“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter” – Martin Luther King
I don’t really know where to start, but I know that I am ready. Ready to finally have a voice. Ready to finally get this burden off of my chest and release it in to a world where it will be amongst millions of stories. Finally, my story will be out there and finally, my words will matter to someone, somewhere who needs that tiny speck of courage to speak up. This is my story.
My story starts freshman year. 9th grade. Year 10. I didn’t know much about you, I had never really spoke to you. You was just one face amongst many others in that school. We shared one class together. I will always remember walking in to that science classroom to see your face. Your eyes on me. Having to sit next to you for the first half of the year was bearable. At first, you were friendly to me. You joked around with me a lot, made me laugh, gaining a little bit of my trust. But I don’t remember laughing when one night you decided to Snapchat me. It was a picture of your genitals. You managed to manipulate me in to sending pictures back, pictures that I still regret to this day. The next day, I went to school feeling nothing but shame and regret. I sat next to you, silent. After that night, things never were the same. It became a sudden routine of yours. Each night, you would ask me to send pictures of myself, vulnerable and exposed. You would send pictures of yourself, in hopes I would return your request. I started to feel disgust towards you. I felt like I was paying for a mistake that happened once. I couldn’t find the words to tell you to stop, I didn’t want to upset or infuriate you, all I could do was just sit there in silence. Then I remember, one day, my friend told me that you had been doing the same things to her, telling her what you would do to her – at school. And you did. You touched her several times what seemed as a “typical guy thing”. She didn’t like it, so she distanced herself from you. How I wish that I knew back then what I know now. Touching any part of anyone’s body, no matter where it is, without their permission is wrong.
Fast forward to when our seating arrangement got moved around. You would sit on the table across from me at the back of the classroom. You would peer over at me, your disgusting stares making me feel powerless, like an object. And this is where the beginning of a tragic time in my life happens. You decided to move on from my friend to me. You would squeeze and touch places, forbidden places. I didn’t like it. I became used to the feeling of numbness, not being able to do anything. I wish I could’ve stopped you then and there, when you started to touch me frequently. The messaging and snapchatting began again. This time, you told me exactly what you wanted to do to me in class. At this point, my voice was gone. I was so embarrassed and weak. For weeks, I was on edge, dreading going to that class in case you touched me like you said you would, or worse. I can’t even begin to justify or come to terms with what you did next. I was sat there, alone at the back of the class. You came and sat next to me. Fear washed over me for a second, then the thought that you wouldn’t actually do anything to me began to cross my mind. How wrong was I. You took your hands, put them on my leg, my thigh, everything in between. Your hands, they wouldn’t move. My body felt frozen. I was screaming internally, hoping you would hear my cry for help. Nothing was coming out. All my body could do was sit there and encounter the pain. Then, you stopped. You were talking to me, your words muffled over the panicking thoughts in my mind. I didn’t know what to do, or say. You started touching me again. Why did you start again? Why didn’t you stop? I zoned out for a while, trapped in my thoughts, then I heard you for the first time. You asked me to touch your genitals. I told you no. I said the word no. You kept asking repeatedly and all I could say was no. You asked me why. Why did you need to ask why I said no? You just carried on, your hands far up my school skirt, pulling at my torn tights. Then, you stopped. I had to sit there, vulnerable in the mess you created whilst you walked free and hushed my voice from telling a soul. I didn’t know what to do, could I tell someone? Who would understand me? Who would believe me? I felt so alone and helpless.
The moment when I felt most guilty was when a month later, I found out you sexually assaulted another girl I know. I didn’t know it was possible, but somehow you managed to do even worse, disgusting things to her. At first, I felt guilt for not telling anyone about how much of a monster you were. The wounds were still fresh. Then, I found out another one of my friends had received unwanted attention from you. You touched her, just like you touched me.
For a long time after the assault happened, you tried to apologise and convince me you felt really bad for doing what you did. I don’t feel any sympathy at all for you. You’re not the one who has to deal with the trauma of being sexually assaulted, like me and many of the other girls did.
My story never really had a happy ending. The police never took you away. You never got exposed for who you really were. Justice was never really served. The thought of speaking up months later and not being believed terrifies any one that has been through this type of trauma.
My bittersweet ending is that I finally found my voice. I feel like sharing my story sets a part of me free. I feel like I can conquer the world, knowing that even if my story isn’t read or shared, I finally don’t have to live trapped in this story forever.