TRIGGER WARNING This article or section, or pages it links to, contains information about sexual assault and/or violence which may be triggering to survivors.
Tonight, I am angry.
I’m actually feeling a whole lot of things but I’m reading the news for the first time in a few days with tears streaming down my cheeks because a 14 year old girl was abused and more people seem to believe that she’s lying than telling the truth.
As I write these words, my whole body is shaking, because that’s what happens to a lot of assault survivors when they hear someone else’s story. Every single time I hear a story about sexual violence, I physically start shaking.
In case you haven’t been paying attention to the news, on October 29th, Kevin Spacey was accused of sexual assault. He has been accused by 14 men, 5 of them minors. Netflix quickly kicked him off of House of Cards. He has been removed from a finished move (All the Money in the World) and all his scenes will be re-shot with Christopher Plummer.
My twitter/instagram/facebook feed was not filled with people saying that those men who accused Spacey were lying. I didn’t see outrage that a show would be cancelled based on allegations before a trial. I didn’t even see a demand for a trial.
I saw what happened when ONE man accused Kevin Spacey of assault. I saw people assume it was a fact.
And now I’m watching as FOUR women are accusing Roy Moore of assault. One of them was 14 and he was 32.
Alabama’s State Auditor said this, “Take the Bible. Zachariah and Elizabeth for instance. Zachariah was extremely old to marry Elizabeth and they became the parents of John the Baptist…Also take Joseph and Mary. Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter. They became parents of Jesus…There’s just nothing immoral or illegal here,” Ziegler concluded. “Maybe just a little bit unusual.” (source)
WHAT? It’s cool that he was 32 and she was 14, because Jesus.
As more and more men and women are speaking up about the men who abused them, these are the responses I’m reading from the same people who believed the men who accused Kevin Spacey:
“This is a witch hunt”
“what happened to innocent until proven guilty?”
“these men will lose their jobs and their career over something a woman says”
“it’s a scary time to be a man right now”
And then those same people ask, “why don’t women speak up?” or “If it’s true…” or “Why do they take 10 years to speak up?”
Why are women overwhelmingly assumed to be guilty of lying while men are assumed to be innocent of assault? How many women benefit from speaking out? How many women are sitting at home, watching the news while crying and shaking because #metoo.
The problem has never been a victim staying silent, the problem is men assaulting women and men.
I tried speaking up.
I was getting sexually harassed by a male student online and in person. He threatened all sorts of horrible things and I was told to be quiet and ignore him by my parents, by the dean, and by my friends.
I told my best male friend about his roommate sending me sexual messages on AOL instant messenger for weeks. He didn’t believe me. The roommate was studying to be a worship leader and I was told, “you must have misinterpreted what you read”.
I told someone about how his friend would grab my ass every time I went into the copy room at work. He said, “he would never do that, he’s in school to be a youth minister”.
I spoke up, I spoke up, I spoke up.
I have so many more stories like this.
Women close to me have so many stories like this.
They spoke up and no one believed them, they were told they were overreacting, that the man was “just kidding”.
People close to them assumed they were lying and that the man was telling the truth.
Why do people believe a man when he accuses another man of assault, but not a woman who accuses a man of assault?
What will it take for people to believe that women are telling the truth?
When will sexual assault be a crime and not “inappropriate behavior” and “locker room talk”?
I’m so tired of this. I’m physically and emotionally exhausted.
To all the women out there, I believe you.