Following the news surrounding Harvey Weinstein, a movement to shed light on the frequency of sexual assault and sexual harassment developed on the internet. The news was followed by a movement of women who had either been sexually harassed or assaulted posting “#MeToo” in their status. Alyssa Milano, an actress, started the movement a few years ago by asking women to post the hashtag in their status to show the magnitude of sexual violence.
I saw that many friends posted #MeToo as their status. In fact, it was so many that it made me seriously concerned for humanity. The comments on their statuses were filled with loving, supportive comments, which restored my faith in humanity. I have had a number of #MeToos throughout my life, and one of them was particularly traumatic. So, for a moment I thought about putting MeToo in my status. I stopped myself just as I was about to hit the “post” button. I was afraid about what other people would think. Would they view me differently? Would they wonder what happened? Would they feel sorry for me and view me as a victim? Worse, would they believe me?
I have told very few friends and family what happened. Partially because it is hard to talk about, but mostly because I do not want anyone to see me differently. Whenever I tell someone, I am worried they will not believe me, or that they will think I am exaggerating. I had too much drink the night it happened, I invited him into my apartment, I knew my attacker, I was wearing a provocative outfit- these are all factors that discount a victim’s story. We can do better as a society. We need to teach boys not to rape; a girl can wear whatever she wants and drink as much as she likes. It is not her job to make sure that she is not tempting other men the same way it is not a homeowner’s job to make sure their house is not tempting a burglar. We need to take victims seriously when they come forward; dozens of women had to come forward about Weinstein before they were taken seriously. Only one person should have to come forward for the allegation to be taken seriously.
The day that I was brave enough to go to the hospital and complete a rape kit for my experience I was told I would owe thousands of dollars for the four hours I spent being handed medication, swabbed and photographed. It cost me $382 just to step into the hospital. I am blessed to be on my parents’ insurance, which covered almost all expenses, and they paid for the remaining balance. It is not like that for everyone though. Some women are required to spend years paying for the medical bills related to the attack after their assault. They are faced with a harsh question: do I seek treatment for my assault or do I pray that he did not give me an STD? The experience is traumatic enough itself, not person should have to spend a cent for care after they have been sexually assaulted. If your house is broken into and you call the police, they do not bill you their services. If we fix one thing and only one thing, it is that treatment for sexual assault victims should be free.
We have come a long way as a society, but we still have a ton of work to do. It is up to us to ensure that we raise a generation of men that do not rape, and it is up to us to take care for the people that this happens to. My hope is that someday I will live in a world where I can easily say #MeToo without worrying about society thinks.