And I HATE that there's a man running for president who has bragged about doing things like this.
I was 14, and in that liminal world between thinking like a little girl and looking like a woman. He pushed me into the deep end of his swimming pool, and pinned me against the tile with the pretty floral pattern he had imported from Portugal.
He was bigger than me — he had strong arms and big hands, and he held me, and I couldn't move, even though he was around my age. Actually, I might have even be older, I forget.
But he had grown learning he could do no wrong, that the word was all his, he was the scion over whatever he wanted, and he could have whatever he wanted, even if whatever he wanted was a person who didn't want him.
To this day, I still can't smell chlorine without feeling sick to my stomach. It's why I haven't been in a pool in 21 years. It's why it's only been in the last year that I stood by the sea and took off all my clothes, all alone except for the moon. And I let the water take me back far enough to forgive him and be free.
I don't hate him. But I hate the way he grew up, thinking he could do whatever he wanted to me.
I hate the world that made me feel like it was all my fault. That if I had worn something different, or just said NO louder, or fought harder, that maybe I would be OK, that maybe I wouldn't have spent too many years wanting to claw my skin off, that maybe I wouldn't gag whenever I smell Hugo Boss cologne, or hear a voice pitched a certain way, or smell chlorine, or hear the sound of lapping waves.
I know I'm not alone in this. But still, I hate the stigma that comes with the word "victim" — like we are damaged or broken or ruined. And how people won't look you in the eye, and how some lovers later on through the years might recoil when you tell them about the time when it wasn't your fault.
And I hate — HATE — that there's a man running for president who has bragged about doing things like this and is STILL being defended by both men AND women because "boys will be boys." And I swear, you better look me in the eye when you tell me that what he said is OK.
Look me straight in face and try to justify it. And if you're ashamed, which you should be, then help me fight like hell to make sure it isn't justified.
And if you're a survivor — a SURVIVOR, not a victim — then you KNOW, just as I do, how incredibly strong we are. We can draw deep from our wellspring of strength and say to Trump, and to all who defend him, "Not anymore."