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Updating in Progress

by Hannah Stanton 12 months ago in body

My #MeToo Story

Updating in Progress
Photo by Gabriel Brito on Unsplash

The date is September 18, 2013. I am 18 years old. I am in the middle of my first semester of college. I am unaware that someone might want to take advantage of me. I am naïve.

I met Ty in psychology class. On our first day, we ended up sitting next to each other and became class friends. We laughed, shared knowing looks, and talked about our weekend plans etc., but we never hung out outside of the classroom. Not only did we have psychology together, we also had history, but we didn’t have it at the same time. Since we did share two classes and were “friends,” we exchanged numbers. I wish I could say that I wasn’t attracted to him, but I was, and he was attracted to me too, trying on more than one occasion to get me to send him pictures of myself. I always turned him down though because I wasn’t interested in having a relationship with him. I was already talking to someone and not only that, but we didn’t have anything in common. He didn’t seem put off or upset when I turned him down though, and, honestly, I never once had any inkling that something was amiss. I never once felt uncomfortable around him or felt threatened. His advances never seemed intense or made me feel uneasy. I considered him a friend, someone I could trust. He was nice.

The date is September 18, 2013. I am 18 years old. I am in the middle of my first semester of college. I am unaware that someone might want to take advantage of me. I am naïve.

I know it’s cliché for me say, but this day was a day just like any other, the only thing that was different was that I had an extra credit event to go to. This event was for my history class that I shared with Ty, so the night before, we made plans to meet up outside of the room where it was being held and attend it together. When we arrived, the room was full of people, mostly history students, and ended up having to sit in the back of the room, up against the wall. The extra credit assignment was not just simply attending the event, but also doing a write-up on it, so I pulled out my notebook and pen, ready to take notes, never suspecting what was about to happen. Never suspecting I was about to be sexually assaulted.

The date is September 18, 2013. I am 18 years old. I am in the middle of my first semester of college. I am unaware that someone might want to take advantage of me. I am naïve.

I don’t remember how long into the event it was before Ty started his advances, and honestly, I don’t remember everything that happened. What I do remember is Ty placing his hand on my upper thigh. What I do remember is me thinking that he was just being silly and laughing as I pushed his hand away. What I do remember is him immediately putting it back and tightening his hold on me. What I do remember is me trying to process what was going on; confused, shocked, scared, unsure of what to do. What I do remember is him sliding his hand up my thigh, heading towards my…. and me finally coming back to reality and hitting his hand away and saying “no!” What I do remember is moving away from him. What I do remember is him following. What I do remember is him trying again and again. What I do remember is the guy who I basically ended up sitting on because Ty continued his pursuit. What I do remember is that guy not helping. What I do remember is the event finally ending and leaving. What I do remember is the text I got from him afterwards that said: “you didn’t say goodbye” and “you left without giving me a kiss.” What I do remember is not being able to fully understand what had happened.

The date is December 9, 2020. I am 25 years old. I am now a college graduate. I am no longer naïve.

It’s been a little over 7 years now and I can still feel him. I can still feel him, but I still cannot explain how it makes me feel, and if I can’t do that, how am I supposed to heal completely? After it happened, my brain decided that I could not handle the trauma and did its best to make me forget, but it could not make the memory go away entirely. I ended up with a lot of anxiety and panic attacks, but not understanding why they were happening. Not understanding why a single touch from a guy could make my heart race and make me feel like I needed to escape, even my own brothers and dad. Even my own grandpa. But now that I remember, I wonder which is worse, to have those responses and be in the dark, or have those responses and understand everything. Because everyday is a process. Everyday my emotions update themselves, refresh, I can’t get a handle on them. Some days it’s like it never happened, other days I can’t get it out of my head. Sometimes I am okay to talk about it, other times I can’t say the words without sobbing. Some days I am sure that it was his fault, other days I feel like I am to blame. It’s a process, and sometimes I wonder if I am doing it right. Wonder if there is a right way to cope with the trauma of sexual assault, a set list, and if there is, how sad it is that one even exists. For me, I write. I share my experiences, my thoughts, through poems and songs, and sometimes I will talk about them. I do not like to talk about them one-on-one, I prefer to share in groups. I practice self-care. I do not share if I do not feel like it. I let myself cry. I leave a room when I feel uncomfortable. I no longer feel weak when I have a panic attack but remind myself that I am having one because I endured a trauma and survived. But that leads to guilt.

The date is December 9, 2020. I am 25 years old. I am now a college graduate. I am no longer naïve.

I know that everyone’s trauma and story is different and not greater or less than someone else’s, but sometimes I feel guilty for feeling like I experienced a huge tragedy when other’s have had it so much worse. Sometimes I wonder if I should even be feeling upset at all, if my feelings are even valid, if they have merit. Like someone once said to me, after I told them what happened: “so, basically, a guy touched you and you’re freaking out about it?” But, how do I explain how it felt to lose control/power over my body, the confusion and fear, to someone who has not experienced it themselves? How do I explain how it felt to have my “no’s” ignored and my body turned into a playground, when it was private property? How do I explain the tightness of his grip and the look in his eyes and the feeling that my body was no longer MY body, but his? How do I explain how it felt to have to see him, the person who trespassed on my body, for months after because we shared a class? How do I explain what it’s like to have a panic attack or what it’s like to have a panic attack while in my boyfriend’s arms and cry as I relive it? How do I explain anything to anybody when I can’t explain it to myself? The only thing I know for sure is that those feelings are there, but I cannot fit them in my mouth, they are too intricate, too big, too strong, too complicated for me to spit out. All I know is that they exist and each day I am updated, each day new versions of me are launched, each day I think about shutting down, each day I refuse to shut myself off. Because, no matter how small, I have a story to tell. Enough is Enough.

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Hannah Stanton

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