The Kavanaugh Effect

At this moment in time, a man is being considered for a lifetime appointment to The Supreme Court. This man has three times been accused of sexual harassment/assault since his nomination. His name is Bret and was a frat boy. Obviously. Brett Kavanaugh tried his best to negate the claims, not keeping his cool one bit, and showing he doesn’t have the level head needed to be appointed to the highest court in the land

However, this is not about Brett. This is about Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. Who bravely came forward with her claim and story when Kavanaugh was nominated. Also, I’m sick of the

“huh convenient time to come out don’t you think”

Like, yes, I do think. Survivors probably never want to come forward, but if their attacker was about to get one of the most important seats in the government, that would be the time to come forward.

This has gone beyond what I thought. I’ve seen so much hatred and aggression. It’s one of those, there’s no proof he did do it but no proof he didn’t do it type of deals. I mean it was 36 years ago, I can understand people’s skepticism.

But really, this isn’t about either of them. It’s about you, and you, and you. I’ve seen half of my Facebook stand up with Dr. Ford and applaud her for exposing herself to the ridicule and hatred she is experiencing, in order to show who Kavanaugh is. However, the other half is calling her a liar, is calling survivors “skanks”, is saying nobody should believe her because she can’t provide proof.

Which is why this not about Democrats or Republicans anymore. This is about humans. 321,500 people get sexually assaulted each year. All those people are watching how Dr. Ford is being treated. They are watching people call her a liar, they are watching their friends say nobody should believe her, while they are sitting there with the same story. They may never come forward now, they may never feel brave enough to deal with the backlash of admitting what was done to them, and that breaks my heart. Nobody can know what survivors go through. What they each think. Why they don’t report, why they do report. They do what they need to do in order to move on from it. They should not feel less than, ridiculed, or scared to come forward and tell their story whenever they feel they can.

I created a google doc. I made it a shared link, as opposed to invitations, so that I could not see the names of people who edited it. I asked several women, who voiced opinions openly before, personally if they would like to share their story if they had one. Or if they would just like to share how this circus has made them feel as women. I also shared it to a private Facebook group made up of hundreds of women, who are pretty open about everything. Explaining the same thing, I can’t see who says what, I will redact names and dates if I see them, and I want their stories and opinions.

I explained I just wanted anyone who wanted to get their story off their chest in an anonymous way, to be able to do so. I wanted to show them that people are with them. People believe them. People want them to heal and be happy.

I got one story in return. One. That’s how terrified women are about coming forward. I don’t know who or where the story came from, but a promise is a promise. I’m going to use this post for them.

I will also update this post if anyone feels comfortable contributing after reading someone else’s. I will always add to this, I don’t care how old this post is, if you have something you want to share I’m going to share it. Feel free to email it madison@madisonshelby.com. Or ask for the google doc.

Here are the stories. May you come back and hopefully there will be more stories. These people experienced true tragedy and live in silence. Nevertheless, they persisted.

Anon:

It took me three years to use the word survivor when discussing my experience with sexual assault. I always considered myself a victim. But in the past year, because of the brave women and men who have heroically come forward to share their truth as a result of the Me Too movement, I can say that I am a survivor of sexual assault. When I was a junior in college I had gone to a man’s house who I was friends with and whom I was also pursuing a relationship. We had been intimate before, but this night, I was adamant that I had no interest. I remember the room, the house, and the exact words he uttered before, during and after. It is seared into my brain. The night began as an ordinary “hang out” where we watched a movie (The Master of Disguise…I know…an odd choice) and talked about our futures. We were sober. It quickly turned into my worst nightmare as he forced himself on me. As he held both of my arms down, I turned my head to the side to avoid making eye contact with him and I kept repeating “please stop, I don’t want to do this.” I tried to wiggle myself out of his restraints as tears welled up in my eyes. He grinded his body against me and began to touch me in ways that I never consented. I then made direct eye contact with him and he said, “I think it is funny that you think you are stronger than me.” That one sentence is the most haunting memory. Once I was free of his grasp (I don’t remember how), I made up an excuse to leave and ran to my car and drove home. Once I got home I immediately busted into tears. The next morning I called my best friend and told him what had happened. He believed me with no questions asked and for that I am beyond grateful. I never considered going forward because I knew no one like the cops would believe me. I had been intimate with him before and I figured that was all the evidence anyone would need to doubt me. But perhaps the biggest reason why I didn’t say anything was because he had just enlisted in the military and I did not want to ruin his life for what I thought was my fault- I mean, did I lead him on? As a result of this assault I do recognize that my anxiety (which I had prior to this incident), has gotten worse in certain situations. For example, you will rarely see me in crowded places. I do not sit in rooms where I cannot see exits or windows; I always need an escape. If I do not have a quick way to leave a room I will have a panic attack near the point of fainting, of which I had an increasing amount for the 1.5 years after the assault. Unfortunately, my story is far too common. I do not have one close female friend who has not been harassed, assaulted or raped. Our shared experience is tragic and traumatic but has formed a bond, a respect and an admiration for their individual strength and courage. For those survivors that will read this, just know that I stand with you and I admire your strength, your bravery and your fight. I believe you.

Anon 2

   I remember I was 7 or 8 years old wearing this blue and yellow rain coat on a gloomy rainy day. I remember the smell of gas and the chill I got when my stepdad sat me on the garage counter. This was the first time he sexually abused me, well the first memory I have of it anyway. The sexual abuse went on for years until finally my mom and him got divorced when I was in 5th grade. I never told anyone about this and quite frankly I’m not sure if I forgot about it like my brain just blocked it out or if I just did a very good job of distracting myself from it because I would never have to see him again. I was free.
  Well fast forward to my 8th grade year when my mom gets back with him and then moves in with him. Everything came back to me all the abuse but I couldn’t tell anyone I was too scared so I didn’t say a word.  I remember sleeping on the couch one night and he came and was trying to wake me up and I’ve never worked so hard to keep my eyes closed just praying he would go away because I knew exactly what he wanted. Thankfully it worked and after a few minutes he gave up. Well a month or so later a friend came with me to stay at my moms. I figured I’d be protected with my friend there. Sadly I was wrong in the middle of the night he came into the room where my friend, sister, and I were sleeping in the same bed. He woke me up and kept telling me to come with him and I repeatedly told him no and finally he gave up. I then laid there sobbing apparently loudly because my sister and friend both woke up asking what was wrong. They thought it was because a friend of mine was hurting themselves so I was upset about that so I let them believe that’s what it was.
  I just laid there the rest of the night crying quietly remembering all the times he had done this to me. I had so many emotions running through me I felt as though I could hardly breathe. It felt like the walls were closing in and I knew I had to do something but I was terrified. The next day when my friend and I were alone I told her the real reason I had been crying. She held me and let me cry and said she was sorry that happened to me.  Im not sure the timeline of it all because it was a long time ago and is somewhat a blur but i ended up telling my close group of girlfriends what had happened  but I told them I still wasn’t ready to tell an adult. Days went by and I was spiraling just dealing with so much pain and anger and feeling utterly and completely lost and alone. One of my friends told me that if I didn’t tell someone (an adult) that she was going to.
  Later that day I was feeling so scared and was just hurting so bad I wanted the pain to just stop. I took a bunch of Ibuprofen not knowing that it wasn’t going to do much except make me sick a couple hours later. I clearly wasn’t an expert on drugs. I ended up telling one of my friends about the pills and she told her mom a couple hours later because she was worried about me. Her mom then called my stepmom and my stepmom started yelling at me asking if I was stupid to which I screamed back that I had done it on purpose. My dad grabbed my arm and took me up to my room to figure out what the hell was going on.
  I remember sitting on my bed terrified not wanting to say a word just sitting there crying. How was I going to tell my dad that his little girl wasn’t really so little that a man he trusted to help take care of me had in fact hurt me more than anyone else in this world. Finally I told him what had happened not in detail or anything but I told him. He called my mom and told her to get my sister out of that house now and told her why and then handed me the phone. I remember she asked if I was sure or if I was confused and I couldn’t even talk to her after that I just handed the phone to my stepmom and cried. I didn’t talk to my mom for about 6 months or so after that because I just couldn’t believe that she doubted me as if I would make something like this up. The rest of the night is somewhat a blur between talking my stepmom and talking to my dad and then my dad deciding if he should go into work or not. He decided there was nothing that could be done tonight so he went to work and I went to bed.
  I remember a light shining in my eyes and when I opened them I saw him standing over me. My stepdad was there in my room. Terror set in and I began screaming and I just remember screaming and screaming as he tried to cover my mouth and drag me from my bed. He dragged me to the ground and I just continued to scream as he tried to hold me down and cover my mouth. After what felt like an eternity my step sister woke up and jumped on his back and told him to get off of me. I grabbed my purse and we quickly ran to our bathroom and used a tracfone to call the cops. By the time they arrived he was gone. I remember having to go wake my step mom and tell her the cops are there and what happened because she slept through the whole thing. The cops could see chips of wood from where he had broken in through our back door and said they would do their best to find him and I filled out my first police report.
   Months later after many sleepless nights wondering where he was or if he’d come back my parents told me they had found him and I had to go to court. The only charges he was facing I believe was for breaking and entering. I was told I needed to decide if I wanted to pursue charges for the sexual abuse. I remember being told that I’d have to tell my story in the court room and I’d have to face him. I wasn’t strong enough at this point to tell a bunch of strangers what had happened to me. It took me 7-8 years to tell anyone what happened to me. There was no way I could go into a courtroom and talk about it. I figured he’d go to jail anyway for breaking in but I was wrong he apparently was on drugs so instead they sent him to rehab.
   I struggled for all of my teenage years and most of my early adulthood just trying to deal with all this pain and anger that had built up inside me. I cut myself, partied all the time, slept around,  anything to try to escape my life and the pain I was feeling. At times it all felt just so unbearable I hated everything, I hated myself. So many times I thought about ending it all but I never did I kept fighting. I struggled with it on my own I mean I had good friends and family that were there for me but it’s such an uncomfortable thing to talk about so I never felt fully comfortable opening up and sharing how much pain I was truly in or how I blamed myself sometimes blamed my parents for not protecting me. I had no self worth I felt like there must be something wrong with me for this to happen. It was a real struggle but over the years I’ve learned that I was an innocent child and this was not my fault. I stopped belittling myself and estimating my self worth based off what some bastard did to me.  I started realizing that it has made me strong because I survived it. I use to feel weak and ashamed because of it but not anymore. Now I feel like I’m a survivor and even when I have bad days because something like that never goes away, I tell myself you’ve made it this far you’ve survived, you fought through the darkness, you are strong.
   I have no idea where my stepdad is now and I will always regret not pursuing sexual abuse charges but I can’t go back and change things. My advice to anyone going through something like this is to tell someone, talk about it and get help. Keeping it a secret and just burying your pain will destroy you, it damn near killed me. I wish I would’ve gotten help because I might not have struggled so much so I would strongly encourage talking to a therapist or going to a group whatever works for you. It’s hard and it’s scary but you have to talk about it. And to those reading this if someone comes to you and tells you that something like this has happened to them believe them. Unless they are proven to be lying you believe them because it takes great courage and strength to tell someone and they don’t need people questioning them. To those reading this who have gone through this or who are going through it now, you are not alone. I understand how hard it is to talk about believe me I do. I understand the fear of people not believing you or what they might think of you after you tell. Don’t let fear stop you from sharing your story. You deserve to be heard. You are fierce, you are strong, you are a survivor.

Anon 3

I was molested by my brother from as far back as I can remember up until I was 13 years old. When I was 13, I finally told a friend whom I trusted with my life. She convinced me to tell my parents. I was so happy that I finally had the courage to tell and believed that it would finally end the humiliation, the fear, the disgust, and the hate I had for my family for being so blind. My mom cried, my dad got angry. My brother blamed me. It tore my family apart. No one really believed me. I was separated from my brother and he got to go on a vacation with my dad and other brother, I had to stay home. I was basically punished for trusting my parents. I was humiliated and I was outcasted by my family for the longest time. It didn’t stop. Maybe for 2 weeks, but it was too hard for my parents to keep us apart. It happened again at least 5 times. I didn’t tell. It finally stopped and for that I’m grateful. Throughout high school I had 4 experiences with sexual assault from 4 different boys. I never told. I didn’t tell anyone. It is completely unacceptable that we have to be silent and afraid. It’s fucking disgusting that we get harassed and belittled because we were taken advantage of. I would love to say that my experience taught me that it’s okay to speak up, but the more I see, the more it confirms my thoughts.. I will never tell again. This needs to change. The world needs to change. Women need to feel safe and need to know if they come forward, they will be heard and not completely humiliated. There needs to be justice, this is NOT okay!!! 

Anon 4

I have two things to share. If they aren’t what you’re looking for, feel free to not use them.

First, when I became afraid of men. I was 12. I was barely out of puberty, awkward and too thin and anxious. But, I missed my bus, and had to walk the 1.5 miles to the junior high. Mom had work, life didn’t stop because I overslept. I was carrying a bookbag and a flute, down East Broadway, at 7:30 AM. I looked 12. A man in a beat up car pulled aside me. He couldn’t have been less than 40, hair greying. He drove along side me for probably half a mile trying to get me into the car. Finally, another car came behind him and he drove away. That single car was my accidental savior. It wasn’t my first street incident, that was the catcalls at 11, walking to the video store in not-so-short shorts. But it was the day I became AFRAID.


The second is this year. I’m an assistant manager at a restaurant. I’m new to the job. I can’t fire anyone yet. A man, on his first day, sexually harassed me, and a 17 year old girl. My boss kept him on. He’s still there. He harrassed another woman. He’s still there. Why? He has potential. He needs a job. He’s got a predatory vibe from the start, but he’s important. Apparently, we are not.


These are my stories. Feel free to use them if you want

Anon 5

It took me three years to be able to talk about what I went through without having an epic breakdown. Every time I would bring it up to someone I would have a full on panic attack, crying so hard I couldn’t breathe. Even now, with all of the support from women speaking up, something still holds me back from sharing my story completely. I’m not sure what that is.


My sophomore year in college I went out drinking and dancing with.. honestly I’m not even sure now. I can’t remember if it was my roommates or other friends… but I remember everything else almost too clearly. On my walk home I texted our neighbor, a boy in my anatomy class that I had been forming, what I thought, was a friendship. We shared similar music tastes and life goals. We were on the verge of forming a meaningful friendship, again, so I thought. 


I texted him and asked him to come over and hang out. I was in a good mood and wasn’t ready for bed. I wanted to spend more time with friends. 


He came over. We listened to music, as we often did. Talked about our nights with our friends. And then the mood changed. I think I remember being tickled ? Which put me in a position where he was leaning over me.. he then started kissing me. I brushed him off. I said stop. But he didn’t. He kept kissing, and I said no I’m tired. He then got more forceful and said stop clenching your thighs. Things went on from there. 


I laid there lifeless. Frozen. Not making eye contact. Not saying a word. It was like I was having an out of body experience. Like I was watching what was happening above us and was in shock.


Why the fuck did I say I was tired? Why didn’t I push him off? Why was I so scared? Why did I text him to begin with? And why didn’t I see this coming? 


After he finished I rolled over as far as I possibly could away from him on the other side of the bed. Again, lifeless. Not speaking or moving. Once I thought he was sleeping I went outside on the porch to smoke a cigarette. It was freezing, snow on the ground. I sat out there in a tank top and shorts, I couldn’t feel anything. 


As I smoked my cigarette I heard the screen door behind me. He came out and sat next to me. He said come back to bed. I said no.
 “Why?” 
“I didn’t want that”.
 “You didn’t act like it”
 “You didn’t find it odd when you told me to stop clenching my thighs?”. 
“I’m sorry”. 
“I want you to leave”.


We went back and forth about him wanting to cuddle and me saying I didn’t want to. Eventually he got up and went back into my bedroom. Why was I so afraid to anger him or hurt his feelings after what he just did? I stayed outside in the cold for a while longer, ultimately deciding to go back into my room. The next morning I had to leave for work. Woke him up and told him to leave. He offered me gas money? When I got home from work he came by with ice cream to “apologize”. I didn’t answer. I was home alone with a heart rate of a thousand beats a minute hiding in my bedroom until he stopped knocking and left. 


I couldn’t sleep in my room anymore. I was acting weird for days and my roommates knew something was up. I told them what happened. We immediately drove to Big Lots to buy new bedding, and when we got home my roommate and I switched rooms. I remember not wanting to laugh or smile because I hadn’t in days, but they made it their mission to make me laugh. They succeeded. I’m forever grateful for them. 


It took me years to recover, from an event much less graphic and traumatic than what other women have faced. I couldn’t have sex with my boyfriend without having flash backs, which ultimately ended our relationship. I was depressed for what seemed like eternity. But eventually I saw the light. I stopped crying when I would talk about it and let it become part of my story and part of who I am. 


You think you’d do things differently. You think you’d react differently. You don’t really know until you’re there, in the moment. ‘Fight or flight’ became freeze for me. I don’t really have an emotional conclusion or meaningful moral of the story.. all I can say is thank you to the women who continue to share their stories and fight for us because without this ‘me too’ and ‘times up’ movement, I’d probably still be thinking it was my fault I only said “no” and “stop” two times instead of three. 

Anon 6

My husband and I separated June of last year and my friend and I moved into an apartment together. Things were going really well, until they weren’t. 


I worked an afternoon shift after running errands all day before that and all I wanted to do was come home and relax. My friend had her boyfriend over and he brought some friends over. At the time I didn’t think anything of it because they were in the living room and I was gonna be in my room. My son was with him father so I had a couple glasses of of wine and decided to take a shower. 


Before that, my friend had said that one of her boyfriends friends thought I was cute. I said that I was flattered but just coming out of a marriage I wasn’t looking for anything and left it at that. 


I proceeded to get in the shower and I heard the door open. I thought it was her and didnt pay any attention to it. That’s when I heard the curtain open and it was the guy who thought I was cute. He got in the shower with me and started fondling me and continued to assault me and all I could do was stand there. I was frozen. Couldn’t find my voice or my strength. 


I told my friend about it and she said she wasnt there and had no idea he was going to do that and kicked them out. After that incident it triggered habits I thought I’d broken and resorted back to them to deal with it. I started to self harm after years of being clean. I felt embarrassed and ashamed that I let it happen. A couple months later my husband I got back together and I struggled with the courage to tell him. I eventually did but it was hard and I didnt want to keep any secrets from him. It still causes intimacy issues in our marriage but I’m working on it and thankfully he’s patient and understanding. 

Anon 7

I was in the 6th grade and he was in the 9th. He was one of the neighborhood kids I had known since I was in the 4th grade when we moved there. I’ve hung out with him plenty of times so I never felt unsafe around him. I went up to his house to see if he could hangout like I’ve done before but never by myself always with one of the other neighborhood boys. We sat and talked on his porch and that’s when he started getting physical with me. (His porch had a wall with an arch entry way before you got to the front door so you couldn’t see very well from the street unless you were really looking )He started asking me weird things like “I have stretch marks right here on my stomach, do you ? Can I see them?” (He was overweight). I was wearing a shirt that said America on my chest and he says “I like the As on your shirt” then proceeds to poke the As that just so happened to be where my boobs were at. He kept asking “let me see your stomach, just lift your shirt i just wanna see” I kept saying no and just brushing it off, I was only 11 and no one had talked to me about how to handle myself in this kind of situation. He then proceeded to grab me by the wrists and started pulling my shirt up and groping my boobs while i tried to pull away. Thank god some of the other kids started walking up because I’m sure this ordeal didn’t last very long but it felt like it. I never told my mom or my dad because it wasn’t rape so it had to be nothing right ? I told one of my friends who lived in the neighborhood about it so I wouldn’t be left alone with him again. He still came over to hangout with all of us but i wouldn’t actively go and see if he could come outside. My mom still lives there and when I pass that house I wonder if he ever did it to more than just me. If I should have said something? I mean it happened 13 years ago, but if I could turn back time I wish I would have told someone. Now it just feels too late.

Anon 8

My story is a little different because I am not a woman but I think it’s still relevant. When I was 9 years old my friend (who was 10) and I discovered that there was pornography on TV. Channels 93 and 94 and it would come on fuzzy but you could make out what was happening sometimes. We were just at the age where our bodies reacted to what we saw. We decided to share this with a friend of ours who decided that if we didn’t do what he said he would tell our parents. I was 9 years old and terrified of how my parents would react to the news that I was watching porn. So was my friend. We proceeded to do things to each other while the person who I thought was my friend watched and directed us. I went home and cried for the rest of the night. He never told my parents. But he told our other friends. They laughed. Called us gay. Ridiculed us. I had to play along and pretend it didn’t hurt and that it was no big deal. It did hurt. It does hurt. I’ve lived with it for the last 15 years and it has affected my life in so many ways. It’s hard for me to trust people. It’s hard to form relationships. I still sometimes see the person who I thought was my friend retweeted into my time line and I get disgusted. I’ve still never told my parents or a therapist or anyone. I don’t know how the other survivor has dealt with it as we’ve lost touch. But it still hurts and it will always hurt 

Anon 9

I am a survivor of MST (Military Sexual Trauma). I used to call myself a victim. It took me years to stop blaming myself. I’m a Desert Storm Veteran. So the “what were you wearing” question that always gets asked of the “victims” always makes me laugh. Me, I was in full chocolate-chip desert BDU’s complete with BCGs (um, birth control glasses). The thing is, you get asked, “why didn’t you fight back”? Hell, I had a bayonet! I got my head knocked into a foot locker. “How did you get your head knocked into a foot locker?” I always get asked. We stacked them on end to use them like shelves. Things were different in the desert. And I got knocked silly. I couldn’t get to my bayonet. Also, it was a fellow soldier! I couldn’t believe he was attacking me! This person I trusted! Had visited with so many times – was raping me! Did I report it? NO! Did it affect my job? Oh hell yes! At first, my job suffered. My NCOIC said, “what’s wrong with you? You’re working like shit!” I said that I thought I might be pregnant to which he said someone like didn’t they do pregnancy tests before we deployed and I wasn’t having sex – was I? And was there something I wanted to tell him? NO! So he sent me for a pregnancy test – came back negative but of course the paperwork was lost. And then I became “super soldier”. I threw myself into my work. It wasn’t until I got back to the states that I fell apart. But by that time I had pushed it so far back I didn’t know why I was horseshit. Took me 10 years to remember and several more to get to a place that I could talk about it. I started advocating for others. This #MeToo movement is good. It is allowing for those of us who are survivors of MST to come forward to

And WE are with you. 

October 3, 2018
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