I wrote this post back in July. I didn’t post it, because as I share, I don’t like to write pieces like this.
But now, with the resurgence, or rather, another awareness peak of one of our Presidential candidates incessant misogyny and objectifying of women, that he just KEEPS GETTING AWAY WITH, I just don’t get to stay silent anymore.
I don’t write this for people to feel sorry for me. I write this in the hopes that it will empower others to share their stories, and for people to see the worth in one another. So that sexual assault can become more and more for us something that doesn’t occur.
Not just something we don’t talk about.
Please note, this story may be a trigger for some who have dealt with sexual abuse, sexual assault or are currently dealing sexual abuse and assault.
I didn’t want to write this post. Who really wants to write about stuff like this?
Sure there’s someone out there, but I’m just not it. I prefer stories where I’ve peed my pants, or I accidentally wear control top tights to a musical audition where I have to wear a leotard, or how when I was in H.S. I awkwardly asked a boy if he had a synthesizer in order to try to flirt with him, only to have him say “no”, me say “oh, okay” and turn around and walk away. Sorry Pete, wherever you are, it simply wasn’t written in the stars.
I like the embarrassing stories that everyone can laugh at. The ones that I lived through that cause a sense of levity, that add character, add joy.
I like those.
But there are other stories we live through. The stories that don’t get thrown around at the dinner table, or the first meetings, or the late nights with wine.
The ones that are locked away with chains of disappointment, and disgrace, and shame.
There are those.
They get shared with very few friends or family. Locked away in their chains because the fear of the judgement we might receive is the heaviest chain of all. We forget what freedom feels like. The chains become comfortable. The story grows in and out and weaves through the chains till you can’t tell where the story begins and the chains end.
All through yoga tonight I couldn’t shake it. The idea that keeps going around, that Brock Turner’s victim wasn’t “technically” raped. The excuses that the intrusion and the violation weren’t “as bad as they could have been”.
I kept feeling a still small voice say, “you probably need to share that story, you know.”. But I shoved it back in, telling it to hush, wondering if it wasn’t just all this “namaste” crap making me feel sorry for myself.
And then outside in my church parking lot, as I was saying goodbye to the group, a truck full of white teenage males drove by, one leaned his head out the window, looked me straight in the eye and yelled:
“I’ll eat your pussy out”.
And they drove off.
And that’s when I knew I was going to have to tell this story.
There was violation tonight in that yell. In a place where I feel safe, in a place where I know my worth is not linked to my body or my appearance, in a place where I feel the most at peace, that was violated when a young white man decided to attempt to steal that safety, attempted to boil me down to a vagina, attempted to wreck that peace.
But he knows, they know, they can get away with it. . .
Because my God, if Brock and countless others can get away with what they get away with, let’s get some jollies by sexually harassing some bitches in a church parking lot.
I was a freshman in college. All awkwardness and the freshman 15 with breasts that had just recently developed my senior year of high school. I was a late bloomer. I didn’t get my period until my freshman year of high school on the way home from a Band Trip to Walt Disney World, on the charter bus. . .
Happiest place on earth?
But some boys seemed to notice me. I had a group of friends I ran around with, both boys and girls. One night we were all crammed into a dorm room to watch Jack-Ass (it was 2002, it was what you did), when this one boy who I was sitting by, reached over and grabbed my hand, and held it, for the rest of Jack-Ass.
My heart was racing. I was sure my palms were sweating buckets. And my body was all electrified.
Because, A BOY WAS HOLDING MY HAND.
This happened a few more times. Nothing was ever said about it, we never had conversations outside of the hand holding. We just held hands when that group of friends got together to watch movies/tv.
And in my head, that meant we were CLEARLY getting married.
Then one night, a group of about seven of us decided to watch The Exorcist and have a sleepover.
Spare me the “stupid decision” stuff. I know. NOW-I know. Then, I didn’t. Then, the idea of cuddling with my handholding boy while watching a scary movie, and maybe falling asleep with my head on his shoulder was simply magical (as if I could have ever slept. . .).
Everyone was getting ready to go to sleep. If I remember correctly there were two twin beds in the room, and there were a couple of people on each of those (not neccessarily boy/girl or couples) and then three of us on the floor. My friend (a girl), myself, and the hand holding boy.
We were laying there and he had his arm around my waist. It seemed like very quickly everyone else fell asleep. The room was pitch black. I feel like my breathing probably sounded like an asthmatic freight train.
He started putting his hand under my shirt and fondling me. I was horrified and mortified. I was in a room with a ton of other people asleep. I hadn’t even been kissed, like REALLY kissed by anyone at this point, certainly not by hand holding boy. I turned around to face him, hoping that would make it stop. It didn’t, and he began to kiss me. I pulled away and whispered:
“not here, not like this, no”
I then quickly turned around on my other side so he couldn’t see the tears that were welling up, that were about to cascade like a tsunami.
But he continued groping me, and began humping me to a rough almost painful extent through his clothes and mine from behind until he got off.
Everyone stayed asleep.
He fell asleep.
I laid there with eyes wide, body tense, completely bewildered, confused, and scared.
And my God, if I thought we were getting married when we were holding hands during Jack-Ass, we were now celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary.
The next morning everyone awoke without a clue.
He pretended it hadn’t happened.
I tried to go on with my day.
I think the next evening I summoned up the courage to ask him “what are we now?” on AIM (aol instant messenger for all you youngin’s, kind of our version of snapchats/twitter all rolled into one. My screen name was MOwens14. I had gotten it when I was fourteen and my maiden name was Owens, PURE BRILLIANCE).
The conversation went like this-
me: “what are we now?”
hand holding boy: “what do you mean, what are we now? I have a girlfriend at another school.”
I thought I couldn’t feel emptier.
Turns out, I could.
I got up the courage to actually ask, face to face, one of his best friends why he had done what he did.
me: “why did he do that to me, if he didn’t want to be my boyfriend?”
best friend: “Mere, he just thought you had nice boobs, and wanted to touch them, don’t get all worked up about it”
Don’t get all worked up about it.
So I took his advice, and I didn’t.
The experience went silent. It went dead in me. I pretended like it hadn’t happened. Didn’t tell anyone. I don’t even think the others who were in the dorm room that night know it happened.
I’ve told a few people here and there. I think it was my husband who first got really serious and told me how it wasn’t ok, and how sorry he was that had happened to me, as I tried to laugh and shrug off the time I got myself into a “stupid situation”.
Hand holding boy got away with it, because he could.
Because somewhere along the line he had been led to believe that his desires, his wants, his sexual needs were more important than another’s dignity. That if he liked how a young woman’s boobs looked, he was going to touch them. No big deal. It wasn’t like he raped me, right? I was stripped down to a pair of breasts to be fondled and an ass to rub up against.
That was my worth, my value, my purpose.
At 10 AM this morning, my husband and I will go to an OBGYN appointment where we will find out if we are having a boy or a girl.
This pregnancy has been very different than the last two, which has led myself and many to believe it might be a boy.
Does that scare me?
Um. . .
For a multitude of reasons.
But this is the biggest: I think about hand holding boy. And I have to think if his Mother and Father (do I even know if they were present in his life? No.) spoke into his life things about women and others having worth. Or if the opposite happened. Or if there was a loud Uncle, or a silent Aunt. Or friends parents, or older siblings. . . the possibilities go on and on.
The responsibility of raising a child is an enormous one. There is great power in being privileged to speak into a child’s life in any relational capacity.
It isn’t something to be taken lightly.
And so with all our might, and strength, and help from God, my husband and I will raise girls who know what their worth is, and to be loud, and disruptive, and not allow themselves to be treated the way I was. We will tell them, to get worked up about it.
And if this next child is indeed a boy, we will attempt to raise him as a boy, who when sitting on a couch, next to a girl who has boobs he thinks look nice, watching a silly show, (whatever stupid thing is popular in 2034), raise a boy that before he reaches over, will look in her eyes, remember she is a child of God, and say:
“may I hold your hand?”
It’s not going to be sexy.
It probably won’t be romantic.
But, my God, it will be beautiful.
peace to you,
If you are seeking help, know that you are not alone. Reach out to someone, reach out to me, reach out to these resources at RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network).
But please, please, do not be silent. Know that you matter, and know that your story matters.