When I was 19 yrs. old and the drinking age in Illinois hadn’t yet changed to 21, my friends and I would sometimes socialize at local bars. There was this guy a year or two older than me that all girls know… the great looking popular guy who you have a crush on that doesn’t even know you exist. Imagine my surprise when someone told me he was interested in meeting me sometime.
One night soon after, I was out with a group of friends when he and his buddies walked in the bar. I was immediately very nervous and couldn’t even look his way, and decided to try and forget about seeing him as a way to calm my nerves. I walked up to the bar to get a drink, and suddenly felt someone grab my butt. I snapped around in warrior mode and though there were several guys close to me, no one obvious that looked guilty or was even looking my way.
So I turned back around to pick up my drink and then the same thing happened… but with an even bolder grab. This time, I quickly turned to see the good looking popular guy smiling at me with a drunk, guilty smirk on his face, thinking he was being all funny and charming. My spontaneous reaction happened so fast I still can’t believe I did it. I threw my entire drink on him.
He was furious and lunged at me. Two men quickly intervened and had to literally hold him off of me. I held my ground and moved closer to him…pointing my finger at his face while saying: Don’t you ever, ever touch me again. This is my body and I get to choose who touches it.
But that’s where living in a small town has its downside. From that day forward, the popular guy and his herd of wannabe friends tried to make my life miserable by telling people I was a b**** and calling me that at every turn, even recruiting many others to join them. I recall being surprised by his reaction. I’d actually thought the next time I ran into him he’d be sober and apologize, feel badly about what occurred, respect and even understand my actions. Never happened. I would have told him I’d wished I hadn’t thrown my drink on him, but instead just told him exactly what I felt instead.
The name calling from everyone didn’t make things easy for my social life, but looking back I can see where it could have been worse. He could have planned a retaliation beyond name calling for “embarrassing him” in front of others and his buddies. But he didn’t… and that’s because in the heat of the moment in the bar, I’d given him the look.
The look and feeling of someone that is owning and claiming her power.
When I was sexually abused as a child by men, I couldn’t defend myself and I have to believe that fuels my quick reactions to step through my fears to defend females that have not yet healed the part of themselves that feels powerless. I’ve placed myself between women and the men who were physically abusing them numerous times… some I knew and some I didn’t. Here’s what I learned—each time I put myself in danger to stop the abuse, I didn’t die. Now you might laugh, but I mean that seriously. Our psyche frequently intervenes and blocks our courageous actions because at some level we fear the pain of being hurt, or even dying. Then we beat ourselves up afterwards for not doing anything… or, perhaps even justify not taking any action.
I believe every experience serves a higher purpose if we try to understand our reactions and look for the higher perspective. All of the focus and response on Brock Turner’s case is an indication that change is about. For it wouldn’t stir up so much within everyone if there wasn’t already a collective wound that needed healing.
What could possibly be the higher purpose in Brock’s case?
Here’s my wish list for what I’m hoping the case will promote:
1. More men of all ages will hear, see and know at a deeper level the importance of respecting women in all situations. They learn that women are not objects, or extensions of their egos.
2. More women of all ages find their voices and feel empowered.
3. Millions of people raise their awareness around this issue so much that the percentage of sexual abuse and sex crimes diminishes through a collective shift in consciousness.
4. More people are willing to speak up and stop similar crimes in the moment versus fearing what others think. Or even better, it prevents an abuser from taking the action because he is more conscious of his actions and how they will affect another human being.
5. There are changes in the current laws which will add consistency and fairness.
There’s never been a more important time than now for us to hold space for a shift to happen around these issues. Believe that it is possible and take action to be part of the solution. Can you help to empower survivors so they will know their true inner strength? Educate your children more on this subject? Contact your local politician to bring about new laws and guidelines? Whatever you feel drawn to do, you will feel better taking action than not doing anything.
Looking for the higher purpose and gifts in every situation that emotionally triggers you is a gift you definitely need to unwrap. Are you willing to be brave? You are stronger than you think you are. You will have the added help and strength of those who believed they could not speak up for themselves. I believe in you.