Inspired, by a lot of brave women, to put my story out there.

Early childhood. As early as I can remember, my grandfather forced me to hug him when I visited. When I arrived and when I left. I had to sit on his lap any time he demanded it. When my father and stepmother visited, my father would pull me aside and tell me to make sure I hug my stepmother and to be nice to her. Any lack of warmth toward her was simply due to the fact that I only saw them two or three times per year. I barely knew the woman. I was forced to hug her or displease my father. The message that my body and affections were not my own was loud and clear.

Fourth grade. A boy in my class followed me to my bus every day after school. He tried to talk to me and always made a point to touch my butt before he ran off to his own bus. I dreaded seeing him. I couldn’t avoid him. I didn’t know what to do or who to tell. That same year, a few boys on my bus made a game out of trying to grab my crotch. I moved seats and waited for them to get bored and moved on.

Fourth or fifth grade. My grandfather molested me a handful of times. When he was forcing me to sit on his lap. I didn’t understand what had happened. I knew I didn’t like it, and I felt ashamed. I had no idea how to even explain to anyone what had happened. I kept my secret for almost 20 years, until after he had passed away. My father wanted me to keep it quiet when I finally told him. We have not discussed it in the ten years since that day.

Fifth grade. My mother marries my third stepfather in three years, after a whirlwind romance. I barely knew the man when he moved in. He told me he loved me and told me I should give over my issues expressing affection and say it back. So I did.

Ninth grade. A boy sitting behind me in geometry class shakes my desk and makes sexual comments to me daily.

College. A man exposed himself to some friends and I late one night on the street and started masterbating in front of us. We ran away.

Age 37. In my hometown. A married man who is old enough to be my father stood uncomfortably close to me, but his hand on my back, and ran it up my neck into my hair. He chatted with me in a lighthearted way. This happened at my mother’s funeral.

I can’t even begin to count all the catcalls on the streets. I once told a man he was rude and to shut up. He did not.

I am filled with hope seeing so many women (and men) come forward with their stories. We don’t have to be afraid anymore. Sun light is the best disinfectant.

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