Over the years, this blog has transformed into many different things. First it was a log of my workouts, with the occasional ramble. Then it was the diary of my journey through some tough life events. Then it was a diary about surviving nursing school. But it’s always been a place where I felt like my voice would be heard, no matter who the audience.
About 9 months ago I vowed never to be truly vocal about the negative things in my life ever again. Because, where you place your attention is where you place your energy! (if you don’t believe that, check out Dr Joe’s website). So, I stopped putting my energy on all that shit because I was tired of it consuming me. And it helped tremendously.
There’s been a lot of talk in the news lately about rape culture, especially that of Hollywood. With Harvey Weinstein in the news lately, and celebrities such as Rose McGowan being (extremely) vocal, I’ve been antsy lately. Agitated. Feeling like there’s something inside of me that wants to come out.
The truth is, no one is ever comfortable talking about sexual assault. No matter how much education, whether that be in the form of a documentary, or the dreaded sexual assault awareness month (dreaded due to the fact that awareness is only brought to sexual assault during a month, and then everyone forgets about it … but that’s a side note). It’s the elephant in the room, the uncomfortable look someone gives you if you are open about it.
Being a survivor of sexual assault doesn’t come with the same heroic feel as that of other diseases. “I had cancer, and I BEAT IT!” Or, “I had at this accident and I overcame it” are comfortable statements for people to deal with. People who hear those statements can easily offer a, “wow, that’s an amazing feat,” or “it’s amazing what your body has overcome.” Yet, if a sexual assault survivor emphasized their heroic battles with that kind of honesty, it would be met with discomfort. If it’s shared, it can be met with, “Why would you share that with someone?” “Why are you being so open?” “Why talk about something so personal for you?” Or, the most dreaded statement of all (and those related to it): “What did you do that lead to it?”
These insidious victim blaming statements keep survivors of rape and sexual assault in the dark. It further clouds those who have gone through it with a cloak of shame that is not theirs to hold. Yet, why does society react to sexual assault in this? Why, instead of the uncomfortable knee jerk reaction, can’t we award survivors who are honest with the same heroism that other cancer/heart disease/physical injury survivors are awarded?
(NOTE: this is not to belittle ANY person who has overcome a medical condition or cancer or a physical injury; they are heroic.)
And yet, people wonder why victims of sexual assault don’t speak up. Don’t go public. Don’t report.
With Harvey Weinstein everywhere on social media, and some very brave women who are publicly taking a stand against them, I’m reminded of my own story that I have worked so hard to overcome.
You see, I get the Hollywood creepiness that lurks behind closed doors. I get that powerful, misogynistic men that sit behind desks and make decisions in the name of ART and MOVIES and TV. I didn’t live in it. But I get it. And now more than ever, that makes me angry.
Because, I was a victim of someone who had a good deal of power, money and fame in the biz. A well respected man in the TV industry, more money than I could ever imagine, someone who lived the life. And the Hollywood misogynistic life.
And, you see, what happened to me is just like all of these women. But I’m the low life, the outsider, the “unstable girl who just wanted attention.” Because, you know, it’s so much easier to label someone any of those things, than to look at the cold hard truth.
I’ve wondered for so long why I’ve still had this desire to scream at the top of my lungs what happened to me (and this is completely discounting the NYPD ordeal, which is public record). I told people. There was a failed investigation. So what was eating inside of me?
And i realized this week — that It was the fact that the people I wanted to listen did nothing.
Read that: they did nothing.
They supported him. They blocked me on facebook. Mariska Hargitay’s organization banned me from speaking to her “because I made them uncomfortable.” Bullshit. They were uncomfortable because someone they knew victimized me and they didn’t want the bad press.
What probably hurt the most was seeing the people I knew that knew him, and me, slowly disappear from my life. I didn’t know these people well, but had interacted with them on numerous occasions. Slowly, steadily, deliberately, they all disappeared. Blocked me on facebook, blocked my number, stopped associating with me. But they all still remained friends with him.
And that’s what makes it so easy. It’s so easy to discount a woman who has been abused as being crazy, unstable. “Oh she just regretted it.” “Oh, she was overreacting.” “Oh that’s just who he is.”
This is rape culture in Hollywood, with men in power (and, arguable, most parts of society). This is the culture that permeates a field where women are placed on a pedestal with men (in TV and film) yet are subservient to them in the most brutal ways. Where women are glamorized for their perfect portrayal of XYZ character in this film/tv show, yet are torn to shreds when they accuse someone of sexual assault or harassment. (this doesn’t just happen in Hollywood; I’m just speaking from my own experience).
The details of what actually happened to me aren’t important to me anymore; it’s the reaction that ensued that still angers me, that makes my heart race, that makes me want to respond to Amber Tamblyn, or Rose McGowan and scream at them “I GET IT, IT HAPPENED TO ME TOO.”
It’s not that people don’t believe me, or you, or Rose. It’s the fact that there is a systemic problem in pop culture today that perpetuates this problem, that protects the rapist far more than the victim. A culture where even a well known celebrity is questioned for every action she took or didn’t take when accusing someone who sexually assaulted her.
I’m angry. It makes me mad that the people I wanted to listen, didn’t. For me, I have a certain inner peace now because I’ve come to understand that closure and peace don’t come from the outside; they come from within. And that is a blessing, because I don’t let it rule my life anymore.
But I still get angry. Because it’s still a problem. Things haven’t changed.
People are talking. Women are coming forward about their abuse in Hollywood and the culture that protects and perpetuates the harassment and abuse in the industry. And I’’m so glad that people are talking.
But there’s still this feeling deep down, that is aching to be heard, aching to scream at the top of my lungs -
Listen to me. I get it. It happened to me too. And I matter too.
Maybe some day the right people will listen.