In the photo I am 14 years old, three years in to my five year sentence of being sexually abused in the school room by a boy in my class (yes teachers and class mates knew). I count myself lucky to not have been raped, I don’t know how those women and men get themselves through that ( A girl I used to work with was raped and so was my cousin)..
I know I have an odd view of sexual assault after all I was only eleven when it started and I assumed that since no one seemed to think it was wrong there must be something wrong with me. This thought has always stayed with me so much so I have never told a doctor or councilor I was sexually bullied therefore I have never received treatment for it.
On the scale of things the sexual assault I received wasn’t particularly serious (though I realise now that this still doesn’t make it right) I found the worst part to get over was the fact that loads of people knew but didn’t do anything and because it lasted for so many years.
It’s only in recent years (I am now in my 30’s) that it ever occurred to me that what the boy did was wrong that actually it might not have been my fault. This conclusion came to me slowly because of people being brave enough to come out in the media and say they have been abused, some more seriously than others.
As much as I appreciate peoples bravery it is also hard as it takes me back to the worst time of my life so far and makes me sad for the childhood I was robbed of. Leaving school and not being assaulted anymore doesn’t mean the end of it either. I may have been in a normal relationship with a man since I was 20 and have had a couple of boyfriends before that to but I still have to deal with the consequences.
Firstly I may not be thinking about what happened to me at school most of the time but it pops up at really annoying times for instance a routine stop and search at work by two male security guards upset me (they did nothing wrong may I add) they never touched me but I was in a room on my own with them, I felt trapped and convinced they would hurt me.
Another time there was a male customer in the shop I was working in who was groping women, I almost had a complete melt down and had to go off the shop floor.
The now man who assaulted me still lives in the same town and I bump into him every so often, these days I notice him but feel no fear or embarrassment which is why the incidents I have just related are so weird.
I even spoke to him while I was writing the below book, Behind The Silence. I changed all our names (for some reason I felt the need to protect him and the other useless people of my childhood) but told him I would be writing it. His response wasn’t denial and he said I could write and publish it as well as “I am sorry you felt that I bullied you, I know you know I am not like that now”. I have barely seen him for 14 years. When I mentioned the touching he said “yea I did that to quite a few girls at school” on the one hand I was like I must be weird because none of the other girls were this effected by it and the second I was angry that others had to go through that to.
I asked him if he wanted to read any of it but he said no as it would be too upsetting for him! Anyway last time I heard about him (for some reason everyone I went to school with feels the need to tell me about him) he was engaged (poor girl).
The reason people like him and Kevin Spacey don’t really remember the incidents that hurt other people so much is because they don’t think they are doing wrong, they will never not do it as their empathy levels are pretty much zero. The only way they may ever consider what they did as a crime or stop is if it ever happens to them, which bizarrely, I wouldn’t wish on them.
I will probably struggle with the consequences of sexual assault my entire life but I refuse to blame all of men, I refuse to not have a loving and normal relationship and most of all I refuse to let him and those that did nothing win.
So I watch the news and sit through endless stories about perverts and I have the odd random panic attack where old me is reminded of a scary and unhappy time but I am married, I am alive and I am living.