I attended the San Francisco Women’s March in 2017 with a friend. He sexually assaulted me two months later.
The approach of the second Women’s March has brought up a lot of emotion, as I imagine it has for many others. For me, the Woman’s March was a day that made me proud to be a woman. I marched with my past experiences of sexual assault, and walked in solidarity with others who feel like they have been silenced at some point in their life. I marched with millions of individuals who stood for women’s empowerment; I never thought that the person marching beside me, someone who I saw as my friend, would sexually assault me two months later.
It took me almost a year to realize the hypocrisy in this fact: a man, who held his sign high and marched beside me and my friends, would explicitly contribute to the problems that we were supposedly marching against.
This has left me both disgusted and confused. To march does not mean to walk, but to commit to acting out the movement you are marching for. This fact has made me realize that marching will never magically create the necessary changes. To march without true conviction and support for the cause is to lie to everyone around you.
We must think and reflect on why we march, because attendance is far from enough. We must consider the consequences of our actions and non-actions.
This is the letter I wrote to guy who I marched with at The Woman’s March after he had sexually assaulted me two months after the march…
“You were one of my closest friends. You know more about me than most people and I trusted you with a lot. I trusted you to respect me. You knew what I was working on and you knew my past experiences with guys, but yet you just became one of them. You knew I was very drunk that night and you knew that I would never ever give you if I was sober. I woke up that morning sick to my stomach, I woke up feeling like I had been disrespected and taken advantage of. I tried to cover it up and pretend like what happened was ok. But quite honestly it's not ok… that night with you opened my eyes and I'm done living that way. I am done carrying around the shame and guilt I'm done blaming myself. I am ready to accept what happened and come back stronger.
I blocked you and have been ignoring you because I don't trust you at all. My body fills up with disgust, fear, and anxiety when I see you. You may not realize the effect you have on someone when you sexual assault them, but it's the most dehumanizing feeling in the world.
I'm asking you to treat woman with respect. Think of them as more than just someone you can used to get laid. We are human not objects for you to use for your own pleasure. Think about the impact you'll have before you act. Learn what consent is. Take this as a lesson so that you never treat a woman the way you treated me.”
I am not sure what has hurt me the most: the fact that he did not respond when I confronted him, or the fact that I will never know if he is treating other women this way. This experience is something that will always be a part of me, yet I realize that it is not all of me.
If you choose to participate in this year’s Women’s March, I ask you to look at the goals of the march.
I ask you to promise to act on them in your day to day life.
I ask you to think about the ways in which you treat others.
And lastly, I ask you to remember that your actions speak louder than your marching.