Why I Marched in Lansing: Sexual Assault [PHOTOS]
If you marched, or if you didn't march, that's your choice. For me, it wasn't political.
On Saturday, millions of people marched on every continent for many, many reasons. The actual mission statement on the Women's March on Washington site is as follows:
Women’s rights are human rights, regardless of a woman’s race, ethnicity, religion, immigration status, sexual identity, gender expression, economic status, age or disability. We practice empathy with the intent to learn about the intersecting identities of each other. We will suspend our first judgement and do our best to lead without ego.
I wasn't sure that I was going to one of the sister marches (there were marches in Brighton, Detroit, Grand Rapids, Traverse City, Lansing and more) here in Michigan. Politics are a very personal choice, and I respect that. But for me, this wasn't political.
This was personal.
Last October, I found out through Facebook that our former family doctor had been charged with sexually assaulting at least seven women. He was my doctor, Pat's doctor, our son's doctor. We trusted him.
And I had never told anybody that he had assaulted me.
Without going into detail, I was afraid to say anything. I didn't think anybody would believe me. Furthermore, I was afraid that it would jeopardize my job - we had a fundraiser every year, where we asked people to donate money to the health system he worked for. Hundreds of thousands of dollars.
I put it away, deep inside my brain, to a place where I wouldn't let it affect me. Shortly after that, we lost our jobs. I allowed those emotions to push "the incident" down even further. I almost convinced myself that I was overreacting, and that it didn't really happen. Until I saw that he did it to other women.
They had more courage than me, but their courage helped me to make a phone call to the police department.
He's being sentenced next month. This is the first time I've ever talked about it publicly, and I'm still not comfortable with it. I'm no victims rights advocate; I'm barely dealing with these emotions as it is. I've been told by several lawyers (all male, ironically) that, because the statute of limitations has passed by a few months, that "nobody will believe you." I also had a male, who I don't know personally, tell me that most sexual assault allegations are "bullish**."
So, on Friday night, I bought a piece of pink poster board, found my pink hat and my old pink running shoes and decided to make the trip to Lansing the next day.
I fully admit - I was disappointed with some of the signs, mocking the President. I wasn't there for that. Nobody should be. We're supposed to be better than that. We're supposed to rise above that. But, just because a few people chose not to, doesn't mean that the march meant nothing.
I had several people read my sign and say "thank you." One woman came in close and said, "I was sexually assaulted in the 70s when I was in college. Nobody believed me. I still don't think anybody believes me. Thank you." We cried together for a moment, and then went our separate ways.
If you're a woman, and you didn't march, there's no judgment here from me. That's your choice. It doesn't make you "less" of a woman. But before you discredit the marches for whatever reason, remember that there were people like me, who did it for our own reasons.
I'm happy that I went. Maybe, at some point, I'll be ready to help other women on a local level. But, right now, this was what I needed for myself.