Where the passage of time does not diminish the truth...
I want to share a story from my past:
When I was 16 or 17, and working my first job at a McDonald's, I was pushed up against the wall of the drive thru booth by a male coworker. He was pressed up against me, with his leg between mine, and he was making suggestive statements.
I was terrified.
I kneed him in the nuts. I was in trouble with male manager, until I told him what preceded it. He then fell silent.
I later went to upper management, who in this case was a woman, to complain about what this guy did to me. She “investigated” and told me that he was just joking.
Word spread around that I'd reported him, and I was harassed by my fellow employees (the male ones) until I quit and told them all to go fuck themselves in front of a restaurant full of customers.
This shit happens all the time and we live in a society where it is explained away as boys being boys, locker room talk, and jokes. Women are taught that this is a normal way to be treated, and that we should ignore it, or even go along with it. Many times women are called liars, are blamed for bringing it upon themselves, or are discredited by the person they're accusing (or even by the person they're reporting it to).
Apparently, the word of the accused is more valuable than the word of the accuser.
I'm sure that if the guy who did this to me 20 years ago was asked about it today, he'd say I was lying and that it never happened. But that doesn't change the fact that it did really happen, and that I still remember it vividly.
This was the earliest lesson I received about what to expect when you accuse a man of assault or harassment. I understand why many choose not to step forward right away. I believe that time does not diminish the veracity of their claims. It should never be asked why they waited so long to step forward, as I know the answer: fear. Fear of facing their assailant, fear of doubt, fear of blame, fear of retaliation, and shame. This is no joke, no exaggeration, no locker room talk, and no lie. It's sexual assault, and it's time for it to be taken seriously. It's sad that most women in this day and age (and in this country) have a story like this.
I am fine now, and I have moved on. However, I will always remember what happened to me. I will always remember the names of the people involved, and I will always remember my anger at what happened, and my anger at how my experience was belittled and brushed off.
Most importantly - The fact that I have waited 20 years to publicly share my story does not diminish the truth of what happened. I know what happened that night, and I will not be told differently.
Reprinted, with persmission.