I Understand Too Well, That “Sinking Feeling”

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**Sexual Abuse Trigger Warning**

 

Unsolicited, Unwelcome, Unnecessary, Uncanny, Undeniable, Indecent, Incomprehensible, Inappropriate And Highly Infuriating…

Just a few of the ‘nicer’ words used to describe all the sexual advances I have received since I was a child. {A.CHILD!}  I am sickened from having to type that out.

When Michelle Obama so passionately spoke out against Trump and his bragging about what he likes to say and do to women, I did not want to understand what she was talking about.  I hated that I was grossly familiar with that “sinking feeling” she described.  The feeling  women get when walking down the street and are subjected to vulgar words and advances. I was saddened and overwhelmed as I realized the enormity of this colossal issue and how the majority of women listening could relate. 

The older I get the more disgusted I feel about what I and many women have endured. 

From a very young age, I instinctively knew that what boys and men were saying and doing to me was wrong.  Children are smarter than we give them credit for, they know.

People were constantly telling my parents that I was pretty.  Some compared me to a young Elizabeth Taylor and told me I got my mother’s beautiful looks.  I heard all of this and although it felt good to hear, I was painfully shy and hated any attention I received.  I wanted to be left alone where no one could stare at me and make me feel uncomfortable.

I matured at an early age and looked much older than I was.  This did not help with my efforts to go unnoticed.  Everywhere I went, eyes were on me. I remember wanting to wear large t-shirts so as to hide my rapidly developing breasts.

The memories of unwanted attention and inappropriate advances go back to when I was a young child.  Memories of advances from housekeepers and adult relatives who visited my home.  Memories of gawks from doctors, shop owners, teachers and more. 

I remember a college friend of my grandfather’s being enamored with me at a family event and making me feel uncomfortable as he complimented me and insisted on dancing with me.  I remember hiding and dodging kisses on the lips from a man as he found ways to be alone with me. I remember a landlord getting down on one knee and telling me he wanted to marry me (I was 9 at the time) and flirting with me any chance he got.  I remember him wanting me to give him a back rub. I remember boys snapping the back of my bra and touching me.  I remember a boy feeling my legs as I got on a school bus.  I remember a boy trying to grab my breasts while swimming in a pool.  

I remember several male teachers staring me down and saying inappropriate things as I passed them in the hallway.  I remember a school counselor cat-calling me.  I remember a bus driver not letting me get off the bus until I smiled.  I remember an armed guard at the airport not letting me pass through to my gate until I smiled and showed him my dimple.  

I remember.  I remember more.  I remember a lot more.

Thankfully, there are a lot of wonderful men in my life.  Men I respect, men who respect me and men who I can trust.  There are also a lot of good, decent men that I don’t know.

 What I do know is that these traumatic experiences I had were real.  These boys/men did those things to me and undoubtedly, other men will continue to make me feel uncomfortable, giving me that sinking feeling many of us women know too well.  

Having said that, I am aware that many men have also been victims of sexual assaults and also understand what it feels like.

I have a lot to say about this topic.  I have a lot to scream about regarding this topic.  I will not stop talking about this topic.  But for now, these are my thoughts:

To My Fellow Women,

I get it.  I am so very sorry for what you have had to endure and vow to advocate tirelessly for the freedom to exist without the fear of sexual assault.  I will forever stand beside you giving you my heart-felt and unconditional support.

To My Beautiful Daughter,

I pray that you are not subjected to any of these types of attacks but sadly,  you most likely have/will.  Whatever situation you may face, please know that I adore you.  Know that you are an amazingly strong woman and that you will never stand alone.

To The Good Men,

I thank you for your decency.  I thank you for being the man your mother, wife, sister, daughter and son is proud of.  I applaud you for showing us what being a real man looks like.  I am grateful that we have you in our lives.

To The Abusive Men,

If you are a victim of abuse, I am so very sorry.  If you feel remorse for your actions and have changed your behavior, thank you.  If you continue to engage in this behavior, shame on you.  Your actions are unequivocally repugnant and you MUST STOP NOW.  I will pray that you find it in you to learn how to be a real man someday; what I will NOT do is accept the world you have created.  A world that deems you entitled to do to women as you please.  You will not win this battle.  We will prevail.  We are strong.  We will stop you.  

Dear Children, I Apologize For The Behavior Of My Fellow Adults

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Dear Children,

I am so very sorry that many of us have let you down.  I am sorry that we disappoint you on a daily basis by engaging in the very behavior we urge you not to engage in.

From a very early age, we adults encourage you to share your toys, say please and thank you, mind your manners, be kind and respectful to others and to never to be a bully. We take you to church, socialize you and expose you to people who are different.  We teach you tolerance and acceptance and hope that you will grow up to be a kind and happy adult.

But in reality, we fail.  We ourselves don’t share.  We are demanding of others, we do not take accountability for our actions, we blame others, we are not kind or respectful to others and we do the bullying.  We model the exact opposite of what we want you to become, and for that, I truly apologize.

I apologize for the times we yell at your coach during your sporting event.  I apologize for giving the finger to a driver that forgot to turn on his signal.  I apologize for saying bad things about your friend Tommy’s mother.  I apologize for calling your teacher stupid.  I apologize for judging our foreign neighbors and the gay waiter at the cafe.  I apologize for encouraging you to always fight to get your way and to question all authority.  I apologize for making you think that you are entitled and owed the things you want.

I am sorry that you saw the mean things we wrote on another person’s Facebook page and for the heartless tweet we retweeted.  I am sorry you witnessed us threaten to sue someone because we didn’t get our way.  I am sorry that we are not the adults we are supposed to be.

I am forever embarrassed and appalled that you have to witness adults engage in insulting rhetoric toward one another.  Everywhere you turn, there is an adult not behaving like an adult should.  An adult with no respect for others and absolutely no civility.

I apologize with all my heart that you have to hear our elected officials, the very people who are supposed to serve us, engage in preposterous rhetoric and behavior.  I am sorry that they have made a mockery of a diplomatic and respectful process our founding fathers worked hard to develop.   I am sorry that even at the highest level, there is bullying.  I am sorry that you are being held to the highest standards at school and punished if you bully someone, yet the adults around you get away with it day after day.

I am truly sorry.

I can only hope that you see how the behavior we are engaging in, does not work.  That the wisdom beyond your years helps you recognize how flawed we are and that in spite of it,  you choose to follow your little kind and growing heart to be the person you are meant to be.  That you let your pudgy little hand reach up to the sky and grab the opportunities that await you.  That your developing eyes see no colors, no borders and no walls.  That your innocent and caring soul knows without a doubt that spreading love and kindness is the ticket to a happy and fulfilling life.

I apologize on behalf of all adults.