I'm lucky. I've never been raped or abused, and I grew up knowing that my parents would believe and protect me in the face of any harassment. I never hesitated to tell my parents when a boy made me too uncomfortable, and there were even a couple of times that a boy said something so inappropriate that I reported it to a teacher.
I always told my parents...except for that one time. (Sorry Mom if you're reading this, because I'm pretty sure you never knew.)
When I was in the eighth grade, a boy I had a crush on sat across from me in algebra class. One day, he tried to pry open my legs with a yardstick. He claimed that he was high on pain killers from a recent sports injury and told me to chill out. I didn't know what to say. I turned to the side so that I was no longer facing him, but he just kept trying to get that yardstick closer and closer to my vagina.
The only person who knew about it was my then best friend, who was sitting next to me in class that day. When I told her later how mad that boy had made me, she laughed and said he probably just liked me.
A few months later, long after I had decided I didn't like that boy anymore, he texted me to tell me that he missed me. We still had classes together and I guess we were sort of still friends, but I wasn't interested in hanging around someone who made me feel so uncomfortable. He told me that he loved me and that he was tired of waiting for me to decide how I felt about him.
I was shocked. By this time, he had gone after two of my closest friends and 13 year old me was pretty confident that I deserved someone better. I didn't want him to keep pushing the issue, so I lied. I said that I thought I still liked him but that I didn't want to date someone my friends had dated. He didn't find that to be convincing, so I added that my parents wouldn't allow me to date. He eventually dropped it.
Freshman year of high school he told other guys at school that I was "stiff" and wouldn't "put out". He embarrassed me in front of boys I liked. He was in my health class and he asked me awkward questions about my body. I never answered, but I didn't know how to tell him to stop. I almost told the teacher, but he was a football coach, and this boy was on the team. The teacher loved him. There was no way I could trust that teacher.
Remember my best friend from algebra? She was in health class too. Our friendship had its own issues, but ultimately the thing that drove me away from her was her refusal to recognize that this boy was seriously hurting my feelings and my self esteem. (Ladies, listen to your friends!)
I went through high school as the girl that didn't put out. I was a prude. But more importantly, I was a challenge. Boys would harass me and ask me uncomfortable questions. Occasionally, I would hear rumors about my own sex life (which by the way, was non-existent). For the record, some of those rumors were started by other girls...woman to woman, that's just not right. I got over it though. I was even proud of my status as a prude, because at least I was protecting myself from boys like him.
By the time I graduated, I had a small, but solid friend group. Friends who didn't make me feel uncomfortable about my body or my virginity. Friends who never asked, but understood that he made me uncomfortable. Friends who didn't call me a prude, or stiff. Friends who stood up for me when other people did.
The day of our graduation rehearsal, he came up to me and hugged me. I walked away as fast as I could and thanked god that I was about to move 500 miles away and never see him again.
About a year ago, he sent me a friend request on Facebook. I rejected it, and he messaged me to ask why I wouldn't accept his request. I never responded, I just blocked him.
Since the #metoo movement has started, I've debated whether or not I want to post "me too". Because I saw a chance to finally say how I felt all those years that this one boy wouldn't leave me alone. I've been worried that someone will think I'm just seeking attention.
You know what though? I am seeking attention. Because I don't want anymore 13 year old girls to feel too embarrassed to speak up and report harassment. I made my peace with my situation a long time ago, but that doesn't mean that every survivor of harassment and assault has. The #metoo movement is a chance to start healing. It's a chance to tell other girls that they're not alone, even if they can't talk about it. It's a chance to say, "me too, I was embarrassed too, but we don't have to be anymore".