First off let me say to all the amazing men out there I know you exist. I know how great you are. I am more thankful for you than I am able to express. Thank you for standing up and speaking out when you see women being mistreated. Thank you for being one of the good guys. I love you for it. I want to reassure you, #YesAllWomen is not about you guys. What it is about is telling our stories. About knowing we are not alone. It is about not being ashamed because these stories are not our fault by bringing them out of the dark and saying yes these things happen. All the time. Sad to say, we have gotten used to it. We expect it. That makes me sad and angry.
Flashback…a few days ago I wrote a post called Sexual Assault and Me. At the time I asked for other women to come forward and tell their stories. I wanted people to know that this goes on way more than most people realize. I wanted women to know they were not alone and I wanted the men who aren’t at all like that to know what the vast majority if not ALL women go through. Little did I know what was about to go down in Isla Vista, CA or on Twitter in the form of #YesAllWomen. Following you will find the stories some of my readers sent in to me after my initial post. I have listed them as they requested. If they wanted to be anonymous I changed their names. All stories are used with their express permission.
NOTE: Usually I allow all comments to remain on my posts. On this post however I will not tolerate or publish anything that attempts to harass these women in any way shape or fashion.
Sara from Florida – age 25, single, college student, 4.0 GPA, health unit coordinator
I’m going to write my story. I’m unsure at this moment how vague or detailed this may get, I’m just going to spill on this keyboard.
I was 8. My grandpa left his computer room to take a shower. I asked grandma if I could go play games. I type http://www.msn… And before I could even get to “s” I see, “www.momsthatfuck.com” and, “www.milfshardcore.com.”
I was 9. My parents were divorced. My mom was dating a man. He called me butch and laughed because I liked to play sports and play outside with my friends, who were mostly boys.
I was 17. A kid in my section of band “pantsed” me and called me hot, and said, “We should do it.”
I was 17. My mom’s ex drank too much like he did every night. He made fun of the adolescent zit on my face and called me a lesbian. My mom stepped in to try to make him stop and he hit her. I hit him right back and he knocked me onto the ground and kept hitting me. Then he went back to my mom as she was crawling out and kicked and hit her. We finally got out into the garage.
I was 18. I just started college. I started wearing my hair down all the time and wearing mascara – I think that’s when boys started noticing me – because before I didn’t, and I only had one real boyfriend before that. He got me alone in my dorm one night and forcefully fingered me for a brief couple seconds as I cried and pushed him off. He stopped and said, “Gosh, don’t be a prude. This isn’t going to work,” and stopped talking to me.
I was 19 and attending Bible college. I was walking into a convenience store, and I heard, “Damn! Look at that ass. Lemme go yo number, girl, hook a brotha up!” My reply, “Sir. I’m about to pay for gas in my own car – where is yours, and no, I will never give my number to someone who won’t respect me. Mind your own business or find it elsewhere.”
I was 20. I went to a place called Cowboys to two-step with my best friend. A guy grabbed my chest while we were dancing. Same night, a guy pushed me into a corner and attempted to kiss me. I slapped him.
I was 20. A youth pastor of mine who was now a pastor of a church and married with a kid became really close to me and my best friend. Long story short, he got weird, lied to me that him and his wife were divorcing, and came onto me; twice. He was my best guy friend, spiritual leader, and father figure. All that was shattered. We no longer speak.
I was 21. I took a trip with my best friend to Tennessee. We went out on the town and drank a bit, as most girls our age do at 21. We met cute, nice guys we spent the evening with. Long story short – we were given the date rape drug, Rohypnol. My best friend ended up passed out in her own vomit, and I was raped by two guys. One outside a car on concrete of a construction site they were working at, and the other in the same bed as my best friend.
I am 25. I’m now dating a girl, that I’m 1,000,000% sure I’ll be with the rest of my life. A creepy man that sees me every Friday and sweet talks me comes up and asks finally, “So, you have a boyfriend?” I told him I’m dating a girl and his reply was, “WHY?! A damn, fine girl like you? For what?” “Let me be your man. Let me be your man for a dinner, and you be my girl for a dinner, I’m different than those other guys.” ….Clearly you’re not if you’re asking me to cheat on my girlfriend.
There ya go. That’s not even the full of it. Just the “big stuff.” This doesn’t include all the times I’ve been shouted at, stared at, honked at, or treated like I was some piece of meat that once you eat you’re done with. I’m not saying I’ve been perfect, but you can maybe see how this skews with the way a girl thinks.
Anna from Texas – Married mother of two, Compliance Assistant, age 26
I keep struggling with hitting send. With being open. I’ve only told three people I actually know. My husband and two of my closest friends. And now you will make four. But I keep being drawn back to your post, and I know that I have to contribute because what you have to say will be important. Maybe it will give someone hope or a voice…So if you were looking for more depth than this, I can certainly try. But please keep me anonymous. I know I’m not supposed to be ashamed, but…I am.
When I was sixteen (nearing my 17th birthday), my boyfriend raped me. Nobody ever told me your boyfriend could do that. I was so confused (and I think also in shock) that I stayed with him, thinking I could hold onto my ‘purity’. I don’t exactly know what you’d call what he did to me for the rest of that relationship – there were other times that he assaulted me, but there were also times where I just did whatever he wanted because then he wasn’t hurting me, I could at least pretend I actually wanted it. During that relationship, I started drinking, and spent a lot of time with him and his (‘our’) friends. I was drugged at a party and made to do sexual things with the friend of one of ‘our’ friends. I also woke up once to find my ex’s best friend kissing me with his hand in my pants. I wasn’t safe anywhere in those days. Then, and in the years that have followed, I have also been on the receiving end of many comments, proposals, and unwanted touching/groping. Waiting on dirty old men and them commenting on how they hope I give better head than the beer they got. The guy in the chuck-e-cheese costume grabbing my ass at my ex’s niece’s birthday party. A man walking up to me at a club and just grabbing my breasts saying “better protect your assets, baby.” A bouncer at a club putting his arm around my waist and “wishing I wasn’t happily married so I’d let him F— me.” So many more… Why? I’m told I did nothing wrong, but now I question everything. My instincts, my judgment, where I go because who might be there,,,especially having multiple experiences. It makes me feel responsible to some extent, I guess.
Priscilla from Hyderabad, India – age 32, married to an equally amazing man
Hey, just wanted to share mine & my family experiences of sexual abuse to help your post. My mom was a single parent so we all were obviously more prone to abuse without a man in the house, including herself. The only proper man in house when my dad left was my wee brother . We are 4 sisters and we faced almost everything you had mentioned in your question, started as young as 8 yrs. My mom faced sexual advances from our rented flat owner to men in our colony. Random men used to flash their private parts at us and also men we knew at shops to which we would go regularly. While taking walks young boys would just whack us on our private parts and ran away, celebrated as it was some achievement. Men we knew from church used to come home in the name of God and touch us inappropriately. I hope this was of help, sorry if it was too much but it is the truth. Thanks for asking I feel lighter.
Amber – I am 28 years old. I work part time as a payroll administrator. Most of the time, I am home with my 3 year old daughter Sadie. I have been married for 4 years. I graduated from Ferris State University, where I met my husband, David. I live in Holland, Michigan.
Hi, I read your post about sexual abuse. Thanks for sharing and I hope you are doing well today. It’s such a tough subject. I would like to share some of my unwanted advances. Most came from family. Some worst then others, like incest at a young age. I hope you don’t mind me sharing. It helps me when I write about it.
First memory was being about 8 and having my uncle rub the front of my pants (crotch area) while we watched a movie. He had a blanket over us. I just thought, whatever.
Same uncle, smacked me on the butt for several years. At least till age 13. He did it whenever I walked by him.
My older brother who was in college at the time touched me inside my pants a few times. He told me once that he was checking for hair. What difference did that make I don’t want to know. I was about 11 years old. He also asked if I would have sex with him when I was a teenager.
My 14 year old cousin showed me his penis when I was 9.
My best friend’s dad called me “beautiful” instead of Amber throughout my teen years. I didn’t feel comfortable about it at all.
Throughout high school, students grabbed me.
As a waitress, many times I had customers write things about my looks on receipts. I hated it too.
I was basically hired out of college because my new boss said I would “turn heads.” He offered me a raise a few weeks in if I slept with him. The man had a wife and 3 kids. I quit that same day.
I walked past a car a few weeks ago that had a man masturbating in it. It was an obvious set up for me to see him.
Now the real bad stuff.
I was chased by an older man once while I rode my bike. I was 12 years old I think. He screamed at me to stop. At one point, I was only about 5 feet ahead of him. Nobody else was around. It terrified me so much. I thought I was going to die if he caught me.
My father, who was a Reformed minister, use to pull me into his bed sometimes when I was young (about 7 or 8) and spoon with me. He was naked, I was happy to get attention from him at that age.
When I was 11, my family took a vacation to a lake that was only about 2 hours from our house. One Friday night my father asked if any one of us kids would go home with him that night so he could study Saturday morning. I volunteered because everyone was coming home anyways Saturday and heading back out Monday. On the way home we stopped for ice cream. He pulled into an empty parking lot so we could eat the ice cream. I was wearing shorts and dad was stroking my leg. Once we got home, I headed off to bed but my father stopped me and offered to rub my back in his bed. So I jumped in his bed and was given a back rub as promised. But it was a trap. I remember being 8 years old and not being able to get out of my father’s bed. Now I was 11, nobody else home. His hands began to wonder and my clothes were “getting in the way.” I was fondled and given oral sex, at just 11 years old by the man I should be able to trust more than any.
Thanks for listening.
Mandy – book nerd, lover of music, age 36 from Texas
Wow, you got me to thinking. I myself was molested at the age of 5 or 6 by a cousin, and nothing was done. Because “we” didn’t want to upset the family. I still struggle with this. I have forgiven my cousin, but struggle forgiving my mother for not wanting to do anything.
When I was in 7th grade my teacher (a man) loved to go around touching the girls. Anytime I would tell him to stop, he would laugh it off or threaten me with going to the principal. I went to a Christian school, during this time, and even the principal (a preacher) thought it was ok to touch us and make comments about us. He would line the girls up both in junior high and high school against a wall, and encourage the boys to “rate” us. He encouraged them to make comments about our butts and breasts. He constantly told us our parents were wasting money on our education, because we were girls. He even would comment on the bodies and berate the female teachers. These women were members of his church. He taught the boys it was ok to do as they pleased to girls, and he would tell us girls we were less than the boys. I endured 2 years of boys touching my breasts and butt, and also thinking it was ok to stick their hands up my skirt. I got in the habit of wearing shorts under my skirt. (we had to wear uniforms) I went to this school for my 7th and 8th grade years, after that I begged my parents to home school me. I never thought of telling my parents everything that went on, because I knew they wouldn’t believe me. After all he was a preacher. Several years later this man was arrested for having sex with some of the high school girls. When it made the news I decided to tell my parents everything that happened. They were shocked and also admitted they would have had a hard time believing me before he made the news.
When I was in my mid 20s the church I attended had a youth director that would constantly come up and touch me. In church. He would come up and grab my hair and start smelling it. Or he would grab my hair and rub his face in it. This would happen in church but he was a man of God, so it was ok. When I would say something to him, he would laugh it off and say I was overreacting. If I was sitting down, he would come over and sit in my lap. I wasn’t the only woman he was doing this to, but he was a man of God, so we (the other young woman and me) were being told that we were being a hindrance to him. He comes on to us and touches us, and WE were the one being accused of the wrong doing. This is also another case of years later he being caught sleeping with the high school girls.
I had a male friend that thought it was ok to touch himself in front of me. And make comments about my body. When I would say something he would get mad and threaten me. He was also a preacher. I’m also no longer friends with him.
This list could go on and on. Even now I get comments about my body. I’m tall and overweight, and I get mainly men wanting to say stuff about my body. Total strangers. Thinking it is ok to make a comment about me. I have had total strangers tell me to send a nude pic of myself. When I use to write letters and send care packages to the troops, I would have them write back wanting nude pictures or even wanting me to “talk dirty” to them. I wasn’t the only one that happened to. The organization I was part of had that happen to many of the women sending care packages, but it was ok because they were soldiers. I feel that is crap. Thanks for serving our country, but that doesn’t give you the right to be a perv.
For so long, I blamed myself. Or I thought I was being silly being upset. I was overreacting. Even with being threatened with violence I thought I was making him do that to me. It was my fault. I kept trying to make myself act right, so my friend wouldn’t be mad and hit me, or to have a thicker skin, and not be so sensitive. Or that this is the way it is, and I have to deal with it.
I’m now in my 30s and have decided, it wasn’t my fault, I’m not overreacting, and I don’t have to learn to deal with it. This crap has to stop, and from my experience, we as women need to support each other not tear each other down.
I don’t know if this was exactly what you were asking for. I probably sound more like I’m rambling, but when I start talking about this, it brings back a lot of anger. I can’t quite always get my thoughts together.
Shawna from Texas – age 38, single mother of three, accounts payable lead
I’m just going to give a bullet style run down of unwanted advances that I have received over the years:
* Without going into details, I was sexually abused between the ages of 11 and 15.
* My sister’s ex husband (who I thought of as an older brother because he was about 18 or 19 and I was 15) tried kissing me a couple of times and I had to literally push him away from me.
* When I was about 31 my sister’s ex boyfriend drunkenly told me that if he could pick between my sister and I, he would choose me because he was physically attracted to me.
* When I was about 30, I was in a club with my (then) boyfriend, sister and several friends. My ex boyfriend and I used to work with local rappers and they had a gig at a club in Fort Worth. I used to do the photos and graphic art work for the company and artists, so I was walking around taking pictures. A guy and his friend started following me everywhere I went and I just said “no” hoping they would go away. They didn’t and I then held up my finger to show them my engagement ring and again said “no”. One of them cussed at me and started walking toward me in an aggressive manner. They ended up walking off.
* When I was about 20 and at a club with my ex husband, my sister and her ex husband, my sister and I were walking out of the restroom when a guy asked me to dance. I told him no and started to walk off. He grabbed me by my arm and said for me to go with him. I told him I was married and he got in my face and called me a bitch.
There have been many more instances over the years, but these are the ones that stand out the most. If you have questions or want additional information just ask.
These are but a few stories from women I know. I am proud of them for finally giving voice to their stories so that they can leave them behind. May your bravery allow others to do the same. And may their telling help them to stop happening to future generations.
Other related articles:
#YesAllWomen By Phil Plait
An open letter to all my male friends by Estelle Tang
The #YesAllWomen Tweets You Need to Read by Margaret Eby
#YesAllWomen, a Response to California Rampage, Reaches 1 Million Tweets By Sheila Cosgrove Baylis and Kelli Bender
#yesalpeople by Nanette Irvin
#allmencan on twitter