Would I have the courage to speak up?

The #MeToo moment continues. Instead of proceeding in a way that vindicates the countless individuals who have been sexually abused, raped, assaulted, and violated, we have found ourselves wading in mud passed our knees, submerging our beings at a standstill. Our hands can still clutch at our devices so we send out cries for help over social media, begging the rest of the world to wake up and see the raw, ugly reality that we have endured — pardon me — endure amid threats of violence, accusations of lying, and questions about our moral compass.

Would I be as brave as the Anita Hills or the Dr. Christine Blasey Fords of this world? Electing to bare my soul, exposing my very essence because I could not allow someone who took power from me to ascend to levels even more powerful?

Blood boiling.

It started off so innocently. A small crush on the barista at my favorite coffee shop over the summer after high school. Encouragement from friends and some unexpected bravery resulted in an exchange of telephone numbers. A time and a place to go out soon followed.

The events of the early evening are more fuzzy. We went to a movie. He did not seek my consent as he violated me in the movie theater. He pulled over in my middle school parking lot. He did not ask my consent to my body.

He told me that he was a youth leader in his church. Someday, he wanted to be a pastor.

I remember the fear. Moments of absolute paralysis. He kept repeating himself, murmuring garbage into my ear as I squirmed underneath his weight, knowing this was not how my first experience with sex would be. Why wasn’t he listening?

It seems crude now. “Let me feel your warmth.” I laughed about it later. But I wasn’t laughing that night. I said no. I said no. I said no.

Boys being boys.

Was this my fault? I was (am) a human being who craves affection, love, touch.

But I wanted those to be my choice, not his. And he didn’t allow me to make it.

Maybe he’s a youth pastor now. Would there be a list of character witnesses lined up to defend his honor? How could I prove what happened 15 years ago? There’s no physical evidence. I can’t remember if I told friends or not. I was supposed to be better than that. I was supposed to fall for men who were kind, caring, and respectful.

The bravery I have seen from my closest friends and beloved strangers is inspiring and gut-wrenching. This isn’t my only story. That moment didn’t define my self-worth or value.

But, it did remind me that I’m a survivor. And I’m not alone. The more people listen, the more people wake up, perhaps there’s hope we’ll finally get unstuck and back on the path to a different future