Please share your story: : I remember when I was in high school I was dating a guy and we went back to his friend's house. He kept trying to nudge me and hug me into a dark bedroom. I said no, and tried to push him off me. He kept saying come on and still was trying to get me in that room. I finally had to push him firmly off me, and sternly tell him to stop, in order for him to get the picture. His response was, why am I making such a big deal and to chill out.
Another time, I had just moved to Chicago. I was walking home after work and it was just getting dark. I was about to walk past a guy, so in my friendly mid-west nature I said hello to him and nodded. He said hello as well and as he walked by he grabbed my ass, and this was no accident. My outspoken instinct kicked in and I turned around and yelled at him to never fucking do that to another woman again. He was startled at my response, but in return yelled back and called me a bitch.
How has your story shaped who you are today?:
It's a double edged sword. In one way it makes me aware and see the need to stand up for people that are being discriminated against. As humans we can become so focused on not wanting to get involved that no one wants to make the first move with standing up. Also, the importance of someone's story and voice. We all have things we struggle with and experience. I believe one of the most powerful things in humanity is being able to relate and connect, it makes you feel not alone. Then in another way it causes me not to be my true self. It's hard to not hang on to things that happen to us and not be jaded by our experiences. I feel like I am always having to be aware of my surroundings and doing whatever I can to not be put back into a similar experience. It's hard, but fear robs you of your true self, and learning to move forward and not carry these burdens is a day to day process.
What encouraging words would you give to someone who shares a similar story?:
Believe in yourself and stand your ground on who you are. Life isn't fair and it never will be but that doesn't change the fact that you are valuable. Sometimes you are gonna be the only one going against the norms of society but just hold on to your true self. Find someone you can open up to and confide in with things that happen, no one should go through it alone. I firmly believe in the power of counseling and the healing that comes in that, so don't ever be ashamed to share your story.