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Valerie Lecomte’s MeToo Essay

The following is an essay written by high-schooler Valerie Lecomte about the #MeToo movement. The essay won first place in the Fall 2018 Scholarship Essay Contest.

Valerie Lecomte’s Essay

Our century is a stark contrast from the previous one. Where silence and darkness dominated our last century, acceptance and change dominates this century especially with the “Me Too” movement where many of the cases that happened in the 20thcentury are being unmasked in the 21st.

“Valerie, I was raped 24 years ago”. This was my sister, my wonderful and extraordinary sister, telling me she was raped when she was only 6 by two of our own cousins , same blood and family. She did not report or say anything to anyone. She had to see them every family reunion: Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Years where every time she remembered that moment years before. Merely a kid, she had to cope with this grief and the trauma effects sexual assault causes all alone. Like most sexual assault cases, she blames herself for the assault and stayed in dark silence for many years. She only revealed this incident 24 years later.

I wish I could say my family did not suffer through another painful situation like this. But we did. On the other side of the Atlantic ocean, my French cousin was the victim this time. In her teenage years, as she was walking to ice hockey practice , an unidentified man raped her in a dark and dirty alley. 9 months later, she gave birth to a baby, the product of her and this unidentified man. Her parents chose to put the baby up for adoption, which , as my cousin says, was one of the hardest things she has ever done.

This whole movement has taught me one of the most important lessons in life: that you must speak up and encourage others to not live in fear. Before, I would have never voiced my concerns or opinions. However, I admired both my cousin and sister’s strength and it turned my whole view on the world around.  I soon realized: if I do not stand up for myself and others, then who will? I no longer wanted to be shelled in or lead my life in loneliness. I wanted to help others and to not be afraid to stand up for myself and others and be as strong as my sister, cousin and the millions of other victims.

I eventually joined an organization at my school called the Health Information Project where 11th and 12th graders teach the freshman about different health topics where there is an entire topic about sexual harassment. In this specific topic, there are the specific steps and organizations to call if you have been sexually harassed. We even cover specific scenarios to illustrate different sexual harassment cases. Raising awareness on these health topics and especially sexual harassment is extremely important and it helped me cope with both of my family’s sexual harassment cases. As soon as I leave those classes that I teach, my only hope is that I have made an impact on someone and helped them realize that they are never alone.

With the “Me Too” movement, allegations and instances of people speaking out happen every day. As soon as one victim speaks up, more and more will feel empowered and safe to talk about it where previously they would have never. This newfound mentality that “enough is enough” has forever changed our society. Each day that someone speaks up, they go from being a survivor to being a hero.

The “Me Too” movement is more than telling your story of sexual assault. It is about having strength about opening up a very deep hurt. It is about being vulnerable and raw about yourself. You open yourself up for hurt and denial as in some cases, the victim is often not believed and is blamed. But most importantly, the “Me Too” movement is about not being alone and feeling helpless.

As Alex Elle said so eloquently said “ You’re not a victim for sharing your story. You are a survivor setting the world on fire with your truth. And you never know who needs your light, your warmth, and raging courage”

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