A Story About Processing Sexual Trauma In The Digital Age

It’s 3 a.m. and I get on Twitter because I can’t sleep. I scroll through hundreds of posts, nearly every single one about Bill Cosby or Brett Kavanaugh and the respective sexual assault cases against them. “Believe women!” some people seem to be screaming into the abyss of the Internet. “But why believe women?” others ask in response. I close the app but I’m still restless; an hour later, I reopen it and read the same posts over and over again.

“Maybe you should get off the Internet for a while,” my friend tells me when I talk to her about it. “You need to look out for your own mental health.”

I’ve never been too good at that, if I’m being completely honest. I still can’t seem to speak plainly about the things I’ve been through; instead, I talk in vague euphemisms. A lot of my friends do that, I’ve noticed. They don’t like the word “sexual assault.” Or “rape.” Or “molestation.” Or “violence.” Instead they use phrases like “the thing that happened” or “that one party” or, sometimes, “#MeToo.” Mostly they don’t talk about it at all.

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