My heart hurts today.
Lately, I have not been able to stay tuned through all of the news. Dr. Fords testimony was honest, incredibly brave and truly heroic. This is a moment in history that has shown the strength of women, a moment I am proud of. It has also brought tremendous pain and has activated trauma of many victims and survivors, myself included.
When I was 17 years old I was on holiday vacation in the Bahamas. I wore a short black dress, I drank cocktails, I was drugged and I was raped.
It has taken me a long time to speak about this in any public manor and there are so many reasons why. The biggest being that there is so much shame and judgement tangled with the idea of sexual assault and rape. We are groomed and taught that most likely when women come forward they are seeking attention, that they are lying, that it is shameful to speak up and ruin a mans life over something he felt he had the right to do, or at least the right to get away with. And as this is hard for me to speak about, I move forward without worry of this falling on sensitive ears, saying too much and without shame.
The severe trauma I encountered was my body and my voice being taken away from me in an instant. In a fancy hotel room, by multiple men, captured with their iPhone flashes. In my circumstance, police were immediately involved and while denial was my preferred mental state, legally, I moved forward. While I hoped for any amount of justice I also saw the reality of the system and I have never felt so small. I was picked apart by lawyers. Rooms of men with their stacks of paper filled with my myspace photos. Me wearing a swimsuit on the beach at 14, a skimpy pirate costume on Halloween at 15, suggesting I was a promiscuous body. Questioning me about each sexual encounter I have ever had, how regularly I had sex with my boyfriend at the time and if I ‘liked it rough.’ These words came from men with mothers, sisters and wives. Men with Daughters. Telling me, I wanted this. Telling me, this was my fault.
I lost the case. I lost myself.
The heartbreaking fact is that the small percent of victims that do come forward, experience this. What is so important to understand is the severe pain a victim goes through in speaking up. reliving perhaps the most horrible experience of their lives, sharing the immense weight of it with their families and loved ones. Saying it out loud and allowing that nightmare to become even more of a reality.
I have made a very happy life for myself, I am married to a man who shows me kindness in everything he does, who listens when those dark feelings rise again and stands sturdy by side through life. But where I am today did not come without countless therapy sessions, battling anxiety, depression, and chronic insomnia. Moving to a new city where I knew no one to learn who I could be. Difficulty navigating new and existing relationships. A struggle with finding comfort and living in my own body. Survivor is a term used with reason. It is surely a battle and something that never entirely goes away. I am lucky to have had so many incredible people, resources and outlets that many victims do not.
I feel positive about the platform that women are creating together, opening up a dialogue and building a place where coming forward feels a little more safe. The core purpose in sharing my story is in part an emotional release for my own mind, and to also open myself up to others seeking conversation, to feel a little less alone and to be a voice for those who cannot speak. I ask all of you to be open with your hearts and your ears. If you know someone who has been through this trauma to any degree, support them, offer strength and stability where you can. Show them love, listen to them, believe them.
For every woman who has found a way to brighter side, there is another woman going through her darkest times. There is still a lot of fighting left to do. For ourselves, for our sisters, for our daughters. Keep fighting for each other and keep using your voices, there is nothing more powerful.
- Kendall Falcon