i was 11. it was 1968.
i was walking with my friend christine, after dark, on the street she lived on, heading to our irish step dance lessons at the Y just fifty yards from where we were…
a group of young men approached us, at least 4 of them, possibly more – the memory has dimmed. we tried to run to the door of the Y, but they were older and stronger.
i remember hands all over me. i remember one hand trying to reach into the waistband of my pants, not succeeding and then grabbing my crotch roughly like he owned it.
i remember screaming. i remember christine screaming.
i remember kicking.
i remember getting away from their grasp and heading to the door at the Y… all the while i’m screaming ‘i’ll get help’. and the young men took off…
i never told anyone. but i’ll never forget the feeling of that man’s hand gripping my crotch like it was his possession.
i was 15. it was 1972.
my high school shop teacher kept me after class one day. i was in full hormonal teen girl mode. he asked me to help him with something in the supply room attached to the classroom.
and that’s when i learned about oral sex. i learned at 15, with no prior experience, how to give a blow job on an uncircumcised penis. i learned all kinds of things from him.
i learned how to lie. i learned how to hang out after class hoping for the attention i knew was coming. i was a willing participant. i never said no.
i never told anyone.
i never told because i never said no. in my mind this made me just as guilty as the shop teacher.
i’m not a ‘what if’ kind of person, but 20/20 hindsight shows me that i could have gone straight to the principal’s office, or straight home to my mother, and told everything. he would have been fired, brought up on charges, i would have been the talk of the high school, but it would have ended his run of terror.
because i believe i wasn’t the only student he’d done this to, my guilt almost overshadows my shame. if i had only told someone, i could have stopped him.
but i didn’t. i kept the secret.
i don’t remember how it ended. i don’t remember what our relationship was like afterward – did we say hello in the hall? did he smile at me? was it a complete ignore? i don’t remember.
i do remember in 1979 going to my new sister-in-law’s graduation at that same high school. i remember seeing him there, with another male teacher who was also a huge flirt with the girls. they both looked at me and smiled and elbowed each other.
like i was some prize he had won.
i never told anyone.
i was 15 years old. i was tainted for the rest of my life. i was shamed, i was hiding, and the longer the secret stayed secret, the more i knew it had to stay that way. my brain convinced me of that. so i buried it. for a long time.
once i hit my 50’s i went into recovery for alcoholism. i did the 12 step program of alcoholics anonymous.
for those not familiar, the 4th step is an inventory of resentments against people among other things.
my memories and feelings about this man, and the group of young men years before never surfaced. these people were not on my 4th step… and of all the people in the world aside from me, those people should have been there. perhaps i’d be further along in healing.
there is a very ascared little girl inside me. she survived many things in her young life, losing her father at 8 to a fire, the sexual assault at 11, the abuse at 15.
these things formed me, but i refuse to let them rule me.
i’m telling someone.