I just noticed the #MeToo Campaign on social media this evening. I read through many of the stories and am not surprised by any of what read. Unfortunately, almost every single female and many of the males I know have been throughout my life have been sexually harassed and/or abused. Since I have been speaking out and talking openly about sexual abuse for the past 20 years, I have heard stories from people from all walks of life, all shapes, all colors, all genders, all sizes, and all varieties possible. I have seen sexual abuse does not discriminate.
The first sexual abuse I remember is when I was 5 years old. There were many people in my home setting up Christmas decorations and our Christmas tree. It was supposed to be a fun time and it was for a while. But, then I was passing by a room and my uncle was in there. He asked me to sit next to him. So, of course, I did. He asked if I wanted 5 bucks and I said, “Yes!” I was excited to get 5 bucks from my uncle. But, then he said to me, “I will give you the 5 bucks if you put your hand here.” He touched his crotch. I was confused and looked at him oddly. He said, “It’s ok.” He grabbed my hand, put it there, and pushed my hand hard against him. I tried to move my hand away, but he squeezed harder. Finally, I moved it away. He never gave me the 5 bucks. Of course, I never told anyone.
But, this is only first of many sexual harassment and abuse stories I have personally experienced. There were soooo many more after that:
- My stepfather started molesting me when I was about 7. This lasted for three years. Then, my mother choose to keep him and to send me away to foster care at age 13.
- I babysat for three families when I was 13 and 14. Two of the fathers tried to have sex with me. One drove me home through the woods and stopped the car. He tried to touch me between my legs. I had to run out of the car in the woods to get away from him. The only tried to touch me under my nightgown when I was sleeping.
- One of my foster fathers sexually abused my foster sisters and tried to touch my breasts.
- I worked for a pizza place when I was 15. Both of the owners tried to pressure me into having sex with me many, many times.
- When I was 17, I worked at West Coast Video and the owner asked me to go to his house to pick up his dry cleaning and tried to trap me in his home to sex with him.
- These are only some of the stories that happened to me when I was still under the age of 18. There are many more stories of teachers, neighbor men, advisors, and others that tried and some that pushed too far. This does not include any of the harassment I received from my male classmates.
After I turned 18, the sexual harassment continued. I took acting classes when I was 18 in Philadelphia and in New York. The instructor always paired me with this one man and told us to practice on our own after class. He would arrange to meet me at his home. He put a lot of pressure on me while I was there. I eventually stopped going to acting classes because of this. When I started my own coaching practice, there were many men who called asking for improper services. Of course, there are many more stories I can tell.
But, the worst adult experience was when I called 911 for help. At this point in my life, I obviously did not trust any man. The only people I actually trusted were police officers. They have helped me in the past when I needed help and never tried to abuse me. But, 9 years ago, the police officer that came to help me — raped me. I completely crumbled. Now, I knew I had no one at all that I could trust. Thankfully, I found the courage to report him, then he served time in jail and is no longer a cop.
I have been open about sex abuse for decades because of my experiences. It was such a big part of my life. Because my step father molested me, I lost my entire family. In fact, they are all still with him, while I am alone without any family. I have to live with this everyday — they all know what he did to me as a little girl and they chose him over me. It’s horrible.
Since, I was so open, I heard so many stories from friends, clients, and many strangers that have never told a single person about their abuse. These stories came from both women and men. Men are often abused too — it’s just not talked about much. I receive letters regularly from strangers telling me their stories. Most of my clients are working on overcoming the aftereffects of sexual abuse. It’s absolutely horrible how many people have been assaulted and/or abused. It’s horrifying.
Even though I have spoken up, thousands of others have spoken up and now even more people are speaking out, the abuse is still happening right now as you read this. Someone somewhere is suffering. I think it’s important that we keep talking, we lend a supportive ear to those that need it, we find a way to heal from all of this and we seek solutions to heal those that are abusing too.
All too often important messages come out and many people jump on board – for only a short time. Then, everything fades with a few people trying to keep it moving forward. We can’t let that happen here.
- We need to have safe places where victims can speak out.
- We need to not attack men, because many of them have been victims too.
- We need to realize that women also sexually assault and harass men too. (There are more and more cases of sexual harassment against women these days.)
- We need to provide ways to help victims to heal.
- We need to not be ashamed or embarrassed that we were abused.
- We need to take a look at what we give attention to — like in media. Are we admiring and giving attention to ads, tv shows, YouTube channels, movies or photos that promote or make sexual harassment and abuse attractive?
I am relieved and grateful that this is a topic that more and more people are feeling comfortable talking openly about. It’s about time. When we are able to be open about this, I believe abuse will not be allowed to happen as much. I think some abusers will think twice before they take another victim. Please keep the conversation going. Society needs it, individuals need it.
If you have a story to share, I would like to hear it. Fill out the form below and I will contact you. I have been working on an interview series that I am launching next year. I have been interviewing people who have been sexually abused and have learned how to heal, forgive and help others. Perhaps, you can be a part of that. 🙂