Submitted by Sharon

  • I am 9. My parents have recently divorced. My brother and sister and I are spending one of our court-appointed weekends at my dad’s. I sit on his lap on the recliner while watching TV like I have a hundred times before. This time he has an erection. I can feel it under my left thigh. I never sit on his lap again. The next weekend we’re supposed to spend with him I have a stomach ache.
  • Later that summer I am at a friend’s house. Her father, who has been pretending to nap on the recliner in the living room, unzips his fly and starts to play with himself. My friend tells me I should go home now. I don’t want to leave her alone with him, but I do.
  • I am 9 or 10. I am home alone because my brother and sister aren’t home from school yet and my mom is at work. The phone rings. It’s a man. I my mother home? No. Would I like to make some money? Of course. He’s friendly and he asks me if I would describe myself as mature. No. He asks me in what way I think I am not mature. I tell him I’m not mature because I’m afraid to be at home alone. He tells me that my mom and I could make money posing nude for him. I hang up the phone.
  • I am 12. I am riding my bike home from school. A man is on the sidewalk coming toward me. He is completely exposed and erect. I try not to look at him as I ride by, grateful that I had not walked to school that day.
  • I am in my mid-teens. I am awakened by the sound of my bedroom door opening. A round spot of light from a flashlight moves across the far wall of my bedroom. I am frozen with terror. A man walks into my room. He stands over my bed looking at me for what feels like ages. The heater comes on, causing a door in the hallway to bump against its frame. He leaves my room to investigate. I jump up and close and lock my door. I sit in my bed listening, waiting until it is safe. Then he is outside knocking on my window. I turn on my radio, jump up and run to wake my mom.
  • I am in my mid-teens. My best friend and I are at a movie matinee. A man sits down in the seat next to mine, even though there are plenty of empty seats. After the lights go down he puts his hand on my knee. I freeze, not knowing what to do. I whisper to my friend who jumps up and leads us to seats in another row. I am grateful that she has the courage to act.
  • I am 17. The 21-year-old I’ve been dating doesn’t stop when I tell him to. I cannot wriggle away from under him so finally I give up trying. I don’t want it to get ugly. I blame myself. I shouldn’t have been at his apartment. I don’t want to believe that my first time was rape, so the next time I see him I have sex with him willingly.
  • I am in my early 20s working a night shift at a college-town pub. The power goes off. In the darkness a man yells “rape the waitress!” Drunken laughter.
  • I am in my mid-20s walking in the Boston fish market with my boyfriend. On my right, from the crowd that walks past me, I feel a finger deliberately placed along my butt, tracing the line where it meets my thigh. It happens in a split second, but it is not an accident. I stop and turn around, ready to yell an accusation, but it’s crowded. Maybe it was the heavy-set man walking with his wife. I can’t tell so I keep walking.
  • I am in my mid-20s visiting my boyfriend in New York. I’m walking along a road that runs through a park in Brooklyn, killing time while he is at work. It is a grey winter’s day. I’m thinking I shouldn’t be walking here. There’s the occasional car, but no one else is around. A man comes jogging up alongside me. He stops and asks if he can walk with me for a while. I say “sure” because I don’t know what else to say. We chat. I try to sound casual, confident. He tells me he’s a Marine. He walks with me to the edge of the park, where the road hooks up with city streets, and tells me it’s not safe for me to walk alone there. He continues on his jog. I am unnerved that a stranger felt the need to escort a foolish young woman out of a dangerous area. I am grateful he wanted to help me, not hurt me, but I am angry that the decision was up to him, not me. I am angry that my boyfriend had not warned me. I am angry that I needed to be warned.
  • I am in my late 20s. I am talking with my boss about something work-related when he stops, looks at my breasts and says, apropos of nothing, “Did you know Grand Tetons is French for big tits?” I quit a few weeks later.
  • I am in my early 30s walking home from the bus stop. A pickup truck towing a flatbed with landscaping tools pulls up and parks on the street just a little ways ahead of me. A man gets out of the passenger’s side and stands next to the truck. When I walk past he addresses me like you would address a steak dinner: “MmmmmmMM!” I keep walking, hoping he cannot see how much I am trembling in fear.
  • I am in my mid-30s. A man has just finished spraying for bugs in the house I am renovating. Although I have paid him, he stops on his way to the front door, which is open, and just stands and stares at me. I walk over to where a broom is leaning against the wall and take it in my hands. I start sweeping with it. He finally turns and leaves.
  • I am in my early 50s. The first woman to ever be nominated for president by a major political party is running against a man who foments hate, racism, and sexual violence. I watch a video online of one of his supporters saying he wants to see her arrested and shot in the vagina. I see a picture of a man at a campaign rally wearing a T-shirt that describes her as “a cunt.” No matter who wins, I am worried about the social fallout that is soon to erupt.
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One thought on “Submitted by Sharon

  1. This was over 50 years ago. I am 16 living near a small town with a lake 7-8 miles away. My brother can’t go, so on a very hot day I drive myself to go swim in the lake. There are mostly teens from another school there. I swim up to a floating wood dock and sit on it to rest.I feel a finger come up through one of the open slats that pokes me hard.in the crotch. I am shocked to feel this through the cloth my swimsuit trying to enter my vagina..I jump up, dive off and try to swim to shore.while being pursued by a boy swimming under water trying to get another poke at my crotch. I never see him. I never go back there again. I feel unfairly violated. I wasn’t even wearing a bikini or sexy suit. It’s years before I know my swimsuit style was irrelevant.

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