At first I thought, I don’t want to jump on the bandwagon. I do that in life… sometimes I jump, other times I silently roll my eyes while reading what’s “trending”. But then I read THIS piece. And I read all of the Tweets.

And as I scrolled I found myself with a soaked face, and heaving chest. Addie was asleep. Dave was working. I was relinquishing all self-control.

So why do we need more awareness? Why does this bullshit need to end? Why is it not funny to disrespect a woman’s body (or anyones!) and think that what I wear means more than what I say? Why is the phrase yes means no neither OK nor tolerable?

Because we have all been there. Even when we haven’t been “to blame”.

I’ve walked with my keys tucked tightly between my fingers. In college, I carried a hunting knife. My first sexual experience in middle schoolwasn’t one I’d invited, and in college I’d said no. The loophole to no meaning nothing, I learned, was alcohol. Just for a second, meant that my no would be met with resistance, and I would have no choice of what would happen.

I’ve thought long and hard. What are the repercussions of sharing. What will my children think. Will they fear alcohol, men, college?

I hope this is empowering. For me. For my girls. For my husband. I hope this is liberating to all the women who forgot about that night because it was my fault.

#YesAllWomen #aisforadelaide

When I was carried to a friend’s car and put to bed, he simply said it’s not your fault, and left me to sleep…

We were all playing beer pong and laughing about hockey (it’s not easy to be a Flyer’s fan in Beantown). At some point, I knew I needed to lay down and the host graciously offered his room. I went in, shut the door and fell asleep.

Should I have locked the door? Or just asked someone to drive me home? Or. Or. Or…
Should I have trusted that men have self control, even when there is a girl passed out in their bed?

I will spare the details, because I said no. I said no. But it doesn’t matter, because it was just for a second and I look so pretty tonight, and didn’t I just want to get back to sleep. No. No. No, I didn’t. I wanted to go.

Can I just leave?

Yeah, in a minute.

And it was. It was a few minutes. And a mutual friend was banging on the door. Open it, (name)! Open the fucking door! He shouted. I was scared. I was drunk. I’d vomited on the bed.

Bitch! He snarled in my ear.

My friend got in. He carried me to the shower. People watched. He shut the door. The party, I could hear, went on. He finished undressing me, cleaned the sick off, took off his own shirt and redressed me. Carrying me down the steep steps of the old Providence Victorian and out into the warm night. We went back to the dorms, where he laid me in my bed. It’s not your fault.

I woke up and it was over. I had a headache, I had to wear a panty-liner for a week, I got tested every month for a year (and yearly after), and then the bruises made from the pressure of fingers in my biceps and inner thigh just faded away. It was just a minute I  told myself.

We saw each other at class the next week.I never looked at him, but he still said hi. How about those Flyers, he’d jest. Yeah, I’d reply. He’d done no wrong. I was drunk. So what I said meant nothing to him. I briefly spoke to a school advisor who was both uncomfortable with the topic and offered no further help. I kept my head down in shame for weeks. I was afraid of commitment for years. I learned that if I exerted my physical strength early on in a relationship, men would never question me. They would also never really love me.

And then one day. One. Lonely. Day. That part of me had to change.

I’m not afraid to be intimate with my partner. I do not fear his touch. When I do not want to get undressed, he does not ask me why. He does not force me to relent. I am not broken because one man chose to ignore my NO. I will not say I pleaded. I knew I had no chance. When someone is stronger than you, physically pressing you down, sometimes going away from your own mind is all you can do. Like when we experience a death, and we just remove our minds from the pain. Sometimes when we are ignored, a piece of us dies, too. That night, a piece of me died. The part of me that thought men protected women. That men were raised to respect women. That it couldn’t happen to me.

That died.

In it’s place is a stronger, more resilient woman. A woman who teaches girls that no means no from day 1. If you don’t want to kiss your mother or father, or hug your grandparents, or physically touch or be touched- then the answer is no. And the answer remains no. If your friend doesn’t want an embrace- the answer is no. Whether you’re 2 or 20, the meaning remains the same for no. No.

So why #YesAllWomen? Because. Because I still walk with my keys between my fingers, because I have nightmares about my girls going to college, because innocence is lost everyday, because I can say yes when I mean it, because what I  wear means far less than what I say, because it’s not ok to yell at me from your car window, because slut-shaming is bullying, because no one asks for it, because no one asks for it, because no one asks for it.

Because no means no.


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  1. says

    I love you and your courage to share this intimate story. You are so strong, and because of this, your girls will be strong. After reading your post, I read all of the tweets as well. I have a lump in my throat, and hate that a story like yours is all too common. We are teaching Rhys already that he does not need to hug or give kisses, and as soon as he is old enough, and will be teaching him how to be a proper man when he grows up.
    Love you.
    Mary Larsen recently posted…Ultimate Guide To Baby Led WeaningMy Profile

  2. Azalia says

    I admire you for your courage to tell others your story, I abused as a child,8 years old by my own father. It continued for years, I was shamed by my stepmother when I finally had the courage to tell her. She said to me “it was your fault, you were probably flirting with him”. I’m a strong woman now because of what I endured. Just like you, I was afraid for a long time, and I still am.

  3. Adneris says

    You are a very strong and courageous woman for sharing this story… I think more people need to hear this! #YesAllWomen !!!!!!!!

  4. says

    You are so brave to share this story. You’re not jumping on a bandwagon, you’re just speaking your truth, and your daughters and other women will benefit from it. I am terribly sorry for what happened to you. You didn’t deserve it. That guy and the others who tacitly participated are trash. You are an incredible person and an inspiration to everyone who knows you. Here is my story of sexual abuse: http://adventureswiththepooh.wordpress.com/2014/02/04/breaking-the-silence/. I haven’t tagged it with the #YesAllWomen tag. It it is strong stuff, so be forewarned. You don’t have to read it. Thinking of you today. I admire you more than ever.
    Wendy D’Amico recently posted…“What do you do?”My Profile

  5. says

    The names, the age, the experience was different but as someone who has been there I know you’re courage and I know your pain and we will all get through this together. The internet can tear and break and shame but it can also build and lift and bond and thats why I like #YesAllWomen

  6. Michelle Carnevale says

    You never cease to amaze me, my friend. It takes a lot of courage to show your darkest moment to others. Your daughters have a strong, loving mother who will fight, tooth and nail, to show them what they’ll need to survive this place. But at the same time, a mother who still sees the beauty in this world and strives to show all of that wonder and delight to her girls!! You SO rock!!

  7. says

    You are easily one of the bravest women that I know. By far. From the moment I’ve known you, everything about you says strong and brave. It breaks my heart that this is something you, and so many women, have endured. Love you.
    Melissa G. recently posted…Training – Day 1My Profile

  8. eli says

    Thanks for sharing, Chelley. It is so important, and so brave of you. There are so many stories like this–our own, our friends’, our sisters’…
    I’m so angry at the backlash out there to so many of the women who have spoken out. (I seem to get angry on here a lot, haha…really, I’m not always angry. Only when the circumstances warrant it..)
    We all need to be strong together.

  9. says

    It’s wonderful that you shared your story. I’m so certain the right person is going to read it who needs to, because that’s just the way these things work. And kudos to you for taking your brave step to open up about your experience.

    P.S. I love your friend!!! What an awesome person he sounds like to have cleaned you up and gotten you dorm.
    Rosey recently posted…Saint Joseph, MichiganMy Profile

  10. says

    You are so incredibly courageous to share your story. Many women have their own version of this; and it’s so important that everyone knows how real it is. We need to come together as activists for change! We deserve better; our girls deserve better! On a different level, Drew was talking about Slater Mill (he took a field trip there yesterday) and how women were paid less per hour to work there (1800s) and they striked. We talked about how women had to fight for their rights and equality (still do!) and how it is wrong that one sex would be favored over another. We applauded the women (who occupied the majority of the work force there) for walking out. I hope we are raising a new generation of boys=men, who grow up knowing all people are the same. We are all equal and deserve the same respect as anyone else! #YesAllWomen #nomeansno

  11. says

    Thank you for sharing such an intimate part of your story. I tell my boys and daughter that “stop” means right now, the first time. As the mom of 4 sons I’m training them to respect women regardless of what they are or aren’t wearing.

  12. Michelle says

    Chelley, I admire your bravery for sharing this, and I thank you for being one to spread awareness. I am so sorry you had to go through this. You are going to help so many by sharing your story!

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