I felt so ashamed when it happened to me. I'd rather people think I was "that kind of girl," a "slut," "easy," as long as they didn't find out that I was really just stupid and weak. I would rather just pretend nothing had happened at all, that everything was okay; I was just a normal girl, and somehow I convinced myself that what happened was normal, too. Boys were supposed to chase girls, girls were supposed to be caught, and sometimes love meant doing things you didn't want to. That's all this was, it was love, and love was what I was asking for.
I was 11. He was 14 and I thought it was love. He had been my boyfriend for almost a year, and all the other girls told me how lucky I was because he was "so cute". I really just liked hanging out with him, watching TV, skateboarding, listening to music; it was just fun. I loved our time together and hated when we were apart. After a few months together, his friends started teasing him and asking us when we were going to "do it". Anytime they saw us together, they made sounds and hand gestures taunting him to "go all the way". We had made out before with some kissing, but that was it and I was happy with that, but with his friends teasing him he was soon pressuring me for more. When he wanted to go further, I would giggle and push him away, make a game of letting him chase me, anything to change the subject and keep the kisses as enough.
Things started to change, and he became more obsessed with "doing it". He would often threaten to find some other girl that would let him do more, someone "older and cooler" that I was too young anyway. At 11, being told I was too young for something felt like the biggest insult imaginable, and with my red hair and braces I was the furthest thing from "cool." I liked that I had a boyfriend that other girls thought was cute. I liked feeling like I was special for dating someone older, and I liked feeling like I was one of the cool kids. He would also tell me that if I really loved him I would do this for him. I wanted to be cool and I wanted to be loved so, I gave in; but only to a hand under my clothes. The hand under my clothes wasn't enough, he still wanted more and as his girlfriend I was expected to give it to him.
He kissed me and told me he loved me as he held me down on the living room floor. Over and over I told him "no" and tried to get away. I kicked and struggled as I tried to hold onto my underwear, but he just laughed as he ripped them off. I must have been pretty loud because his little brother came in to see if I was okay. He yelled at his brother to stay out; his brother listened. I don't know why or when I stopped yelling and fighting back, but at some point I just did. I didn't have the energy to struggle anymore; I laid there with his weight on me, unable to move, unable to breathe. The carpet was rough and burned my naked bottom; I focused on the brown fan turning far up on the ceiling above me. Finally, it was done. He rolled over, pulled up his purple underwear and ran into the other room to see his brothers. As he walked out of the room he turned back to me and said "congratulations, you're not a virgin anymore!" I faked a smile.
As I walked into the other room, I still felt naked. I had put my clothes on, but I couldn't shake this feeling that anyone that looked at me knew what I had just done. I couldn't go home because if my mother saw me and knew; I would be in so much trouble. She had warned me about "acting like a hussy". I couldn't stay there though, what if he wanted to do it again? I needed to go somewhere, anywhere but here!
I walked with my head down kicking a pebble down the street. I got to my best friend's house and started crying as I told her what happened. She told her mom, and her mom told me that I shouldn't have "led him on" if I didn't want to do anything, and if I didn't want to I really would have fought harder. It really was my fault for flaunting myself to an older boy. She said I should know that boys only want sex, and she told me that saying anything could ruin his life.
So, when people started talking about me being a "slut" because he had told everyone what "we" did, I went along with it. Sure, I had sex, all the cool kids were doing it, and now, I was a cool kid, too...right?
I'm sharing my story because I was inspired by Lady GaGa's song Til It Happens To You. No one should ever have to feel guilty for being raped. I know, now that that's what happened to me; I was raped. It was not my fault! I am not weak for what happened and I should not be ashamed for putting myself in that situation.
We need to change how we talk to girls about who they are. We need to change how we talk to boys about who they are. Most importantly, we must talk! Stop hiding from what has happened to us in the past and stop accusing others of "wanting it." We must stand strong and support one another and talk about what is right and what's wrong and move forward to create a better world where women and girls are truly valued.
From the unwanted kiss on the playground, to the grope on the subway, to the date that just won't back off, women should not be ashamed to say "no", and men should know that going beyond that is not okay. This starts with the conversation we have with our children and with each other.
And, if we keep bashing other women for their "too sexy" clothing, and we keep pushing our daughters to fall in love and settle down, what kind of message are we sending about our value as women? Women are so much more than our bodies, but that doesn't mean we have to cover them up, and love is awesome, but there are many ways to know love.