I sat down, on the floor of a hotel room, whispering: “If you can make it through the night, then tomorrow will bring good things. I believe in you.” That’s how I survived the night I was sexually and physically assaulted.
So let’s get the hard part over with and talk about what happen (names used are not their REAL names):
It was during work retreat. My boss (lets call him ‘Grant’) and I were leaving the party. Grant’s boss (Mark) offered to drive us back to the hotel. Grant and I sat in the back of Mark’s car. Grant was drunk, and I spent half of the day trying to make sure he didn’t look like more of a fool. Grant had index cards in his had. He begin to tear them up and toss them out the window. I asked for the cards and Grant gave them to me. Then, Grant laid down and put his head in my lap. And then, it happen.
a: a threat or attempt to inflict offensive physical contact or bodily harm on a person (as by lifting a fist in a threatening manner) that puts the person in immediate danger of or in apprehension of such harm or contact — compare battery 1bb:rape 2 – via Merriam-Webster
He touched me – three times. I wasn’t expecting it. And yet, it happen. And, I froze. All I can hear is the beat of my heart. I kept thinking: “Did Mark just see this? Is anyone going to say something?” No. All there was is silence. When we pulled up to the hotel, I ran out of the car. I ran to my room and locked the door. I couldn’t gather my words. All I felt was shame, shock and anger. Mostly anger. Incredible anger. Oh, I was pissed.
I changed my clothes and went back outside. I knew he would be at the bar, and there he was. I asked him to come outside, and he followed me. Every bit of strength I had in me wanted to punch him till my fist went numb. I didn’t care for what happen next, he violated me. He needs to pay. However, all I could say to Grant was: “Why did you do it?” I went into all the details, I left nothing out. Then I repeated: “Why did you do it? This is wrong!” And, with all of Grant’s energy, all he could say is: “Do you want to kiss me?” I screamed out ‘No!’ and walked away.
I returned back to my room and tried not to give up on myself. I tried to believe that this situation can be resolved and I will find justice. But, I knew the truth. It’s been the same for centuries over. My word against his. But, in this moment, all I felt was broken. That’s when I posted this photo and poured my heart out on Instagram.
I had thoughts of suicide. I knew nothing would come of this. I knew no one would hear me. I knew nothing would be resolved. In order not to cause any harm to myself, I sat on the hotel room floor and begin to meditate and try to reassure myself. “You’re all you got.” I said. “No one’s coming to rescue you.”
I had to look in Grant’s face for the next five days as I pondered on how I was going to report this. Becoming ashamed of myself because I felt I didn’t stand up for myself enough. Then, a friend reached out to me and reminded me just how much I matter. He gave me the extra push I needed to write my report. And so, the drama began.
What happens when you report your boss for harassment? Well, for me, not much. I was reminded how the victim must repeat their story to as many higher ups that want to listen. I was reminded how the HR department is for what’s good of the company, not what’s good for your well being. Regardless of the help they tried to push on me, I no longer had or felt the trust. I feared that anything I tried to do or say would be used against me. Because this is not my first encounter assault, I was reminded how you have to re-live your story and no one believes you for a series of reasons, most just couldn’t believe Grant would do something like this. Yes, many uncomfortable things are implied when talking to me behind close doors. Of course, I was given “We don’t tolerate these type of things”, and all of these meetings made me exhausted. Nothing was resolved because the option given to me did not make me happy. I still had to see Grant’s face daily, they wanted to move him to another side of the building. WTF? This is how you make it better?
I began dreading work. I had several panic attacks and ran home sick. One week, I became dehydrated, sick with an unknown disease and had vertigo. My doctor explain that the only thing she can see was that I was mentally stressed. I knew exactly what was wrong, my body didn’t want to go back to work and was begging for me to stop. I had to make a decision, lawyer up or remove myself from the situation.
Many forget, when they are telling you to quit your job, that you have these people called: ‘Rent’, ‘Bills’ and ‘Taxes’. I have a single home income. I have to protect myself. For all the friends to told me I should leave that crazy job, not one was willing to help me out until I get another one. In these situations, many give up simply because they can’t afford to move on or find another place to go. So, I decided to remove myself from the situation. I have no money or mental capacity for a lawsuit. It took me about six months, but I finally did it. I couldn’t wait to run out of there, and into a brighter future. My last day was the day before my birthday. The next day, I celebrated my freedom from that horrid place. I got on a plane and left it all behind, for a few days.
And when I returned, I started a new job. I’ve been there for about three months now. I don’t miss anything about that place except the friends I made along the way. Till this day, I can’t sleep some nights without waking up in a cold sweat. There’s the nightmares, the feeling of being followed, the feeling of being worthless. Hopelessness. Doubt. I trust no one. I spend many of weekends in my room, staring outside, wondering what the wind feels like. Crying. So many tears. Panic attacks. I hear voices and I know no one’s there. There’s no cure. No remedy. You learn how to live with the scars. Every day brings new life, and some days are good…and some you rather want to forget. But, all I have is me.
And since this day, my social media has never been the same. Instead of progression, I’ve loss my creativity. I know it’s still in me, but no one tells you how to deal (mentally) with being assaulted. It’s different for everyone.
I dress up and take selfies when I fear the outside.
I will live with the scars for the rest of my life. I will work, endlessly building my self assurance and regaining my confidence. I’ll struggle with the fear of allowing others in my personal space. I’ve paid a very steep price, and I’m sure Grant and that company sleep well at night. If our legal system and society wouldn’t chastise our victims so much, this situation may have turned out differently. But, I can’t think about it. I have a life to rebuild mentally and financially. There’s no stops along the way to have a mental breakdown and just take a vacation. At lest, not for me. These are my emotions and I’m allowed to feel this way. Not every day will be rainbows and unicorns, but, every day can be a blessing.
When I decided to make changes in 2014, one of them I kept to myself. ‘Going Natural’, my hair that is. Going natural has many negative remarks as the positives. Everyone has an opinion and it can feel overwhelming. But, whatever your ethnicity, if you want to go natural (grow out any chemical treatment in your hair or just cut off all the processed hair and start over), you should stay committed and fuck what the naysayers say. I said it. The good old “Number One Salute” to the haters.
Just like with weight loss, it seems everyone wants to give their two cents on what YOU should do about your own hair. I thought it was mine, but apparently not. There’s some that will tell you to YOUR face that ‘Natural Hair is not for everybody’. Yeah, the hair on YOUR head that you were born into this world with don’t like you. And, just like with weight loss, you start to feel like you’re losing the fight. At one point, when I started to go natural, some of my friends said they didn’t like the way my hair looked. Clearly they just want the ‘IN’ images around them – Bye! Have a nice flight outta my life.
For me, I’ve been tired of the chemical treatments since 2008. At the beginning, the only reason I kept it up was I couldn’t find anyone who went through the process. Then, I kept the chemical treatment because that was the only thing my ex-husband liked. Then, I kept in the weaves, and take it out to get it another weave. It’s exhausting. In 2012, I wanted to be done with it all. But, fear and listening to others just held me back. And this is what WE as humans do in all of our routines: We’re so scared to step out on our own that we follow the same program. WHY?
i HAD ENOUGH. i decided that I was going to be the only person who gets to decide how my hair should be. And why did it take me so long to make THAT decision? All my life, I did everything I could to please others when I should be pleasing myself FIRST.
i’m not to say that “Natural is the way to be”, I’m just saying that you should follow the beat of your OWN drum. Because when the “Trend” of “Going Natural” is over…I’ll still be here living the dream.
And, as you can see in this photo, clearly I’m doing something right & regardless of how you or anyone else sees me – I’m beautiful just the way I am.
My motivation comes from utilizing my work ethic into my personal life. I make a list of all the pros and cons and just deal with the obvious. I’m always prepared for the unexpected, years of retail and working with high-level manage will do that for you. I know if I put in the work, I WILL see results. All of the silly clichés are true: “Its a marathon, not a sprint” or “Hard work and dedication”. I put forward the effort in believing in myself because I’m not looking for outside help. This is why I’m so humble to all of the support I get in return. At the end of the day, I’m just being me. I’ve always been the one who believes I can accomplish anything I put my mind to when I’m working…so why not apply it to my personal life? There’s always going to be a ‘nay sayer’ in your life, I just clean a bunch out when I decided to start working out. Some I ‘unfriended’ some I ‘blocked’ and some I just stop calling…and you know what? They stop calling right back. I use the search engine to get started. I looked at what I can do to get rid of some problem areas. In the long term…it’s essential to workout all body parts, but I did it as a crutch to get used to lifting weights. No one in the gym ever gave me a ‘look’ that made me feel uncomfortable, so it’s funny to think how I feared that unknown. I’m motivated because I want to be the best me I can be. I want to see things that I’ve never seen as an adult when it comes to the shape of my body. Have you seen my Give It 100 video where I show the world the one thing I don’t like? I’ve always been top heavy. Wide back and a over hanging stomach. For example:
Jeans, I always have to order one size larger than I actually fit because of my stomach. So they’re baggy everywhere except where my stomach is.
Shirts: I have to wear the larges size because my top half consist of a wide stomach and even wider back and wear two extenders just to fit into a normal bra.
That’s just and example of how I started…once I got the hang of things on my own, I began to try other routines out. I know there’s no magic pill. I know that looking for the easy/fast route will not teach me anything in the future. I’m motivated because I know I have the strength, integrity and will power to overcome this obstacle – just like I did many times when I was working. And while my hands are idle and I have no work coming in, I don’t let that get me down. I fight everyday, just like you. I have my down moments, just like you. But, I get up and fight again. I’m not done with this battle. The war is not over.
You don’t see how long it takes me to get out of bed because of the negative thoughts in my head. You don’t see how many times I’ve cried because I rather sit on the sofa, eat kettle chips and zone out on The Walking Dead, Mad Men or Scandal then go to the gym. I limited my conversations to certain friends because I don’t want to feel like the pity party. Plenty of people I know are graduating, buying homes, having kids, getting married, bonuses at their jobs, new jobs, promotions….and here I sit. Regardless, you’ll never get a chance to see a ‘real’ person overcome their battles on TV unless there’s a competition behind it – trust me. I’ve been offered some crazy things.
I’m not a robot, I go through it just like you. It sucks, it’s hard, I don’t want to do it, I can’t deal with it, I don’t like it. But, I’m tankful for it everyday. The power push through and accomplish more is what drives me. The war is not over.