Anonymous Story: Why I Didn’t Report (1)

Living in this current news cycle, you would be hard-pressed to find a woman who does not feel triggered, depressed, frustrated, and/or angry. I would argue that almost every woman on the planet has been sexually assaulted in some way. Sexual assault does not have to be rape – it is a spectrum. From cat calls and anonymous groping at a club to full fledged rape and attempted rape, it is all sexual assault, and we have all been subjected to it at some point in our lives. Every one of these assaults impacts us, even the seemingly smallest ones, as it is a constant reminder that we as women are still not equal. The prevalence of this type of experience among women tells us one thing – men still think it’s ok and we are still thought of as less than. That’s why this moment in the news matters so much. This is our country’s opportunity to say that any type of sexual assault is not ok. It’s the chance to say to men that just because you’re not a rapist doesn’t mean you haven’t assaulted a woman.

Women are human beings, not pets, and men are not allowed to touch us when they feel like it. That’s why we’re all so angry and hurt and upset – we have this moment to finally make it clear that our bodies are our own and our desires or lack of desire should matter to men. But it doesn’t seem to be going that way. All signs point to another man getting let off easily. And another generation of men growing up thinking it’s ok to do whatever they want to women.
A big question during this news cycle is “why didn’t she report it?”. And as more and more women build up the courage to tell their previously unreported stories, they are met with the same question. The answer is in the news right now. You don’t believe us when we report it. You put it on us to prove that the assault happened. You question our own memories. Why would we report something when it’s becoming ever increasingly clear that our own government does not care?

Living in America over the last days and weeks, watching this story play out at the national level has triggered me in a way I did not expect. It’s why I’m writing this now. Because I didn’t report what happened to me. I barely told anyone. And now, it’s all I can think about, and the only way to take my mind back from those memories is to tell my story, and to explain why I didn’t report. And yes, I tell it anonymously, because I am still afraid and I believe I will always be afraid, until our society and government changes. Like Dr. Ford, my memories of the evening I was assaulted are not perfectly clear. Yes, I was drinking…a lot. But that shouldn’t matter. Our brains also tend to do this thing where they shield us from memories that cause us pain. It’s why women can never truly recall the pain of child birth. It’s why I’ve forgotten huge chunks of my own childhood, when my father would have outbursts of anger and yelling. Our brains protect us. So some memories are fuzzy, but some are tragically seared into our minds, despite our attempts to bury them.

It was about a year and a half ago, in May 2017. I can’t recall the exact date, because my mind is not a calendar. But luckily for me, I have social media, so I can look back and pinpoint the date to May 12, 2017. I went out drinking with a couple of male friends. It’s important now to mention that I was 32 at the time, so I’m fully allowed to go out and drink some beers without judgment. And my alcohol intake should not have anything to do with whether or not I “should” have been assaulted. I think that’s very important to remember, as a lot of women are under the influence when these things happen. That does not place fault on them or on me. It means we are vulnerable, and men take advantage of that vulnerability.

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