Me, Also or It’s a New Day

When I was in high school, I was locked in a bathroom at a party by a boy who had a crush on me.  I did not have a crush on him.  He had been pursuing me for a while, and I had been brushing him off.  But we were graduating and he knew his time was running out.  He pulled me into the bathroom, locked the door and sat in front of it so I couldn’t leave.

This event happened 28 years ago.  I can tell you the date.  I can tell you whose house it was at, and I can tell you the bathroom had carpet.  Or did it?  Now I’m questioning that.  I have one person who can corroborate my story.  The rest of them probably don’t even remember who I am, let alone what happened at a high school party where everyone was drinking in 1990.

Me Also

The bathroom was long and narrow, so I sat on the floor at least two to three arms lengths away from him.  If I wanted to leave the bathroom, which I did, I was told I had to kiss him.  I knew it wasn’t that easy.  He was drunk and I was drunk and if I got close enough to him, the kiss was going to turn into something else.  I was sure he would bump it up a level.

I also knew we were in a bathroom at a high school party where sooner or later someone would need to use it.  I sat on the floor and bided my time.  I talked to him calmly like an FBI negotiator might talk to a hostage taker barricaded in a building.  I was treading very lightly, scared I was going to suddenly piss him off.  He wouldn’t relent.  He wasn’t letting me out.

I’m not sure how long we were there before the people I came to the party with were trying to leave, but couldn’t find me.  Had it not been for my best friend, the rest of them would’ve left without me and not have thought twice about it.  She was relentless, too.  Walking up and down the hallway outside the door, calling my name and finally recruiting the party’s host to help in the search.

I don’t remember why I didn’t say anything, but there was a reason I didn’t let them know where I was.  I think I know, but your mind plays tricks on you.  They started knocking on the door, I finally said I was in there, and he had no choice but to let me out at that point.

When the best friend and I gave him an unattractive nickname that summer, he wasn’t apologetic for his actions.  Instead, he was angry at me for giving him a bad name.  Typical.  I probably apologized and felt bad that the nickname was a little unfair.  Also typical.

We have mutual friends on Facebook and he continually shows up in my “People you May Know.”  I don’t know what he’s doing or where he lives, and I don’t care.  My story and my perspective are tainted by doubt and fuzzy memories all these years later, but I forgave him a long time ago.

Now, as for the guy who grabbed my cooch in a nightclub in Las Vegas sometime in the 90’s…  I couldn’t even identify that guy; I didn’t know who it was because it was so crowded.  I can’t give you a date, or even a year.  I can tell you I felt extremely violated and helpless all in a split second, because that’s all it took.  If I ever found out who that guy was, I’d kick him so hard his balls would end up in his throat.

My stories are unfortunate {that they happened in the first place} and fortunate {that they didn’t escalate to more} at the same time, but I know people who have had life changing horrors brought into their lives at the hands of men.  According to the U.S. Department of Justice, approximately 30% of sexual assault cases are reported to authorities, which means 70% of cases go unreported.  And while the numbers indicate that women are abused far more than men, abuse goes both ways.  It’s equally as important for men to feel safe enough to tell their stories, as women to tell theirs.

As I’m contemplating posting this piece, I see that someone landed on my website because of these search terms, and I question how safe any of us really are.  WTF is hand sanitizer porn?!

But we’re taking back our power.  By telling our stories, listening to each other’s stories, supporting each other, and showing compassion, we will make it safe.  So that someday soon, it will be a new day for us, and definitely for our daughters.

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