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About two years ago, I attended a forum hosted by Honey for survivors of sexual assault and for anyone who knows someone who has been sexually assaulted (sadly these two categories constitute the vast majority of the world’s population, if not all). The forum was designed as an opportunity to share experiences and to offer support. I decided to share my story.

Until this point, I thought that I had “gotten over it.” That the event which had taken place four years ago was no longer present in my life. Yet so much pain and tears and agony erupted from me as I told my story. I realized that I had buried the trauma very deep and had carried it with me.

Most importantly, until this point I had struggled with using the term “rape” or even “sexual assault” to describe my experience. Instead, I resorted to the euphemism: “negative sexual experience.”

Now, I have learned to call it by name. And I think that, for me, this is the first step. For the first time, I have begun to work through this trauma head-on. I think that rape is something that no one ever truly “gets over.” I think I always will be learning how to better cope with what happened.

However, the recent American presidential race made me realize that this is not something I am coping with alone. This is not a problem of mine, but of society. When I saw the victory of misogyny play out in the polling booths, I decided unequivocally that I must speak out.

I hope that this poem might inspire other women to stand up to street harassment, to speak out about sexual assault, and to face “negative sexual experiences” head-on and begin to heal.

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