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#MeToo: 500,000 people are speaking up about sexual assault on Twitter right now

Over the weekend, actress and Project Runway All Stars host Alyssa Milano posted a very important tweet about something very serious: sexual assault.

Her tweet read, "If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet." And reply they did. Almost 500,000 people (men and women) have tweeted #MeToo since her post on early Sunday evening, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The amount of people who have come forward is staggering. Among them? Freeform's The Bold Type actress Katie Stevens shared her thoughts on being catcalled. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales and The Maze Runner star Kaya Scodelario told her story of abuse by a man "still protected by 'family members.'" YouTuber Andrea Russett described her experience with a director on a TV set a few years ago. Lady Gaga and Christina Perri shared the hashtag. And countless others have joined in to share their experiences with sexual assault and sexual harrasment.

A year ago, Girls' Life's editor-in-chief, Karen Bokram, shared her own story of sexual assualt—for the first time—in a letter from the editor that appeared in our December/January 2016 issue. She was 15 when it happened. This is her #MeToo story.

According to the CDC, one in four girls will experience some sort of sexual violence before age 18.

I know. I was one of them. With the exception of a few close confidantes in my high school crew, no one else knows this story. Not my friends. Not my family. Not anyone at GL. They are reading this for the first time along with you.

I was in high school. My parents divorced when I was young—it was just my mom and me. One night when she was out of town, a friend of the family offered to take me to dinner at a very trendy, very expensive restaurant. My mom thought this was really kind. And, being a budding foodie, I thought I was the luckiest girl on the planet that I got to go to dinner at Hot New Place with Mr. Family Friend.

Being in high school, I certainly didn’t own anything chic—so I raided my mom’s closet, picking out a royal blue crew neck sweater and a black wool knee-length skirt. I put on a strand of pearls and popped my hair into a pony. Mr. Family Friend picked me up because, heck, I didn’t even have my license.

I don’t really remember dinner. I don’t remember the drive home. What I do remember is walking up the porch steps, thanking Mr. Family Friend, unlocking my door...and then being thrown against the foyer wall. His tongue was jammed into my mouth, his hands everywhere. I am not even sure how long it lasted—maybe seconds, maybe minutes. The shock wore off and, somehow, I got both of my hands on his chest and pushed him away with every ounce of strength I had.

The entryway was small, so even though I shoved him off, we were practically nose-to-nose. I was tall and a pretty decent athlete. All I remember thinking is that if he came at me again, I was going to kill him.

He must have sensed my rage building because he looked at me and immediately acted like nothing happened. He said how great it was to spend time with me and what good company I was. I remember saying thank you, starting to doubt that what happened just moments ago had actually happened. I shut the door and turned both locks.

I then walked into the living room, slowly dialed my best friend’s number and collapsed to the floor. She described the sound I made as something between sobbing and screaming.

The next day, she did the right thing and told a trusted adult what happened. The school counselor called me in. I was scared but grateful—my brain felt like it was blowing apart.

One of the first things she asked was what I wore. When I told her, she said the assault was my fault because, by choosing my mother’s clothes, I “confused” him.

I walked out of the office and never spoke of it again.

If you have ever been sexually harassed or assaulted, you can get help 24/7 from the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) at rainn.org and by calling 800-656-HOPE (4673).

by GL | 10/16/2017
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