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Asian women reclaim power by sharing their stories on rape and sexual assault

from Flickr Creative Commons by Nicoel Mitchell-Duff

By Erin Chew

Since the #MeToo movement picked up steam in 2017, women from all walks of life have come out in sharing their own stories on experiences of sexual assault and rape. Doing so is one of the hardest things to do and with it comes emotions and anxieties about how people will react.

Recent cases remind everyone sexual assault and rape continue to perpetuate in different forms, compromising spaces once deemed safe. The young woman in the Brock Turner sexual assault case at Stanford in 2015 recently came forward. Always known as “Emily Doe” in court documents and the media, we now know she is she is Asian American Chanel Miller. More recently, former Harvey Weinstein employee Rowena Chiu shared her story on the Today Show stating the Hollywood executive raped her back in 1998.

These stories are a message to all women, and in these cases Asian/Asian American women that there is no shame in coming out or seeking help when healing.

So why am I saying all of this? I too am a victim of rape and sexual assault. I am not famous, nor in the public spotlight, but I hope by sharing my story I too can touch someone else to seek help. I am not writing this to get sympathy, nor am I writing this to get any recognition or accolades. I am writing about this because it is personal to me and has more recently re-emerged into my thoughts and I have realized how much this has impacted me and my life trajectory. I have shared this personal story in a number of Asian women groups and non-Asian women groups about my own experiences on losing my virginity at the tender age of 16.

Mainstream media brainwashing has us all believing that a woman losing her virginity is a “special” thing. It seems to be a burden put onto women that we must save our “virginity” for someone special. I have gone on this journey and through my teenage years have always thought that I would give my virginity to the man I love.

The peak of me trying to understand this was when I was 16. I knew what sex was, and I knew why it was important to use protection – this was all taught to us in sexual education. But what I didn’t know is what consent meant, or understand the difference between forced/coerced (rape) and consensual sex. I have experienced catcalls, inappropriate touching and offensive comments. One White guy and a friend at the time whispered to me on a train that “I must be tight and that he had a thing for young Asian women. He then laughed and made it out as a joke.

Not long after that incident I dated a man who was 3 years older than me. I was 16 and he was 19. The problem was I had no understanding or inkling that I was being emotionally and psychologically controlled by this guy. He wanted to dominate me and because I was 16 he was able to. I at that time thought I found the man of my dreams and I thought that he was the guy who could take care of me. He showered me with gifts, and said all these nice things. Later he would keep me from going out with my friends and would pick me up everyday after I finished school.

He asked if we could have sex. I agreed at the time because I thought he was the man I would spend the rest of my life with. Little did I know that this would be an experience I would regret till today. 

Anyways I told him I was still a virgin and he knew that, but he kept talking to me about why he should take it from me and why I would feel like a “real woman” after having sex. So after a number of chats and him pushing me I agreed. We were laying on his bed and he was ready to “you know” do the deed. I had a rush of panic come over me and I could no longer go through with it. I then said NO, and asked him to stop. He ignored me and after saying No three more times he did it and took my innocence from me and violated me. I remember crying as it happened and feeling like I had an out of body experience. It was painful and I knew when it happened that this was not right and that I didn’t want it. After the experience he told me he loved me and I asked him whether he heard me say no and stop. He said yes, and then validated what he did as not being rape, but said that when a guy gets to the point of no return sexually it was unfair to ask the guy to stop. He also excused his rape behavior and misogyny by saying he knew what was best for me and that I should feel proud that an older man took away my treasure. Sadly at the time I believed his dribble and we continued dating till I left high school for the reason of feeling distant from each other. 

from Flickr Creative Commons by Ben Schumin

Thinking back now, I realize that I didn’t understand what consent really meant and I wish I broke up with him after that instead of falling for his brainwashing. He was controlling, toxic and misogynistic. I was his possession rather than his equal. I know that now because I understand more about what it means to be a woman and more specifically being an Asian woman. I wasn’t going to share this but having shared it in other social media groups I realize that this experience I had is not isolated and many Asian women from all over have told me that they had the same experience, almost a mirror image of my own. I also know that what happened to me was rape and that when a woman says no, it really means no. 

I think these experiences which I would never want any other Asian woman or any woman to go through ever has really shaped me as a person and as an activist. I am sharing this story in the hopes of reaching out to other Asian sisters and brothers out there who have had the same or similar experience as I have. Like Chanel Miller, Rowena Chiu and many others who have come out to share their stories in public, the hope is to reach out and talk about the prevalence of sexual assault/rape as a threat and to let all victims know that they are not alone and should never feel like they are.

AsAmNews has Asian America in its heart. We’re an all-volunteer effort of dedicated staff and interns. Check out our Twitter feed and Facebook page for more content. Please consider interning, joining our staff or submitting a story 

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