#metoo

Photo by Katarzyna Białasiewicz

11 years old, walking to school, and a man is jogging toward us. As he gets closer, he adjusts himself and we all clearly see his penis and testicles hanging out the side, slapping against his thigh as he runs.

We tell our friends at school and find out we are not the only ones. We are told the police are involved and we never see this man again. No one ever said another word about it, not even to ask me what I saw.

13 years old, and I can’t believe I’m taking a walk with him! I’ve had a crush on him for so long. It’s just my luck that I’m moving away within the week and now he’s finally looking back at me like he might have a crush on me, too. We smoke a little pot and take a walk through the woods near his house, and he kisses me. It’s all so exciting! We kiss again, and again, and I’m enjoying feeling all of these things I’ve never felt before. Other boys have kissed me, but it’s never felt quite like this.

When he starts to tug at my clothes, I get nervous and whisper no. He keeps kissing me and silences my no’s, and keeps tugging. I try to pull away but he’s bigger than me. The kissing feels so good but I’m so scared of what he’s doing and what is next. I want him to stop but I also don’t want him to stop and in the moment I’m so confused and I don’t know what to do. It’s all happening so fast and the next thing I know it’s over. I didn’t feel any pain — I didn’t feel anything much at all — but there is a bit of blood on my thigh

14 years old and at a new school. I’ve met just a few kids who live around me so far. On the second day of school, I see a boy from my neighborhood and his friends looking at me and laughing. I find out later that he told them I lived around the corner from him and I was giving out blowjobs in the woods over the summer. Before I know this, however, another boy asks me out. Before we ever make it to the pizza parlor, he pulls over and kisses me. I don’t know him well but the kiss is exciting and I haven’t kissed anyone since I moved here. He grabs my hand and places it on his crotch. The only penis I’ve ever seen was jogging past, so I’m not sure what to imagine based on what I feel. He unzips his jeans and asks me to kiss it. I say no and try to get out of the car even though I’m not sure where we are. He pulls me back, and pushes my head down. I refuse to open my mouth so he tugs at his own penis and ejaculates all over my face. Afterward, he tells me he really likes me, then he drives me home without ever getting pizza. The next day I find out he has a girlfriend of several years who wants to kick my ass for seducing her boyfriend.

15 years old, and now living with my Dad. Another new place, another new school. My friend knows a man who likes to take photos of girls. She says he pays at least $50 to just take pictures of you with clothes on, and more if you take them off. She sets it up for me to meet him. He’s really nice and tells me I’m beautiful and he doesn’t force himself on me. He takes pictures of me in a park and then asks if I trust him enough to go with him to his house. He really is nice — I don’t feel nervous at all. When he says he wants pictures of me taking my clothes off, I don’t do it for more money. I do it because he is making me feel beautiful. He is so very nice and gentle and he has sex with me and I wonder if this is what they are talking about when they say “making love.” After we’re done, I ask him how old he is. He tells me he just turned 40. He takes me home and tells me he’d love to see me again, but he never calls.

16 years old. Everyone thinks I’m doing it so I might as well be doing it. It doesn’t matter all that much anyway. It’s just a thing. I don’t even feel like it’s me when they are doing it. I don’t say no anymore. But I don’t say yes, either.

19 years old. I’m a receptionist in the office of a home builder. There aren’t many people in the office most days, but all the site managers come in on Fridays for meetings, and I do some work for them by request. They are all super nice and they are all men. One man in particular remembers Secretaries Day (what they called it then), brings me flowers and asks me if he can take me to lunch. I’m busy that day, so he suggests Monday the following week. I meet him at a Ruby Tuesday’s and he asks me questions about school and my family life and my boyfriend. It is all very pleasant and I’m touched that he is the only one that acknowledged and showed appreciation for my work. He walks me to my car and when I turn to thank him and shake his hand, he pushes me against my car and kisses me. I’m shocked by the invasion of his tongue and push against his shoulders. He looks taken aback now, and says, “…but you were flirting with me.” I wasn’t flirting, just being polite, and I say so, but he comes in for another kiss so I raise my knee to intersect his crotch. He calls me a bitch and stomps away. I never go back to that job.

34 years old, enjoying happy hour after work. My co-worker gets tied up and says they won’t be able to come after all. I’ve already got a drink so I give up the seat I’m saving for them, and a man slides into it. We make light conversation, and he offers to buy me another. I accept and we keep chatting.

Several hours later I realize I am sitting in my car where I’d parked it that morning. It’s after 1am and I feel woozy. I don’t know how I got to my car and I’m not sure where I lost almost 7 hours. I called a friend to see if I could stay there, then called my husband to tell him I was safe and spending the night in the city.

All of my memories from that night are spotty. It doesn’t occur to me until much later that I might have been drugged. I see pictures in my head about two men and then three, and I think they are from that night but I can’t be sure. I don’t say anything, to anyone, because I’m just not sure.

41 years old, traveling by car home from a business trip. Spending the night in a hotel and having dinner at the lobby restaurant bar. I have two glasses of wine at dinner. I’m talking with several people around me and the bartender, friendly conversation. I order one more glass of wine to take upstairs with me, and I sip it as I fall asleep watching television.

I’m not sure what time it is and there is a knock at the door. I look through the peephole and recognize one of the people I was talking to at the bar. I open the door and he is holding up something and saying it dropped out of my purse but I can’t focus on what it is he is holding. I try to talk and it feels like my mouth is stuffed with cotton, and I feel him holding me up.

When I wake up in the morning it is much later than I’d intended. I see several missed calls on my phone from my now-husband. My head is pounding and I ache all over. As I begin to realize what happened, all I can think is, “not again…”

No flashbacks this time but I have finger marks on my upper arms and huge knot on my head. I just want to get home so I shower, grab my stuff and put as many miles as I can between myself and that room as possible.

So, me too times eight, or nine, or — fuck it’s exhausting dredging this all up every time we hear about another powerful man being held accountable for his actions.

How many viral hashtags do we need before we decide enough is enough?

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