I have been working on posts for months now, but honestly, everything has been so hectic that it wasn’t until I hopped into bed a few hours ago where everything finally just hit me all at once and I broke down completely.
This is not to say that I have not been heart-broken or haven’t cried following the news recently, because I have, but it feels like I had the opportunity to come up for air and breathe tiny gasps. Now, I honestly feel like I am drowning.
I have so much rage and sadness for what is happening in my country right now. I know that I come from a place of true privilege to have been able to glide through life this long without realizing how fucked up the world really is, but I want to stand up for all women, especially indigenous and of color, because I have not done so in the past when you needed me.
Listening to everyone talk about the “hell” Brett Kavanaugh has been through has made me so sick. I have cried tears of rage and fury for weeks now. I understand the country’s need for due process, but I am calling horse shit on this barbaric man having a “right” to be on the Supreme Court. NO ONE HAS A RIGHT TO BE ON THE SUPREME COURT. YOU HAVE TO EARN THAT PRIVILEGE. Otherwise, someone nominate me, I deserve it too. Why? Because I fucking say so–now do it. Otherwise you will “ruin my life.”
Political parties have become more melodramatic than Gossip Girl, and frankly, I am so pissed at how many people care more about party lines than about people.
“How can Doctor Ford actually remember this happening to her when she cannot remember what day it was even on?”
I cannot remember the date I was assaulted, but I can tell you everything that happened in the room that day, and everything that transpired when I tried to report it.
WARNING: The following is about assault and may not be appropriate for you and could be triggering, especially if recent events were hard to cope with.
I was a sophomore in college, working within residential life. I was in the office in the basement of a building with three of my colleagues.
I was sitting next to and talking with a male colleague who I was quite smitten with at the time. We had previously been intimate; however, I was a virgin and sex was completely foreign and terrifying to me. Up to this point, I hadn’t even watched porn, so the most I really knew about it was the car scene in Titanic. He had tried, I had said no, but he kept trying, and I kept saying no. I once even texted a friend to come to my room and fake a breakdown because he just was not getting it.
This same friend was in the room that day.
I was sitting next to him, talking with him, and I thought I was being playful and flirty. He was working on something, possibly homework, I honestly do not remember that part, but I remember tapping him on the arm and then my entire life changed in a matter of seconds.
I was tapping on his arm when he reached over and grabbed my hand.
“I told you to leave me the fuck alone, woman.”
He was grabbing my hand, and it hurt. He was grabbing it so tightly. I did not know he was this strong, and I suddenly knew what was about to happen.
“You’re hurting me–please let go!”
I was pleading, and I remember my voice cracking. I looked to my friends who were over at a different computer, staring in horror.
He stood up, bending my wrist back. I fell out of my chair and onto my knees begging him to stop as he was holding onto my hand and wrist. I am a tall woman, close to his size, but in this moment I realized just how small I had become.
Then came the sounds of my bones breaking in my hand followed by horrific screams by both me and the other woman in the room. The same woman I called when he was pushing me for sex. One moment he was over me, the next my hand was released and she was on his back screaming. The other man in the room asked me if I was okay, and the man who had just broken my hand walked out of the room after essentially shrugging my friend off of himself.
I do not remember what happened between my friend and the man who I once cared for. I don’t even remember him leaving the room. I had only learned of it from my friends after the fact.
I remember laying on the floor sobbing while holding on to my wrist. I didn’t have insurance. I would not be able to afford to go to the hospital.
My friends brought me back to my room.
My wrist had become three times its normal size within two hours, and I had lost all mobility in the outside of my hand. The woman who was in the room told me to report him to the police immediately. But I had feelings for him, didn’t I? I cared for him, didn’t I? He was so charismatic and charming. He could have been my boyfriend, right?
We ended up going to a Hall Director’s apartment that night, who also was one of the people who oversaw the organization we worked for, and I told him what happened. So did the other two people who were in the room. The Hall Director attempted to reach out to the man who had shattered my hand, but there was no answer. He asked me if I wanted to follow a police report or if I thought this should be resolved internally through mediation and other means.
My friend who was a female said to file the police report.
My friend who was a male said maybe we should wait to see what he has to say for himself.
I cared about him, didn’t I?
The next day I skipped class and looked up ways to make a brace. My pinky finger was sticking straight out of the side of my hand, and my ring finger was floating around about an inch lower than where it was supposed to be. My hand hurt so bad and my wrist had become unmovable from the swelling.
I got a phone call.
I got a phone call asking me to come into the head advisor’s office.
I went to the office.
He saw the swelling and that my hand had become black across three-quarters of it. I told him what I remembered. The other two people said they told him what they saw. He said he was going to talk to the man who did this, and then they would set up a mediation for the two of us to understand what the next steps would be.
I walked back to my room on the other side of campus.
The mediation took place within the next week. It was lead by another man.
“Courtney, are you sure he was the one who did this to you and that you didn’t do this to yourself?”
“Yes, I am sure.”
“Courtney, do you understand what will happen if you file a police report against him?”
“Uh, no, not really.”
I am not a lawyer or judge, nor have I ever been on Jury Duty.
“Courtney, do you know that if you file charges against him that he will likely be expelled and lose his athletic scholarships and his ability to play for our school?”
“I honestly had not thought of that.”
“Well, Courtney, before you go and ruin a man’s life, I need you to think hard about what your next steps are. *He turned his head to the man who shattered my hand* Are you sorry for what you did to her?”
“Yeah, I am sorry.”
“See, Courtney, he is sorry.”
“I’m sorry too.” What the fuck was I apologizing for?! I remember these words coming out of my mouth before I could stop myself. It seemed like the right thing to say. I had so much love for this man, didn’t I?
“Well, I think this mediation went really well! We got everything we needed to say out unless either of you have anything you would like to add?”
“Okay. …” The mediator was still talking, but I ran from the room, no longer able to catch what was being said.
My hand was broken.
I couldn’t tell my family what had happened, because I did not believe any of them would do anything good. I honestly thought they may attempt to kill him.
I did not go home for fall break.
I went to a conference for work at some point that fall. So did he.
I went to that conference in the cast I was still making for myself. People from around the midwest kept asking me what happened. I made jokes and attempted to hide it all weekend.
I went home for Thanksgiving. I spent the next three days hiding the break in my hand the best I could from my family. The swelling had gone down along with the bruising, but my ring finger and pointer were still out of line.
Sunday night came and I asked my mom if she could bring me back Monday morning since I didn’t have anything going on until an afternoon meeting.
I would see him at that afternoon meeting. I did not want to go back.
In the middle of the night, my heart began racing. I went up to my parent’s room. I pleaded with them incoherently, asking them to not make me go back to college, to let me just start new somewhere else–only my words were not making sense. It was just gasps for air, sobs, and yelling.
I remember the feeling of no air getting to my lungs. I remember collapsing when my younger sister opened her bedroom door to ask what was going on. I remember falling into her room clutching my chest. I remember the smell of toothpaste on her breath as she knelt over me screaming at me to breathe. I remember her saying “You can’t die.”
And then I did. I died.
Well, my heart stopped for a while, according to the doctor’s reports. Not sure for how long. I woke up in searing pain as both my shoulders were ripped out of their sockets by paramedics attempting to carry me to the gurney in an actually accessible hallway.
“She is fighting. She is back with us. STAY WITH US.”
I just remember screaming so loudly in pain, but nothing was coming from my lungs.
Then I was at the hospital.
Numerous doctor’s came in and out throughout the night, and then in the morning after the painkillers and sedatives wore off there was a very calming man sitting at the end of my bed. He asked if I would consider at 72 hour stay in their psych wing. 72 hours, no phone, no communication with anyone from the school. He would let them all know I would not be returning for the remainder of the term.
72 hours completely disconnected for the first time in years. I spent most of my time talking with my roommate who had been in and out of the unit for a while and deciding what I wanted for my next meal. I also read, drew different assortments of flowers, and complained about the female sizes in the slipper socks. I also talked with the same doctor who had talked to me in the emergency room daily.
You know how there are people who have a voice for radio? He had a voice for caring about people. I can still hear him and what he talked with me about. He was so present, and it was completely soothing and remarkable.
He walked me through what would have happened if I had gone to the police. He reminded me that people who love each other or care about one another listen to each other and do not shatter each other’s hands. He told me he was impressed by my willingness to forgive. I thought I was being brave, loving, and forgiving.
But I was not and I am not; I have no love for this man. My silence may have damned another woman to his abuse, and I do not forgive him for what he has done or myself for not reporting it to the police.
Why? Because it has been over seven years now and my hand still hurts. He probably doesn’t ever think about me, but I think about him daily. I hate what he did to me.
My hand is still fucked up. As I am typing this, I use all the fingers on my left hand but only have use of my pointer and middle finger on my right hand. My pinky finger is curled in on itself. My ring finger is trying really hard to reach keys, consistently failing causing me to punch the delete key over and over again.
When a man or friend goes to hold my right hand, I flinch away. I don’t want them to feel the deformity.
Coaches tell me I need to work on mobility within that hand and I want to scream about how my ring finger is fused into my wrist as I attempt to reach around the bar. Crossfit has actually made me more and more aware of this scar. I am aware of my hand in push-ups, in ring dips, in wall balls, and whenever I am lifting heavy and cannot get enough grip from my right hand.
Why don’t I just get it fixed? I would have to have my hand entirely shattered and rebuilt with metal rods. That process alone could take years. It will probably have to happen someday, but I have come too far to let this bullshit screw up my physical progress now. I can deal with the aches and pains.
What I can no longer deal with is the thought that women are “ruining” men’s lives by coming forward.
Your life is ruined, Brett? IS IT REALLY? You are becoming a Supreme Court Justice. Dr. Ford has thought of you almost daily since you were in college, and with you she feels dread, fear, and anger. She knows, as I know, that we all should have reported what happened to us when it originally happened, but would anyone have believed us? Every MAN that I talked to through my attempted reporting process saw my hand and still asked me if I was assaulted. They all talked to those who were in the room when it happened and they still wondered if it was true. Even when they said they believed me, they made me question myself.
He made me question myself.
I should never have questioned myself.
This was not the first time I was assaulted, nor was it the last time I was assaulted. It was the first time I attempted to report being assaulted, but it was not the last time I attempted to report being assaulted. Even now, after reading this post out loud back to myself, I am faced with this overwhelming insecurity wondering if anyone will believe me. I know it is true. I can see my hand. I can still hear the sounds of my bones crunching. He is still here with me, and I want to punch the memory out of my system. I don’t want to just get super jacked at the gym to look good naked, I want to get jacked so the next time a man thinks he can fuck with me I can defend myself. I am so tired of being scared all the time. I am so tired of letting other women be scared. I am so tired of seeing women of color being treated exponentially worse than I have been. I am so fucking tired.
While I may be tired, I am stronger than I ever have been now. I am strong enough to own my truth. I am strong enough to let you know that not only did I survive all of that, but I am here ready to stand with you now. I ask that you forgive me for not rising up sooner, for not looking at the world around me sooner, for not getting mad enough until I was personally triggered by these events. I am here. I am here now in a pile of pieces, but I am here.
How can I help?
What can I do to be better than I was yesterday?
What can I do to make today better and brighter for you?
How do we become stronger?