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Why didn’t I do anything?

It was a few years ago, while I was 22, a few weeks before summer vacation. I was working an internship in the field. With protective gear similar to those of construction workers, I didn’t exactly look girly at all. I was traveling home by train for the weekend. After a week working, I was exhausted and dozed off a bit. No one was sitting next to me and the train was very quiet.

I had fallen asleep for maybe 10 to 15 minutes, when I woke up by a touch. I woke up but didn’t open my eyes. Someone touched my knee. At first I thought it was accidental but then it happened again and this time the hand softly stroked my knee and upper leg. I was a bit scared, but I did not open my eyes. I did not move, I didn’t do anything. I have been assaulted and raped one time before, and each time I struggled at that time, I got hit so hard. That time I did fight, but this time all I could think was “please don’t get mad”, or how I didn’t want to make a scene. That concerned me even more then the touching itself. He stroked my leg, slowly moved up and stopped between my legs. He could not open my pants without ‘waking me up’, so he continued with what he was doing. A few minutes later the next train stop was announced and people stood up. He stopped and got up. I could finally open my eyes again but never got a good look at him, I just saw him stepping out of the train without looking back.

I was left completely confused and frustrated. I’m angry at myself, I don’t understand it. The thought that I cared more about someone getting angry or making a scene than the inappropriate touching frightened me. I wasn’t nearly as afraid as the first time when I fought, yet this time I froze. What would happen if I froze again in the future? I did not want trouble, I did not want any confrontation or conversation. I just pretend it didn’t happen. But I can’t seem to just let it go that easily just because I did. It’s not like I was physically hurt, only mentally destroyed, by myself. I really have no self-respect left after this.

— Echo, age 25


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