I don’t read the news like I used to but there are some stories that become absolutely unavoidable if you have any interaction with social media. This week is the rape conviction and “sentencing” of Brock Turner. I admit I wanted to put my head in the sand until it had passed, I wanted to know nothing more about it. I knew the basics and even that was just too much for my heart to handle. It’s too damn awful. But it’s not going away because we NEED to talk about it. People have a basic need to understand how such a thing could happen and how it can go essentially unpunished .So this evening I steeled my nerves and I read the victim impact statement that is blowing up the internet.
Damn. Damn damn damn.
I am fighting the urge to stop writing, to pop my head back in the sand. Her statement is so powerful I am swallowed up by it. Lost in her words but my memories. I feel like she is writing to me, because we are sisters, members of an awful sorority with far too many members. Because 19 years ago I was the victim of sexual violence and nothing has ever been the same.
(after I wrote that my computer crashed and I thought “hey maybe that’s a sign for me to shut up” but the truth is it’s only a sign the Windows 8 sucks so here I go)
I have never been silent about what happened to me. I have brought up many times in passing but it’s also not something I have really talked about. It makes people uncomfortable and let’s be honest that is PART of the problem. Sexual violence get to hide in the shadows a shame and stigma because polite people don’t talk about sexual things. Well let me tell you what I have learned in 19 years, rape and sexual assault are NOT sexual things. They are acts of egregious violence that should not be tolerated in any society that thinks of it’s self as civil. My cuts and bruises healed a long long time ago but the impact that act had on my soul, on my psyche that will never go away. The damage that was done to me changed me so fundamentally that in many regards I believe one Meghan ended and a new one came into being. I want to reach out to the Stanford sexual assault victim and tell her that in time she will be better because mostly it’s true, mostly. I am past the endless nights of insomnia, being only able to sleep in day light, the night terrors or having to sleep with a weapon near. I am finished with punishing my body for being vulnerable by withholding food, or putting on layers of fat to protect myself and make myself less desirable. I am through wishing I were dead and trying to move things along with the aid drugs and alcohol. I am utterly and completely finished with needing the intervention of a psych ward to make sure that I am safe. I want to tell her I am alright now because it is mostly true… but I have to be honest, there are days it’s not better. There are days I feel ashamed that I drank so much that night. There are nights I lay awake and wish I hadn’t flirted so much. There are moments of pure terror that catch me totally unaware, at a baseball game, in the supermarket, you see someone who looks “just like him”. Try explaining to your husband sometime why you are hiding in the frozen food section hyperventilating when just moments ago you laughing and planing your weekend.
I have everything I could have ever wanted out of life … except the certainty of safety because now I know that monsters are real. But I am still here, still loud, still proud. And I am never going to stop trying to bring light into the dark places. I am never going to stop being an advocate for myself, for my sisters and my brothers. I am glad I read SSAV’s impact statement, glad that I trudged along with her through my own memories of the emergency room, of buckets of pills, and swabs. Glad I stuck with her through her own telling of the absurd victim blaming questions just so I could get to the end..
“And finally, to girls everywhere, I am with you. On nights when you feel alone, I am with you. When people doubt you or dismiss you, I am with you. I fought everyday for you. So never stop fighting, I believe you. As the author Anne Lamott once wrote, “Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining.” Although I can’t save every boat, I hope that by speaking today, you absorbed a small amount of light, a small knowing that you can’t be silenced, a small satisfaction that justice was served, a small assurance that we are getting somewhere, and a big, big knowing that you are important, unquestionably, you are untouchable, you are beautiful, you are to be valued, respected, undeniably, every minute of every day, you are powerful and nobody can take that away from you. To girls everywhere, I am with you. Thank you.”
I am here. I am not going anywhere if you need me… my heart is always open and my hands are always ready for holding.