That number sticks in my head.
It’s certainly not lucky 13.
13 is how many friends of mine who have been sexually assaulted.
13 of my friends were called liars.
13 of my friends suffer in silence.
13 of my friends knew their predator.
The #MeToo movement has rocked this country to its core. It’s like somebody is shaking the hell out of a tree and all of the apples are falling off.
I know it’s hard for some people to understand why some people are waiting decades to come forward. I know there are people who think everything is politically motivated. I know there are people who think some women want to cash in. I know there are people who think victims are lying because they want the spotlight. I know there are people who think women are coming forward out of spite or revenge for something else that happened. I know there are people who think the women coming forward are just trying to ruin someone’s life.
Perhaps all of these reasons are why women never come forward.
I’m not going to share any details of the 13 stories I know. Those stories are not for me to tell.
But I will share this.
Every single one of my friends who was sexually assaulted felt shame. They lived in fear. They were in denial. They were bullied. They were intimidated. They were ridiculed. They felt “less than.” They were powerless. They thought it was their fault. They felt dirty. They felt embarrassed.
They went to school with their attacker…they worked with their attacker…they lived in the dorms with their attacker…they were neighbors with their attacker…their brothers were best friends with their attacker.
13 of my friends come from good families.
13 of my friends go to church every Sunday.
13 of my friends have college degrees.
13 of my friends have executive-level jobs.
13 of my friends have spouses.
13 of my friends have children.
13 of my friends appear to have it all together.
13 of my friends suffer every single day because they re-live that moment of terror… every single day.
13 of my friends are watching other women reclaim their power to finally speak up and speak out about a moment in their life that changed everything. A moment in their life that changed all of their years FOREVER.
So if 13 of my friends want to share their story 5, 10, 15 or even 30 years later…I will stand with them.
It takes an incredible amount of courage to reclaim your voice and power.
Every story should be heard.
Every story matters.
Instead of thinking “wow…she is going to ruin his life.”
Try thinking “wow…he ruined her life.”
And those are the ones who felt comfortable telling me.
Imagine how many more there are.