When word spread about the “Me too” campaign, I was glad to hear something was being done to shed awareness on the massive and complex issue of sexual violence. I knew nothing about it five years ago when I first came to college.
But my stomach also churned. Experiencing sexual violence as a young, naive university student broke my heart, along with learning how many other women in our society have experienced it, too.
Seeing my social media timeline flooded with “Me too” posts made me think back to a time when a peculiar, meek-looking criminal defense attorney stood across of me in a courtroom while people laughed at his ridiculous tactics. He attempted to paint me as a stereotypical, dramatic and vengeful young woman who “loved having the spotlight shine brightly on herself.”
He couldn’t be more wrong. All I wanted to do was disappear, like how I didn’t want to think about my experience with sexual violence when seeing all the “Me too” posts. But I chose not to let it go, because if I did, I would be the one who gave up and lost the fight to shed light on sexual violence. That dark fall day almost a year ago, my rapist lost. I’ll never forget seeing him slumped over in his chair in complete defeat. He couldn’t even look at me.
I have worked so hard to reclaim my life over the past year since experiencing sexual violence. I am doing such wonderful, new things that I am so grateful for alongside incredible people who lift me up and bring me so much joy every day. I don’t want to be reminded of the pain I experienced and I don’t want to go back in time to when I felt so hurt. But I will say this:
The only way to end sexual violence is to brightly shine a spotlight on it.
I will never fall silent.