This morning I found an article in the Washington Post by Monica Hesse which drew my attention:
Dear dads: Your daughters told me about their assaults. This is why they never told you.
A man emailed recently in response to something I’d written about street harassment. He was so glad, he said, that his college-age daughter never experienced anything like that. Less than a day later, he wrote again. They had just talked. She told him she’d been harassed many, many times — including that week. She hadn’t ever shared this, because she wanted to protect him from her pain.
For all the stereotypes that linger about women being too fragile or emotional, these past weeks have revealed what many women already knew: A lot of effort goes into protecting men we love from bad things that happen to us. And a lot of fathers are closer to bad things than they’ll ever know (read more).
This was also true for me when I was sexually assaulted at 18 by a family friend who was double my age and more my parents’ friend than mine. I did tell my boyfriend, who is now my husband, not so long after the attack, even though the man suggested I should not tell him. However, I did not tell my parents until 20 years later. Now, while reading the article in the Washington Post, I realize why. I did what I could, as the very young person I was, to deal with all the emotions that arose after the attack (in my case I also had to learn to deal with panic attacks for many years after). I finally told both my parents and that was because the man in question continuously contacted us and even came to the house as if nothing had happened. I also told my parents that I had written a letter to the man in which I explained how this incident had affected my life and I that did not want him to visit us or contact us ever again. I never heard from him again.
I think the fact that this was a trusted family (and Emmaus) friend made it harder for me to tell my parents. I might have been different if it had been a person unknown to my parents.
Many women recognized themselves in Christine Blasey Ford’s testamony against Brett Kavanaughin in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee last Thursday morning and I think that regardless of what happens with the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh, the testimony of Christine Blasey Ford and the MeToo movement have given many women courage and a forum for expressing similar stories.