WARNING: This post may be triggering for those who have experienced sexual assault.
This is continued from my previous post.
When I was 14, after my dad left and things had gotten really awful at home, things were also turning ugly at school.
I was being threatened and bullied, in some cases by girls who had previously been my friends. They would send me notes telling me to watch my back (at the time, I took things literally and didn’t actually know what that term meant; I had to ask somebody), telling me they hated me, telling me they were going to kick my ass.
They would follow me down the hallways, yelling insults. One girl told me I was so weird and so ugly that no one would ever love me. Those words rang in my head for years afterwards.
Two of the bullies who had previously been my friends have since gotten in touch with me via Facebook and apologized. I asked one of them, “Can you tell me what I did that made everyone turn on me? I was going through a hard time so I know I probably did something, but I’ve never been able to figure out what.”
“You didn’t do anything wrong,” she replied. “I just wasn’t a very nice person back then.” I appreciate her taking full responsibility, but I still think it’s funny how it happened at the same time as all the awful stuff at home. Was it just that I was weak then, and they sensed it?
Meanwhile, I was sharing a locker with another girl who repeatedly stole my things and on one occasion, found the notebook I wrote poetry in and read it aloud to a group of kids who had gathered in the hallway, mostly boys. I approached as this was taking place, and I got mocked and ridiculed and taunted with my own emotionally penned words.
I had previously been an honour roll student, but because of things that were going on at home I wasn’t getting my homework done and I wasn’t able to concentrate in class, so when new concepts were introduced, especially in math class, they went right over my head. My math teacher said she was available for extra help at lunch time, but as I had previously gotten good grades and even been in the math club, she didn’t understand what my problem was. “Just keep practicing,” she said. “Practice makes perfect.” But I couldn’t practice, because I didn’t even know where to begin, and she wouldn’t give me the one-on-one instruction I needed to grasp it.
Outside of school, one Saturday while walking through a park, an older boy I recognized from school but had never spoken to before walked toward me, looking at me with a smile on his face. I was very needy for any kind of positive interaction at that point, so I stopped and waited for him as he approached, happy that someone friendly-looking was coming to talk to me. The problem is, I am not very observant, and it was only when he got right up to me that I saw that he had his penis out. He assumed I’d seen it all along and therefore wanted it. But I had not seen it, and I did not want it. Being much stronger than me, he grabbed me and pinned me to his body and forced me to touch it. He ejaculated up my arm and I cried and vomited onto the ground. He laughed and went on his way, and I became terrified of bumping into him at school after that. I never told anyone, because who would believe I had stood there as someone approached with his penis out, but that I did not actually want what had subsequently transpired? I wouldn’t even believe it if someone told me that story. Also, with how volatile my mom was at the time, I was terrified of her reaction. And I was so overwhelmed by everything that was going on that I just didn’t have the energy to put myself through any kind of reporting process. So I said nothing. I have wondered over the years if he’s ever victimized anyone else since then and I feel guilty for not reporting him. I keep my eye out for his name in the news, and so far it has not appeared.
That was my very first encounter with a penis. I know as far as sexual assault goes it could have been far, far worse. But sadly I am still nauseated by the sight of ejaculate to this day.
And then came the final straw. Compared to everything else, this is going to sound utterly trivial, but for whatever reason, this was the thing that pushed me over the edge.
In P.E. class, which had always been a nightmare for me, we were told to form groups and come up with a rhythmic gymnastics routine to be performed the following week. We were not given any real instruction on what rhythmic gymnastics was, we were only shown one example of a routine, demonstrated by a group of the popular girls. My parents had never been interested in sports of any kind, so at home we had never watched the Olympics or anything like that, and although I had briefly been enrolled in extracurricular gymnastics as a child there was nothing about rhythmic gymnastics in that class. Back then, there was no YouTube to consult, so I was utterly clueless, with little idea of what was expected and zero confidence that my flawed body would be able to perform anything of the sort without causing great embarrassment. The only two girls who were willing to be in a group with me were equally clueless. Then, to my horror, the teacher said that our routines would be videotaped, and the video would be shown to the entire school.
In retrospect, that sounds really far-fetched. Under what circumstances would such a video be shown, and why? But that is what she said, and that was my tipping point.
The next morning, I didn’t get out of bed. I couldn’t face it. I couldn’t do it. And I just never went back.