the aftermath.

Guys, this week has been tough. I’ve been on a rollercoaster of emotions. I’ve had moments where I’ve been so very proud of myself for sharing my story and I’ve had moments where I wished I would have kept my mouth shut. It’s been hard, but not necessarily in the way that I thought it’d be. What I didn’t know going into this whole thing was that telling my story was actually going to be the easy part. The real courage, the real bravery, would come after.

For me, sharing my story was not about outing him. It was about me standing up for myself in a way that I wasn’t even capable of doing back then. It was about me sharing something so personal in hopes that it might resonate with someone else going through something similar. It was about showing people how truly rampant this behavior is in our culture. It was about showing my support to the women that have been brave enough to speak up and the ones who are still suffering in silence.

Unfortunately, vulnerability comes at a cost. Because what’s happened since I’ve shared has not been easy to deal with. I’ve willingly put myself in a position to be judged in the most personal way. There has been a lot of support yet a lot of silence. And within that silence lives gossip. I’ve made myself a target for rumors and assumptions and inaccuracies, and I’ve been hurt all over again.

What’s so ironic about this is that the guy from my original story, my “friend”, read my blog post and actually apologized to me. Sincerely apologized. He gave me what I needed from him now, because I spoke up. He took accountability for himself and his actions and commended me for my courage to tell my story. While I definitely don’t forgive his actions, I am choosing to believe that people can change. And yet, even after I got what I rightfully deserved from him, I’m still hurting. Not because of him but because of all the collateral damage that comes from sharing something so personal publicly.

I’d just like to say that if you’re reading this post, if you read my last two posts, and your first reaction was “omg gossip!! do you know who she’s talking about?? i have to find out!! who can i talk to who might know?!”…… INSTEAD of “wow, that is awful. i can’t believe this happens so often. we need this to stop. how can i show my support?”, then maybe you need to take a look in the mirror and take some accountability for your role in this culture. Because this is EXACTLY why women are afraid to speak up. For fear of judgement and gossip. Behind her back. To her face. To her family or her friends. And this is EXACTLY what needs to change. Our first response to hearing something like this should not be whispers behind the scenes, it should be conversations full of support, compassion and respect.

I am capable now of dealing with the aftermath. But I wasn’t back then. Just like so many other women.

I am not sorry that I told my story. I am at peace knowing that I’m a better person for what I did say rather than what I didn’t. I know that I have the empathy and freaking common sense to know how to react appropriately and compassionately to someone sharing something so intensely personal. And I know how to be a supportive human being. After everything, I feel like I am now able to accept that while the memory of my story still is one of violation and shame… I can move forward knowing that it is also a story of empowerment. I am stronger and smarter and more considerate because of this. I hope you are too.

6 thoughts on “the aftermath.

  1. I just read your first story, and I’m really sorry that happened! I commend you for your bravery to share, and help other women feel empowered to tell their stories too! You’re beautiful inside and out! Take care!

  2. Shawna,
    I was moved by your original post about the sexual assault that you experienced all those years ago. Your story, emotions, and reactions were beautifully portrayed. Your story felt real, emotional, and was even gut wrenching for me. (So awful !) After reading this follow up post, I must tell you that I am awed by your strength and courage to write your story, and to then so courageously and maturely handle its aftermath…and then write another beautiful, thought provoking post. THANK YOU for your honesty in sharing your story. The world and our culture needs more women like you to help bring wisdom and enlightenment to others. You are an example of “Be the change you want to see in the world. Stay strong, Shawna ! You are awesome !

    1. Jeanne, this brought tears to my eyes! Thank you so much for this wonderfully kind message. It’s so very moving to hear these words of encouragement from such wonderful women like yourself. I am proud to have you on my side. ❤️

  3. Shawnna – Thank you for being courageous and sharing your story. It has caused me reflect on times from my childhood when I was in some very precarious situations with my father’s friends who I had trusted completely.
    We need to speak up but it is never easy. We have guilt and shame even tho it wasn’t our fault.
    You are a strong woman and admired by so many. Focus on that and forget about those who judge. They are not worth your time.
    Del Mari

    1. Thank you so much, Del Mari. I hate hearing that you’ve experienced something in your past as well, but I sure am proud to stand beside such strong, supportive women today. ❤️

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