When Oprah Winfrey accepted the Golden Globes’ lifetime achievement award, she dedicated her speech to something bigger than herself.
“Speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we have,” she said in support of the #MeToo campaign.
This is true.
Imagine a reality where the consequence of speaking your truth could turn into punishment. Imagine reliving the scariest moment of your life. Over. And over. And over, again.
A moment filled with death, fire, war, pain, and rape.
Women around the world remain silent as prisoners to agony that was inflicted on them. Or they trade their innocence for another’s instant gratification.
While we were reeling from the marathon sentencing proceeded in Michigan of the largest sex scandal in sports history last week, the nation celebrated women at the 2018 Women’s March on Sunday, Jan. 21.
Singer/songwriter, Halsey, delivered a speech she named, “A Story Like Mine,” in New York City. Within her rhymed rally cry for change, she said, “Every friend that I know has a story like mine and the world tells me we should take it as a compliment.”
Halsey, formally known as Ashley Nicolette Frangipane, spoke her ballad which was streaked with rape, domestic violence and even after post fame, a miscarriage.
“Lord knows there’s a war to be won,” she told the crowd in New York about the #MeToo campaign.
Rape, sexual assault and domestic violence is a national epidemic.
The violence and assault see no race, ethnicity, gender or social class.
It’s like a cancer.
USA Gymnastics was exposed for the horror house it was conducting. Larry Nassar, 54, the teams once-trusted doctor, was evidently hand picked from the deepest pits of Hell. He admitted to seven different counts of first-degree sexual assault during his trial. He has been sentenced to 40-175 years in prison for that and child pornography charges.
For over 30 years, Nassar worked alongside the Olympic Committee, USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University. After a career in sports medicine, earning nicknames such as a sports medicine “guru,” he turned his perceived notable work, to ash.
He is a disgrace to medicine. He has shamed the USA Olympic program and college athletics.
I’ve spent most of my life in awe of the magnificence of medical advancements, especially in sports medicine.
Now, I am left with a taste in my mouth that will never be washed.
Nassar spent seven straight days, at his sentencing, listening testimonies from over 150 women who all accused him of molesting and sexually assaulting them. The judge in the case gave them the title, “Army of Survivors.”
Testimonies began on Jan. 17, and concluded yesterday, Jan. 24, with Rachael Denhollander’s impact statement. She was the first accuser.
Athletes from Michigan State spoke. Former gymnasts at the Olympic, national and collegiate levels, current Olympians Aly Raisman and Jordyn Weiber, delivered impact statements. Parents of deceased daughters, who took their own lives, gave their testimonies.
In December 2017, online website The Players Tribune released, “This is Survival,” Raisman’s coming out story about the years of sexual assault at the hands of her once respected team doctor, Nassar.
After reading her story, I wept.
Not out of pity, but because this young women sacrificed her image – a female Olympian, the closest thing to a real life Amazon – for the vulnerable position of victim.
However, since then, Raisman has proved to be everything but a victim. She is a survivor and, certainly, a female warrior conquering all obstacles no matter how physical, mental or emotional.
Raisman is the face of this “Army.” She bellitted Nassar on Friday, Jan. 19.
“We are now a force. And you are nothing,” she said to him.
She said that his years of abuse created an army that will ruin his world. Raisman starred her perpetrator in the face with disgust as she vowed to not rest until every trace of his existence on the sport of gymnastics is cleansed.
When Judge Rosemarie Aquilina passed down her 60-175-year prison sentence to Nassar, she said, “I just signed your death warrant.”
During his trial, Nassar tried pleading mercy on behalf of his mental health. He claimed the media publicity the sentencing received was unhealthy for him and that listening to days of impact-statements was unjust.
To my own satisfaction, he was denied his plea.
The sentencing wasn’t conventional. I’m sure a seven-day marathon of over 150 broken mirrored women was exhausting especially when it was clear Aquilina would sentence him to die in prison. I’m also certain that reliving those moments and coming to terms with such events, was impossibly difficult for the survivors that were courageous enough to speak out.
But I rejoice in the last week for women.
Aquilina turned her courtroom into a sanctuary where survivors could face their perpetrator and empower each other to do so. Throughout the week, Aquilina encouraged each member of the “Army of Survivors,” to leave their pain and hurt in the courtroom for Nassar to suffer with for the rest of his days. She promoted each victim to go live beautiful, successful lives and she commended them of their grace and beauty.
Its troubling to navigate the healing process of victims of assault and violence. It’s much more then one moment, or one night. It’s a life altering occurrence that traps you in a maze inside your own head. All anyone can do to help is watch from the outside. You just pray you make it out without too many casualties.
The most important thing Aquilina gave these 150 women was their voices, as Oprah said, “It is the most powerful tool we have.”
While the slogan for #MeToo campaign is empowering – and for the first time ever women are starting to take a stand and have voices – at the same time that same slogan is horrifying. A group of people who share a remarkable amount of internal despair are rallying together. They are sharing a scar so deep that in order to understand the pain you have to go through it yourself. The concept haunts me.
#MeToo is a plagued war cry. A faction that we all marvel at, but no one wants to be apart of.
If it happens to you, all that there is left to think may be, “How did this happen to ME?”
This war isn’t being fought by just faceless people who hide in the shadows. Halsey, Lady Gaga and Kesha all contribute openly to this raw display of justice for women. Sadly, their motivation comes from personal experience.
Everything I respect is brittle with this cancer. Sports, medicine, television, music and my own education can not hide from the grips of assault.
This national epidemic is bringing musicians, olympians, supermodels, public speakers, college students and children together. It is defying race, ethnicity and social class.
As Halsey said in New York, there is a war to be won.
Now, for my own impact statement to the monster manipulator who’s grave will be spit on, if he is even entitled to one.
Larry Nassar, you make me feel my own pain and the pain of a thousand women. You make me lose full nights sleep for days on end because the thought of your lasting stain on society makes my stomach churn. I will work fiercely to expose you, and men like you.
I write to make men of your caliber inferior, naked and shameful.
I write to rip down the walls that shelter men like you.
I will live to see a day when I no longer shutter at the words, “me too.”