Featured Storyteller

US: I Am Unsilencing Myself

aliweeks
Posted December 14, 2017
Photo © nito100/istock

Initially hesitant to share her #MeToo story, Ali Weeks speaks out to reclaim the upper hand.

“He didn’t beat me down.He threw a hammer at me so I could build a platform and raise myself up.

Scrolling through social media, #metoo was etched in black and white beside nearly every female name I passed.

It was inspiring. Not necessarily eye-opening...I had more of a feeling of “Yes, of course. All of us.” But I was moved by the courage all of these women had to stand together and demonstrate the pervasiveness of sexual assault.

Despite the outpouring of solidarity and bravery, I never posted this hashtag on my own channels. Even though, of course, me too.

I poured my soul into a blog post reflecting on a time I was assaulted by a friend. I spent hours revisiting it, honing its points and softening its curves, but it still lives in the dark corners of my drafts folder. I told myself I was waiting to share it until I could tell my family; I didn’t want my mom to find out what happened through my blog. Then I told myself I wanted to tell them in person when we were all together. But those opportunities came and went, and again I stayed quiet.

Of course I want men to be held accountable for their actions. Of course I want women to be believed when they accuse a man of sexual assault. And of course, me too. So why didn’t I add my voice to the choir?

“This can ruin my life and I need it not to.”

The day after that friend took advantage of me, he texted me those words. Amongst his half-hearted apologies and excuses, he wanted to make sure I would keep my mouth shut.

Up until now, I have. But it’s time for me to unsilence myself and share my story.

I was out of town for the weekend with a big group of friends. Through a series of chance events, events I watched play out in slow motion, this guy and I ended up at a different bar than the rest of our friends, surrounded by oblivious strangers.

It wasn’t the first time he had hit on me, not even the first time that weekend. I tolerated his come-on’s because I thought it was harmless flirting. I respected him and admired his intelligence; I thought he was funny. But I wasn’t attracted to him and that pissed him off.

That night, I felt in my gut that it was different: He was more insistent, more aggressive. He’d had a few drinks and used his size to his advantage. Despite my every attempt to shove him off, I felt like a child fighting a bear. And knowing him as a friend changed things. Had it been an aggressive stranger, I might have had the instinct to punch him in the face. Instead my intuition told me to try and reason with him to stop.

He grabbed my hand and led me outside of the bar, between a nearby house and a truck parked next to it. He kept trying to kiss me, pull my skirt up, reach underneath my top. I insisted he stop again and again. I tried to combat every touch and push him away from me. I said no more times than I could count. Then he unbuckled his belt and dropped his pants.

A man came out of the house (he must have heard me). I took my chance and ran.

I was lucky. I was groped and kissed; I felt threatened and powerless, but I didn’t get raped. I walked away without a scratch.

So yes, me too. Nearly all women can say me too. In varying degrees, destroying various levels of trust. In varying scenarios stumbled into backwards, in various unlucky turns of events...

Maybe I was afraid telling this story would ruin my life, too. I didn’t want to be treated like I was fragile. Once my story is out there, I have no way of knowing who’s heard it and who hasn’t, or how they might look at me differently.

I wasn’t surprised when every woman I knew said ‘me too’, but in addition to seeing the sheer number of women who have been assaulted, I saw something else.

I saw an army of women standing in their resilience. And to keep living in our male-dominated world, to try dating again and trusting new men takes even more than resilience: it requires incredible depths of understanding and empathy.

Sharing my experience will not ruin my life. Instead, it will add my number to the statistic and empower me to show my own resilience and understanding.

He didn’t beat me down.He threw a hammer at me so I could build a platform and raise myself up.

“This can ruin my life and I need it not to.”

To him, I say:

You’re right: it can ruin your life. Allegations of sexual assault are being taken more seriously than ever before. People will listen to me if I tell them what you did. I didn’t tell your friends or your girlfriend or your employer, but I will always have that option. And you gave me that option.

So to you and to anyone else who is the cause of a ‘me too,’ know this: In exchange for doing something reprehensible just to feel in control, you have given up all of your power. You might have been physically stronger in one moment, but that upper hand is long gone.

Your strength crumbles next to the strength of a woman. And you are no match for women united.


STORY AWARDS

This story was published as part of the World Pulse Story Awards program. We believe everyone has a story to share, and that the world will be a better place when women are heard. Share your story with us, and you could be our next Featured Storyteller!Learn more.

Comments 18

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  • mae me
    Dec 14, 2017
    Dec 14, 2017

    thank you for sharing your story and be encourage that your story has been heard. Thank you for having the courage to speak...

  • Olutosin
    Dec 15, 2017
    Dec 15, 2017

    Thanks so much for this, many of us did not use the hashtag but my soul is already tagged. Every story of my violence fueled me to struggle more.

    The powerful man lost his power while trying to overpower his victim.

  • Karolina Lobrow
    Dec 15, 2017
    Dec 15, 2017

    Wow. You and your writing are incredible, you have captured something so elusive to me before and made it so clear in your statement here: "In exchange for doing something reprehensible just to feel in control, you have given up all of your power." You are absolutely right - and the strength of women is no match. Thank you for sharing your story and please keep writing!

  • sama
    Dec 15, 2017
    Dec 15, 2017

    So beautiful, to take this all too common scenario and flip it.  We are doing this together.  Women united.

  • JulieG
    Dec 17, 2017
    Dec 17, 2017

    Dear Ali,

    Thank you for sharing that image of the strength and power of a united world of women.  We are getting there, and your voice and story are fuel to the fire.

  • Lily Habesha
    Dec 26, 2017
    Dec 26, 2017

    Helli Dear,

    What a wonderful story and a powerful message.

    Waaaaaaaaw!

  • bianca maria
    Dec 29, 2017
    Dec 29, 2017

    Thank you for sharing. I resonate on so many levels. The silence that  surrounds abuse is unbearable but thanks to this platform and the changes that have happened in the world no one need suffer in silence anymore. Important to remember nothing can justify abuse and as more people become conscious of that the more serious abuse will be taken

  • Jan 13
    Jan 13

    This comment has been removed by the commenter or a moderator.
  • Sophia Atadana
    Jan 18
    Jan 18

    Thanks for sharing your story. This will even make you stronger and courageous. Together we stand

  • pamela_2
    Jan 20
    Jan 20

    Thank you for sharing. In my younger days people would have said, 'Nothing happened, get over it.' But I know what abuse of trust does to women, it leaves scars that often stand between her and happiness. You are brave and you are seeing it in the true light. Blessings!

  • Colleen Abdoulah
    Feb 02
    Feb 02

    Oh my there are so many of us who can relate to this story and your experience and emotions associated with what happened. There has been an abuse of power-  physical, political, economic etc for so long and it has been our internal judgments that have kept us from speaking up. I am thrilled for this movement that gives us all a forum to come together and no longer believe we are alone and see the power we have when we are the collective. I too had judgment around the first time I experienced abuse - I got away before something even worse happened and so I convinced myself it was not that bad and as you said, ‘did not want to be seen as weak or fragile’. Enough of those judgments and yes to this focus on it is WRONG for anyone to abuse their power over someone else. So good for you. Continue to stand in your courage and strength. We can each inspire, encourage and support one another and never go back to self judgment/shame and silence. 

    Blessings, Colleen 

  • Ann Forsthoefel
    Mar 03
    Mar 03

    Ali,

    Your story is so powerful as you are! As we approach IWD I encourage you to keep on telling your story!

    Bright Blessings,

    Ann

  • Wendy Stebbins
    Mar 06
    Mar 06

    YAY ! You are amazing !

  • Anne McCaw
    Mar 08
    Mar 08

    I am so glad you are telling your story now. And you have given me and so many others such a gift. Your message, that the abuser is giving up their power, is transformational. I have never thought about it that way. I have sympathized and felt angry that we have to live in a world where anyone can use their power against the seemingly powerless. What you have done is revealed our power. What a priceless gift you have given every woman, every person, who has been assaulted. Please know I stand with you. And I hope you never, EVER, feel you must be silent again.

  • maura
    Mar 08
    Mar 08

    You are very inspiring, thank you for your courage and for sharing your story here.

  • Tuesday Scott
    Mar 16
    Mar 16

    Aliweeks, your story is so well-written; at once heartbreaking, maddening and inspiring. Thank you for sharing!

  • SIMON MUREU
    Mar 21
    Mar 21

    Thank you for this story and i believe you now knows and understand better when to tell yourshelf to this world

  • Emily Anyango
    Mar 27
    Mar 27

    Oh,dear, this is what women experience and the majority shy off to share.I would advise that we should come out in large numbers to say NO to men game of sexual harrasment.My sister this was exposing who the man you trusted was.Never trust a man to some extent,not even your ,, Father or Brother.Face the day as it is.Stand on your promises and you are yourself.Be Blessed.