10 reasons why #Ididntreport:
- I didn’t know that my detailed memories, in and of themselves, could be evidence. I didn’t know about the “level of norepinephrine and epinephrine in the brain” and that “the neurotransmitter encodes memories into the hippocampus so that trauma-related experience is locked there, so other memories just drift.” Thank you, Dr. Ford.
- None of my friends knew that I had gone to a bar alone that night. And he had also been alone, a tourist in town for the weekend. No one really saw us.
- I was mortified and alone.
- For months after the assault — as I kept returning to his Facebook page and saw that profile picture of him obnoxiously eating a hoagie — I was overwhelmed by the disgust I felt by his existence and the memories of that night. I wanted those memories to go away. I wanted to recover. He and I had never exchanged phone numbers and he never tried to contact me in any way, so I simply deleted and blocked him online.
- After several years, I couldn’t even remember his name or when exactly this happened — but I never forgot the location of that hotel on Surf St. and the circumstances that led me there from Friar Tuck’s bar, me trying to impress him, his take-charge demeanor, a sense of paralysis from his weight on my back combined with my own inebriation, me desperately trying to find pockets of air inside the folds the pillow, me distinctively saying “no” while he did his thing, the moment I realized what had just happened to me, the design pattern of the bathroom tile as I crouched and cried as quietly as I could, and the amber light from the street lights as I walked myself all the way home in gold high heels because I didn’t want to see anyone, not even a taxi driver.
- I had a feeling he would wake up and not consider any of it a crime at all. Perhaps this was just the type of sex he enjoyed and mistakenly thought I did too. Maybe my “no” hadn’t have been loud enough; if I had been too quiet, would that have made it consensual? Was it rape if I had gotten myself willingly into that bed? Did it matter how many times or how deeply he assaulted me during the incident? I thought the police wouldn’t even consider this case. Honestly, I didn’t even think about the police for at least a year.
- I didn’t understand that my drunkenness, flirtatiousness and short dress were not equal to his inability to hear my “no” or read my lack of consent in the moment.
- I thought, “That’s what you get for putting yourself in that position, Shawn Lent. Stupid girl. Lesson learned. Never again will a man do that to you. Gain strength. Move on.”
- I had no idea that there was a National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-4673 and online chat service, as well as local service organizations for rape and sexual assault survivors.
- I felt deep shame in the idea that he would go back to Florida, advance in his military career, and attack more women — and that I had done nothing to prevent that all from happening.
From my failures, I hope other survivors can learn. I hope they flourish. I hope that the next generation is empowered and knowledgable.
If you’ve been sexually assaulted (meaning any nonconsensual sexual act), raped or sexually harassed, I urge you to do the following.
- Record your detailed memories. Collect any evidence that you have.
- Ask witnesses to record their testimonies and collect their contact information.
- Remind yourself that you’re going to be okay. You’re not alone. #MeToo, remember?
- Seek protection immediately if you need it. Seek medical help immediately if you need it. Seek therapy if you need it.
- Reflect on your good memories. Life is, overall, goodness.
- Read up on the laws regarding consent.
- Remember that your behavior didn’t cause this.
- Remember that you didn’t deserve this.
- Call the National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-4673, use their online chat service, and/or reach out to a local service organizations for rape and sexual assault survivors.
- REPORT to family, friends, police and/or any appropriate authority.
This Judge Kavanaugh hearing is an awful episode in our country’s history. It’s painfully so. But from pain, maybe we can create collective social change. Sexual assault is inexcusable. Sexual assault is criminal. Sexual assault is happening, a lot, and has been happening for centuries, across class and industry. Continued, rampant sexual assault in our midst is unacceptable. No one gets a pass.
We must educate potential perpetrators; they must understand what sexual assault is in order to prevent it. Our awareness of one another must grow. Our attunement to one another must be strengthened. We must build our consent literacies and stop hurting one another for sexual pleasure, for power. And we must hold all these folks accountable. Toxic masculinity and rape culture be damned.
More than ever before, I understand the capacity of an upswell of loud survivors. We are amazing, especially together. Let’s do this.