When I was younger, my uncle called me Miss Too. His rationale was that whenever they’d offer my older brother anything, I’d come running behind him, yelling, “Me, too!” hoping to be included in whatever activity they had planned. Given my childhood nickname, it’s kind of a surprise that I didn’t immediately jump on the latest social media bandwagon. It took me several days but…
Yep. Me, too.
I initially refused because I’m a super private person. I didn’t want to invite questions from family and friends. I also did not want either of my brothers to go on manhunts, looking for the offenders. Anger control issues run in my family, and I have no desire to go visit any other loved ones in prison. So I said nothing, which is the most common response among sexual harassment and assault victims.
But the “Me, too” campaign isn’t what prompted me to write this. The truth is a couple of weeks ago I heard two men, both married, both well-respected, and both who would consider themselves to be protectors and allies of women, speaking of an alleged rape victim. They said, practically in unison, ” I don’t believe it.” I almost threw up.
I make it a point to believe the victim. False reports of sexual assault do occur, but they are rare. More often than not, sexual assaults and harassment go unreported. The victim in this case was a 21-year old college student who says she was raped by a star. She has not recanted her story, but she decided that it is not worth it to go public with what happened to her. The woman has already survived a traumatic experience. Then she had to retell the traumatic experience, and submit herself to an invasive physical examination. She’s had to read accounts of what she says happened to her on Facebook posts and gossip magazines. She decided it wasn’t worth it to go through all that, and then be disappointed by a justice system, that too often fails.
I believe her, because I know how hard it is to speak up when everyone in the world is telling you to shut up. I have seen friends and family suffer in silence. I believe her because her story sounds like theirs.
Can you imagine being in college and cringing every single time “Hot in Here” was played at a party? That is this woman’s life now. There are people I love who are triggered by a make or model of a car, a man with a certain haircut, or skin tone, or even a song on the radio.
So, yes i believe her. And the only commentary I want to hear from anybody else is “me, too.
*Editor’s note: I, too, have been guilty of not believing a victim, of defending the indefensible, not on purpose, but almost as a reflex. To borrow from another popular hashtAg: #neveragain