It was the end of my freshman year on the way home from school on the bus.
That’s where I was sexually assaulted.
Here I am at 34 years old finally calling it exactly what it was. It wasn’t boys being boys. It wasn’t me being coy or flirtatious (yeah, right!). I wasn’t groped. It wasn’t petting. It was sexual assault.
I was 14 years old. I’d never kissed a boy. I was innocent. I was at the back of the bus when a few boys began to ask me to show them my breasts. They had been talking about my breasts all school year, claiming they were fake because they weren’t there the year before. These boys must have slept through their health classes. These boys were younger than me, not even in the same school building, but somehow their jokes about my “fake boobs” had made it all the way to the senior class in the high school. For me, it was a year of being extremely insecure about my body and knowing that many, many people were speculating and studying it. I’m not even exaggerating. I turned around in a math class one time and found a senior girl staring at my chest and telling the guy next to her, “Yeah, they’re fake. No one’s tits sit that high on their chest.”
I started wearing multiple layers of clothes to hide. Thank goodness for the 90’s where grunge was in, but even the stove-pipe jeans weren’t baggy enough. I wanted to bulk up and be unappealing (I wasn’t even “cute” in school!) so I wore several pairs of sweatpants under my jeans and wore baggy t-shirts—whatever it took to hide.
One time, a senior boy in my class asked me, “Just prove that they’re real and we will leave you alone. Show us. Pour a cup of water on your chest. If they’re tissue, they’ll disappear.”
“She could use pantyhose eggs,” a girl quipped.
I’m not even joking. It’s laughable now that I sit here and remember all of it.
Sometimes, I was tempted to rip my shirt off. I really wanted people to stop talking about my boobs. I barely had any!
And then, the teasing came to a crest and the boys were done playing with me about it. On the bus, they circled around my seat where I sat alone. “Just show us,” they said. “Pull your shirt out and let us see.”
Then, suddenly, a boy pinned me down by sitting across my legs. Someone held my arms and another person pulled my shirt out and heads were crowding in around to look down my shirt. They had my shirt and the front of my bra.
I don’t know if I screamed or yelled for help. I don’t know if I told them to stop.
I do remember everything slowing down...
I remember my heart was pounding.
I remember my face was hot…
I remember not being able to see anything but arms as they shoved their hands down my shirt and under my bra and squeezed and pulled and pressed…
Someone's hands went down the back of my underwear…
And I turned my face toward the bus window where I could breathe because there were no heads or arms or hands or bodies…
I remember seeing my reflection in the bus window. And I was quiet. I stared at my eyes. I stared…and went numb.
Later, I was standing my bedroom later in front of a full length mirror and staring at myself. I put my hands across my chest and cried. I was so confused. What had happened?
What had happened?
What had happened? Tears were burning my eyes.
What had happened? My throat closed up, fire burning inside me...so much heartbreaks and shock.
The next day on the bus, a boy winked and asked me, “Did you feel yourself up when you got home yesterday? Felt good, right?”
I didn’t even understand what he meant because I was so naive.
The rumors made it to my math class that day. My boobs were real…and I was the slut that let all the little boys feel them for themselves.
And I told myself that for years and put it out of my mind. Then, years later when I was pregnant with my first child, a baby girl, I saw one of those boys and my blood chilled. My eyes filled with tears and I looked away. “Remember that time on the bus when you let us—" he started to ask.
I looked straight up at him, the tears suddenly gone. “I remember....and I didn’t let it happen.”
I was sexually assaulted.
That’s the truth about what happened on the bus.
I won’t shrug it away anymore.
It wasn’t boys being boys.
It wasn’t groping or petting or my fault.
It was a day that a young girl was deeply wounded because of the way we continue to raise our sons.
And it has to stop.
We need to not only hold our young sons accountable, but the men that lead in entertainment, and the men we allow to run for political office.
Make a damn change, America. Stop letting women be jokes. Take us seriously. Take our bodies seriously.
We freaking matter.
My daughters matter.
Be the change...
Stop making excuses for deplorable behavior.