(Originally posted 11-Oct-2018)
Six. I’m up to six sexual assaults — or instances of serious harassment or exploitation — that I’ve only recalled in the past few years. Just since other women have chosen to speak out. Me, too?
If I wasn’t haunted by them every day, for all the years since they have occurred, are they less real?
Of course there is the chance that false allegations could ruin a man’s life, but there are also women who keep TRUE accusations to themselves to avoid ruining his life — or hers.
I hate that harassment was normalized for so long. Growing up I was to expect it, and be glad some guy found me attractive. Some of my favorite movies growing up normalized sexual assault and demonized LGBTQ+ people and behavior.
The first time something wrong happened, I was less than 8 years old. Those memories are bits and pieces.
I didn’t know what semen was, so I called it milk.
Something else happened, before I was 10, that I put up a strong psychological block to forget.
A brick fell from that wall when a lover tried to hold my wrists in one hand over my head, and I devolved into a wailing, sputtering, curled-up infant. Inconsolable although I still had no recollection of what happened, where, or by whom. Is that less real because I can’t remember a face looming over mine?
There was smoke. It stunk. They blew it in my face, and I coughed, and they laughed.
I still recoil from people smoking around me.
I was sexually assaulted by an older girl in the neighborhood. I don’t remember her name. She was older, taller and stronger.
I didn’t know it was sexual assault. I felt ashamed. She forced her hands under my clothes after forcing her way into the house. I was going to be in trouble for letting someone inside. No one was supposed to come inside while I was home alone. I was scared of my mom finding out someone had gotten in. The door was always supposed to be locked.
You’re 15 now. Time for an adult kiss. He forced his tongue into my mouth. I gagged. I was shocked silent. I didn’t know what to say or do. I told no one.
It had never occurred to me to not get caught alone with that person, ever, before that day. After, I made sure.
Promiscuous girls can’t be used, assaulted, harassed, right? You like sex? You’ve had a number of partners? Who would believe you didn’t consent?
My then-boyfriend videotaped us having sex. There was a hole in the wall, covered by a mirror. A videocamera was hidden in the next room. I’d never, ever thought to check to see if a mirror was “real” or not.
After we broke up, or maybe before, he showed the video to friends, which included a man I worked with at the time. When he told me about the video, I didn’t believe him. He quoted my own words to me. I believed him then.
I know the name of the man who did this to me. What good does it do now? I never saw the video. I can’t remember the name of the coworker. I was 18 or 19.
When I was groped in a grocery store and told my first husband, he said I must have been putting off some sort of signal, asking for it, and used it as an excuse to monitor my every move outside the house.
If that assault by a stranger could be weaponized against me by my spouse, why report prior indiscretions by friends of family?
My ex-husband posted pornographic images of us online, on a well-known public site, shortly after the divorce was final. They were taken by him and I when we were together. They were linked to his username.
The most disturbing part of this is that he included my name and the location where I lived with our young children in his descriptive captions.
I learned about them when a total stranger contacted me on a social network by using the information that accompanied the photos.
I guess I’m up to seven now.
I know I have friends who have been through worse.
That should console me, right?