Monday, April 11, 2016

Guest Blog: 7,12, 22

This is a guest post for my series during SAAM 2016.
To find out more, visit my intro blog here.
by Anonymous, Female, 35.

Those numbers represent my ages, the three times I was sexually assaulted or sexually harassed. From the first incident (over 28 years ago), to the last incident (more than 12 years ago), I've spent a lot of time trivializing them, and even assuming some blame.
In my mind, I always think "you know, it could have been worse" or "you could have done things to stop it." or "you turned out OK, so maybe it wasn't really a big deal". Like, the fact that I knew people who had been through worse, and that I had come out of my experiences a fairly stable and mentally healthy person, that somehow made what happened to me OK. ???
I'm just now coming to realize that I'm not doing myself, or anyone else...except for those who assaulted or harassed me...any favors by thinking that way.
That's why I decided to write this guest blog. It is time to share my experiences. It's time to face them head on, to accept them for what they were. It's time to end my silence, so that others, who might have similar experiences and similar responses, might start to understand...and to heal.

Maybe I should have told her I didn't want to play anymore...
I was 7, when I was sexually assaulted. My assaulter...she was 14. We lived in a VERY VERY VERY VERY small town. There were not a lot of kids near by, so anyone under the age of 16 sortof gravitated toward each other.
We used to play "soap opera". Typically, that just meant pretending to be a rich family, playing with dolls, and being overly dramatic. But, one day, she suggested something else. She wanted me to pretend that I was in a love scene. I'm unsure if she was ever involved, but I vividly remember myself, lying on our front porch furniture, writhing and moaning, while she stood and watched, and instructed me to do certain things.
My mom came out and broke up the scene. The girl was told to go home, and I was told I could never see her again. And I never did.

Maybe if should have just spoken up...
I was 12 when I was sexually harassed. In my 6th period class, I had been assigned a seat next to a notoriously delinquent boy. He was the kind of kid who would find any way to cause trouble.
Any time our teacher would leave the room, or stop paying attention, he'd turn to me and say unbelievably sexually explicit things. Typically, it was of the "what I'd do to you" or "would you like that?" nature. He knew it made me uncomfortable, so his goal was to make every single thing he said to me, worse than the last.
This went on for a while. Every day, I dreaded going to that class. I was afraid to tell anyone, because I was embarrassed to repeat what he was saying to me. The only thing that saved me was a mid semester change in the seating chart.

Guess I shouldn't have invited him in...
The last time I was harassed, I was 22. I was in college, and lived alone, just outside of campus. One summer, I got a knock at the door. It was a traveling Magazine salesman. Not sure if you have ever dealt with these people. It's almost like a pyramid scheme...but maybe even worse. Relentless couldn't even come close to describing their sales tactics.
I felt bad for the guy, though. They always walked, and my college town was nothing but hills. I invited him to step inside, just inside the door, so he could get out of the sun. Then, he started his pitch. He said "Tell what kinds of things you are interested in. What do you like to do for fun?" I didn't really respond. Then he said "you have to have something you like to do for fun...I mean, besides what I'd do with you in your bedroom?". I felt like I must have misheard him, so I said "Excuse me? What was that last part?". He actually had the nerve to repeat it...
I gestured towards the door and insisted that he leave. He tried to apologize and tried to continue to sell. I told him if he said another word, I'd call the cops. He left.

Maybe I should have faced all of this earlier.
Despite how I dealt with it all (or didn't)...
Despite the fact I turned out alright, and didn't suffer any long term mental anguish...
Despite the fact that it could have always been worse...
None of it was deserved...
And NONE of it was my fault.
It wasn't OK at 7.
It wasn't OK at 12.
It wasn't OK at 22.

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