How Amy Schumer Empowered Me To Come Forward As A Rape Survivor
For most of my life, I never really gave a shit about celebrities.
Growing up, the only people I idolized were my kindergarten teacher Ms. Hamilton and my grandma whenever she snuck me sweets.
It's pretty ironic when you think about it, because now I cover entertainment news for a living. But if you asked me two years ago who the Kardashians were, I probably wouldn't have been able to answer.
Things changed for me sometime in February of last year when I was visiting my friend in college. She put on Amy Schumer's stand-up show, "Mostly Sex Stuff," and I immediately pissed my pants.
I'm serious, there was pee all over her bed.
Sorry about those sheets, Elyssa. I hope you never noticed.
I've followed Amy's material for about a year and half now, from all four seasons of "Inside Amy Schumer," to her HBO and Netflix specials, to her movie "Trainwreck" and her tour at MSG.
I've watched all of her interviews and have seen every stand-up routine that exists on the internet. I can recite her jokes in my sleep.
But more than that, there was something about Amy that moved me in a way no other celebrity had. I became transfixed by her confidence and poise, her strength and honesty.
All my life I made fun of those 14-year-old Beliebers, the kind of girls who sob uncontrollably when Justin takes a breath. But I found myself just as emotional while watching Amy eat a sandwich or walk the streets in sweats (which happens often, by the way).
So when I heard she was having a book signing for her new autobiography, "The Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo," I knew I had to do whatever it took to attend.
I've never been to a book signing before (fuck reading, am I right?), so I really didn't know what to expect. I decided to Snapchat my experience for Elite Daily, because I knew it would be the highlight of my career as a writer.
I would be meeting AMY FUCKING SCHUMER. The girl I've been writing about every other week for the past year of my life. This would be a huge moment for me, and I wanted to document it all.
In order to leave a big impression on Amy, I decorated the inside book cover with pictures of our relationship. I added screenshots of her liking my Tweets over the past year and a pic of me crying after watching her perform at MSG.
STFU, IT'S NOT CREEPY. LEAVE ME ALONE, OK?
So anyway, how it works is they line you up and have you walk past Amy with your book while she signs it in front of your face.
You have maximum 0.8 seconds to confess your love for her before security shoos you away. I had it all planned out, you guys. I would show her the weird-ass collage I made and laugh with her about all our times together.
But then something happened. As it got closer to becoming my turn and the realization set in that I would be meeting my one true hero, I was overwhelmed with so much emotion, I immediately broke down.
This is the part of the story where things become a little harder to talk about.
A lot of my friends and Facebook followers know I love Amy for a multitude of reasons, but the biggest way Amy has influenced my life is by empowering me as a rape survivor.
Just to be clear, I've never once labeled myself as a "rape survivor" on the internet before, or in real life, because I've kept this part of my life a secret for almost 11 years.
If I'm being honest, I've disassociated from the word completely because I've refused to believe something like this happened to me.
Back when I was in middle school, a classmate sexually assaulted me and forced me to perform a sexual act against my will. I was abused by this boy, who was only 12 years old at the time, almost every day for six months after school.
He would comment on my appearance and tell me what to wear. He'd call himself a "misogynist" to my face. I didn't know what that word meant at the time, but I do now, which makes the whole thing even more disgusting.
In Amy's book, she retells the story of when she lost her virginity to a boy named Jeff who took it from her without her consent. She was asleep and a bit drunk, but he entered her without permission.
She concluded the chapter by reminding readers that one out of every six women is raped and 44 percent are under the age of 18.
Later on in her book, she admits she was in a relationship with a guy named Dan who physically and emotionally abused her. "I started to confuse his anger and aggression for passion and love," she explained.
I'm currently halfway through Amy's book, but the quote that stuck with me the most was this:
I'm telling this story because I'm a strong-ass woman, not someone most people picture when they think 'abused woman.' But it can happen to anyone. When you're in love with a man who hurts you, its a special kind of hell, yet one that so many women have experienced.
That was it; she hit the nail on the head. For years, I never came forward about my own abusive relationship because I thought it was my fault. I thought retelling the experience would make me weak, or at least make me feel that way.
I didn't want to come to terms with what happened, because I wasn't strong enough to face it. But I am now, you guys. I'm strong as fuck and more confident than ever. I'm happy and I'm brave.
But that's because of Amy Schumer. She's made me fall in love with all the parts of myself, even the parts that are flawed or damaged. She's taught me how to be outspoken and fearless when it comes to facing criticism or judgement. She's helped me become vulnerable and unapologetic -- the best version of myself.
Most importantly, she showed me there isn't one way to be a victim of sexual assault, that the "perfect victim" does not exist. We are beautiful and unbreakable, and we all have stories to tell.
When it was my turn to get my book signed, I decided to take the moment to tell Amy I was a rape survivor. I let her know (as quickly as possible, and through many tears) that her story empowered me to come forward and share my own.
And that's what this is about. Not Amy, not me, but women lifting each other up and creating a supportive space where we can share our experiences with each other.
It's about inspiring and supporting one another and being the voice for people who are too afraid to use their own. Let's be each others' role models and lead the way for generations of women to come.
I can't put into words what it was like to meet my hero. As I told her my deepest confession, she held my hand and listened to every word. She thanked me and looked even more beautiful in person than I could have ever imagined.
Amy has a strong voice, and she's blessed to have a platform where she can constantly use it. My voice is strong too, but I've kept it silent for way too long.
Thank you, Amy, for sharing your story and helping me share mine.
I am strong. I am confident. I am brave. I may not be "The Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo," but I am a girl with a story.