I was a senior in high school. I kept my mouth shut because I thought you’d all take his side. It was the most terrifying night of my life. #MeToo.
I typed that into my Facebook status last week, gave it a once over, and quickly deleted it. I stared at the status box. What’s On Your Mind? So I tried again:
He told me I could have his bed. He said he’d find somewhere else to sleep. But then he was beside me wearing nothing but boxers. #MeToo.
I deleted that, too.
For every woman brave enough to post her story of sexual harassment on social media, there are more, just like me, who aren’t yet ready to tell our loved ones what happened, and who still opt for an anonymous byline. But that doesn’t mean our experiences hold any less weight.
Nearly a decade ago, I was raped at the home of a friend of a friend. We were at a party. Everyone was passed out and I was falling asleep in a stranger’s bedroom. Then he showed up. “I had nowhere else to go,” he whispered, as he climbed into bed with me and forced his tongue in my mouth. I rolled away, pretending to be asleep. Then I felt his hot breath in my ear: “Can I go down on you?” I turned over to face him. “Absolutely not,” I said firmly. I closed my eyes, moved away and drifted off to sleep — for real this time. At least, for a while.
I wish I could say it all happened so fast, but he was slow and methodical, as he pulled off my jeans and pushed my legs apart. “Please stop,” I said and tried to to wriggle out from under him. Realizing I wasn’t strong enough, I bargained: “At least not so hard?” On some level I was afraid to make a scene. I didn’t scream, I didn’t kick him in the balls. He sidled up my body until I felt a sharp and sudden pain as he entered me. I panicked. I managed to pull myself up, reach down and wedge my hand between our bodies, forcing him out of me. He looked startled, hurt even.
He reached and fumbled at my zipper, I grabbed his hand. And then he did it again, and again, and suddenly I couldn’t push his hand off as quickly as it came for me. In an instant, I was on my back again, his legs on either side of my body, and I flailed under the weight of his body, taking swings at chest, at his face — whatever I could reach. He grabbed my wrists and pinned them down hard into my stomach. He tugged at my jeans just enough to shove his fingers inside of me with so much force, I swore I would need stitches. I begged him to stop. I thought for a moment, this is how I’m going to die, and I gave up fighting him off.
Eventually, he got bored, as I lay there defeated. He pulled his hand out of me and told me to leave. I walked delicately downstairs and sat in an armchair, surrounded by college-aged boys sprawled out and asleep in the living room, waiting for the sun to come up.
You don’t ever fully recover from a night like that, but I’d like to think I’ve gotten pretty close. I’m almost 30 years old. I have a career. I’ve traveled the world. I’m in a healthy marriage with a wonderful man. Generally speaking, I have my shit together. But then someone like Harvey Weinstein shows up and I revert right back to that scared, insecure 17-year-old girl waiting in the armchair.
Over the past two weeks, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking. I’ve read every single #MeToo post on my newsfeed. I’ve been proud of women who are courageous enough to share their stories, but I’ve also felt pressure to be a part of this movement, to not feel ashamed or embarrassed. I want my story to count, even if I’m too afraid to put my name on it. I didn’t have a choice then, but I have one now. I can choose who I tell and how much I share, and it’s my choice not to say #MeToo — for now.