This one is for the silent survivors. Our voices are ours. Our stories are ours. We don’t have to hide what they did, because to hide what they did is to cloak our strength.
Those four sentences are the dedication in my first book, Me, Too: Voicing My Story. I chose that dedication because as much as my book is about my journey to join the #MeToo Movement, my hope for that book was that it would be a call and a comfort to others who, like me, struggled to come forward with their stories, even with themselves. And in the year since my book’s release, that hope has become a reality.
I’ve connected with survivors who, like me, have known silence for so long that the idea of voicing their story, even to their most intimate loved ones, is daunting. Survivors who, like me, may have a support system that’s willing to figure out how to support them however they need, yet they can’t quite voice what that need is. And survivors who, like me yet again, are struggling to believe their voice—their story—matters.
And yet…that’s exactly what my book has done.
By putting my story into the world, I’ve signaled to others that they are not alone…and they know that because my story is like theirs. I wrote about the grooming and child sexual abuse I experienced from my father; the sexual harassment and psychosexual abuse I endured from my teacher, starting when I was thirteen and continuing nearly daily until I was seventeen. I wrote about the multiple rapes I survived by a man who also groomed me and preyed upon my emotional instability and vulnerability, the friend who attempted to rape me at senior prom, and the guy my friend introduced me to who only sought to take advantage of me, then did. And I wrote about how purity culture made me question all of it, if how I’d dressed or smiled or stood had caused those men to behave violently toward me because I was taught from a young age that girls are responsible for boys and men at all times. My story is my story, of course, but there are so many chapters that look so familiar to stories from the lives of other survivors.
There’s a poem I included in my book, “Mute,” in which I describe the thoughts that have plagued me every time I’ve considered voicing my story. I began the poem with the heart-pounding anxiety I’ve experienced when I’ve realized people were waiting for me to speak, even though the reply I most honestly had to provide was likely to be unpleasant for them to hear. Through verse, I take the reader by the hand through my thoughts and emotions, leading to questions like:
What if this is the moment that starts a movement? What if this didn’t have to be stunned silence My audience desperate to escape? What if this is just the end of the first act And I’ve left them on the edge of their seats? What if I let them see? What if I tell the story? If I break my silence Will chains be broken with my eloquence?
Those questions I asked in the poem—“What if I let them see? What if I tell the story?”—have been answered every single day since Me, Too: Voicing My Story was released on January 13, 2022. Because my story is my story, and no one can take it from me…nor can they take my voice. And my story is one that calls to the survivors—the soldiers—still waiting for their revival, like my poem wondered and hoped it would be.
By voicing my story, the words “me, too” have been passed on, like a torch to light the way for others while burning the ties that bind us into silence. And my most fervent hope now is that, as these survivors voice their stories, that’s the next thing they’ll be able to say “me, too” about…that their stories have set others, including themselves, free.
Josha Publishing, LLC is a woman-founded, woman-owned, and woman-run company that is passionate about books, stories, and the power of words to change lives. Learn more about us here and remember to sign up for our newsletter to find out about new content, new books, and submissions updates.
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A Year in Review