I knew before my sister told me that my teenage niece had been sexually assaulted. It was a lot of little things, along with a big dose of recognition. My sister told me she’d found out after seeing her daughter’s post on Instagram: #metoo
I don’t know if I was too busy, or not interested in Hollywood drama, or just under a rock – but I missed the whole #metoo campaign that resurfaced last October. It started years ago, then started again when actresses spoke out about having been sexually abused by the same man. Thousands of women all over the world responded, replied, posted – #metoo. My niece was one of them.
And as my sister told me everything she was dealing with as a mother – shock, horror, rage, trying to understand, trying to know what to do for her child – I listened and hugged. We cried. Then, for the first time, I told her what happened to me, what helped and what didn’t, and that when or if it would make a difference, she could tell my niece in case she wanted to talk to someone who’d been through it.
I was a teenager too when it happened. I didn’t tell anyone for years. There’s been a lot of work and a lot of healing since then – and thankfully, I don’t think about it a lot now. But as I sat there with my sister, I remembered that there’s power in telling the story. In not hiding or keeping it a secret that no one should know because they’ll think of you differently.
I wish with everything in me I could reach out to my niece and be there for her. I wish I’d seen her post and could just hashtag back. But I didn’t – and she’s not ready for everyone to know. I get it. She’s talking to her mom, she’s seeing a counselor, and she’s starting to heal. That’s what’s important.
So for now, this is my way of saying what I wish I could. For my niece, and for anyone else who’s there or has been there. Who we are is not what happened. It’s not our fault, and there is nothing to be ashamed of. I promise it won’t always be the first thing you think of when someone touches you. There are great people and places that really help. It does get better.
And most of all – you are not alone.
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Cozy Sweater ~ BUENO ~ now at FaMESHed
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Greer Bento Mesh Head ~ LeLutka
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