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  • Writer's pictureLeah Lair Conner

Who’s With Me?

Valentine’s dinner with my husband is not really where I expected I’d start talking about and processing a recent near sexual assault, but these things happen as they do, and rarely according to any plan or pre-conceived time-table. Some things I was saying to my husband:

“I just can’t believe it happened…I mean, I’m not exactly the demographic for sexual assault.”

“Who looks at ME and wants to try to force something?”

“And I wasn’t wearing anything at all sexy or anything. I was wearing a t-shirt maxi with a jacket and sparkly Docs.”

“I’d had some drinks, but I wasn’t giving off that kind of vibe, I know I wasn’t…”

It was at this point that he stopped me and asked if I was hearing what I was saying. Did I realize that I was trying to figure out a reasonable explanation for what I did wrong, that I was trying to make it about something about ME that was at fault?

Even now, after healing from sexual trauma in the past, as an almost 49-year-old woman, I am still trying to figure out what’s broken about me that makes other people act badly. I am still trying to figure out what’s broken about me that makes other people act badly. I am still trying to figure out what’s broken about me that makes other people act badly.

Why do I do this? Why do so many of us do this?

The truth is, it has nothing to do with age, or looks, or clothing, or alcohol consumption. It has to do with the fact that some people are sick assholes, and they do what they do because of their own sickness. Period.

The problem is, we live in a world where women are taught from the time they’re born that we’re here for male consumption and pleasure. Obviously, I’m speaking in broad generalities, and there are exceptions, but for the most part, my statement holds water. Just think about it. Whenever there’s a news story about sexual assault, the details are ALWAYS about the woman. Had she been drinking? How was she dressed? Was she alone? With girlfriends? Why was she out without her husband/boyfriend/male companion? We are always fed every explicit detail about the victim, while the assailant is typically barely even identified and USUALLY gets less than a slap on the wrist. He gets to keep living his best life until he finds the next one, while she may never recover.

Again…broad generalities. I fully get that awful things happen outside the typical male assailant/female victim scenario. But I’m speaking from my own point of view, and one that’s played out for the masses on the daily.

I wrote a blog awhile back about being drugged and raped while on a work trip in my 20s. I spoke about how I was lucky, in lots of ways, because the drug used erased my memory, but my body kept the score. I have done so much work to recover from that trauma, and while I still consider myself pretty healed (from that), it’s amazing how much comes crashing back in when a trauma that tickled that same line happened to me. Sweet Lord, when will the tide turn? When will we start teaching our sons to be responsible and respectful, instead of teaching our daughters how to be pleasing and accepting? And I’m not trying to say that it’s within all men to be assailants. I am absolutely NOT saying that. THAT is a sickness; an abnormality. But I am saying that we’ve defined sexuality, as a culture, in a very male-dominant way, and changing that definition could go a long way in shifting norms that make women suffer victimization well-beyond their actual attacks.

This most recent event is way too fresh, and I am so lucky for friends that intervened before it got completely out of hand. But it has also lit a passionate fire in me to speak out – largely because I do know that so many suffer in silent shame. And let me tell you, THERE SHOULD BE NO SHAME. Let’s all start talking about things and sharing things and healing through our stories. Let’s turn the tide. It’s way past time. Who’s with me?

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