This post is part two of three called My Story From 32 Years Ago. You can read part one, which was posted yesterday, here.
I felt humiliated and angry. . I couldn’t believe this happened to me. How could he? Why did he? Was it my fault? Should I not have made out with him? My friends were infuriated for me. They said it wasn’t my fault. We all called him an asshole. And I remember part of the reason I was so embarrassed walking out of the room was because not only did everyone know what happened, they knew I DIDN’T put out. 1986 fostered a culture of "Go gettem’ guy,” without us even being aware that was the culture.
How messed up is that? I was more embarrassed about NOT putting out than I was that I had been in a horrible, frightening and unbelievable situation. I know this now. It took me a long time to see the distinction. I didn’t see it then.
I am very, very lucky I didn’t hold onto those feelings of anger, humiliation and shame for long. With age and experience, and therapy, I came to realize what happened wasn’t my fault, I was a self respecting girl and just because I was making out with someone I was dating didn’t mean I had to give him a blow job.
We had no language to describe “it” then, but I knew “it” was wrong. In 1986, what happened to me wasn’t called assault. It wasn’t called anything. It was a guy being a jerk. So that’s what I lived with.
Still, I have a hard time describing what happened as sexual assault - in fact until recently I thought of it as attempted sexual assault. - why did I say ‘attempted’? Is it because there was no penetration, he let me go, I have forgiven this boy and no longer feel confusion or anger? I don’t know. In fact, by definition in Illinois, what happened is sexual assault. Do I squirm at the term in reference to me because I was conditioned to believe this wasn’t a big deal? I will say this: I am not alone with my feelings.
The definition of sexual assault has evolved since I was a teenager. I think our understanding, our laws and our language need to evolve even more. The nuances of our understanding, laws and language need to evolve even more. We need to have discussions about what happened in our past so that we can change our current culture to help our daughters and our sons.
Moms and Dads, God forbid what happened to me happened to your daughter. Would you say that’s unfortunate, that guy was an asshole. Or would you say she was a victim of sexual assault?
This post is part two of three on my story from 32 years ago. Please come back tomorrow to read part three where I write about why I believe women don’t report ‘now,’ why I am concerned about my daughter AND son and why it is critical women are speaking up.
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