This two words started to show up on my Facebook feed. Right away I knew. Knew it was something that makes my heart hurt. As I saw more and more words on my friends and colleague’s walls, I hurt. For them. For the pain they endured. For the years of being embarrassed into silence. For believing it was their fault.
My first thoughts was I am lucky. I have never had to endure sexual assault or harassment. Then I started to think back. Of those times where I made sure I didn’t wear anything too revealing. Of those times where a hand grazed my butt or breast when I didn’t want it to. Of those times I heard jokes and crude words but didn’t have the courage to say anything. Of those times I walked past a group of men and heard the whistles and calls.
But I have just expected it. These instances are just part of being a woman. I have to cover myself and behave in a certain way so men will not be act this way. At 34, I now speak up when I don’t think that joke, meme, word is appropriate. I can speak up for me and others. Yet, I still ignore the whistles or calls. Keeping my eyes adverted. Pretending I didn’t hear.
I was drugged. Twice. Once in college. Once this past summer at the College World Series. Both times I was drinking. Both times I was with friends. Both times nothing happened to me. When it happened in college, I never told anyone. A select few friends. I was embarrassed. And completely freaked out. I somehow drove home that night with no recollection of it. I could have killed someone. I have no idea how I was functioning enough to drive. I was ashamed. I was damn lucky nothing happened. I woke up in my bed, fully clothed, alone.
This past summer at 34 years old it happened again. A friend and I went to the festivities at the CWS. Yes, I was drinking. Yes, I may have had more than I planned on. Yes, I was drunk. But my friend and I were Ubering home. We were watching out for each other. I may have handed my drink to someone to hold so I could go to the bathroom. I didn’t see the bartender open my beer.
I woke up in my friends guest bed and didn’t know where I was or how I got there. There is a point in the night that everything is black. I don’t remember leaving. I don’t remember the car ride home. I don’t remember eating a sandwich with my friend. She remembers. We drank the same amount. In my many years of drinking, this blackness had happened only one other time.
I knew I was drugged. And I was embarrassed. I was ashamed. I let this happen again. I know better. I shouldn’t have drank so much. I should have been more careful. I placed the blame on myself. I put myself in this situation. I was drinking. I drank too much. Not once did I think about the person who drugged me. It was my fault.
It was my fault someone drugged me. It was my fault I put myself in that situation. It was my fault I was drinking and being stupid.
This is wrong. In so many ways. First, that someone did this to me. Second, that I placed the blame and shame on myself rather than the person who did this. How many others has this happened too? Who believe it is their fault for the abuse and harassment they have endured? Who live with the shame and embarrassed of another person’s actions on them?
Too many. In too many ways.
This is the world we live in. I don’t believe this movement will change much. Sexual assault and harassment will always be present in this world. But I do believe that these two words will make a change to women. Maybe it will give them courage to write those little words. Maybe it will make them feel less alone. Maybe it will give them the strength to work on healing. Maybe by saying Me Too, they shed the false blame on themselves and finally put it where it belongs. Not on us.
I was drugged twice. This is not my fault. There is nothing to be ashamed of.
By saying Me Too, I stand with you. I am with you. Let’s be the voice of change. Let’s come together in love, healing, and bravery. For when we come together and support one another, we set off a spark. A spark of unity and hope towards change. By saying Me too, men can also stand up and say this is wrong. They can join in and be a voice of change too. I am no longer alone. I am working on placing the shame where it belongs. Not on me.