With the victims of sexual abuse and harassment coming forward against Harvey Weinstein, social media has been set ablaze with the hashtag #MeToo.
This hashtag brought out confessions from victims all over Twitter and Facebook. Even my own.
For the first time, I shared my story yesterday. And I cried. The tears weren’t for having been assaulted. They were for all the girls and boys who weren’t protected.
When I told my grandmother what happened, I saw fire in her eyes and my grandmother was small in stature. Five feet to be exact. But she looked at me with my orange and white track shorts still twisted around my waist and she was a giant. I remember the faint scent of Oil of Olay as her cheek touched mine while she whispered, “It’s ok, baby. We are not staying here!”
She told my sister and I to stay in the kitchen and we held hands. I don’t think my baby sister understood the gravity of what had just happened. Hell, I didn’t understand it.
She called for us to come to her and as I passed Billy, he was looking at the ground. My grandmother never took her eyes from him. If looks could kill, he would’ve surely died on the spot. She gathered our things and we left.
We left what happened that summer in Sycamore.
I had never really given what happened to me any conscious thought after I returned home. But I’m sure that it affected me in some way. There was no distrust, guilty feelings or destructive behaviors which followed my assault of which I could think. I didn’t hate anyone. I still felt protected and loved.
There’s no explanation for why I didn’t tell my parents. I figured that grandmother had handled it and my parents weren’t needed. She didn’t mention it either when they came to pick us up.
I want to apologize to 7-year-old Keka because last night, I realized that she had been impacted. She was a victim among many victims. I apologize for placing her pain on the back shelf of my mind because I didn’t think it was worth mentioning because I hadn’t been physically hurt. I managed to fight my way out of his grasp and subsequently, escaped “harm”.
Having a daughter of my own made me subconsciously revisit that day in Willie Pearl’s living room in Sycamore. I was neurotic when it came to checking my baby’s diaper for blood or examining her for swelling. And it’s not like I left her with different people. It was my Mami, sister, and Daddy and her own Dad.
Without fail, when we went to family functions; I was uber vigilant as she played with her uncles, aunts and cousins. I watched her laugh and smile as they picked her up or gave her hugs. Let me rephrase that. I stood guard as my daughter effervesced in innocence and wonder. As she got older and could talk, I flat-out asked her if anyone had ever touched her and she always said no. (Thank God)
My daughter attributed my hyper-vigilance to being a strict mother. It wasn’t until this very moment that I realized it was because I’m preparing myself to fight every “Billy” we come across so she doesn’t have to.
It’s also the reason I’ve always kept her close to me. I don’t want her to ever be subjected to having to fight for herself although she knows how to. I feel the need to preëmpt any malicia versus reacting to it.
Today will be the day that I tell her what happened to me so that she may finally understand that her protection isn’t just about her….
It’s about #MeToo