What I Didn't Expect My Friend to Say When I Told Her About My Sexual Assault
My friend and I are sitting in the front seat of my Jeep in the parking lot of Mariano’s, sipping on some bubble tea. We happen to get on the subject of my mental health and I share with her that I was recently diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Then the question that I fear most follows: “Why? What happened?” And because I love her, I tell her.
When I was 17 years old, in my senior year of high school, I was raped/sexually assaulted (still debating on what to properly label it). It was by a friend; a friend who I trusted and loved.
She asked me what he did to me, and my heart picks up its pace. Again, because I love her, I tell her. I struggle, but I tell her. She listens intently, shaking her head in disgust when warranted and nodding with a sympathetic gaze when needed. Once I finish, she says something I didn’t expect. “Something like that actually happened to me too.”
She is brave enough to tell me her story. She shares with me as we pick up ingredients to make muddy buddies, walking through the grocery store aisles, almost as if we’re talking about what we did over the weekend. Of course, my heart is hurting for her. Why didn’t she tell me when it happened? Where was I? Why wasn’t I there for her when she needed me? Why hadn’t anyone stopped him? So many things are running through my mind that I don’t get to say, and we leave the grocery store a little bit closer than we were before we entered, chocolate chips and peanut butter in hand.
But my friend is not the only one who’s said “me too.”
The girl in my psych class, she said “me too.”
My Women and Creativity teacher, she said “me too.”
Several of my fellow Vagina Monologues actresses, they said “me too.”
My best friend, she said “me too.”
My co-worker that I trained, she said “me too.”
Before I was raped/sexually assaulted, I was so oblivious to how much of a problem violence against women was. Did I know that rape and sexual assault was wrong? Of course. Did I despise men and women who committed these heinous acts? You bet I did. But despite all of that, it seemed like such a distant problem. It was like a war that was being fought overseas; out of sight, out of mind.
But now that I’m a victim, I can’t help but look. I can’t ignore it anymore. I look into the eyes of the woman in the grocery store with my friend and I, struggling to hold her squirming 2-year-old. Would she say “me too?” What about the 70-year-old woman slowly making her way down the cereal aisle, selecting a box of Frosted Flakes. Would she say “me too?” What about my beautiful teenage cousins, my beloved best friends and my baby sister. Would they say “me too?”
How many people in your life would say “me too?”
How many people in your life do you need to say “me too” until we do something?
If you or a loved one is affected by sexual abuse or assault and need help, call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 to be connected with a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area.
We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.
Getty image via jakubzak