What’s Okay For You Might Not Be Okay For Me || sexual assault

5C21EEFF-D1DA-4399-88A4-13AADB8181D8.JPG

I’m here for the people who unwillingly consented to sexual acts because they were in a situation where it was “normal” or where they felt like they didn’t have the right to say no and now they feel violated but don’t feel like they can say so because what happened “wasn’t a big deal.”

I’m here for anyone and everyone who has felt taken advantage of in a sexual manner but isn’t taken seriously because we live in a hook-up culture where apparently those sort of interactions should at least be expected when on a date.

Some people have certain experiences and are totally okay with what happened. That’s great for them and they can do with their bodies what they want.

BUT some people have those exact same experiences and it traumatizes them. They feel violated and taken advantage of.

And that experience is just as valid as the first.

We all react to things differently and experience things differently because we are all different people with unique emotions and histories and boundaries.

What might be okay for you might not be okay for me.

What matters is how a situation affects the person that experienced it, not how the same situation affects someone else.

No one can change your narrative for you.

If you experience something and you feel violated, you’re allowed to feel that way even if someone else feels differently.

Your truth is your truth. No one can take that.

Not even the person who violated you. They may not have had bad intentions, but you were affected negatively by what they did. What you experienced is your truth, even if it wasn’t the other person’s intent.

You were affected, and that fact alone is enough.

Experiences are relative which can make lines blurry and confusing and messy, but your view of your experience isn’t wrong because it is YOUR experience, not the violator’s or your friends’ or anyone else’s experience.

No one can tell you how to feel.

No one can tell you that your body wasn’t taken advantage of.

No one can tell you that you aren’t allowed to feel assaulted.

No matter if you said no,

if you stayed silent,

if you said yes because you were afraid,

if you fought,

if you didn’t move,

if you pretended to be okay with it because all you know of men is anger and you’ll do what you have to do to avoid that.

It doesn’t matter how you reacted to the assault because you shouldn’t have to ask someone to not assault you.

It’s not no means no.

It’s yes means yes.

Just because you didn’t say “no” or “stop” or “I don’t want to” doesn’t put you at fault.

The other person should know to get affirmative consent before even touching you.

Our culture has normalized hook-ups to the point that it’s just assumed that if you’re on a date then you want to. And I’m sorry, but I’m so not here for that.

I’ve had people tell me that I need to be up front with my date and tell them at the beginning that I don’t want to do anything sexual.

Great idea,

except I shouldn’t have to actively put in effort in order to not get assaulted.

I should be able to assume and feel safe in the fact that nothing sexual will happen unless we’ve agreed upon it first, not assume that hooking up is a “go for it” unless someone vocalizes ahead of time that they don’t want to.

Let’s teach people to ask for affirmative consent instead of teaching people to share preventative PSAs before the date has even begun.

Because a meaningless hook-up for one person could be assault for another.

I get it, it’s culture. But since when do we buy into culture that we don’t like instead of trying to change it?

Because I need it changed for me.

I went on a date this summer. I didn’t tell him ahead of time that I didn’t want to hook up, because why should I have to actively work to not be assaulted? I didn’t say no when he pushed me on the ground, because how was I supposed to know how he’d react at being turned down after he was already on top of me? I tried to act normal after everything happened, because how the heck was I supposed to inform him that he just violated me (as if he shouldn’t have already known)?

I didn’t do any of the things you’re “supposed” to do, because I found myself in a fast-moving situation that I did not want to be in and was so scared I couldn’t use my voice.

I didn’t do what I was “supposed” to do, and I was still assaulted.

It was a first date, and no consent was asked for or given. I really cannot comprehend how it would have been remotely assumed that I wanted to hook up with him, because let me assure you, I was not vibing with him at all and I definitely was making that clear.

I have friends who have had the exact same experiences on dates and they feel the way I do, but they’ve been shamed into silence about it in the same way that I have [until now] because “hook-ups are normal.”

I’ve also had other friends have the exact same experiences on dates as we did and yet they loved it, because both parties went into the date wanting to hook up.

Their narrative isn’t my narrative.

And that’s okay, and all of our experiences are still truth.

So basically, I’m really, really not here for people telling me that my perception of my experience is wrong. No one can sit here and tell me that what happened was okay if I didn’t (and still don’t) feel okay about it.

It might have been okay for you.

But it wasn’t for me.

And you can’t tell me (or anyone else) how to react to their experiences.

If they felt violated, they were violated. End of story. No matter the intent or the circumstances. If someone feels like they don’t have control of their body or what is happening to them, that is enough to be considered assault.

“Other people do not get to tell me what my experience means, or where they would like to place me in their pantheons of suffering. There is great danger in letting those around you determine what your experience means to you, and I have found that one of the best ways to combat that is to keep my story for myself.”

–Zoë Medeiros, “Why I Stopped” from Not That Bad


Edit on 08/09/2018 at 12:27am: This blog post was originally titled “Normalizing Hook-Up Culture = Normalizing Sexual Assault,” but has now been changed after realizing the negative connotation that that title carried in regards to consensual hooking up and casual sex. While within my post it is easy to see my point, the title does not leave much context and can be assumed that I’m saying people should not hook up because it is the same as assault. This is definitely not the case, and my point was that the culture of hooking up really enforces the idea that hooking up should be EXPECTED on a date, instead of discussed about. By all means, do what you want with your body and hook up on dates if you want to, I make that clear in my post. I’m just saying that the normalization of the expectation of hooking up without asking first is what can lead to assault because then what happened is “acceptable” so that means that the assault “wasn’t assault,” no matter what the survivor thinks.

cropped-sarah-e-bailes_alternate-logo.png

God’s Gonna Heal That

0dae0248249bb6069d07035bbe25c90a12 days into it, and 2018 has already been a year of hurt. But I decided on December 31 that 2018 was going to be a year of healing, and here I am on January 12 still proclaiming that.

My motto for this year is “God’s gonna heal that.”

I feel it in my bones/soul/very core that this year is the year of healing from trauma.

Maybe chalk that up to the vulnerability and beauty that is the #MeToo campaign, or inspiring friends who have walked the path before you and are willing to walk it with you, or the wake-up call of broken relationships due to your denial/fear of healing, but whatever the reason, healing is coming.

It’s going to be messy and hard and there’s no perfect way to do it.

I’m going to want to quit, but I luckily have a killer support system of strong women who will push me and challenge me when needed, but also be gentle and patient in other moments.

Despite how it feels, I’m not alone in this.

Millions of people have walked this path before me (as sad as that is).

I am not alone.

Healing is coming.

It’ll hurt, it’ll be hard, it’ll suck so bad.

But it’s coming.

And it’s going to be beautiful and glorious.

Last night I decided to sit down and make a game plan for myself. It’s been quite a week with lots of big decisions being made regarding this healing process, so I decided to set goals for myself and made plans for how I’m going to make this happen, because gosh darn it, I’m going to heal from this in 2018 no matter what it takes!!

My list is pretty simple. Obviously there are bigger action plans, but I wanted to make a list of small, tangible things I can do each day in order to make a difference.

How I’m Going to Heal in 2018:

  1. Journaling, everyday
  2. 3 meals + 3 snacks
  3. Set up regular appointments with your entire treatment team and actually go to them
  4. Slow mornings & evenings
  5. Stay out of the dorm for at least two hours everyday (class time not included)
  6. Intentional friendships
  7. Have intentional plans to see at least one person everyday
  8. At least eight hours of sleep
  9. Cry & feel
  10. Do art–make things, be creative
  11. Set boundaries FOR YOURSELF regarding your friendships
  12. No dating
  13. Read more
  14. Write in my planner/cross things off when done/stay on top of things
  15. Look into different group and other outpatient opportunities
  16. Get plugged in at college group
  17. Give yourself grace & time to rest/be alone
  18. Trust the process
  19. Stay busy, but not so busy that you’re avoiding
  20. Focus on yourself & put healing FIRST
  21. Listen to good music
  22. Only allow things/people into your life that add to it

And that’s it! Those are my big healing plans for 2018.

So ready +scared + excited + nervous + expectant for this.

Let’s go.

God’s gonna heal this!!

cropped-sarah-e-bailes_alternate-logo.png