Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Facebook Doesn’t Give a Damn About #MeToo or Your Sexual Assault

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Facebook doesn’t give a damn about women and black folk. I present the latest evidence.
My friend participated in the #MeToo hashtag by telling her story of sexual abuse in her status. Less than a day later, she was notified that not only was her story flagged for “abuse”, her account is suspended. SHE told a story about how SHE was ASSAULTED, yet SHE was the person who is being punished, much like what happened to her when she tried to get justice. Facebook loves punishing the victims of abuse while they let abusers run rampant. The only Face they care about are white male faces.
Below is her fiance’s words about what happened, and a resharing of her story, because it needs to be told. Facebook is perpetuating the rape culture that they claim they want to end.
CONTENT WARNING: Detailed information regarding my partner’s sexual assault.
Yesterday, as many of you know, my fiancé ALW courageously shared her story of when she was drugged and sexually assaulted during her senior year of high school. The amount of love and support she received (much that came from survivors of sexual assault themselves) was heartwarming, to say the absolute least.
Today, she received a message from Facebook letting her know not only that her post had been taken down, but that her commenting, messaging, and posting privileges had been taken away from her as well. The reason Facebook gave was “to stop behavior that others may find annoying or abusive”.
Let’s put it this way - Facebook is silencing someone who used their media platform to bring more than a hundred people together after something traumatic happened, as well as erasing every bit of the support that was given (and for the record, the ONLY person who voiced any opposition to the status was Nick Colakovski, the man who assaulted her).
The “Me too” movement is successfully bringing millions of people together to stand in unity, and Facebook is choosing to cater to the ones that seem to find it “annoying” or “abusive” (which, given the topic at hand, should be a joke).
This is rape culture. I encourage you all to share and circulate this post, to show you stand with survivors and to show Facebook that we will not let survivors of sexual assault that are brave enough to come forward be silenced.
Show rapists and those who sexually assault others that they don't have power over the situation anymore. They can try to remove the post, but they can't remove the message. And if they try to remove the post, just keep sharing and reposting it so even more people can see.
Let's work together to make sure survivors are supported and that people who sexually assault women are held accountable.
Here is ALW's original post:
Me too.
Over the past year or so, I've battled with myself over whether or not I should write an essay about my experience with sexual assault. It's something I have kept bottled up for such a long time, mostly because I've been scared, deathly afraid, that this intimate and horrifying moment in my life would be met with negative attention or worse, apathy.
The reason women take so long to publicly come forward after an event like this is that opening up this incredibly vulnerable moment in your life is not worth it if you will not receive support and sympathy. Wounds like these stay fresh for a very long time, and I have debated myself many times on whether opening up my story to public scrutiny will simply undo the healing I've managed so far.
But I am stronger now, and I know that even if my story reaches one woman and lets them know that they are not alone, or reaches one man and shows him the reality of rape culture, that my trauma can be a force of good for someone. So without further ado, here is my story:
It was senior year in high school. I had never been that popular, but at this point I had a solid group of friends and felt generally happy. I started hanging out with some kids from Brighton, one of which happened to be an ex from over two years prior of a member of my friend group. She got upset, and I was abruptly excommunicated from all of my friends.
As time passed, I began to date the boy in Brighton, all while trying to find other friends to replace the ones who had abandoned me so readily. A popular bad boy from school, Nick, invited me over to hang out one afternoon and I jumped at the chance since he had always seemed cool and I wanted to find a new friend group so desperately. I knew my dad had heard of Nick since he and his friends had a reputation of druggies, so I told him I was going to hang out with some preppy kids from school, and he dropped my off at Nicks house after school.
I was very naive at this point in my life. I had never even smoked weed. But here I was, knocking on the door of a local druggie looking for friendship. He seemed cool enough at first,  we watched some TV and talked about random stuff. I had a headache, and he grabbed me a pill and said "here this will help." I asked him what it was, and he wouldn't tell me. I was an idiot to take it, but I wanted to seem cool and I figured it was just extra strength Advil or something and he was just messing around.
I started to feel a bit dizzy. What was going on? Nick came over to me and offered me a listerine strip. I was perplexed but didn't have enough mental coherency to say no. He told me to put it under my tongue, and it tasted bad. I was starting to feel very confused. Why was the listerine strip orange? Why did it taste so bitter?
The answer was: Nick had given me a Klonopin and a suboxone strip. Two extremely powerful drugs, one of which is synthetic heroin for recovering addicts. As I started to slip in and out of consciousness, Nick began kissing me. I still remember the taste of cigarettes. I clearly and with as much energy as I could muster said "no, stop, I have a boyfriend," but although my mouth was working, my body wasn't. I couldn't fight back. I remember shaking and crying and for some odd reason became fixated and embarrassed about the fact that I hadn't shaved. I continued to say no and feebly try and push him off until I passed out.
When I woke up, I was naked except for my underwear. There were several people standing around the bed. I didn't have time to take in the scene before promptly dashing to the bathroom and vomiting. As I crawled back to the bed, I saw two of Nick's friends, John and Taylor, who had also gone to school with me, talking to a shirtless Nick who was in his boxers.
I collapsed on the bed, wrapped my nakedness up in a comforter, tried to process what was happening. Nick was saying, "I don't care what you do with her, just take her somewhere else. My dads coming home soon and I'll be in deep shit if she's still here." My mind was starting to race, I was panicking. I was scared.
Then, a blessed thing happened that in all likelihood saved my life. My phone started going off, and kept on going off over and over. I managed to crawl over to it, and saw my dads name on the screen. He told me he had felt weird after dropping me off, and that he had googled the address and found out Nick lived there. He was heading over there now and I was in so much trouble.
I was more grateful than I had ever been in my life. I struggled to get dressed, all the while Nick's friends leered at me and even offered to help me get dressed. I had enough clarity to tell them to back off. I stumbled down the stairs and out to my dads car, thank god he'd arrived.
When I got in the car, my dad immediately noticed something off. I had huge, I mean golf ball sized, hickeys up and down my neck and chest. I was slurring my speech and kept falling asleep. He immediately drove back to Nick's house to ask what had happened and called an ambulance. He pulled into Nick's driveway and his dad, a doctor, answered the door.
My dad told him what condition I was in and informed him that he had called an ambulance, and the mans first response was: "can you please move your car off the driveway? We're getting it redone." My father remained parked solidly in the driveway until the ambulance arrived. I vaguely recall Nick coming out to the car and apologizing. Of course my dad didn't know how far his abuse had gone, otherwise Nick probably would've gotten mowed down right in his driveway.
The ambulance took me to the hospital where I remained for several days. The combination and strength of the drugs Nick had given me had compromised my heart, and although I don't remember it, I wavered close to the boundary between life and death for some time.

the first 24 hours in the hospital, where I was recovering not only from my first time ever having drugs like that in my system but also from an overdose, is when the police came. I had consented to a rape kit, which involved pictures of my various hickies and bruises, of my genitals, and an in depth examination similar to a gynecologist visit. They said they'd get the results back soon.
Then the police came, as they do when rape kits are done, to interview me. I don't even remember the interview. I don't even know what I said. I was so hopped up on the drugs Nick gave me and the drugs the hospital gave me that I'm sure much of what I said was incoherent gibberish. However, as I later came to find out, that interview was counted as evidence and what I said then, not when I was sober and could actually recollect the events, was the only statement they would take.

I eventually came back to my senses, covered in bruises from the assault and from the IVs, and called my old best friend, the girl I had been close like sisters with for years before I had been kicked out of our friend group. I told her what happened, I was completely distraught. I called my boyfriend as well, and told him what happened. He was sympathetic enough and said we'd talk about it when I was out of the hospital.
When I finally did get out of the hospital, I didn't know what to do with myself. I had to go back to school where I had no friends, carrying the weight of this trauma on my shoulders. The morning before my first day back I picked out a nice outfit, a skirt, a long sleeved shirt to cover my IV bruises, a scarf to cover the bruises on my neck and chest. I also threw on a pair of heels, because I wanted to feel pretty and confident.
As soon as I arrived at school, the formspring messages started pouring in. For those of you who don't know or remember formspring, it was a platform to ask anonymous questions online, similar to Sarahah, except everyone else could see the questions and answers as well on a feed. People were messaging me things like "ur lying about being raped who would dress like a slut after something like that?" I knew then that my best friend of years had told someone what happened to me. She took away my anonymity and forced me to relive my trauma on my first day back to school.
My boyfriend broke up with me the next time I saw him. He didn't believe I had been assaulted, he thought I had cheated on him.
The rest of my senior year continued like that. I eventually made new friends, but John and Taylor, Nick's friends who had been there at the time of the assault, were part of the group too which made me uncomfortable. I repeatedly asked John why he didn't do something. I asked both of them if they would testify if I brought the case to trial. Both refused.
How naive I was to think the case would ever go to trial. 7 months later and my rape kit came back. Negative. The nurse told me all that means is that he could have used a condom. I have never been able to remember what happened that afternoon in his room, and I don't know whether to be angry or thankful.
After my rape kit results came back I met with an RPD detective to talk about pressing charges. My dad came with me. I told the detective clearly and succinctly that I wanted to press sexual assault charges. Even with a negative rape kit, there were still two witnesses that could be subpoenaed, there was photographic evidence of hickies, my hospital records would show that I had been unable to consent due to the large amount of drugs Nick had given me.
The detective said I would never win. He said that Nick told detectives I had consented to both taking the drugs and the sexual activities. Despite my insistence to the contrary on both counts (I hadn't willingly taken suboxone knowing it was a drug, and I very clearly articulated my lack of consent before passing out) it was my word against his, and his wealthy and connected father had pulled some strings.
I insisted I wanted to take the case to court, and the detective said he would get back to me. He never did.
As the years passed, I heard stories that similar things had been done by him to other women. He was arrested for other things eventually. But then, once I thought the wounds of trauma had healed, he began popping up. First at the grocery store, then at the gym. Then, I found out he went to my college. The first time I saw him there it was like a lightning bolt of ice raced through my body. I started hyperventilating. The worst part is, I doubt he even remembers what he did to me.
I wish this story had a happier ending. I tried to do the right thing, I thought I had enough evidence on my side. But until this day, I have never felt comfortable publicly acknowledging this story. Nick Colakovski sexually assaulted me, and I let my shame keep me silent.

I will be silent no more.
Attached are screenshots between J and ALW after the assault.
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