I am an honest blogger, but not a confessional blogger; Mom-101 has never been my diary. But there have been so many occasions that I’ve wanted to talk about some more personal things. To respond to other posts about tough subjects not with an “I’m sorry” but with a “me too.”
It’s a very scary prospect.
The more successful or prominent a blogger becomes, I’d imagine the more some of us hold back. For our kids, for our careers, for our families. The reality is, I’m less likely to blog about baby Thalia finding condom wrappers the morning after Valentine’s Day in the couch, now that I have an actual mental picture of who you are, my readers. You are my friends, my family, my clients, my coworkers, my parents, my parents’ friends. You are my upstairs neighbors, my fellow school moms, my boss, a few potential bosses, no doubt my company’s HR director from time to time. And my Aunt Fredda. The one whose name, when I was little, lead me believe that there was a famous female dancer named Fredda Stair.
Oof. The old school newspaper columnists had it easy, in the days before Google analytics.
Yesterday, this profound post at Finslippy about women as objects brought up such strong feelings, such repressed shameful memories, that I started to say it…almost. Not quite. Her post was as brave as my comment there was not.
But it should be said.
Last week on Facebook, a guy tried to friend me. It was a name I had blocked completely from my consciousness and seeing it spelled out on screen, brought this rush of incredible, visceral discomfort and anxiety that was so powerful, it took me a moment to identify the cause.
I remember my friend’s den where it happened. I remember the pattern of the couch. I remember fooling around and wondering if it was my fault, that I had given him the wrong impression. Then I remember that I thought it was just easier to lie there and get it over with than to say no any more forcefully than I had already done about a dozen times, without waking up the parents down the hall. I remember that at 17, the idea of waking parents seemed somehow worse than anything. I remembered that thankfully it was fast.
I don’t think of it much any more. It was a very long time ago.
However since last week, since that name rose to the top of my Facebook page, the fuzzy, decades-old image of his face has been in my nightmares. Does he actually remember me? Is he remorseful? Does he remember it as consensual? Or is he like the mean girl of my childhood who doesn’t remember me hardly at all–just another meaningless name from childhood that a social media algorithm kindly recommends for friendship, what with our one mutual acquaintance and all.
I decided, I don’t need to know what he remembers.
I don’t care what he thinks at all.
This is my closure, right here.
This is not an I Hate Men post or a Men Do Terrible Things Against Women post. I mean it to be a post about being honest in blogging. When. How.
I had to ask myself, is it better not to write about this?
And then I asked myself, if I do write about this, could it maybe help someone more than it would hurt me? Would it help in some small way change the statistic that only 2%–2 fucking percent –of women who are raped by acquaintances report it? How about those who don’t report being groped on the subway? Do the other 98% bear the burden alone, quietly, with the shame and the pain and the confusion?
I found my answer.
Today, I remain even more awed, amazed by those bloggers who, every day, put it all on the line for those of us who don’t or can’t. Why Mommy (who I think of around the clock) and her valiant strength and self-reflection in the face of Cancer.
I have been inspired by Jenny Lawson and the blog post heard ’round the world. I think of all those bloggers I know and love, complex, smart, funny and wonderful–but also strong enough, brave enough to discuss emotional abuse and divorce, financial desperation and PPD, the challenges of special needs children, recovery from addiction, and the lasting scars of abusive parents.
Some of them make it look easy to write about these things. It’s not.
I will probably grapple with hitting the PUBLISH button for a while before I do.
If you are reading this, then I managed to find the nerve. Thank you Alice. Thank you Heather and Mir and Julie and Kristen. Thank you bloggers who do every day. Thank you bloggers who just do it when you can.
97 thoughts on “It should be said.”
Thank YOU, Liz.
Reading Alice’s amazing post, and Julie’s, and now yours, I can’t help but get angry. And my anger will fuel my utter vigilance to do everything that I can to ensure that my girls never have to suffer in silence.
And then my son would never ever do such a thing so help him God.
By standing up, by showing our girls AND our boys that this is unacceptable, even if it’s in hindsight, we’re doing a service to someone. And that’s pretty freaking important.
This is where I am right now, too. Wondering what tools I will pass to my daughters and son that they never stand down in the face of objectification and that they know the opposite sex isn’t there for their entertainment, fantasy, or commentary.
It must have been difficult to decide to post this–but I’m really glad you did. Speaking out is a powerful weapon.
It hit home with me because someone tried to friend me yesterday. His violation was nothing (less than nothing) compared to what you went through, but to this day it sticks with me. The same thoughts ran through my head–and yet I stay silent and see him become friends with women I know. You’re braver than I. Thank you.
I have to agree that when I grapple with whether or not to post something, it’s also because I know so many of my readers. If they were faceless I would spill EVERYTHING. But I always remind myself that my mom is reading, and my next-door neighbor, and several teachers at my kids’ school. And then I hold back. Congratulations on having the courage, and I hope it brings you closure.
Uh, yeah, the teachers at school. That slowed me down, especially after I learned one showed it to my younger son, who of course knew about my blog, but still…weird.
I find so much to admire in those bloggers who open their hearts, their minds, their fears. I’m a peacekeeper at my core, a good girl who doesn’t want to make waves, so I don’t write about the things that I’m afraid will upset my family, that will expose my secrets, that will lay me bare.
Thank you to all of you who do. Maybe I’ll gain courage from you one day.
This post breaks my heart and makes me angry. Heartbroken that young girls, grown women, females of all ages would rather get it over with than wake the parents. I am so very angry that boys & men think if they want it they can get it and it’s not there fault.
Thank you very much for hitting publish.
Your story is my story. I remembering writing about my incident on my blog–a few years ago and was shocked by how many other women had this experience. The rush of male hormones, need, control, entitlement, silencing the voice of a young woman who knew what she didn’t want. A voice that so clearly did not matter.
My scar is deep and it changed the course of my life. I didn’t know how to talk to my friends–I was 15. I had been a virgin. It wasn’t anything like I thought it should be. It wasn’t what I wanted and I searched for years trying to find love on my back, because I thought that was the only way someone would like me.
I turned to alcohol as a teen and considered taking my own life. I continued making myself an object and it wasn’t until I met my husband at the age of 25 that I really learned what love was and that I was not an object but a person.
Thank you for sharing that Dawn. I’m so sorry. And I know.
“I searched for years trying to find love on my back” I did too….
How can we keep our daughters from walking in our shoes and keep our sons from perpetuating this objectifying of women.
I work really hard to raise my kids well. Right now they are 5 and 4 and it seems “easy” relative to the teen years when I stop being the biggest influence in their life.
I need to do more than my parents did. I need to know more than my parents did.
we keep this from happening to our daughters by talking about it out loud, up front, with our daughters AND our sons.
I’m sorry they did that to you. And, me too.
Ashley-yes. Out loud, up front. Well said.
Thank you for sharing this glimpse of your bravery through the beauty of your words. It’s easy to forget how powerful, how cathartic words may be. I hope putting it all out there give you the release, the closure you were looking for.
This is an amazing post . . . a post that will help someone . . . someone who finds themself trying to understand what just happened and what to do.
Words are incredibly powerful and I am always proud of those who choose to use their words to speak their truth.
I wish I had something profound and wise to say….but truly I just wanted to say thank you liz. You are such an inspiration to me and one of the people I really truly wish I could see in person more often. Thank you for your honesty and bravery.
You are one of my heros.
Is it wrong my immediate reaction was “Fuck that guy! How dare he try and friend Liz!?!?”
I know this must have been so hard to post. But I’m glad you did. It does take such courage. I am so glad you put this out there. I hope it comes as a bit of relief.
Damn that Facebook algorithm! It gets me with the same name and stupid smiling face about once a month. Sometimes I want to just flick his face off my computer screen. I wonder the same things- does he remember all the things he said and did. Does he rememer that he shoved my face into a snarling dog and laughed? That he tried to drown me for fun or how amusing it was when he would lock me in his parents basement when they were not home? Or was that just his version of a good date?
I have touched on teen violence before on my own blog but have never pulled the trigger on actual moments. Maybe I should. But I know that I’m just not ready. Maybe if I pulled my blog off Facebook I would be.
When you are ready is when it’s time. Good luck Vicky. I know you’re amazingly strong.
What a powerful post. Your words are strong and victimless… i think this is an important voice for women everywhere to hear. Your experiences don’t weaken you…they strengthen! Thanks for sharing Liz.
Thank you for your courage. It’s wonderful to know how many of us come out on the other side, stronger and wiser, if scarred. It would be more wonderful if our own daughters could gain strength and wisdom without bearing the same scars.
It’s also wonderful for those of us with sons to do all we can to make sure they don’t grow up to be “that guy”.
This was a very difficult post to read….all the way to the bottom….although, I “know” it was probably a bazillion times harder to write. However, may I humbly remind you (and anyone who’s ever had a post, like yours, brewing in their heart) this is one of the many reasons why your girls are very lucky to have you as their mom. So, yes, thank you Liz.
I married the wrong man because of my “incident”. I didn’t marry the boy in HS that took advantage of my silence and trust, but I can point to that moment, and know my personal relationship decisions in my early 20s were all about staying safe. I figured out the connection in my 30s (divorced and happily remarried.)
So, thank you and writers like you, who have the nerve. I can’t imagine what my life might have been like if I had access to posts by strong women back in my 20s.
What an asshole. I hope (and assume) you ignored his request and that getting it “out” here helps you to forget about it/him for good.
Well done. Very well done.
Yours and Alice’s post are both incredibly courageous, and if courageous women like you mean that more than just 2% of women report sexual assault, we’ll be a step closer to making this world safer for women. The first time I distinctly remember lewd comments from an older man was when I was 12. I have had so many more experiences since then and I know so many women who’ve had similar encounters. We’re all brave. We’re all survivors, and as hard as it is to talk about our experiences, I think it’s worse to shroud them in silence and allow men (and people in general) to believe the illusion that we don’t live in sexist societies. Because silence on rape, abuse and harassment is what leads people to make light of lewd comments and dirty leering. They say it’s “harmless” or “just having fun.” If they were aware of how quickly a comment or a look can lead to a genuine physical threat or trigger the memory of a past traumatic event (traumas FAR too many of us have experienced), they might spare us the “don’t-overreact” act and take the threat seriously.
Reading this sent my stomach plummeting to my feet. For your pain, for mine, for the countless women (and men) who have had the courage to share their stories. For the readers, one after another after another, who leave comments of solidarity, of knowing, breaking their own silence. It must have been hard, opening yourself up to us this way, but I am so thankful and grateful that you did.
And I echo Kristen: I will spend my ENTIRE LIFE making sure that my children do not suffer in silence, shamed into keeping someone else’s secret. On behalf of my girl and so many others, thank you.
Oh, Liz. Good on you for the brave.
Did you happen to read that Times piece a couple of weeks about about a long ago rape and a recent interaction on FB?
I just found it. Oh my God.
You are both so brave for sharing your stories. Thank you!
Thank you. I have a hard time with where the lines are. I blogged something recently about my son and sports/new situations. It was sort of an open letter to those out there judging me and my crying kid on the sidelines. I felt good to get some of the anger out and explain our perspective with a kid who does not handle those situations as well as many his age. In the process, my MIL took it to be about her or her treatment of him and family chaos ensued. I wanted to explain to (admittedly) vent and try to help people understand kids like ours, but was devastated to have accidentally made someone I care about hurt in the process. In short, your message resonates with me. I appreciate the pull between sharing and protecting.
Hugs and tears Liz.
I am so sorry this is in your life, as a memory.
I, also, thank the bloggers who post with honesty.
I have depended on this community, for over 4 years now…to have a place for me, when those in my real life don’t get what I have had in my life.
It’s these people who have give me a home, a place to go, where there are others who can understand…
I won’t say who, but a relative once gave me the best sex advice ever:
“Have sex! Have lots of sex. Have straight sex, have gay sex, have group sex, have fun sex. Have all the sex you want. Just remember two things: Don’t ever have sex with someone who doesn’t want to have sex with you, and wear a condom every single time!”
Why doesn’t anybody ever give sex advice like that to men?
I think people do give that advice to men. (See Kristen and Terri K’s comments here) Just not the one I’m writing about.
Liz, thanks for having the courage to share your experience, and I’m sorry that you had anything like that happen at all.
I hate to say this, but there was an “incident” almost EXACTLY like yours that happened to me when I was 18. I was angry at him. I was angry at myself. I wondered if he felt bad about it or if he convinced himself that the entire time I was saying no, I meant yes. (I didn’t. Not even close.)
A few years ago, a friend mentioned his name. Apparently he had committed suicide and she thought I should know. The news shook me a little, but mostly because I was conflicted on how I should feel. I never wished that on him, and I felt terrible for his friends in family, but in complete honesty, I think maybe the world is a better place without him.
Blogging through my depression in 2004 saved my life. Will always be grateful for this space, for the women I’ve met here, for YOU. xox
I’m afraid I don’t have anything all that profound to offer up here, Liz, aside from bravo.
It can be so cathartic to get things out into the open. At the same time, as someone who is still figuring out where the too-much-info and just-enough-info lines blur in terms of blogging, I appreciate your veering toward the honest. The gritty. And most of all, the idea that this can help someone else.
I’m so glad you wrote about this, so impressed by your courage and so thankful you hit publish.
I can already see by the comments how many people you’ve made feel safe enough to share their own experience. I’m quite sure there will be more. That’s something that no one can EVER take away from you.
Why acquaintance rape is a topic very close to my heart and a center of rage for me is not my story to tell, and I have a very different perspective on what you, my friends, are writing about this week. But (as I don’t have to tell you, I know) I am a confessional blogger on some level, always have been. And it’s almost 100 percent true that it’s the stuff I didn’t want to post about the most, the stuff I thought would have the worst repercussions, the stuff that clanged around in my brain as unpublishable for the longest, migraine-inducing time until it suddenly wasn’t anymore, that has had the best outcomes, for me, and for people who read and commented.
This means it was stuff I was ready to say, not for any personal gain or contrived means of connection, but genuinely, the way it’s evolved for those of you writing about your experiences this week.
And for the deep personal reason I care about this issue, I will say for sure that it does help, that it will help, and that it can, and that I appreciate every one of you who are coming forward to share it. I believe that the best moments in personal blogging as some of us practice it come from identification, from the removal of the feeling that we are somehow alien. I’m experiencing this right now regarding another personal issue, and once again, it is proving profoundly true.
It is never okay when this happens. It is not. And I hope that it is a healing thing when, years later, you have people there to say that for sure.
Thank you Laurie. I always love seeing your thoughtful perspectives here.
Thank you… the only way for me to get through the rough patches of my scars is to simply write about them, in the open, for all to read. Yes…it heals me…the fact that I can blog my memoirs is an enormous relief.
Thanks for writing this.
Love to you.
I just erased a whole long comment because I didn’t want people to mistake what I was saying. One of the by-products of convo-by-comment.
Suffice it to say, I think it’s so important to use this medium authentically and for good. You’ve done that here.
Thank you for allowing yourself to hit the Publish button.
Why do people have to be such animals?Why do men objectify women like we are pieces of furniture put here for their sexual pleasure and amusement?
I remember being 18 and working downtown Chicago. I thought I was such a grown up only, the men on the train didn’t sidle up to the grown up women.The construction workers didn’t hang from their scaffolding leering and yelling at the grown up women.The men in the office didn’t dare graze too closely behind the grown women, rest their hand uncomfortably close to their breasts or get too close in the supply room.everywhere I went in those days , I felt objectified by men. I felt dirty and alone and like just by being young I provoked their advances.Eventually I quit because I couldn’t take a shower hot enough each night to rid me of their visual molestation.
I was never sexually assaulted during that time but I certainly felt violated.
Yes, this helps.
I haven’t (thankfully, knock on wood) have the exact same experience as you — but it helps.
I hope sharing it helps you as much as it helps all of us reading.
Your bravery is making a difference…right now.
I’m so sorry that you were taken advantage of like that! No one should ever have to experience such a violation. No one. It is just disgusting.
This post WILL help many people. Your bravery, your courage … all of that will-power you drudged up to click “publish” was worth it. I hope from the comments here, you can already see that.
I just entered the blogsphere as a single, divorcing mom and I find myself dancing around where I might be crossing the line into overly-confessional and honest to the point of offensive. This post, and the comments thus far, have reminded me that honest, confessional blogging is most powerful when it is thoughtful and full of grace.
I grappled with the publish button last night, in fact.
The reason why I blog is because bravery in others helps me see it in myself.
It IS difficult to write about the things that are personal and scary, but as you can see by the responses, it DOES do good, it DOES help, and I thank you for that.
You are very brave – you should be very proud.
If you are still questioning if you should have written this, please stop.
You have and thank you.
Oh, Liz. My heart’s in about a million pieces over this.
Powerful post. This should be said. If you help just one young woman or girl stand up for herself, you’ve made a difference.
This was a really powerful post. Good for you for posting it! I think it is sad that so many of us have stories like this. Mine is about sexual harassment and stalking from a post-doctoral fellow in the lab I did my undergraduate research in. Maybe some day I’ll blog about it. It is a sick twist of our culture that we are most likely to be handed these terrible situations to deal with when we are young, and least equipped to deal with them well. My God, I look back at how I handled the problems I had with that post-doc and I want to reach through time and shake my 21 year old self. And call the cops on that creep of a postdoc instead of letting the lab head handle it (aka, sweep it under the rug).
Anyway, this isn’t about me. What you went through is horrible and no one should experience that. I’m so sorry it happened to you. I am also sorry that your story didn’t shock me- that is a sad comment on our culture, I think.
And you know what else is sad? The fact that I think the most likely of the options you listed for why he is contacting you is that he remembers it as consensual. That is a very, very sad comment on our culture.
It is about you, Cloud. It’s about all of us. And our daughters and our sons.
I’m also shocked but not shocked by the comments and emails I’m getting revealing similar stories. I really hope we can make it so that the next generation has it better.
It still shocks me when another person I know writes about something like this. It shocks me, because in some way, we all have a story. I despise how many women are abused in some way and even more how many never feel safe enough to come forward. It makes me sad. Then again, I’m just as bad. I’ll never say a single word to anyone in my family about what happened to me.
I hope every single day that I can protect my daughters. And that I can teach my son right from wrong and know that he never harms anyone. I pray for it and I’m not even religious.
This was so brave Liz. Truly. I’m very glad that you wrote this. Personal writing like this is no easy feat. Hugs to you.
Thank you for being brave enough to post. Not only for you, but for every other woman out there who doesn’t feel that her struggles matter.
I can’t image how hard it must have been for you to write this and publish it.
It’s so sad to me that we all have these stories. I hope if we voice them, our daughters and their friends will have less.
Thank you for pressing publish. I know how hard that must have been to write.
I have a story, too. One I have only told 2 people.
I look, now, at my 16 year old and I pray that she never has to have that experience, never has to hold on to a secret. But I also wonder what else I should be doing to protect her.
I don’t think that feeling ever goes away.
I am sorry (and mad) that happened to you. But bless you for saying it out loud.
Thank you so much for deciding to post this. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Your post is very brave and though we do not know each other, I wish you love and peace. Sexual violence is an issue that touches so many lives and worldwide, more education, speaking out, survivor support, and prevention needs to take place. Wishing you ongoing healing and care.
posts like this leave me speechless.
it is so brave to share what is private and painful, yet so liberating to those of us who grew up in tragically broken homes, fought their own demons and struggles with eating (or not eating) to read, break through the haze, and possibly share, too.
my heart breaks that you experienced this, but thank you for sharing. it is what we should do as bloggers.
i have to say that your post has been haunting me all day. I can’t imagine what it must have been like to live it. You are brave and awesome for writing this, even if it did ruin my day and make me sick to my stomach.
Thank you. Thank you for sharing, thank you for being honest, thank you for giving me a reminder of how powerful our words are and can be; how powerful women are and can be and how very important ‘our’ honesty can be in terms of reaching out to those around us.
Thank you, Liz, for finding the words to tell your story. I have a couple of stories myself that I want to tell, but just haven’t found the place, the time, or the words quite yet.
Thanks Liz. What a giant responsibility you have being such a great role model to us all and you do it with grace.
I can still remember the first time I read something like this on someone’s blog. I was blown away not just by the story, but that there, as here, there were so many, many people who commented to the effect of “Yes, that happened to me too.”
What more can we do to keep this from happening to our daughters? How do we teach our sons that this is not okay?
I admire your bravery. This must have been really difficult for you. Reading these comments I wonder if there is not one woman on the planet who doesn’t have a similar story. That makes me both sad and angry, and determined to do anything I can to protect my girls.
So many women have these stories, me included. It’s personal, but not shameful, and the only way we can get that message across is to talk about it.
This post took a lot of courage to write and publish. I think you did more good than you may ever realize by doing so.
I struggle often with how to teach my children to not be silent if confronted with a similar situation. It seems like a gut reaction, a survival technique to stay silent. But I truly wonder if everyone learned to embrace the idea that the shame is not the victim’s then they would realize they have the right to be loud and indignant. I don’t want the creeps of the world to have the power. Silence is what gives it to them.
Thank you for choosing not to be silent anymore.
I know how difficult it is to share this. But you are a brave woman for doing so. Thank you for sharing, even when the sharing isn’t easy.
I want you to know that this post won’t simply have an impact on how girls are parented, but how my son will be parented. I can see and hear the fathers of the boys I was friends with. How they high-fived their sons for getting some. It disgusted me then and it disgusts me now.
My husband and I discuss all the time on how to arm our girls, but we don’t talk about raising our son to HEAR a girl. I think I thought that having sisters would be enough. But maybe it isn’t. Maybe he needs to know what a boy can do when he’s so focused on getting some. The point is to raise him to know.
I wonder if there’s a woman out there, anywhere, who doesn’t have some sort of story, even just a moment, when they were put in an uncomfortable situation by a man. Or a woman. Or anyone.
And no, I don’t talk about these things either. It’s likely I never will.
Sometimes the most difficult conversations are the most important ones. So thank you for sharing your story.
I also read Alice’s piece earlier in the week, and both posts have reminded me of events that I had long forgotten, times when I felt incredibly uncomfortable, and even a few when I felt unsafe.
And then I think how important it is to start these conversations with my kids in a general way while they are still young… to teach them to respect themselves and to respect others, to understand that no really means no, to stand up for themselves and speak up when they need to…
Difficult, important conversations. Thank you again for publishing your story.
You’re all so incredibly brave for blogging about such personal topics. I applaud you all. I actually have a separate blog where I remain anonymous to write about the really personal things.
One story at a time we hold up to the light the unacceptable experiences of women (and men!) being exploited, examine the horror and shun the the perpetrators and their behavior. Thanks for sharing your story!
Thank you. I think of this more as activist blogging.
Thank you Jake, but I think that’s lofty praise for this post. I needed to say something. I haven’t asked for any actions on my behalf. Is that activism?
I’ve written and erased ten comments trying to find the right words here. I think Issa said it a few comments up. We all have a story. Thank you for sharing yours.
Thank you Ilana.
Sigh. I’m so sorry this happened to you, even though it was so, so long ago. You are incredibly brave to post this, and you are wonderful to link arms with all the other brave, strong women who have experienced something terrible and are willing to talk about it. I’m proud to be a part of this community with you. xo
Thank you for your honesty. I was 19. It was my dorm room. It isn’t easy to tell anyone this – I think maybe 2 people know. And one day I will have to tell my daughter. And as she hurtles along from 3 to (someday) 13, there will never be a right moment or an opportune time. Thanks for getting me to think about how I can do that.
Thanks M. I think a lot of us are thinking about it. And I’m sorry.
Put simply: you did the right thing by hitting “publish”. This post affects me for reasons I hope to have the courage to write about one day.
Thanks for nudging me that much closer to that writing about this subject and others that require this kind of bravery.
I shouldn’t have started reading the comments right before bed because now anger and rage and disbelief and fear and horror is gripping my chest.
I read your post several nights ago and keep coming back to it in my mind. I read Finslippy and I’m reminded of why the hell I want to be bold, why I’m a feminist, damnit. I just read the op piece someone posted above and it’s doing me in.
Thankful for your thoughtfulness, courage, and for healing, too.
You are brave. And I’m so sorry this happened to you and all the other women it has ever happened to as well.
wow. this has become quite a session catching up on reading!
thank you, liz, for sharing this. and pointing out the other posts (by other women who i plan on thanking, as well). and thank you to all the commenters, especially those who shared some of their own experiences. what an amazing show of community and, if you ask me, heap and heaps of courage.
Thank you for daring to post this. Your strength makes us all stronger.
Oh Heather, so nice to see your name here!
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