Sexual Violance, Trauma Voice

My #MeToo Moment

As is the case with many things in life, not until an event happens to one personally, can the mind truly understand the circumstance more robustly. It is when the imagined idea of something is no longer an idea, but rather it becomes a reality.

And such was the case for me when I was “p*ssy tapped” on Sunday, March 4th on my way home from the office. On that very afternoon, I no longer simply empathized with someone who says “me too”; I became that person who says, “me too.”

That experience became part of who I am.

It was so strange.

Emotional Preview: I felt Stupified. Angry. Violated. Betrayed. Frustrated. Disappointed. Inquisitive. Sad…And I wondered about my safety with this individual.

I don’t even remember what we were talking about before he touched my private region…probably because I was so shocked. {Update: I do remember, he noticed a scar I have on my neck, he was trying to relate to me about being cut in the throat – that is a story for another time}.

But, this was in public. This was on a street I walked almost every day. This was with a person I’ve said hello to or talked with, how many times? More times than I can count!

I remember jumping back, probably glaring at him and saying, “That is NOT okay! Why did you do that?! Do realize that behavior is NOT OKAY?!

He said, “What? Did I hurt you? I barely even touched you? You jumped back so quickly, I thought I hurt you for a second.

Yes, you did hurt me! That is not okay!

You’re fine.” [Him displaying body language like it’s no big deal.]

NO, it is not fine. You touched me somewhere you should not have touched me!

He back-tracked and put his hands up. “I didn’t even touch you!” {In reflection, he probably said that because we were in a public place and I wasn’t exactly being chill. Probably not the most winning thing for me to be super confrontational in public…but really, I’ve learned that if you don’t teach the lesson at the time it occurs, it typically is not as effective. And, because I was experiencing this #MeToo business for the first time, unfortunately, I was being very reactionary – I was doing what I thought was the right thing to do at that moment. I was trying to process the icky feelings as quickly as I could in real time.}

Yes you did and that is not okay! I don’t even know what to say to you…

And in this short, frustrating exchange, I had to field the following correspondences:

  • How many boyfriends do you have?” {For real, what kind of question is this??}
    • I have one boyfriend, and I LOVE him.
  • How did I hurt you? You’re fine. Are you offended because I find you attractive?” {For real, what kind of question is this?? I’m thinking, why do you think that touching a women’s private parts is an appropriate way to show you think they are attractive?} So I say,
    • Why do you think touching me in that way is an appropriate way to let me know you think that? You can use your words! You can just say it! You do not, and should not, touch me the way you did. You hurt me. You hurt my mental health. Have you ever heard of mental health? You traumatized me. I’m a trauma patient and you know this! Why did you do this?
  • He paused for a moment and I saw that he sort of understood. “Look at me! I’m the same, I’ve been hurt.” He showed me his wrists, probably to indicate he did things to himself in response to diminished mental health. ” I’ve been through it all!” I could tell he was frustrated.
    • [His name], we don’t hurt people who are the same. If you are hurting, you don’t hurt other people who are hurting. I imagine you have been through a lot. I know you’ve been through a lot. There are things you go through I struggle to understand and I certainly do not want to experience. I won’t tell anyone about this exchange if you can show me you understand that what you did was not okay.”
    • So what do you want me to do?
    • Well, you could apologize.”
    • Well, I’m sorry.
    • For what?
    • I don’t know!
    • Seriously?! Because you touched me somewhere you shouldn’t have! You shouldn’t touch anyone there without their permission!
    • Fine, I’m sorry.
    • For what?
    • Why does it matter?
    • I want to know you understand.” {Upon reflection, I was probably trying to elicit whether I was safe…}. I was so frustrated. I looked at him directly in the eyes, because to me, at that moment, there were no other people on that sidewalk or even in the world. “I don’t know how I feel right now. I feel like I don’t want to talk to you anymore. Do you not want me to talk to you anymore? I treat you like a human! All these other people walk by you every day. I can’t imagine what that does to your soul, but I treat you like a human! I listen to you, I try to make sure you feel valued. I respect you. You didn’t respect me! You aren’t trying to understand me. I am hurt.” So upset.
    • He kind of shrugged at first to indicate he didn’t care about whether I talked to him anymore…probably because he is accustomed to not being cared about. However, I know deep down he relishes having other humans recognize him. Because he told me in the past he enjoyed when others talked to him, when he was treated like a human. Ugh. This is why I felt sad. I talked to him because I understand how even the smallest interpersonal connections can make a huge difference. “Look I didn’t do anything wrong…
    • And that’s when I walked away. I put my headphones in and I walked awayBecause I had things to do and a place to beI could hear him say something as I turned away, but I kept walking. It was too much, and I was fed up. But my soul had taken a blow in that short and unexpected moment. And I knew it. 

After that episode, I critiqued that moment in my mind. I had been a little patronizing and bossy. Ugh. But I was so frustrated. Not an excuse, but something to learn from. But I remember thinking about how weird it was that it happened and more importantly, what did it mean? What was this event going to do to my mind and my soul?? I remember Snapping:

Me Too Photo

I Snapped this instance out of curiosity. {I do not typically seek attention because I find it easier to grow when I’m not underneath the limelight. I will only seek attention to gain traction for causes I care about or to gain knowledge to become smarter.} And when I was corresponding with my friends, I wanted to gauge their thoughts on the topic (so please discuss this circumstance in the discussion section below!)

Some of my friends responded, “I’m so sorry this happened to you!” or “Let me at him!” or “Are you okay?” etc. etc. I really appreciated their support, care, thoughtfulness, and solidarity. It definitely made me feel better. However, I also realized,

I wanted my peers to think about how the situation was more complicated than just the flagrant act of one person touching another person without their permission.  

If you didn’t realize this already, the man who touched me was homeless.

Yeah yeah, I get it. Any normal, privileged person might think, “It’s your own fault, you shouldn’t be talking to someone like that. It’s not safe.” And trust me, I know this perspective to be true because I even recently received a training about not talking to homeless people for a job-related event where homeless people might be present. The advice is to donate to an organization that works with the homeless population…I agree with this, but sometimes I just don’t think that is enough. Support needs to be sustainable and allow people to achieve. 

Lots of mixed thoughts, mixed thoughts – a lot of people who belong to my patient population, individuals with traumatic brain injury (TBI), are homeless because they have a lot of risk factors for becoming homeless. This is no surprise. Traumatic brain injury rehabilitation is typically pretty complex and can cost a lot monetarily, mentally, physically, emotionally, and usually takes a lot of time. And who got $85,000-$3,000,000 sitting around for some slow-poke human to heal? (Look up where I got these numbers from – TBI is costly).

I remember trying to rationalize his behavior.


Aside: I come from a position of where I had to learn how to live.

Pro-tip: I got to where I am as quickly as I did because I was willing to understand different ways of living to see how I wanted to do it. And what better, faster way can you learn how to live than to step into the shoes of those around you?


Anyways, at the time, some of my thoughts were: Is he behaving this way because of his identity as a homeless individual? Is this the norm for showing attraction in that culture? Because he has been rejected by non-homeless society, does he reject the behaviors of non-homeless society? Does he feel like the rules of society don’t count for him because he doesn’t feel accepted in society?

Am I really that attractive? Is it that I was wearing athleisure clothes (like many other women who work out in DC) and when guys see girls sweat they think its like hot or something? {Totally a learned behavior thought FYI}.  Is he really desperate to touch someone intimately?

What is the right thing for me to do? Should I really stop talking to him? Will that crush him further? Will I just be contributing to another issue?

I thought, if I messed up, I would hope someone would give me another chance…that mistakes are not the end all be all…but I’m not sure if I feel safe around him anymore…

I remember thinking how much I didn’t understand about homeless culture despite having some education on it from a specialist in an interprofessional public health course…so my mind was obviously swirling.

And now this post is swirling! So let’s refocus and wrap up here.

Key Take-Aways:key-colorful-matching-number-68174

PART 1 (Two takeaways for #MeToo):

  1. Touching people in ways they do not expect or feel comfortable with is NOT okay.
    • I would suggest meaningfully apologizing, demonstrating understanding, and re-building trust as actions to take to remediate that specific situation.
  2. People who have been traumatized by sexual violence need to be comfortable with speaking their truth. 
    • It is easier for me to get over this situation because my violator has less privilege than I do. I can avoid him, I don’t have to talk to him, I am naturally more respected because of my social status. I feel deeply for the individuals who cannot get away from their oppressors, or rely on their oppressors or are tied to their oppressors in some way that if they spoke their truth, it would damage them more. Whether it be a family member, boss, loved one, etc. These individuals need to have someone to feel safe with.
    • I want other victims of sexual violence to be free from their trauma loops. In my situation, I can let go of this moment because I’ve practiced intensively dealing with trauma for quite a while. It is no longer in my mind, but I can revisit it when I want to if I want to. I know I’ve thought it through and I’ve been fortunate to be able to process it with the help of my peers. Let me offer this freedom to other traumatized individuals as well.
    • Because of who I am, I personally understand trauma better than I want to, but there are those who have been trapped in sexual violence to a much greater degree than myself. Please do not hesitate to reach out to me or to be matched with others in the MindReset community who have a more specifically similar experience. Your identity will be protected and we will protect you. We are just a resource to help you heal, please do not be afraid to ask.

PART 2 (Two takeaways about homelessness):

  1. Inappropriate touching is not exclusive to the homeless population. 
    • When he touched me and thought it was a fine thing to do because he found me attractive, I was disappointed because unfortunately, all kinds of men or women apparently think this is fine. I can think of a prominent male figure who engaged in this action and thought the same thing…just think about it.
  2. Homeless individuals need compassion and attention; they need to feel supported and included in society in order to transition into non-homelessness.
    • Homelessness is one of the trickiest concepts for me to think about. When it comes to humanity and how the human soul works, seeing and interacting with homeless individuals tests an individual’s and society’s social welfare status. I personally struggle with this population because I can relate. I have peers who are homeless, I realize I could be homeless if I didn’t wake up in a privileged life. I relate to homeless individuals’ identity crisis, transitioning issues,  the desire for freedom, etc. Let’s explore this in a future post.

 

With that being said, thank you for allowing me to be vulnerable and taking the time to use your mind, perhaps in a way you might not have before. I would love to hear your thoughts on this post. What might I not have thought of? Do you have any thoughts on any of my reflections?


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Please do not hesitate to reach out to the MindReset community.

The MindReset is a community of individuals who seek to inspire a social movement geared toward creating a more Supportive, Inclusive, Compassionate, and Kind society where anyone and everyone has the opportunity to thrive. 

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