• Ros Hedgepeth

When #MeToo is You

In an intimate moment I began to cry, my boyfriend at the time asked me, “What’s wrong, are you okay?” Everything wasn’t okay, but for some reason I could only say “Yes, I’m fine. Have a good night.” I wanted to explain why I froze, and let him know that it wasn’t him. I wanted to let him know sometimes I get uncomfortable because of my past. But the words would not come out. So I rolled over and pretended to go to sleep. Laying in a pillow drenched in silent tears wasn’t new to me. Why tell the world your problems no one cares, everyone thinks you’re perfect, they don’t care to hear the truth, what would your family say? I now know sex does not equal security, love, or validation. But how do you tell this to someone whose first sexual encounter was driven by perversion.

I want peace not only for myself but every woman (and man) who has been a victim of sexual assault. It is not our faults that someone else’s perversion infiltrated our lives, however, we live with the physical and psychological damage it causes. Whether you have been abused, neglected , or assaulted I’ve included steps that I took to not be defined by my past.

Acknowledge and Live in Your Truth

We are all familiar with the saying “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.” Well a year ago I was a G-Wagon with hooptie interior riding on nothing but air. I looked great from the outside, however, nothing sustaining me. While my outside looked luxurious, I was empty and one mile away from breaking down completely. Too afraid to see the true cost to repair all of the damages, I did not want to stop. One Sunday I asked my pastor to pray with me regarding my job and businesses. In that moment God told him that I had been a victim of sexual assault and that I kept it as a secret. As he privately confronted me with my truth, I froze because I was forced to live in my reality. My hooptie interiors and empty tank was exposed…the ‘perfect’ G-wagon stopped.

I didn’t realize how deeply rooted my pain was. That Sunday I realized that oil leaks, snags, and stains had become a norm. God repeated himself, “You have been a victim, time to be free from your past.” The moment that I acknowledged my truth, I felt a physical pop or breaking in my abdomen. I fell to the ground and started crying, and I didn’t care who saw. Yes, Miss G-Wagon herself was vulnerable and let it all out. I didn’t care what others thought about me! It was as if it was my first time taking a real breath in years. I was finally free from a tumor that I refused to get treatment for. Allow yourself to feel the pain of your reality. To heal a wound, you must expose and clean it. When you acknowledge and live the truth, you begin the process of freeing yourself from pain that held you captive.

Say it Out Loud

Whether it’s your parents, close friends, or a professional that you can trust with that side of you, let it out; you’d be surprised how healing it is to tell your truth. The hardest conversation I’ve ever had in my life was telling my parents, the loving people that literally gave all they had, that even with all of the strict curfews, boundaries and restrictions... their daughter had been sexually violated. That drive to Augusta, Georgia. was the longest two hours of my life. I literally tried to negotiate with God, saying,

“I won’t be as petty if you don’t make me do this. I’ll give this up. I’ll give that up.”

No matter how much I tried to get out of it, confirmation was everywhere on the radio, YouTube, and social media. Everything confirmed that it was time to move forward in my healing process.

We spent the day packing up our childhood home because my parents were moving. My mother had us go through old backpacks and bins where we saw participation certificates, yearbooks, and barbie dolls that had become science projects. Some items we kept others we decided to donate or throw away. We did not want to take anything we didn’t need to the new house. Just like I cleaned my old home, it was time for me to get clean on a personal level. I took a deep breath and asked for everyone’s attention. My baby sister knew that I had something hard to say, and became the big sister. She stood behind me to hold my back up as I held my parent’s hands and said it out loud. This is the hardest, yet most important, conversation I have ever had in my life. Although it was healing for me, I had to be aware of the shift it caused in their lives as well. We talked and cried and held hands for a while. Questions were asked and answered. I told them that I want to help other women who’d gone through similar things and they supported me in that decision. That night I slept in my parent’s bed not for me but for them. It was comforting to know that their daughter was safe.

Take Every Day.. One Step at a Time….

During this time it is imperative that you forgive yourself and choose to make better decisions every day. I had to let go of the pain, hurt, and regrets that came from decisions I made as a result of being molested. As I began to reflect on the systemic impact, it was eye opening to see remnants of my past on my interactions with others. How I had an unhealthy need to be needed. I kept busy so I wouldn’t be forced to be alone. I found security in controlling everything. Intimacy didn’t feel like something you did with someone you loved more so something that you lived through. Learn how to accept people in your life that have pure intentions. It was hard for me to accept someone coming in my life and not wanting to take from me or make a sexual advance. I had to learn how to love myself, including my broken pieces…especially the broken pieces. This meant spending a lot of time alone in silence, not to drown in my sorrow but to meditate. When is the last time you set aside time on your calendar for you to renew your spirit?

So many times, I feel alone in this fight and I know many of you do too as well. I have to fight to keep the peace that I’ve found. Know that we are not alone. This journey has taught me just how resilient I am. Don’t be ashamed, own who you are the fact that you are still here let’s me know how strong you are! Keeping fighting for YOUR LIFE! Rape, assault, or abuse is in your past. Peace and purpose are in your future. Everyday won’t be perfect but God never promised that anyway. He did promise that He would be lamp unto your feet and light unto your path…so just keep walking and you’ll get there.

#PrettyBoss #MeToo #MeTooMovement #MeTooStories #ImWithHer #PrettyBossLLC #MeTooMovementArticles #HowToForgive #HowToAtoneForSexualAssault #HowToForgiveYourselfAfterSexualAbuse #WomenEmpowerment

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