Learning to deal

Story submitted by: Kira Poncin | Former Torch Managing Copy Editor

A few nights ago, I did something I haven’t done since my overdramatic, activist teenage years – I went off on a guy on Facebook. It was pretty bad. I challenged myself to say the worst thing I could think of, and what resulted was the kind of thing you would never say in front of children or your grandma. But I think I had a good reason, and I’m not sorry. Not one bit. 

A man, dare I even grace him with that dignity, essentially implied that my friend should be sexually assaulted for giving her opinion on sexual assault and rape culture. I lost my cool. 

The outburst stemmed from a thought process I had earlier while standing in my kitchen, making a grilled cheese – Me too. 

This campaign was something I immediately supported and felt connected to. I applauded the people who were brave enough to say these simple words in front of family, friends, and possibly even coworkers on Facebook. But slowly, I began to realize – 

Me too. 

I was sexually assaulted just over a year ago by a former coworker whom I was becoming friends with. At the time, I was hesitant to call it sexual assault because I didn’t think it was “severe enough” and because I was embarrassed that I had gotten myself into that situation. I don’t think I wanted to admit that it was sexual assault. 

But something clicked that night. 

Me too. Me fucking too. 

What happened to me was undeniably sexual assault. 

He asked if he could come visit me over the summer. I had just moved back to my hometown. I was hesitant about letting him visit, but in his words it was just to “hang out” and I even flat out told him that if he was coming to try to have sex with me, he shouldn’t bother. He assured me he just wanted to hang out. So I let him visit. 

As soon as he arrived, he kept trying to touch me. I did everything I could to keep myself at a distance. I should’ve told him to leave, but I felt guilty because he’d driven several hours to hang out with me, and I figured that surely he’d get the hint and stop and then we could actually just hang out. 

When he started to forcibly kiss me and rub himself on me, I spoke up. I told him no. I told him no over and over and over and he was not stopping. 

There was a point when it had gotten so bad that I remember thinking, “This is when he rapes me. Oh my god, he’s going to rape me. He’s going to rape me and I don’t know what to do.” 

Me too. 

This horrible thought was somehow followed by a worse one – “Do I deserve this? Is this my fault? Of course this is happening to me.” 

I told him I had to use the bathroom and I locked myself inside. I was that afraid. 

How did I deny that this was sexual assault for so long? How could I let myself believe that this was somehow my fault? 

How many people feel this very same way and have these same thoughts? 

Me too. 

Finally, he gave up. He said he had to go, but next time, could we “do stuff”? Would I promise him that, since he drove all the way to see me? I lied. I lied and it made my stomach turn, but I was afraid that he would take what he wanted this time if he knew there would be no next time. 

What are we supposed to do in these situations? How are we supposed to cope with it afterward? I chose to ignore it, to push it away, to pretend it wasn’t real sexual assault. 

A year later, I’m realizing what a disservice I did to myself. But again, what are we supposed to do? What can heal a betrayal like that? How do you steady yourself after something that shakes you so deeply? 

Without knowing how to deal with it, I just didn’t. 

When the “Me too” campaign caught on, I thought it was a beautiful way for victims of sexual assault to come together and support each other. And yet I never posted “Me too.” I was too embarrassed, stuck on the idea that it somehow had to be my own fault, and unknowingly in denial about what the situation was, even though every single day I thought, “Remember that time last summer? You too.” 

Yes. Me too.