The following has been shared with us by a reader who felt it necessary to share her experience as it relates to sexual assault.
In light of the seemingly divisive debate of late, I felt it necessary to share my own story. Perhaps if you hear this from someone you know, there is a possibility that it might seem more plausible, more believable. It is very easy to disbelieve someone you do not know because there is always skepticism and the questionability of motives.
Walking home from school one day, when I was a very young girl, I crossed the doorway of a house that was built very close to the road. I was suddenly pulled inside by a much older boy. My friends did not see me disappear as I had been trailing a ways behind them.
His hand went over my mouth and my screams were muffled. I was dragged through the very small living room into his bedroom and thrown on his bed. Within seconds his body was on top of mine and my breath was crushed from my lungs by the weight of him. His hands were all over me as he tugged at my school dress and panties. I knew only sheer terror…no voice, no screams…I could not catch my breath. I thought I would die there and no one would ever know what happened to me.
Suddenly I caught my breath, and my will to live…and escape…returned in full force. I kicked. I clawed. I screamed. I fought back and I escaped…wriggling out from beneath him as he grabbed a handful of my long hair, trying to detain me.
I burst through his door and fled outside, running as fast as I could, past my friends and into my house, which was not far away. I locked my doors and flew under my bed, shaking, terrified, in shock.
I was 5 or 6 yrs old, so this was about 38 or 39 yrs ago now.
I don't remember who was home when I finally found that shelter. But I told no one that day. Or any day after that.
I don't remember his name…I used to, but the tides of my memory have long erased the letters that formed it in my mind. I remember his face though. As clearly as I saw it that day as it was inches from my face. I remember the scar on his forehead. I will know him if I see him again. I remember the deep sky blue color of the painted walls of his house and the white sheets on his bed, with yellow and orange flowers.
No one else was there that day. But it happened. No one bore witness to that assault. But it happened. I have no lingering evidence of it. But it happened. I have NEVER forgotten that it happened…because it happened. To me.
And I never told an adult. Never told my father. I knew he would have killed that boy. He's done it before.
I never reported it. And if he plays his hand right, I never will.
But I promise you this…had he ever put himself forward for any position of trust, I would have been the first to block it. It doesn't make it right and it doesn't mean I am mischievous for choosing a time such as that to reveal my story – but – for whatever reasons I CHOSE at that time to hide this devastating event in my life was MY CHOICE to make. And I reserve the right to bring it back to life should I ever choose to do so, at any such time as I choose to do so – because I was the victim and there is no rule with how you deal with trauma in your life.
And know this – this event has stayed with me ALL OF MY LIFE. I have never forgotten that it happened. Or the terror I felt when it was happening. The details may be fuzzy, I may have forgotten his name, but I am clear on at least one main fact – it did happen.
Take from it what you will. Judge me if you feel convicted to do so. But unless you have been in a situation that comes close, sit down, shut up and let the voices that need to be heard have their say…at last.
Because the statements that I have read and heard over the last few days could easily be said against someone like me – and I know what I endured for those few short moments and what I have lived with and pushed to the back of my mind ever since…and the armchair critics have found a nerve to sting this time.
*********************** Let me just add as an afterthought – not all victims have to be hot messes! Yes some people fall apart and their lives are permanently destroyed and they find it difficult to cope and deal and move on, but others find coping mechanisms – such as compartmentalizing – that allows them to rejoin society stronger or as normal as they can ever be…and many go on to be highly successful in their careers and life. That doesn't mean that they suffered less or were not as impacted as the stereotypical victims…it just means that they have chosen a different path, a different way, a different reality.
They are not better or worse.