Turning misogyny into empowerment
November 9th, 2016 was the worst day I had experienced in years. It had been 4 years +1 month, to the day, since my own rape, but despite my healing, the wounds felt fresh. After all of the completely despicable things Donald had said about women (well, and pretty much everyone else), I was sure there was no way he could get elected.
A month earlier, a day before the 4 year rape-iversery, I listened to the infamous audio clip where Trump bragged about grabbing women by the pussy. “They let you do anything you want,” he said. Sitting in the car while my boyfriend pumped gas, I broke down.
I had heard this type of male entitlement before, but it was harder to hear from a presidential candidate. Several days after I was raped, when my rapist tried again (and failed), he responded to my protests with “I know you want it.” Trigger PTSD.
When I heard such similar language in that same almost-mocking tone from Trump, I couldn’t handle it. I hoped that video killed his chances at clinching the nomination, but apparently, I was naive in thinking I escaped the misogyny when I left Louisiana for the west coast. It’s insidious–meaning there will only be more survivors like me in the future, not less.
After a day of trying to discreetly PTSD cry at my desk, I felt I had to do something. I thought about protesting, but I was nervous to go alone and wasn’t sure how much good it would do anyway. So, being the millennial I am, I used the only platform I had to speak out: Facebook.
Let me say that normally, I’m not one to post much. Since my assault especially, I tended to avoid making statements that would put me in a controversial spotlight. But what else was there? So, I did it. I shared my survivor story to all 800 Facebook friends, focusing on the idea that misogynistic words are harmful, especially when coming from the president-elect. Many of those who responded were supportive and some, inevitably, detracted from my point. What surprised me most though: a couple women, whom I was more than just acquaintances with, reached out, because they too are rape survivors. While this shouldn’t be a surprise (statistically I should know many), prior to that day, I could count on one hand the number of survivors I knew.
It was saddening that I had to share my story very publicly and vulnerably in order to connect with fellow survivors. How else are we supposed to share with and support one another? I racked my brain on how I could work to help women full time (something I’d done many times before, with no real solution that fit), and 3 weeks later, the initial concept for Survivor Alliance was born. As I am writing this, in early January 2017, I am hopeful things will get better. My vision for Survivor Alliance is clear, and there are so many features I intend to incorporate into this site. I hope you can share this vision with me.
Let’s create a community to build each other back up in a world that is trying to tear us down. Let’s share our stories. Let’s cook dinner together. Let’s rally together. Let’s remind ourselves and others that, no matter how lonely we may feel, we are not alone and use this knowledge to empower each other through the hard times. Together, we can heal and rise up. That alone will create change. There is strength in numbers.
Update (Oct. 2017): This month marked the 5 year anniversary of that early morning when everything changed. I could have never guessed then what I’d be doing now. Over 10 months ago, the concept for Survivor Alliance was born, and in that time, so much growth has occurred (including an additional co-founder!). The vision for Survivor Alliance is clearer than ever, so with this anniversary, we’re marking a new beginning.
October 9, 2012 marks the day I was raped. October 11, 2017 marks the day Survivor Alliance launched its first campaign to tackle rape culture on iFundWomen. With it, we’re raising the awareness and funds to bring these visions to life. Nothing is more empowering.