When I Was

  1. When I was 12, one of my cousins grabbed my breasts when the big group of us were rough-housing.  I wiggled out of his grasp but didn’t say a word because I was too embarrassed.  I don’t know if the others saw him do it.  Later that summer, the group of us built a tent in my backyard to sleep in overnight and he exposed himself to me telling me, “look at this!”  I waited a few minutes and told them I was afraid to sleep outside, and I went inside to get away from him.
  2. When I was 15, a guy bought beer for a party I went to.  When he handed me an open can and I accepted, he told me I had to make out with him as payment.  He grabbed me by the waist, tried to force his tongue down my throat and then made a huge scene when I pushed him off me and yelled no. It was humiliating and everyone at the party laughed.  A girlfriend of mine called me a prude.
  3. When I was 16, the guy I had been dating for several months pinned me down in the car, ripped my pants off and raped me.  And then made me clean the blood off the leather seat with my torn underpants. I was a virgin, saving myself for marriage. I wore turtlenecks for a week, even though it wasn’t cold, to hide the bruises on my wrists and hickies on my neck. I didn’t even realize that it was rape and I didn’t tell anyone what happened for several years because I thought I asked for it, that I owed it to him because I let him kiss me.
  4. When I was 17, a boy in my class squeezed past me in the hallway at school and gave me a “purple nurple.” It hurt so badly it brought tears to my eyes. By the time I got home, there was a golf ball sized egg on my breast and a big red welt. I hurt so badly I was afraid something was really wrong. So I told my mom I ran into a locker. She took me to the doctor who did an ultrasound, told me everything was fine, to take Tylenol and “be more careful.”
  5. When I was 18, I was riding a Greyhound bus home from college for Thanksgiving.  A guy in the seat across from me made motions at me “inviting” me to sit with him and when I refused, he unzipped his pants, masturbated until he climaxed on the seat and then held a handful of his semen up to show me.  I was too scared to get up and tell the bus driver.  All I could think to do was to put my laundry bag in the seat next to me to prevent him from trying to sit with me.  I rode for 5 hours that way.
  6. When I was 18, I had a crush on this guy, Billy, who was a baseball player.  One day he asked me to help him give a tour to a recruit for the team at our college.  After the tour, Billy suggested we all meet at a party. So I met them there, excited at the thought that Billy might actually like me back. When I got there, they had already begun drinking and Billy pushed me at the recruit. The recruit asked me to dance and before the end of the first song, had me pinned to a wall forcing his tongue down my throat and running his hands all over me.  I pushed him away and ran back to my dorm feeling humiliated.  I told my RA what happened and the next day, she took me to the coach to repeat my story.  The recruit was blackballed and didn’t get accepted to our school and Billy got reprimanded.  Billy avoided me when I tried to “explain” and refused to ever speak to me again.
  7. When I was 19, I was walking to the public bus stop.  A guy on a bike was riding towards me and as he got close, he reached out and grabbed my breast and squeezed really hard.  I screamed out.  He circled back around before I knew what was happening and he grabbed my ass on the way back.  I moved into the edge of the yards on the far side of the walk so he couldn’t ride close enough to me to reach me and trembled the whole way to the bus stop, afraid he would get off the bike and come towards me.
  8. When I was 20, a friend of mine and I were leaving a nightclub looking for a cab.  A drunk guy in the street approached us and grabbed us both, trying to kiss us and pull us towards him.  Luckily he was staggering drunk and my fear emboldened me.  I kneed him in the crotch and pushed him away from us.  He screamed, “fucking whores!” as we ran away.
  9. When I was 20, I was on a subway and thought the guy behind me was fondling my ass. So I elbowed him and realized he had a knife and was trying to cut the strap of my purse to steal it.  I frantically pushed my way through the crowd to get away from him so he couldn’t stab me and got off in a panic at the nearest stop even though I didn’t know where I was.
  10. When I was 19-24, living in a big city relying on public transportation, I can’t even recall the number of times someone grabbed my boobs or my ass on the bus or subway or catcalled me on the street.  There comes a point when you just can’t keep track.  And you learn to sit/stand near the older women on the bus and to be grateful when they smack a guy with their purse to protect you. And you recognize the deep, deep sorrow in their eyes as acknowledgment that they’ve been through the same disgusting shit.
  11. When I was 22, I told my boyfriend about being raped when I was 16.  He told me I must have led the boy on and that if I was dating him, it wasn’t rape.  He went on to tell me I should never repeat that story because people will think I’m “damaged.” I am.
  12. When I was 25 and working in a law firm, one of the junior partners came onto me.  I was married with a child by then and tried to deflect his attention by talking about my family. He pushed me to meet him for drinks and “joked” that he would tell his dad, the senior partner, that I wasn’t doing a good job at the office if I didn’t meet him.  I “joked” that HR would like to hear that story and quit the following month.
  13. When I was 45, a tape of Donald Trump saying he could “grab her by the pussy” surfaced and a bunch of idiots claimed that’s not sexual assault, it’s just “locker room talk.”  Locker room my ass.   May God have mercy on their souls.  May they never experience what it feels like to be powerless, literally at the hands of a predator.
  14. When I was 45, I feared my silence had taught my daughters to be silent, to feel embarrassed and humiliated the way I did. And I prayed they would be stronger and bolder than I, that they would be smarter and speak out against sexual assault and harassment. That they would be braver than I was. But mostly I prayed they wouldn’t need to be.
  15. When I was 45, we elected the first Predator In Chief.  And I have no words.

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