#MeToo movement inspires girl to share her experience

March 13, 2018 — by Krithi Sankar and Ananya Vadlakonda

Editor’s note: Jordan and Peyton are pseudonyms to protect the sources’ identities.

The older man’s eyes were fixed on her body as Jordan walked through the hallway of a concert while her favorite artist sang on stage during her freshman year. The venue was packed: People were gathered in every corner of the hall. In spite of the audience, he continued to tiptoe toward her.

Music blared through the speakers, silencing his every step as he came closer. Unaware that the man was standing behind her, she continued down the hall. But before she reached the end of the hallway, he hit her head against a wall and rubbed his body up against hers. Unable to escape, she felt his hands travel up her ripped jeans and he proceeded to feel her up over her black tank top before he finished and she was able to run away.

Although she squirmed and tried to fight back, Jordan tried to maintain her composure throughout the incident, but soon after, the gravity of what had happened hit her.

“It made me feel weak and it was infuriating because I hated feeling weak,” Jordan said. “I absolutely despised it.”

Later that night when she had gone home, tears streamed down her face as she cried for an hour all alone, before trying to completely put the incident behind her. She decided not to tell anyone except for two of her friends.

This wasn’t the first time that Jordan, currently a junior, was sexually assaulted. When she was younger on a bus with her family, another older man made advances toward her discreetly touched her back inappropriately. Her family was standing to the side, completely unaware of what had just taken place.

Jordan’s experiences — though disturbing — are common: 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.

In the past six months, allegations of sexual harassment and abuse have embroiled almost every industry. High-profile figures such as producer Harvey Weinstein to Pixar executive John Lasseter and politicians such as Al Franken and John Conyers have all been outed for various degrees of sexual offense, from inappropriate sexual behavior to forced sexual actions. Even the cloistered world of gymnastics has undergone trauma with revelations of serial abuse by Dr. Larry Nasser of dozens of young girls and women, for which he is now serving a life sentence.

The upward spiral of accusations led to the growth of the #MeToo movement, which has led to a surge of harassment victims coming forward with their experiences.

Social activist Tarana Burke, who works to educate others and eradicate sexual violence, coined the phrase #MeToo in 2006, inspiring many survivors to come forward with their stories. The #MeToo movement has gained popularity over the past few months, reaching over 85 countries according to CBS News.

Actress and fellow activist Alyssa Milano endorsed the movement, using the phrase #MeToo in a public post last October. Facebook reported that within 24 hours of Milano’s post, 12 million posts and comments surfaced with the phrase #MeToo. Additionally, Twitter confirmed that by the end of November, 1.7 million tweets had been sent worldwide about the subject matter.

“As women, we have to support each other and stand together and say, ‘That’s it. We’re done. No more,’” Milano said in an interview with Time Magazine. “It’s vital to me that we really set in some actionable things that we can do to continue this momentum.”

Jordan responded to the prominent sexual assault scandals and the #MeToo movement by sharing her own experience.

“Hearing the horrible things on the news inspired me to reach out, even if I'm doing it anonymously,” Jordan said.

Jordan spoke about the difficulty she faced, trying to grapple with her experiences. From burying her head in her blankets, trying to muffle the sound of her silent tears, to being engulfed in a feeling of inferiority, Jordan spent her time listening to music and “convincing herself she was more than a pretty thing.”

Jordan’s experience is far from unusual. In an interview with NBC News, Dr. Helen Wilson, a licensed clinical psychologist, detailed the struggle individuals will most likely face after dealing with an incident of sexual harassment.

“Ninety percent [of people] who experience sexual violence in the immediate aftermath exhibit symptoms of acute stress,” Wilson said. “For many people, these symptoms dissipate over time through social support and coping strategies, and many people totally recover and move on; others will be so distressed that it really interferes with their work and life.”

As a freshman, Jordan dealt with these incidents by herself and didn’t reach out for help, taking a toll on her grades and mental health.

“It took a few months for me to forget about it and not let him into my head,” Jordan said. “Even so, my grades suffered a little bit. I'm hard on myself when it comes to school and grades, and it really hurt when I got a B+ first semester of my freshman year.”

Although it’s been two years since the incident at the concert, she continues to deal with the aftereffects. She finds it especially tough on that day every year, saying it’s “hard explaining to teachers why I walk into or out of their classroom crying.”

Though Jordan tries not to think about it, she has found it difficult to move on from these experiences. With her parents currently unaware of both incidents, she relies on a couple friends for support.

“I think it’s because she still doesn’t want people to think that she’s broken or hurt in any way,” Peyton, one of her friends, said. “I love that about her because she just keeps going and holds this weight but doesn’t let it drag her down.”

In trying to move on, Jordan thinks she has become a stronger person.

“I feel like I've recovered enough that I can speak about it to the newspaper,” Jordan said. “But I'm not brave enough to face the judgement and pity that I'd receive if my name was published.”

She’s also aware of the many people who dismiss the ugly reality of sexual harassment and assault, and despises those who don’t take the issue seriously.
“Being harassed isn't a joke,” Jordan said. “It sticks with you no matter how fervently you try to get it off.”

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