[[WARNING: may contain triggers re: assault]] This is a really, really hard one for me to share
HE SLITHERED HIS ARM AROUND ME.
And said, “See, I can touch you whenever I want” as he groped my breasts while spooning me from behind in bed.
We were already broken up. But he clearly wanted to prove something. Tears streamed down my face.
I couldn’t believe this was happening to me. Julie Negrin! Tough girl! Badass!
I wish I could share the next part of the story by saying I hopped up and screamed at him to get out!
Or, I turned and slapped him across the face and told him I’d never see him again.
But the truth is, I don’t remember what I did next. I keep trying, but I can’t find it.
It's frustrating to see how people *don’t believe* survivors of trauma. And I never thought of this as that traumatic! And I still can’t remember....
To judge, dissect or dismiss any survivor of trauma because they can’t * remember* details - or really for any other reason - indicates a total lack of knowledge about how trauma impacts the mind.
Ask any soldier. They’ll tell ya.
In many ways, this experience broke something in me that none of the other experiences with men did.
Because he was right. Him - and other men - *could* touch me whenever they wanted. That’s the world we live in and I knew it.
We hadn’t been together long. But man, did he use that brief time to say and do a lot of shitty things. It was one of two volatile relationship that I’ve had.
He had a lot of his own issues and preyed on me during a vulnerable time in my life. I didn’t date for awhile after that.
What I wish I could tell Matt Damon is: there is no spectrum for US. What a man, or woman, may decide isn’t a big deal - an ass slap at a party or an unwanted kiss or even having an unwanted hand drag across our back down to the butt “pretending” that they are letting you know they are passing you by (a personal pet peeve)- MAY be a very, very big deal to us.
Even the smallest gesture could trigger us back to an incident in childhood or college. Even the shortest sentence can lodge inside our hearts.
As Kathryn Rossetter, a victim of sexual harassment from Dustin Hoffman, said so eloquently, “he left dirty fingerprints on my soul.”
I had a friend that was physically and emotionally abused by her husband. She told me the emotional abuse was worse. Which I couldn’t understand at the time.
It was only later when another ex slammed me against the wall that I began to understand. Notice I didn’t start with this physical story!
For me, this experience felt way, way worse than the wall slamming and the two times I was nearly raped.
EVERY WOMAN HAS HER OWN PERSONAL HELL. Something that sounds *whatever* to me, may bring someone else to their knees.
It is absolutely bizarre that people - and the INTERNET - like to sit in judgment of *what* is traumatizing to someone and what *should* not be counted. (Or, what *is* racist if they are white - don't get me started.)
That’s the thing about trauma. We’re ALL going to have different things that crush us.
For me, it was the mind-fucks that were the worst.
I know better than anyone how words can be used as weapons.
Is this hard for me to share? Hell yes. It’s humiliating!! Is it hard for me to know that people will know some of the worst moments of my life? Of course!
But is it necessary? Well, for me personally, it’s very cathartic.
And also, I want to support the brave women who have been coming forward.
I may have only a few hundred readers, but every voice adds up to a cacophony that CAN NOT BE IGNORED.
So I speak out. And I will continue to speak out.
A few years later, he called me. I felt my stomach drop when I heard his voice. My face felt hot. I felt fury, and shame.
But then he did something unexpected. He apologized. He told me how sorry he was that he was so awful to me. He told me about his new baby daughter.
Something did heal from that phone call. When he acknowledged the pain HE caused, MY pain was able to crawl out from the dark corners inside of me where it lived - along with other shameful, humiliating secrets. Writing it out loud here, also shines light on it, so it doesn’t feel ugly and twisted inside me anymore.
Instead, it feels like I’m throwing another story on the large fire burning right now. Making the flames cackle, giving others permission to do the same.
It’s interesting how even having what happened to us be ACKNOWLEDGED, let alone get an apology, can shift the story inside of us.
That’s why it was so brilliant that the judge let every single gymnast share their impact statement in Nassar’s trial.
Words can be weapons.
But they can also be healing.
And that’s my hope here. To heal myself. And to provide one more voice to the choir that says “I BELIEVE YOU!! I SUPPORT YOU. I LOVE YOU!”
Story #10w. This is part of a writing project where I challenge myself to write 700-1000 words per day - not in advance - for 30 days using old photos and different writing prompts. This particular set of stories will focus on my experiences as a (white) Gen X woman and experiencing America pre- and post- #metoo movement.
[[I dressed as Le Femme Nikita one Halloween because she was a badass that never let anymore mess with her]]