How do I start a blog post about something so difficult? I’ve written and re-written this about five times this morning. Getting up and walking away from my computer, pacing the room, trying my best to understand that I am about to share something incredibly difficult. Last night, I finally sat down to watch Lady Gaga’s five foot two on Netflix, and it got me thinking. Now that may sounds silly to you, but I am the kind of person who is inspired by real emotion and vulnerability in others. I like to know that I’m not alone in feeling the things I do, or having to cope with difficult things in my life. After jotting down quotes from the film in a note on my phone (something I have done for years in hopes of inspiring myself when I feel lost), I tried to lay down and get a good night’s sleep. As I lay in bed, scrolling through my social media feeds, I came across the #MeToo hashtag. Maybe it’s an overwhelming sense of reevaluation that always comes over me before my birthday, or maybe I’m just feeling emotional, but it made me realize the importance in sharing our stories with one another. Something that is not easy in a world of smiles and images of perfection. But is so important to help shed light on an important message. So here is my story. Because #MeToo.
Is it uncomfortable to talk about this? Absolutely. Many people will probably dismiss the hashtag as just another social media trend. But have you clicked on the hashtag and read the stories that women and men around the world are sharing? It’s alarming how common sexual assault is and how many friends have experienced it in various ways?
I was eleven when I was assaulted the first time. Living in low income housing, it was something that I wasn’t equipped to deal with at such a young age. The sad part is that it went on for a long time and I didn’t realize until much later in life that the man who instigated this act was wrong in doing so. I was taken advantage of, and made to keep it quiet. Like so many women and men who have suffered something this traumatic, I of course buried it deep inside of me. Looking back, I can see that it may have led to many other issues that arose later in life such as addiction. Not until I was in my early twenties, seeking help from a psychiatrist in Ottawa, did I open that wound again in order to start towards healing properly.
The sad part is that it was not the last time I would face something of this nature. Throughout my relationships and coming to understand myself as a gay man, again I was faced with sexual assault and harassment. Under the guise of being my partner or lover, men would force me to do things I wasn’t comfortable in doing. This too, of course, affected the way I saw relationships and my sexuality. I’ve even faced sexual harassment in the media, and I’ve considered contacting a sexual harassment lawyer on more than one occasion. Unfortunately, I have never been brave enough.
I want to take a minute to thank each and every one of you for sharing your stories. I hope that one day, we won’t need platforms to show the world that these things affect so many of us. I hope that all of you continue to share your messages in powerful social media posts. From #DayOfTheGirl, to #NationalComingOutDay, to #MeToo and whatever else may come… social media can be fun, but it can also be a tool for change. And I hope that we can change, so that one day the shame associated with the darker sides of life can evaporate and we can all understand each other more. We must do better. We must be better. We must continue to share.
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