I am sorrowed and terrified by how many women have a first assault. Not just an assault, but a first assault, as this implies there was more than one. I could not believe how many women were assaulted before they were 7 years old. How many more were assaulted before they were 12. How many more were assaulted multiple times before they were 21.
I was 14 or 15. I only have one story to share. I got off lightly, for that I am grateful.
I was 14 or 15. I went to a movie night at a friend’s place. It was me and her and another girl, we’d all worked summer camps together, we were all about 14 or 15. There were three guys there as well, one about our age, two around 18. Two of them we knew from camp, the other 18 year old was a friend of a friend. He’s the one this story is about.
You see we were all teenagers just fooling around. Me and this older boy got friendly, tickling, cuddling, shoving, the usual goofing around. And that’s as far as it went. Later we started dating. Things went downhill after that.
He was older, he knew what he wanted. I was younger, never had a serious boyfriend before, never did more than hold hands before. I was curious but shy. I was Catholic, had been taught that certain behaviours had to wait until marriage, but I was curious about how far I could push things. I wasn’t sure how far I wanted to push things.
He kissed me a lot when we were together, snuggly making-out type kisses. He liked to put his hand between my legs and under my shirt. He wanted to know why I didn’t wear thongs. He always wanted me to touch him, to put my hand down his pants. I didn’t really want to. I had no experience with penises at all and I didn’t want to make a fool of myself. I felt awkward around him.
I went to his house once. We were going to a dance at his school. Making out led to my pants coming off. He touched me and kissed me and I knew this was further than I wanted to go, but I felt like I was supposed to want it so I let him. At the dance he kept putting his hand down my pants and up my shirt. In the school gym, in front of all his friends. My friend who introduced us said he didn’t like what he saw and I made some catty remark that maybe I liked it. I shouldn’t have said that. I should have asked for help. I should have asked him to tell his friend to back off because I couldn’t. But I wanted to be cool. I wanted this group of 18 year olds to like me.
He wanted me to stay over for Valentines Day. We’ll just watch movies, he said. Nothing will happen. I won’t hurt you. I asked my mom, and she said no. Of course she did. She said he might be talking about physical hurt, not emotional. He might not realize he was hurting me. I was too young.
I was so angry. But then a few weeks later he broke up with me and I realized he would have taken my virginity that night. My mother saved me from being assaulted. My mother prevented this story from ending with a rape.
I got off easy and honestly, I didn’t say no. I felt like a couldn’t say no, so I know it was coercion, it was assault, I don’t blame myself.
I was broken for a long time after that. I still have trouble expressing my wants and my dislikes sexually, even though I have been married for six years to a man I dated since I was 17. I feel awkward. I feel like sometimes my body doesn’t respond right. But my husband understands. When we were dating and exploring our sexuality he asked a lot of questions, he always asked if I was comfortable, did I need to stop, did I need to slow down? He checked and double checked not only for consent, but for my well-being. And that hasn’t stopped.
I am very very lucky. I have heard so many horror stories about the bus but I was able to bus to school for years without incident. I have heard stories about campus life and I was never groped or assaulted at university. I have heard so many stories about doctors and dentists abusing their positions and I am fortunate to have a family doctor who is kind and respectful.
The only person who knows the extent of what this boy did is my husband. Was my husband. This is my first time sharing this story in this much detail.
What happened to me was #notokay. What happened to all the women sharing their stories is #notokay. The cultural attitudes that makes this behaviour so pervasive is not okay.
Our society is broken.