Submitted by Kelly Yokum

  • My sexual assault and harassment stories began when I was in 2nd grade. We were playing hide and seek in my neighborhood. An older boy suggested we hide in a tent in someone’s yard. He got on top of me and began rubbing himself on me. I remember being so confused and terrified. I felt trapped, like I couldn’t breathe. I remember his breath, the sounds he was making, to this day. I never told anyone. I was ashamed.
  • I have had no less than 15 experiences that have involved force, pain, fear, loss of control, terror.
  • I’ve been grabbed by neck and slammed against walls, had a telephone cord wrapped around my neck while he lifted me up on to the wall and continued to slam me into it.
  • I’ve had my blouse ripped open, been forced on to beds by men I’ve known and not known.
  • I’ve had my head smashed into a wall.
  • I have tried to leave abusive relationships, sometimes too late, sometimes I tried when I shouldn’t have. Two of these men forced themselves on me, saying that if I just remembered how good it was I’d stay.
  • I’ve been taunted by boys, by men. I was stalked for years by one ex-boyfriend who followed me across the country, kidnapped me and held me a hotel room for 2 days in Atlantic City during which he wrapped a lamp cord around my neck and wanted us to get married.
  • I didn’t remember some of this until I heard Donald Trump’s words about sexual assault. It was the next day, the continued talk about it and then I just began to sob. And couldn’t stop. Most of these incidents were hidden even to me. How could I tell anyone? They must have been my fault. I must have some responsibility. I shouldn’t have worn that skirt, I shouldn’t have smiled so much, talked so much, shined so much.
  • At 49 I am still trying to shine. I am, at my core, an extremely happy and optimistic person. But, there have been moments in my life where others, men, have tried to crush that. I rise, every time. I do walk alone now. I carry things to protect me but I walk alone, and I stand up straight and look men in the eye as I walk past them, knowing that I am strong.
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