The first time I was sexually assaulted, I was 11. My uncle groped me, and twisted my developing breast. It hurt. When I told my mother, she said I must have misunderstood. When I was 50, an old man in a wheelchair grabbed my ass with both hands, pulled me to him with arms of steel, and buried his face in my chest. I reported it to my employer, because the man was a donor who haunted every event at the college where I worked. I didn’t want anything to happen to a student. Instead of being private, the story spread over the campus like wildfire, and people kept telling me how hysterical it was.
There have been other assaults throughout my life; a room service waiter at a fancy hotel in Rio de Janeiro, when I was traveling with my parents (almost sixteen), college friends (3 different times), the creepy old guy whose granddaughter played with my little girl (he told the neighborhood I was a lesbian after I refused his advances. I wouldn’t have cared, but neighbor kids kept asking my children about it and making them cry.) There was the neighbor who I felt sorry for because he was trying to get to the store on crutches. I offered him a ride and in the parking lot, instead of getting out of the car, he grabbed me and kissed me. (Then got angry because I wiped my mouth.). Oh, and the young kid who asked me to have a cup of coffee and discuss selling my car. He walked me to my car afterwards and suddenly pinned me to the car door, shove his tongue down my throat and tried to force my hand down his pants. The most recent was at a nursing home where I was visiting with my therapy dog. Guy in a wheelchair grabbed my breast and tried to yank down my pants. That was a month ago. I’m 59 … A fat middle aged grandmother, for heaven’s sake! This is the misogynistic rape culture many women have to deal with, over and over again. We have to be on guard everywhere and in all circumstances, even if we are too young to really understand, or too old to think we should still worry. It’s not a misunderstanding. It’s not something to snicker about. It’s not a trivial adolescent silliness, or just boys being boys. It’s a trauma, every time, because it brings back every other time and reinforces the fact that it usually doesn’t help to report what has happened, and that you, the victim, will probably be blamed. Make no mistake – we remember each and every incident with perfect clarity, even if we never speak of it. Every single time. Monkey. #notokay