4-5 years old the first time I was touched inappropriately. I always wondered if I was validated in my emotions because my first experience wasn’t with a man or woman. It was with a boy who was a few years older than me. He was a snotty-nosed kid who didn’t really fit in with any of the other kids. I remember our first encounter. I remember I was wearing a brown velour outfit with a leopard collar on the shirt. I was sitting in a bean bag and he came over to me. I don’t remember if any dialogue happened. I just remember he began front-facing humping me. Other encounters after that included him still touching and humping me inappropriately. I remember our class was sitting down to have a snack. He came and sat next to me. He kept grabbing my hands and trying to make me hold his. I specifically removed my hands from the table so he wouldn’t touch me. I looked down at the table so he wouldn’t talk to me. He didn’t seem to notice any of that. He asked me what was I doing and I don’t remember how I responded, but he told me to say “nothing”. He asked me again, “what are you doing?” I responded “nothing”. He then told me that when he asks me that he is supposed to hold my hand. After our snack, we all laid down on our individual cots for nap time. I didn’t sleep at all. My mind was blank but also occupied. I didn’t know what was going on, but I didn’t know what was going on either. I was laying on my stomach. I slowly inched my hands down to my womanhood. I found what I know now to be my clitoris. It tickled when I touched it. I pressed on it. I was so into my exploration that I didn’t realize my father had come to pick me up. He was standing over my cot with my teacher. The teacher asked me if my stomach was hurting. My father looked concerned and he and the teacher asked me a few times if I was okay. I said yes. I had no idea that that was my first run-in with sexual assault. For the longest time I rationalized that I couldn’t have been assaulted because R*ger was a child like me, but I was. I was assaulted and it took me until I reached the age of 25 to realize how badly that situation has hurt me. So many of my issues have stemmed from that moment. A moment that has scarred me for life. A moment that I didn’t even understand until I became a woman.
After R*ger came A*onte. I was in Kindergarten. A*onte had been held back in my class. I believe he was supposed to be in 2nd grade. Once again, I found myself on the receiving end of unwanted attention. He was aggressive and also strong for his age. He was always acting out and doing crazy things. One time he even ate a bottle of glue. I was deeply disturbed by him, to say the least. One day while sitting on the floor with my class. We would sit on the floor to go over our colors, numbers, seasons, etc. A*onte sat behind me. He felt uncomfortably close but I didn’t think anything of it. I just moved forward. Every time I moved, he moved. Until I could no longer scoot up without being too close to the student in front. Realizing I had nowhere to go I just sat there hoping that feeling his body heat on my back meant nothing. He began moving closer to me. And closer. And closer. Until his crotch was on my back and his penis was poking me in my butt. I kept trying to scoot up even without having any room to move. He just kept moving closer to me. Eventually, I gave up and sat there reciting my colors, numbers, and seasons…with his penis poking me in my butt. After that, I avoided him at all costs! I even stopped participating in our free time just to avoid interacting with him and probably others too. I thought I chose to read to my teacher during free time because I was a bookworm. That’s true. But after further reflection, I realized that being near her while she wasn’t closely observing our every move like when she was teaching us (our free time was spent playing in class. My teacher was always present but she would grading papers usually), made me feel safe. I knew that near her nothing would happen to me and I used our relationship for the rest of the year to keep myself safe.
Around my pre-teenage, I went to a family gathering at my aunt’s house. There was a cousin there that I didn’t know. He was around my age, maybe a year or two older. He has a disorder that makes hormones rage. My cousins and I ended up in an empty bedroom together. The cousin I didn’t know wasn’t fitting in well with the rest of us. He was different from the rest of us and they were being mean and not really feeling the things he was saying. The entire time we were in there I just got a weird vibe. He kept talking to me and trying to be near me, even though I wasn’t speaking to him or really interacting with him. To be fair I was and have always been a to myself kind of person. Even if I am in a room full of people. The time comes for all of us to leave. We’re all hugging each other goodbye. I had not hugged him nor did I intend to do so. That is until my cousins began pressuring me to hug him. I continued to refuse until I broke under pressure. We embraced and as soon as I let go he jiggled my boob and said: “tickle tickle tickle”. I screamed. My cousins flew into an uproar. I got out of there and went to find my mother who was outside talking to my family members. I am beside myself. I am so hurt and angry. He comes outside and asks me if I want to play, what’s wrong. I am screaming at him to leave me alone. My mother tells me to stop yelling. I felt like I was going to lose my mind. He kept trying to get near me. My mother shields me and says that he needs to go to his mother. By the end of it all, his mother explains his disorder and that he didn’t mean to do it. He can’t help himself. She makes him apologize and I reluctantly accept. I never saw that cousin again and I honestly don’t give a fuck if I ever do. I understand he has a disorder but I still felt that I was failed again. His mother stated during her explanation of why this happened that “he didn’t take his medicine today”…so you thought that having him in a house full of people unmedicated was okay? I was touched inappropriately again because an adult didn’t do what they were supposed to do. To this day I am angry about this situation and I am angry that I was peer pressured into being close enough to someone my gut told me to stay away for the entire night leading to me again being assaulted. I am so fucking angry. Under that anger is hurt and maybe one day I can address the hurt over that situation but that day hasn’t come yet.
Again when I was a pre-teen, my father was remodeling our basement. My father always told me and my sister to not use the bathroom downstairs (the level above the basement) and to not hang out downstairs. One day I was downstairs heating up my dinner and I had to pee. I contemplated holding it. I contemplated going upstairs to use the bathroom. However, in my young mind, I didn’t think it was that serious to use the bathroom downstairs. Also, my bladder wouldn’t allow me to wait to make it upstairs. I went to the bathroom and tried to pee as quickly as possible. I had just finished peeing and was about to wipe and pull up my pants when the door swung open. I forgot to lock the door. A black man was standing in the door and he was not my father. I had decided to squat since I was also told that I shouldn’t use the bathroom downstairs because that’s the bathroom the workers were using. There I was vulnerable, pants around my ankles, butt exposed. And here was a man, standing in the door for far too long, smirking at my frozen body. He finally closed the door and I was still frozen. All I could will myself to do was lock the door. I wiped and pulled up my pants. As I was washing my hands I decided to not tell my father because I feared he’d be mad at me for not listening to him, but I feared that he would kill that man more. So I sat with the idea that I had been exposed to a man who will still be in my home for weeks to come. I accepted it, dried my hands, and went to go get my dinner.
When I was 16 I was taking an elective course because it was required for me to graduate. In this class, there was a jock nicknamed B*oda. He was at least 6 feet tall and extremely strong. He was always messing with the girls in the class and I was no exception. He would grab my butt and brush up against me and say inappropriate things. The worst of it came when one day I was going to the bathroom (there was a bathroom in the classroom) and as I was coming out B*oda and another boy was waiting outside the door. B*oda forced himself on me and pushed me up against the bathroom wall. He’s in my face trying to kiss me. He’s holding my wrists up. I’m squirming under him trying to get away but he is so fucking strong. Eventually, I give up but I continue moving my face because I result to let him kiss me. His body weight was so heavy on me and I was working so hard to get out of his stronghold, I could barely get out a word. As if it couldn’t get worse I hear the boy outside the door say “she knows she likes it” and B*oda says “yea she do. She know she do.” I wanted to die. My last encounter with him came when he physically assaulted me. One day, B*ooda plucked me in the back of my head for absolutely no reason. It hurt so badly. I started developing a headache almost instantly. I went home in pain and sat on the couch for hours unable to lift my head or look at light. My mom comes home and sees me. Instantly she asks me what’s wrong. I told her I had a headache. A few more minutes pass of moms being moms and she gets the whole story. I told her my head hurt after being physically assaulted (plucked) in the back of my head by a boy in my class. SHE WAS FURIOUSSSSSS! She emailed the principal, my teacher, and every administrator in the school. She told my uncle who told me he would gladly come up to my school and my mama told me that if he so much as breathed my air to call her and she was coming up to the school. My teacher, becoming aware of what was happening, did his part and ensured he didn’t mess with me or come in my space again and if he did the teacher was on his ass. The administrators were also aware of what was going on and were doing their part. I wasn’t the first girl to complain about his aggressive behavior. I felt protected somewhat but also he was still in the class and the school so it didn’t go that far. Plus I had gone through this before and was so jaded by it all that I don’t even think I could properly assess my emotions in the situation. I just learned to live with it.
My worst experience though actually happened with a guy I’d never met in person. When I was 15 I expressed interest to a friend who was looking at photos of her friend on the computer. He would send her pics to her email and one day I just happened to see them. I thought he was soooooo fine. I kept telling her to put me on. One day he texted me after 10 pm one night and the rest is history. We started talking and became cool. I didn’t think anything of him being 4 years older than me because we vibed. It took me years to realize that a man who is 4 years older than me who I have sexually explicit conversations with, was coerced into sending him a photo of my butt because he just knows it “thick and juicy” and he has to see it, and consistently asked me to meet him at his apartment was no friend of mine. My mother would’ve flipped if she knew what was happening. I told her about this man recently, but I honestly hate talking about it. It makes me so sad and sick because at 15 I genuinely thought he was my friend and I thought it was so cool that he as interested in me. I didn’t realize that no 19-year-old should want anything to do with a 15-year-old and they damn sure shouldn’t request and receive inappropriate pictures nor send them to you on multiple occasions, send explicit text messages nor should they want to be alone with you in their apartment with the clear intention that you are there to engage in sex. All my prior situations have hurt me but this one just devastates me. Maybe because I really trusted this guy and I saw what was happening as harmless, but it wasn’t. Nothing about this was harmless.
I was a young girl who didn’t even understand why my body was so coveted yet I seemed to have no autonomy over it. I had no say in who had access to it and who didn’t. That was no love, like, or interest. That was and will always be abuse. I was 4 years old when I learned that the world was unsafe for women and that is not something you forget. It is always with me. It affects my ability to trust. It affects my ability to even desire relationships with people because I associate relationships, love, union with my pain, and suffering. I’d rather be alone and feel safe than to give someone access to hurt me again. I don’t feel safe in my body. I don’t feel good in my body sometimes. I don’t respect men. I respect them in a general sense, but when it comes to who will be in control and who won’t, I will never relinquish my control. My need to dominate stems from my fear of being the sweet, quiet, docile, naive girl I once was. When I think of being that girl I panic. I feel terrified. I associate those qualities in myself with my pain. So I do all I can to be the opposite. I’m aggressive. I’m harsh. I’m uncompromising. I don’t feel about it. I know there are options for handling things another way but I’m not in a place to try new things. I am not in place to put my guard down. I am not in a place where I can let go of that 4-year-old girl sitting in the bean bag chair, that 6-year-old girl sitting on the floor reciting her colors, the pre-teen girl hugging her cousin, that pre-teen girl using the bathroom, that teenage girl just trying to graduate or that teen girl who just thought a boy was cute. All those girls are clinging to the warrior in me who tells the world to stay the fuck away from me. I want to detach from them. I want to move on from them but I can’t because they need me. I need me. I need me to make me feel safe because no one else did.
To all the folx who have an ‘I was” story, I’m sorry. I am so sorry! This is not a club any of us wanted to be a part of. We will get through this. I love you and I support you all!