Sexual Assault.

When we see these words, they both frighten and enrage us due to the potential nature of the crime and injustice on the victims.

It’s hard to explain the emotions that we felt when our assailant posted a public apology to the cocktail community for “effecting/hurting/insulting” anyone due to their actions under the influence of drugs and alcohol. We were (again) hurt and discounted from a sincere apology that should conceivably be face to face.  Who were you really apologizing to?  Was it us? Or the community that can’t even begin to perceive the measure of your crimes? It’s even harder to explain the emotions we also felt when that post received over 800 likes and 200 comments that read “I love you,” and “You are so strong” for the man that physically and verbally attacked his colleagues and friends. We of course do not fault the friends and family who only wished to spread love, but it’s extremely painful and disingenuous when a guilty man shares his abridged story, receiving waves of personal support when he should be asking the community to support his victims.

It’s hard to explain the fear that we feel as we want to speak of our injustice but don’t know how that same community may respond. Our goal isn’t to build walls or bring shame. Our goal is to let people speak and allow for our colleagues to listen. We want to stimulate a dialogue about what happened to us, why we sat in silence hurting for so long, how we can help others have a voice and how we can end sexual assault.

In the last two weeks, 15 women have come forward sharing similar incidents and repeated offenses inflicted by the same man. We have realized that these crimes correlate to something more than just substance abuse; these are the crimes of a man who asserted power and control over his victims under the assumption that he wouldn’t be held accountable for the damage he caused. We have also realized that each one of us was afraid to speak up about these injustices for a multitude of reasons that we need to end.

We need to continue the dialogue about recognizing, reporting and not condoning inappropriate or illegal behavior. This blog is a compilation of painfully honest experiences that the victims have bravely chosen to share so that we may begin this conversation. Some victims have chosen to share their names and some have chosen to remain anonymous. Please read through all of the incidents so that you may fully understand the scope and nature of this issue. In addition, if you would like to share your story, please send it to therealityofsexualassault@gmail.com

Let us be clear about the details we are about to share. Under no circumstances is it ok to touch another person, forcibly hold them against their will or say sexually vulgar and offensive things without their consent. We need to realize that whether you are a victim, a confidant of the victim or a bystander, that it isn’t acceptable to brush it off or use the excuse that the perpetrator was “just drunk.” Sexual assault is happening within our community and we need to support and protect each other.

In addition, there has recently been some positive talk about social responsibility. We need to continue this conversation because we have allowed a predator to attack his colleagues for several years due to our acceptance and celebration of excessive drinking and drug use.

We are #NotGuilty for what happened to us.