*The following contains sensitive information regarding sexual assault*
I was going to wait until March to post this but there’s no better time than the present. 2017 was a year of countless allegations against high profile celebrities regarding sexual assault and rape. Both men and women have come forward recounting the horrifying experiences they had at the hands or words of these celebrities. I resonate with the people who were brave enough to come forward. Sexual assault and rape culture is nothing new. Its been happening since the beginning of time.
I think about how back during slavery in the U.S., Black women’s bodies were property and their owners could rape and do as they pleased with them. Or how Oprah mentioned a woman named Recy Taylor on the Golden Globes. Recy was kidnapped by 7 white men back in 1944. They took turns raping her and dropped her back off on the street like nothing happened. She saw no justice, either. We’ve all read countless articles about how it could take years for survivors to tell their story because of the fear they had of being silenced. We live in a country where men like Brock Turner can sexually assault an unconscious woman, get caught, and the justice system believing that HE was the victim and gets a slap on the wrist. We live in a world where men like Roy S. Moore can still receive votes for the Alabama Senate even though he is a pedophile. We live in a world where staple men of the Black community (Bill Cosby, Russell Simmons, and Tavis Smiley, etc.) are facing consequences of their actions for sexually assaulting women. WE LIVE IN A WORLD WHERE THE PRESIDENT HAS SEXUALLY ASSAULTED WOMEN AND BRAGGED ABOUT GRABBING THEM BY THE P*SSY and is, unfortunately, still president (and unfortunately still president even outside of that). We live in a world where regular women, like myself, have been victims of sexual assault and abuse multiple times over their lifetime and have had to stay silent for the sake of protecting image. But no more.
I want to first thank Tarana Burke. Tarana is the founder of the #MeToo Campaign that has since taken off with people coming forward about the sexaul assault they experienced.
Before I knew what sexual assault and abuse was, I was a victim of it. When I was younger, I used to dread going on family trips to visit my dad’s side of the family. Not because I didn’t love them (I LOVE my dad’s side of the family so much), but because I was fearful of one of my male cousins. My cousin was a few years older than me and it was always weird that he even knew what he was doing at such a young age. Some summers, my brother and I would have to stay down there for a few weeks and I would die a little inside because I knew what was going to happen to me. When the adults would leave, I would sit in one of my cousin’s old room (she was older than me and in college already so she was never home) and play by myself. My brother would be with my guy cousins hanging out. But at least a few times a day, the cousin I dreaded, would come in the room and touch me inappropriately. I remember vaguely him touching on my developing breast and between my legs and trying to kiss me. I knew it felt wrong and I cried often about it. I don’t know when I got the courage but I finally told my dad. Once I told, the touching stopped. But even when we would go back down there, I couldn’t even look at him. I haven’t seen him in years but even as a adult, I still get a knot in my stomach when I see him. That experience had a major effect on how I view sexuality and my own sexuality. I felt nasty and uneasy because not only did I know it was wrong that he was touching me, I definitely knew it was wrong because…you know, we were first cousins.
I really debated with myself about if I should share that story. My biggest fear is the backlash I might receive from my family. I’m scared that they won’t believe me and I’m scared that I might cause some friction. That is not my intent. My purpose is to shed light on the epidemic that is sexual abuse/rape culture/harassment etc…especially in Black families. I’ve heard numerous stories from other Black women who were sexually abused as young girls by close friends of the family or an aunt’s husband and were too scared to tell anyone for fear of not being believed. Or fear that their abuser will hurt them more.
As a maturing woman, I can’t count how many times a man has approached me in a public setting and touched me without consent. How they felt the need to place their hand on my thigh and then have the audacity to call me a “bitch” after I ask him to remove his hand from MY thigh. “Why can’t I touch you?” they ask, “Because it’s MY body. So, stop touching me.” ‘Well f*ck you then, bitch.” Are men raised to feel entitled to a woman’s body? Like, we OWE them something for being a man?
There was a time in college when I was in a situation with a guy and though I was alone with him, I didn’t consent to him having sex with me. And when I told him to get off me and stop, he looked at me like I was crazy. Or just a few weeks ago, a guy told me that I “owed him some” sex. like , excuse me?
During an interview with my favorite morning shows, ‘The Breakfast Club’, Rick Ross said that he won’t hire a woman to work for him because he would have to have sex with her because that’s the kind of man he is. He’s spending all this money on them for photoshoots and whatever else comes with the business so he has to have sex with them. I engaged in a conversation with some other guys about it and was shocked to see that some of them were defending Ross’ comments by saying he is protecting himself by not hiring these women. He’s protecting himself from allegations of sexual assault. I called BS on that. So, just because a man is spending money on a woman, it is expected that she has sex with him? A man could just be human enough to work with a woman and not try to have sex with her.
This type of behavior is ingrained in our culture. I offer 3 ways we can start making changes, now.
- We need to start teaching our children (not just boys, girls, too) about consent and rape culture. We pass it off as if it’s not a big deal and ultimately the victim gets blamed. When your sitting your children down to talk about sex and STDs, talk about sexual assault, too.
- Unlearn. Unlearn everything you thought was “cool” growing up. Grabbing butts, cat-calling, taking off the condom without permission, etc.
- Check your friends. If you see your friends engaging in such behavior, check them and tell them what they’re doing is wrong. If they’re really your friend, they’ll know you’re speaking to them out of love and respect for the person they may be harassing.
Like Oprah said at the Golden Globes this past Sunday, “What I know for sure is that speaking your truth is the most powerful tool you have.” Speak your truth. Our society wants us to stay silent. That’s how systematic oppression works.
In March, I am hoping to dedicate my blog to those of you who want to share your story. If you want to share your story, complete this google doc link Time’s Up! Share Your Story . Using your name is optional, only if you are comfortable doing so. I would be honored to help give you a platform to share your story right here on this blog. Time’s Up! We will no longer stand for this.
sexual assault hotline is 24/7 –
1-800-656-4673 (via Google).
❤ Queen T