Along with the California wildfires, there’s been a conflagration of sharing by women regarding their experiences of sexual harassment and assault. It seems that no female has gone unscathed in their lifetime. I added some of mine, starting as a young ten year old, who had matured physically beyond her years. People made remarks, boys in junior high school anonymously groped in crowded hallways, intimidation at the swimming pool, everything designed to make me feel different, powerless, humiliated.
Then one night an intruder broke into my apartment, a knife at my throat, whispering, “I just want to talk.” As afraid as I was, certain I was about to die or be raped, I took him at his word and began to talk. Words do have power and after a long time of urging him to think of his own mother, sister, wife, daughter, any female relation, I finally declared that watching my father die had been the worst event of my life, but I was glad he wasn’t alive to know about this night. And my intruder ran out of the apartment swearing he had never done anything like this before. Perhaps he hadn’t, but I had never realized that in fact I was empowered. It took me a long time and lots of therapy to realize that, and I hope all those women who have also been traumatized will finally realize their own power.