Editor’s note: The contents of this post might be triggering to those who have been sexually assaulted. Please take care.
Age 4: My father’s best friend held me down and shoved his tongue in my mouth. Thirty years later and I still remember the way he smelled.
Age 4: My father’s best friend’s attempts were thwarted first by his own brother, second by me. His brother playfully tackled him as he was coming towards me, arms wide open, smiling broadly and saying “Gracie! Give me a hug!” The second time I escaped him, I ran away from him, dove under my great aunt’s bed and slithered toward the middle, so he could see me but not reach me. Thirty years later and the relief I felt when he failed at his attempts is as physical and real now as it was then.
Age 6: A boy in my after school program pushed me up against a wall and rubbed his clothed penis all over my clothed vulva. Nobody intervened. I can still feel the shame and humiliation today as I did then.
Age 16: Prom night. Not my prom date. I thought he was fingering me. He wasn’t. He was fucking me. I repeatedly said no and it took me threatening to scream to everyone in the next room for him to get off me. The next day he instant messaged me and said “you wanted it.”
Age 18: Freshman year of college. I blacked out. I don’t remember a thing. Except waking up completely naked, covered in my own vomit, and seeing a used condom lying on the floor next to the bed. My fear was confirmed days later when one of his fraternity brothers told me I’d been “taken advantage of.”
All my life: Being told to smile. Being told I have a nice ass. Catcalls. Lewd comments made by male co-workers. Being ogled in elevators. Being followed a little too close for comfort. Purposely being made to feel uncomfortable and powerless by men.