The 2018 #MeToo Essay Award Winners

[su_expand more_text=”Show more of the Letter From The Editor” less_text=”Show less of the Letter From The Editor” height=”140″ link_align=”right”]From the Editor: Congratulations to everyone who submitted to this the first-ever Memoir Magazine #MeToo Essay contest! Grab a cup of tea and sit down. April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (#SAAM) and in honor of all the people and organizations who have worked tirelessly for years to bring attention to these issues, and the miraculous series of events that have made it possible for survivors world-wide to band together through internet hashtags like me #MeToo, #TimesUp and #NeverAgain, I feel this contest announcement is so meaningful and momentous that it deserves an award ceremony. That is is why I have written the following speech. I appreciate your taking 5 minutes to read it. But, if you would like to skip ahead to the winners, you may do so by simply scrolling to the bottom and closing this letter.

Friends, the first-ever Memoir Magazine #MeToo Essay Award was more than a writing contest. It is about using your voice to overcome silencing and change the culture and therefore we at Memoir Magazine cannot stress enough how much each and every contributor is a winner as survivors who were once voiceless blaze new trails together.

There is a saying, “All roads lead to Rome.” All paths or activities lead to the center of things. This was literally true in the days of the Roman Empire, when all the empire’s roads radiated out from the capital city, Rome. It is equally true today though, as all survivors and organizations’ efforts are ultimately leading toward the to creation of a culture of respect, equality, and safety.

It is my hope that by sharing these essays with all of you and with the world, these common treads that bind us can be known and identified most of all by ourselves, but also by teachers, law enforcement and caretakers, so that future generations will not have to endure the same suffering through lack of understanding of the life-long effects of sexual abuse and domestic violence on survivors, families, and society.

We have included Discussion Questions at the bottom of each winning essay and we welcome teachers and group facilitators to use them for discussions of Sexual Assault Awareness, as well as readers to comment on and join the discussion. Share these essays with your friends and family and lets stop the silence once and for all.

Furthermore, I’d like to thank our judge Chelsey Clammer and our dedicated staff and readers: Matthew Battista, Prarthana Banikya, Michele Gutierrez, Jessica Parker, and Rea Donato. We all had a very difficult time reading these and choosing from so many meaningful emotional journeys. To quote submitter, Kelly A. Dorgan, it’s true, the review of over 300 essays has been “simultaneously transformative, exhausting, heartbreaking, and exhilarating.”

These brave submissions ran the gamut from childhood Sexual Abuse and Incest to Domestic Abuse, College Dorm Rapes, Sexual Harassment, Professional Impropriety, Gas-lighting and Abuse of Power, to Addiction, Self-harm, and perhaps most surprising, the extent to which the rampant use of Date Rape Drugs has spread unchecked at this time.

Moreover, I am deeply grateful for the many letters of support from writer/survivors for this contest stands for, what it has meant to each individual to be heard. This is a testament to the power of memoir to heal not just the reader, but the writer as well. For it is what we do with these events that continue to define our lives.

To these writers: I stand tall and I say, “#MeToo.”

Through it all, I could not help but see myself in every one of your stories. Not just in the events themselves, but in the horrific aftermath as well; my own symptoms of abuse were mirrored in nearly 90% of the submissions–PTSD, self harm, suicidal ideations, addiction, confusion, panic attacks, poor relationships and crushing self-doubt.

As a survivor myself of childhood sexual abuse, adult sexual violence and domestic violence, these stories have made me feel a part of something bigger than my own pain. They have triggered long dormant memories, helped me look squarely at my own life and realize the shocking extent of my own silencing. They have shown me how nearly inevitable it is that a first instance of assault leads to multiple forms of abuse throughout a lifetime.

I see now how much of my past decisions have been based on fear; fear of the pedophile step-father and grandfather, the narcissistic rapist x-husband, and even fear of my own truth and power. One man terrorized me so much that I took our son and ran away to another country! An action–made possible by a cocktail of intimidation, marital rape, severe depression, PTSD and an almost total lack of knowledge of Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence laws at the time–that landed me one year in prison—which, although traumatic in itself, was significantly better than the torture chamber of that marriage.

I spent the last decade in therapy (when I could afford it), while living in constant fear; afraid that he might pop up again at anytime to harm me physically, further harm my reputation, my family and friendships with his awe-inspiring blitzkriegs of unchecked manipulation, slander, and gas-lighting. Feeling like some kind of Trojan Horse for his malicious actions, I made no new friendships and neglected my old ones; I could not bear the pain of losing them again or the guilt of having him complicate the lives of my loved ones for his agendas. Instead of being happy and living up to my true potential, I felt unworthy and I watched my dreams go by as if on a carousel. And it has taken me ten years to distill this paralyzing experience into two paragraphs.

I also see how remaining silent and living in constant fear has gravely affected my own health and well-being. Not his. It created a spiral of shame and regret within me so profound I did not even know it was happening–until I saw myself, my real beautiful self, mirrored in all the courageous people in all these essays. After a decade of isolation, I forgive myself and I will no longer live in fear. Seeing the courage of these writer/survivors (men and women) has shown me that I have the strength to stand up for my truth, to show up for myself and for others. They have given me the courage to confront those ghosts and wrestle them to the page, laying them to rest once and for all. For this I thank you, all the writers.

Together, we have won, because we have beat the one thing these tragic events most tried to do: silence us. Keep using your voice!

For those of you still living with this, I give you these stories for you to know that you are not alone and a list of resources is available here.

Sincerely Yours in the Fight,

Founder and Editor-in-Chief

Memoir Magazine[/su_expand]

I know you’ve been waiting patiently, so here are the results!

The 2018 Memoir Magazine #MeToo Essay Award Winners

The 1st and 2nd Place essays can be read by clicking on the links or images below. Discussion Questions are at the end of each essay.

In addition, 12 Reader’s Choice essays will be published in the following weeks in our ongoing #MeToo section.

We thank those who have shared their personal stories and in so doing have helped so many of our readers understand the scope of Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence. For triumph and uncommon valor exhibited in the course of their personal lives, we recognize them as follows:

1st Prize: It Starts with Blood by Emily Finn

2nd Prize: Rise by Megan Baxter

#MeToo-2nd Prize

[su_accordion][su_spoiler title=”Reader’s Choice Essays/Runner Ups” open=”no” style=”default” icon=”plus” anchor=”” class=””] I Never Said No by Mary Beth O’Connor
Welcome to Krav Maga by Marilyn Mercado
Over It by Shannon LeBlanc
The Wretched Chapter by M Curtis
Hold your breath and count to ten by Andrea Gallagher
Birthday Cake by Tori Weston
What Insomnia Told Me by Martha Custis
Discovering Electricity by Abby Cummings
Healing through Story Telling by Melissa Zook
Little Bitch by Sequoia Solo
Seeing Red by Shannon Tsonis
Before #MeToo by C Flanagan Flynn
[/su_spoiler] [su_spoiler title=”Shortlisted Essays” open=”no” style=”default” icon=”plus” anchor=”” class=””] I’m An Alien Now by Megan Matthews
Avocado by Sophie Trevitt
Evolving Body Language by Toni Bennett
Annie’s Baby by Janice Konstantinidis
Surviving by AK
Relax by Katharine Bost
Rock N’ Roll, 1970, EKU by Leslie Townsend
The Body by Bridgit Kuenning-Pollpeter
On #MeToo and the Novel I Thought I Had Finished Writing by Kathryn Huber
This Will Not Define Her by Rachel Spies
Before There Was #MeToo, There Was Me, Too by Amy Freeman
A Roar Deferred by Carolyn Sherman
Blowjobs by Felicity Fenton
Smeared by Rachel Burger
Abuse: Excerpt from STRUCK by Nancy Canyon
Going on Ten by September Roberts
Confessions of a Buried Survivor by Shielding Cournoyer
Consequences of Rape: A Personal Story by Ernestine Whitman
For Every Death by I. Grey
Nine Reasons Why I Didn’t Say No 34 Years Ago When My Book Editor at the Historical Society Press Invited Me To a Porno Matinee at the Local “Art” House Theatre—A Couplet by Sharon Wood Wortman
Men, Women and Children by Terah Van Dusen
About a Boy by Eugene Jones Baldwin
On Silence by Tamzin Mitchell
So When Your Boss Calls You “FLUFF” It’s Sexual Harrassment? To Younger Women on #MeToo by Julia Robinson Shimizu
American Babylon: A Profile of Sexual Assault by John Gillen
Reckoning or Reconciliation: Love, Incest, and #MeToo by Kay J. Jamison
Learning How To Be Female by Annie Lampman
On Kesha, Touch and Sexual Assault by Jervon Perkins
A Short Autobiography With The Alphabet by E. DiGaris Gray
This Started As A Eulogy To My Innocence by Adelina Molina
The Political is Personal (with apologies to Carol Hanisch*) by Noreen Braman
50 years to tell by Jenny Hickinbotham
The Testimony by Elisaveta Bozmarova
Closet by Opal Young
Fault Lines by Meg Dunley
After the Funeral by Elsa Valmidiano
Finding My Voice by Rachael Holliday
The Volunteer by Deborah Cohan
Spaces With Men by Amy Bee
Before and After by Melissa Grunow
The Hard Journey to Being Whole by Shirley Davis
The Spider and the Fly by Maureen Ott
Adhyasa by Myfanwy Collins
Not Afraid of the Dark by “Chohwa Park”
Desert Lessons by Katheryn Simpson
Bedrooms Are Not for Talking by Dayna Mahannah

[/su_spoiler] [su_spoiler title=”Notable” open=”no” style=”default” icon=”plus” anchor=”” class=””] I must have been…but I am. by Alejandra Ossa Jimenez
#MeToo by Patricia Haefeli
Impossible Vindication by Marcia Butler
In The Driver’s Seat by Evelyn Krieger
Poised by Cara Rodoreda
The Ownership of Bodies by Renee Waters
The Red Girl by Kayla Solis
THIS IS NOT OK by Kathy O’Shaughnessy
Under the Rhododendrons by KELLY DORGAN
Vision by Deborah Svec-Carstens
“The Boat” by Sherry Shahan
“Who will believe thee?” by Cynthia Lewis
#MeToo With Privilege by Margaret Shafer
A Thousand Shattered Windows by Donald Cribbs
Adding a Voice to the Chorus by Hannah VanDuinen
An Unprecedented Youth by Betsy Yohannan
Are You There, Avatar? It’s MeE, The 70s. by Alle Hall
Awkward Changes by Ruthann Fagan
Bodily Authority by Meredith Lindgren
Body Games by Cassandra Osvatics
Broken but Still Breathing by Briana Cureton
Codas: Returning to the Place I Was Raped by Katie Simon
Crush by Christine Barbetta
Don’t Talk To Strangers by Debra Baker
Dumb Blonde by Kelly Thompson
Finding Grace on a Road to Somewhere Else by Suzanne Sullivan
Finding My Wings by Megan Suggitt
Fire by Sherry Sellars
Freshman English 1958 by Bunny Pearlman
Girl Feelings by Alle Hall
Invisible Door by Toni Davis
Keep Your Hands and Feet to Yourself by Anika Fajardo
Life Sentence by Gina Sampaio
List of the Affected by Emily Kellogg
Lost in Freedom by Helena Fagan
Love is an Avian Fractal by Madeline Norris
More Than a Survivor by Glynis Boyd Hughes
My Apparently Normal Life by Marianne Abel-Lipschutz
My initiation to the #metoo Club by Laurel Lewis
My Sexual Predator Won the Nobel Prize by Carol Miller
No One Cries For The Egyptians by Shira May
Not me, too by Kriz Bell
Precious Moments by Gina Tron
Relative by Isabel Powell
Savage Beast by Margaret Nowaczyk
Skin – #Metoo by Sofia Benbahmed
Standing outside the precinct by Alison Main
Stock Character Feigns Love by Minnie Lane
The Me I Have to Be by Katrina Jagelski
The Pain that Tore in You an Ocean by Chloe Mattingly
Trapped by Brandi Munro
Unpinned by Heather Gemmen Wilson
We Are Liberty by Kisa Hooks
Where Have We Been, Where Are We Going? by Terry Barr
You Asked Me How It Felt by Rebecca Fish Ewan
You, my Brother by Sara H. Alex
Lesson Learned by Tara Menefee
From An Unsent Letter by Marcia Jacobs
The Sandals’ Songs by Siobhan Harvey
Drive by Heather Heckman-McKenna
Knowing and Not Knowing by Margaret Spinelli
Learning to Recognize Your Abuser by Sharon Kennedy
Until Death by Kimberly Peterson
Continuing the Fight by Kimberly Gasuras
Freed by Dorothy Bouzouma
Rushing to the Disaster by Sarah GOODYEAR
Taking up Space by Moira Stagliano
First Love by Jessica Brennan
Freshman Orientation by Shannon Brazil
To Michael Apted by Rhonda Talbot
I Secretly Always Wanted to Be an Actress by Angela Spires
Shattered Silence by Kendra Spencer
The Life of Lorraine by Lorraine Reguly
To Breathe Again by Nancy O’Rourke
Writing For My Life by Sarah Glass
Silenced by Julia Ridge
Beyond Me Too – BURN IT DOWN by Katie Tastrom
20/20 by Jacquelyn Connelly
Her Trauma, My Silence by Alyssa Matesic
Scaling the Gargoyles by Debbie Hagan
Bearing Witness to the Pain that Lingers in the Room by Nancy Cook
Spiders by Julie Lunde
Still I Remember… by Mariana Isabella
Squirrel Sex by Adrienne Gilman
As The Moon Looked On by Joanna Young
The Question by Leyla Amur
Three Generations, Two Continents by Ileana Florian
Splinter by Alison Townsend
TripAdvisor Monster by “Janine Zeitlin”
#HimToo? by Alyssa Oltmanns
What Happens Next by “Sara Tickanen”
Down in the Valley by mj corey
No One Will Believe You by Karen Phelps
Fuck Us Harder by Cade Leebron
Fight Me by Gray Torres
Barbies by Cathrin Hagey
College Education or Desert Walkabout in Indian Madras by Cynthia Stock
A Coming of Rage Story by Christine Hale
Chalkboard Dust by Jeanne O’Halloran
Not Rape by Amy Bond
Campus Activities by Christina Robertson
Inciting the Dragon by Kurt Schmidt
Domestic Abuse in the U.S. by Gilda Haber
The Red Ranch Houe on River Road by Donna Lloyd
I Served the Man Who Beat My Mother by Gila Berryman
Due Process by April O
A Perfect Storm by Betsy Joseph
How My Father Groomed Me For Rape Culture by Sheryl Dluginski

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