Real talk. Today at the Kick at Darkness table, a man came up. He asked what we did. He was the fourth man I spoke to and I was excited how many male allies were showing up. And then.
Back up. What do I do? I’m president and founder of #KickAtDarkness. It’s a nonprofit to help raise funds so survivors never have to pay for their own healing (sexual assault, domestic violence, sex trafficking, hate crimes, and child abuse). I myself am a survivor of childhood sex trafficking and adult rape. It is because of this I am so passionate to help my fellow survivors heal.
I told this man this.
And he lit up. He said, “I have the solution for you. If we legalize prostitution, it will give all these sexualized men—who need a release—a place to do it legally and they won’t have to rape women.
[PAUSE: stranger rape is a very small percentage of the whole; most survivors know their attackers; not all women in legalized prostitution are there of their own will; so many are slaves stranded in a prison they cannot leave; okay, carry on]
He was standing inches from my face, ecstatic at the “help” he was offering me as he described the levels of sexual tension men carry and can’t release legally—and there was no pause in his breath to interrupt him, though I tried; he just got closer and louder; I was trapped. His creepiness was coming off him in waves. And my brain was thinking about the few Jiu-Jitsu moves I know…followed by a glimpse of headlines…woman breaks man’s arm at Phoenix Women’s March….
So I stood there. A friend at my shoulder.
And he thanked me for listening to him and then, in one movement, he stepped to me and grabbed me in a tight full-body hug and wet-kissed my forehead.
I still feel it.
And I felt helpless.
…exactly like when the men who came to pay for me as a child thanked me.
I have sat with this all day. And I don’t know what to do with it. At first, I struggled with why it affected me—when I have had to survive giants much more fierce than him. I wondered if maybe I were overreacting as I can’t seem to wash his kiss from my forehead. I reached out to friends, almost ashamed to ask them for support on something that I felt I should be able to blink at and run on.
And these friends (thank you, #BadassJSquad) met my soul in the moment. Gently. They squared their shoulders to help support the weight and summarily destroyed his character from afar over text. And I started to breathe again.
It’s never okay to invade the holy space of another without permission. It’s never okay. There are no addendums to this. That’s a full stop.
Now, to the man from today: congratulations sir, maybe you noticed? The nation’s women threw you a parade. It was all about YOU.
Women, you are valuable. You are worth protecting. I’m sorry if this guy visited you too.
#WomensMarch #WM2019 #Phoenix #KickAtDarkness