved tonight- and knowing one less monster will never be able to harm anyone else again.And I’m saying an extra little prayer to all those affected who feel like they don’t have a voice, for those who feel like they lost everything- to reach out and let someone help you rebuild. There is no shame in getting help and in what happened to you without your consent. But do not let it define you- life if just too beautiful not to look up and not to experience all the good it has to offer.
Thanks for hearing me out. I’m a little emotionally drained now so going to knock out. I wish in my lifetime there will come a day I will not ever have to see a news story or post a status like this ever again- but change starts with us and we are the adults of tomorrow- silence and hatred will NEVER win.
Love conquers all ♥️
The Everyday Girl,