15 Oct 2017

Today’s Facebook theme is posting “me too” as one’s status if one has been sexually assaulted.

When I was in first grade, my mother told me that the boy in my class was harassing and hitting me “because he likes you.” The education to tolerate violation of boundaries starts early. This teaching is an incredible disconnect. I never harass or hit people that I like. That’s not how like is expressed. Yet little girls are taught from the beginning, before questions and thoughts can form, to look upon abuse as acceptance and approval.

My father stopped being nice to me when I, at 13, came bounding down the stairs to greet him as he came home from work. “I got my period” I said excitedly. The only response was a terse, “Don’t tell your grandfather.” And with that, a door closed on our relationship.

My particular response to violation of physical boundaries was to freeze; this is a consequence from the sexual abuse I suffered as a baby and toddler and child. So when the nice British man befriended a lost, lonely and scared me in Morocco,  I was helpless when he assaulted me. Fortunately, he was a premature ejaculator.

When a former boyfriend slugged me in high school, his father came to our house to speak to my father. The upshot was that we learned how Peter McAlevey had suffered as a boy, and of his disabilities. Peter was never held accountable. “Boys will be boys, you know.”

When a boss tempted me with offers of a modeling job at 19, I fell for it. I had been hovering on the edges of modeling jobs since the age of 16, and knew such work meant taking off all my clothes and being treated like a glorified coat hanger. When this boss, oddly named Jimmy Worthy, assaulted me, I froze, disconnected and waited for it to be over. I then spent hours in the hottest shower I could stand when I got back to my nursing school dormitory, and never told a soul.

In college, I learned to change my route to avoid any construction sites, because the catcalling and hooting was so annoying and painful.

When my first husband gave me a black eye, I carried on, going to my sociology class in graduate school.   We went to therapy 5 times, then my husband pronounced himself cured and that was that. I never sought any help. In 1971, where would I have gone?

When my OB/GYN, the attending, J. Courtland Robinson Jr.,  listened to me innocently and openly express what I wanted in my first labor and delivery, he seemed to listen. He did make one comment, when I told him I didn’t want any pain medication in labor. He said, in with a deliberate, heavy and sarcastic tone, “Don’t worry. I won’t give you any.”  When my labor was going strongly, he confused me with another patient, thought I was diabetic, and tried to get my supportive husband out of the labor room, saying “Oh she’s going to be doing this for a long time. Let’s go watch the baseball game.” (Ken, blessings on your head for staying and being helpful as I birthed our baby.)

On the delivery table, Dr. Robinson gave me a pudendal block, sliced my vagina open and pulled my baby out, in absolute and unnecessary violation of everything I had requested during the entire pregnancy.  That slice took a year to heal. I never thought to complain.

The assault continues. All my life. The current president is every bit as vile in his behaviors towards women as is Harvey Weinstein, yet nothing is done and the nation pretends it is all okay. Bill Cosby gets away with a mistrial.  A man on Facebook writes about rape like it is an award to be bestowed, on only the prettiest. Women’s voices are buried or ignored.

Today more are speaking out; social media is spreading the word, giving courage to others, so that light can shine on this shameful practice and so our daughters and granddaughters and great-grandaughters out to the seventh generation may be free and safe.

This is my prayer: for humans to be brought up to respect each other. We are all one, humans, sharing the same DNA. Let that be honored.

So it may come to be, forever and always.




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