Sexual harassment and abuse are topics that can be hard to discuss within our society. Many consider these issues taboo, and others may not know how to approach the conversation or help survivor-victims. Survivor-victims may not seek help because of fear, PTSD, lack of support within their communities, and general misunderstanding in their immediate networks. Some are accused of “playing victims” and never get the closure they need from these events. All survivor-victims have a story, but whether or not they choose to reveal their stories is their decision. Most recently, survivors from around the world decided to share their stories through the #MeToo campaign.
#MeToo was originally a movement meant to help young women of color who had survived sexual abuse, assault, and exploitation. Founded by activist Tarana Burke more than a decade ago, the movement was designed to show the world how many survivor-victims have been affected by sexual abuse worldwide. Through a hashtag, this movement took social media by storm for the world to witness.
The point of participating in #MeToo is not about how detailed or “in depth” you are in choosing to share your story. Those who have survived these events don’t owe the public anything. It’s about showing people who may not have a voice that they are not alone. Allies of #MeToo around the world have expressed support for survivor-victims. The hope is to nurture a safe space encouraging the expression of thoughts and feelings. This movement shows the world that we can come together to help provide a protected environment for these survivor-victims.
There is help here on campus. Cogswell College offers a private counseling program that can be arranged with Dean of Students, Brittany Bogle. All sessions are private, and survivor-victims' identities are protected. There are also resources outside of Cogswell that are local to the San Jose area, such as YWCA, a leading nonprofit for youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility, with a location in downtown San Jose that is accessible by light rail and open to all. Their programs for survivor-victims of sexual abuse include the following:
- 24-hour support line for survivors, family members, and friends.
- Accompaniment of survivor to the hospital and through the reporting and judicial process.
- Child abuse and assault prevention programs for children, teens, and the general community.
- Peer support groups for rape and childhood sexual abuse survivors.
- Free confidential crisis counseling
To help facilitate a safe, respectful dialogue on our close-knit campus, the Chronicle has collected anonymous submissions from survivors willing to share their stories. It is our hope that these first-hand accounts will help struggling individuals recognize that the college affords both a haven and a community. The stories below are just the beginning: if you wish to add yours to Volume 3, raising awareness for the #MeToo campaign, please follow this link. All submissions are routed through anonymous channels.
The stories that follow are descriptive and may be disturbing or alarming to some readers. If you experience an emotional reaction to any of the pieces below, please do not hesitate to seek counseling services listed in the article above.
"Whenever I was not able to perform in bed for my boyfriend, he would do this thing where he got dressed, walked to the corner of the room, rolled into a ball, and looked sad. He'd guilt me into doing it with him, even when I didn't have the energy, time, or willpower to do it. I didn't know it then, but now, I realize that he manipulated me emotionally through guilt. I knew that by saying no, he'd be upset and pick a fight, so I'd end up just doing it to get it done and appease him."
"I’ve dated a lot in my life, and I’ve lost track of how many relationships I had. I always think of myself as a caring individual, and I always seem to find people who “need” me in some form. However, I’ve learn more recently that’s a flaw. In eighth grade, a guy I liked told me that he would commit suicide if I didn’t send him nudes of myself, so I did. He sent them to everyone he knew, and it was a small town. I was tormented at school, people shoving me in that hallway, hiding razor blades in my stuff, and him sitting back and enjoying it all. I tried to go to a teacher about and he said: “Stop playing the victim, this was your choice.”
The day I lost my virginity when I was 17, and it wasn’t some amazing moment. My boyfriend at the time has angry issues, and even though I told him I didn’t want to have sex, he decided for me. He would emotionally abuse me into thinking that it’s want I wanted. I didn’t want to admit it was rape, and it’s still hard for me to admit. It took the suppport of my friends to have the courage to break up with him, but my family still loves him and never believed that he did all of those things to me.
The next guy just used me for almost a year and right after he talked me into sex, he called me a slut, broke up with me, and the entire school ragged on me.
The guy after that seemed different, he was caring and understanding. Then he started wanted to have sex every time we saw each other, and if I told him no he would be furious and leave. He wouldn’t talk to me for days until I came crawling back to him. He would get mad at me because I didn’t know what he was thinking 99% of the time, and he used that against me so many times. He told me he was the one, and that I wouldn’t ever find anyone else. The worst part was, I believed that for almost a year. And then got back together with him for another year until I realized what he was doing.
The most recent story was someone I thought I could help. He had a semi-terminal health condition and was a aggressive bi-polar person. He would snap at me and hit me for getting home too late (before midnight). He was upset I spent time with anyone else, and he used his condition against me. I would text him and he would be fine, then as soon as I got home, he would yell at me for hours about how awful I am and how selfish I am for not only being with him. He would question my love and say that it was probably fake, and then ask innocently: “Why are you crying? What’a wrong?” He would ask for pity sex since he was “dying” and I tired to say no, but he would say “I’ll just commit suicide then. You don’t love me, so why not?”
The worst part was, since all of his friends were my friends and I had no where else to go, I stayed with him. And I took no action against it. It took me three months to build up the courage to break up with him, and his last sentence was to me was: “If I die because of this, it’s your fault.”
I hope these stories help someone. I want to help show someone that it’s ok to be afraid, but it’s not ok to take any kind of abuse. #MeToo"
"#MeToo three times already. I’m tired of feeling like it’s my fault. I’m tired of being a statistic. We have to help each other. We can’t be silent anymore."
"Once I was sitting in the last row of seats on the VTA, when all of a sudden this old man comes and sits near me. I thought this was a little weird considering there were plenty of other seats but I quickly stopped that train of thought and even went so far as to scold myself for not giving him the benefit of the doubt. As the ride went on he began to move closer and closer to me very slowly. When I noticed, I started to feel uneasy so I called a friend to tell him that I was on my way.
It’s the phone call you make to not so much let your friend know where you’re at but more for the stranger to know that someone would notice if you were gone.
He then put his hand on the bar of the seat in front of me and moved so close that his body was slowly making its way onto mine. I froze. I couldn’t move. I was so panicked that I was unable to do anything. I finally got to the stop before mine and ran off the VTA having a full on panic attack. I cried until I got to school and then had to suck it up before my next class."
Cogswell College is a safe place for survivor-victims and has resources available on campus. There are also many local resources (listed below) that can be beneficial as an alternative option.
All survivor-victims have a story, and it is their decision whether or not they want to share them. Some survivors may chose not to share their story; this does not mean that they are not affected or that their stories mean less than those who did. All stories posted through the #MeToo campaign were shared to raise awareness for these events and show survivor-victims that they are not alone.