I Will Not Be Silent

**TW: sexual violence**

When I was around 10 years old, I was raped. I say around, because that time of my life is a largely blank canvas on which few long-term memories were etched, thanks to the way trauma effects a brain. I was chased, and terrorized, and mocked, and assaulted, and after I had been raped, I was promised that if I told anyone, I would be killed–a threat I am still struggling not to buy into, despite the crater of time between then and now. I believed him because I hadn’t been told anything to counter what he said at that point in my life.

When Donald Trump announced his candidacy for President, he stated that all Mexican immigrants are rapists. He called female reporters “dogs” and “bimbos” and attacked them for their looks. He has talked about his daughter inappropriately and was once heard saying “I’m going to be dating her in 10 years, can you believe it?” while staring at a group of 12 year-old girls. He insinuated that Hillary Clinton could not satisfy her husband, and therefore wouldn’t satisfy the US. He talked explicitly about kissing women and grabbing them by the pussy, as you’re allowed to do that when you’re a star, and “moving on her like a bitch” towards a married women. You know what, here is a list of every terrible thing Trump has openly said to a member of the press about women. I’ll wait here.

Can you imagine what this man says when he is not talking to the press? The words that come out of his mouth when he is speaking to a woman? Worse yet, can you imagine what he does towards women? I can; I know this man’s track record. He has not been shy about his views that women are to be seen and not heard; they are to be thin and young and beautiful, and should stay at home and satisfy their husbands and be punished if they have abortions and expect sexual assault if they serve in the military. We know what he does because he has done it before. Over one dozen women have now come forward to accuse Donald Trump of inappropriate sexual conduct, all of whom Trump states are lying and will be sued, because–look at them–they are not people he would be sexually interested in.

This campaign, for me, has been exhausting. Almost every day of the campaign, he has said something insulting towards women, African-Americans, Latinos, and Muslims. He has spoken in favor of appointing Supreme Court justices who will overturn marriage equality, and has chosen Mike Pence as his running mate; Mike, who for the LGBT community is the face of evil. A man who is in favor of electroshock therapy being used to reverse someone’s sexuality, who has voted against every bill protecting LGBT people, and whose religious freedom bill is one of the most discriminatory towards us. But I had hope, through the 16-month election, that America would at least unite about what a terrible, sexist, racist, xenophobic, homophobic, narcissistic bigot Trump was, and work to keep him out of the Oval Office.

I was wrong.

On November 9, I woke up to the realization that we would have an accused rapist as our 45th President. We would have someone with no political acumen, someone who is insulted by any comment that does not favor him and will fire back with insults, someone who has climbed to the top on the backs of the people he religiously beats. As an American people, we have told the young girls who are being abused and scared that the person hurting them could one day be the leader of the free world. This country, where anything is possible but justice. Anything is possible if you are rich enough and loud enough and cruel enough.

My 10 year-old self was told that if I told anyone what happened, I would die. But what if I told and was completely ignored? What if I told and my rapist was congratulated?

I am fighting back against this presidency because I am not allowing little girls to hear that they can be objectified and made small. I am not allowing fellow survivors to hear that their stories have not been heard and there will be no justice. I am not allowing women to continue to be silenced and mocked and turned into looks and told they can be touched that way because the President can touch people that way. This is not about politics, this is about an abuse of power. This is about the worst kind of person being told that what they are doing is something to be praised. This is about the 1 in 4 women, the 1 in 6 men. This is about 10 year-old me. This is personal. And I’m going to fight.

Girls and women reading this, please know that your experiences and stories are valid. What happened to you was not okay. It is not okay to be hurt by someone and then made to feel ashamed. I am here if you need to tell your story. I am here if you need to rage. RAINN has a hotline  (800-656-HOPE) that can put you in touch with crisis centers or support groups or  help you through the reporting process or be a listening ear. There are millions of people in this country who are behind you. I believe you. It’s not your fault

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A Letter to Myself (and Maybe to You, Too)

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Dear little me,

You’re going to make it. I promise. What is happening is terrible and scary and painful, and I know you feel like you can’t talk to anyone about it, but I promise it will end. All of it will, even not being able to talk to people about it. You’re going to have some days that you feel like you won’t live through, but you will. He won’t kill you. They won’t kill you. You’re going to survive. You’re going to be incredibly resourceful and you’re going to figure out brilliant ways to stay safe and to stay away from him, and you’re going to keep yourself alive by locking those memories out and finding safety in your room. And that’s okay. You’re doing what you know. Little me, some day you’re going to feel safe again.

Little me, you’re going to blame yourself for what is happening. For each and every piece of it. You’re going to feel so much guilt that you are letting them do that to you. But let me tell you something: they are doing that to you, you aren’t doing a single thing wrong. They are horrible, evil, mean, terrible boys–that’s on them, not on you. You shouldn’t have to feel the need to protect yourself, but you are, and that’s incredible. That’s more than enough. You can let go of that guilt. And it’s okay if you don’t, too. You’re surviving, and that is amazing.

Sweet Bee, what he is doing is going to make you feel so ashamed. You have so many feelings about what is happening, but one of the biggest and scariest and worst is the complete humiliation over what he is doing. You’re still a good person, a whole person. You are still whole, even though I know that you feel halved, torn, dirty. You will feel that somehow you are doing something wrong that will turn you into something disgusting. You are feeling embarrassed about that boy touching your body like that, and you are going to spend years trying to hide your body to make up for it. He’s going to make you so scared to tell anyone for fear for your life, but you’re also not going to want to tell anyone for all the shame you feel. But oh, my little Bee, you are still whole; you will be whole on the other side of this. You are not a chewed-up piece of gum, you are not less of a person, you are not doing anything wrong.

Little me, thank you for surviving. Your resilience is what got us through, and I thank you for that. I also thank you for looking out for the other girls at church, and for taking them under your wing. You could have only looked out for yourself, but you chose to be selfless and to make sure that others were safe. That is incredible. Thank you.

I promise it will end. There are so many great things ahead of you. And you’re going to make it.