Today I’m going to bring to light a secret I’ve been harboring. My therapist says, “You’re only as sick as your secrets.” I briefly mentioned this secret in the post I wrote about losing my religion, but I am ready to share a few more details.
When I was in tenth grade, I was sexually harassed by one of my classmates. It climaxed in an altercation that occurred after my first experience drinking alcohol unsupervised, and then persisted as a series of lesser incidents that involved inappropriate touching and what I have determined to be stalking.
Today I would like to focus on the lesser incidents. It started with an “innocent” hand on my knee, and progressed. I was told that this was happening because I was single and this was the best that I could get, that this is what I deserved. It happened on public transportation in front on many people, but I never had the courage to get up a move. I never made a scene. I sat in the same seat every day, dreading what became the routine.
I was fourteen years old. I was very smart. My parents had talked to me about what to do if an older man tried to touch me inappropriately.
But I wasn’t prepared when the person touching me was a classmate, my peer. I knew it was wrong, but I did not possess the proper context to handle my situation. I was timid. I didn’t have the courage to make a scene.
So how do you confront someone who is in your class and you see every day? The same way you would confront a stranger who would treat you with such blatant disrespect. The following image that I have created applies to anyone who touches you when you don’t want him or her to: friend, family member, classmate, or stranger.
Feel free to share this image on Pinterest, Tumblr, Facebook, etc. We need to teach people that they do not have to live in fear. It took years for me to “get over” what happened, and I still don’t feel entirely comfortable sharing that part of my story. I think we’re all ready for things to change.