Disarming a woman’s right to self-defense should be a top feminist issue as much as an American issue. Women in America should have a choice in how they choose to defend themselves the best way they see themselves fit. As a woman, I choose to protect myself by practicing my second amendment right. 

Throughout my life, I have struggled with depression, anxiety, and, PTSD. I was raped at the tender age of eight years old that led to my journey of self-harm and alcohol intoxication throughout my early teen years. In my early 20s, I was raped again, both times by someone I knew, trusted, and loved.

Love Story Gone Wrong

The first man I had ever confided my childhood sexual abuse with was someone I thought I could trust. I thought that with him, I had found “true love,” but I was wrong. He was mentally, emotionally, and physically abusive throughout our relationship. We seemed happy to the outside world, but the reality was that I lived in fear of him. When I finally built the courage to end my relationship with him, he raped me. This man only further added to my already unresolved trauma. Whatever love I once had for him was now replaced with fear and rage. I never filed charges against my rapist or publicly named him out of fear, shame, and disgust, for myself. I also didn’t want my family to view me the way I was already viewing myself at the time. It’s a decision I have regretted every day of my life. 

After being raped, the world didn’t feel safe anymore; I didn’t feel safe anymore. My feelings of helplessness, defectiveness, and self-blame after I was raped for the second time in life consumed me to my core. Like most rape victims, I blamed myself. I also blamed God for allowing this to happen to me again. I felt weak, worthless, and disposable. 

My last rape left me in a constant state of extreme awareness and panic. I had considered suicide multiple times but had only attempted it once and successfully failed. I slowly began to realize that I was no longer living; I was mainly just surviving. As much as I tried to go on with my life and forget what happened to me, I couldn’t. 

There were always small triggers that would set me off throughout the day, luring me back to relive my abuse once more. Triggers such as fearing running into my abuser every time I left my house to go for a jog, my anxiety going up whenever I would see a man of similar built as my abuser approaching me, avoiding social events altogether, fearful that I would bump into him. 

Channeling My Emotions 

After years of emotionally beating myself up on what I could have done to have prevented from being raped, I decided that I needed to take back control of my life. I needed some way to channel the rage, the anger, the sadness, and the negative emotions that I was experiencing that were ultimately emotionally, mentally, and physically draining me. 

Although I had managed to build the courage to talk about my troubled past with a few of my close family members and friends down the line, it didn’t help give me any sense of relief. Eventually, I sought the guidance of a professional counselor to help me cope with the trauma that I had experienced as a child and as an adult. Her solution, however, was that I needed to learn to “move on,” and I was reminded that because I had never reported either rape and had stayed silent for so long that there wasn’t “much I could do.” I remember at that moment feeling hopeless and defenseless all over again. At that moment, I realized no one was looking out for my best interests in life.

I did take my counselor’s advice and “moved on,” however, “moving on” and forgetting what I had endured are two very different things. Thanks to the encouragement of my fellow peers, I build the courage to take up professional pistol training courses at my local gun range. I trained until I felt comfortable with my firearm. I took a permit class, passed, and now legally conceal and carry in my state. I don’t leave my house without my gun. 

Exercising my second amendment right allowed me to take back control of my life again. Having the privilege to defend myself as a woman and as an American was the empowerment I needed to overcome the fear that my abusers once created. Living in a country that allows someone to exercise their right to self-protection is the ultimate privilege. 

My Gun Is My Equalizer

No matter what your political leanings are, we can’t hide the fact that sexual violence continues to affect women throughout the United States, and we can’t continue to believe that a piece of paper will somehow keep them “safe” from their aggressor. Orders of protection don’t do much unless they’re violated. Orders of protection are only effective if the abuser feels compelled to comply with them. There’s this taboo idea in society today that women owning a gun should not be encouraged. According to a 2017 Pew Research Center study, 1 in 5 women carry a firearm in the United States, compared to about 2 in 5 men. Women make up about one-third; 71 percent say their gun is for protection. The number of gun-owning women is rising and will only continue to grow. 

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, women in the United States are five times more likely than men to be victims of violent crimes like rape and aggravated assault. About six in ten women in the U.S. (59%) say they have been sexually harassed compared to 27% of men. 

Learning to “Move On” 

Regardless of what I had endured, I couldn’t let my past define me. There is great strength in survival. I know that now. I couldn’t let my past predetermine my journey. My latest abuser broke me, but I couldn’t give him the satisfaction of destroying me.

I have been unspeakably victimized not once but twice in my life. I couldn’t allow myself to be victimized a third time in my life. When it comes to my safety-I’m the first line of defense. 

My Final Remarks

True feminism should be more than just an echo chamber of #metoo stories. What happens after the hashtag? Although I’m sympathetic towards the women that have publicly shared their #metoo stories- I choose not to support the movement itself. I don’t care to be another #metoo story and garner sympathy from strangers online that I’ll never meet. Instead, I practice my second amendment right so I’ll become a #notme story and never have to feel afraid of having another human being violate my body ever again. 

Emma J