*Names in this article have been changed to respect the privacy of sources. The women interviewed will remain anonymous, and names you see with an asterisk have been changed.
First thing’s first: sexual harassment is not mutual and is unwanted. You have probably heard this definition constantly in the last few years, however, it seems like it needs to be readdressed. Seeing headlines such as ‘Man Accused of Raping 15 girls’ or ‘Teenage Boy Forced To Have Sex With Teacher’ makes me wonder how these survivors learn to rely on the world for moral support when these misconducts occur.
It isn’t illicit to warrant sympathy towards someone who has been sexually violated. People may not fully understand what sexual assault survivors experience emotionally or mentally, but most understand that sexual violence is completely unacceptable. No person deserves to be touched inappropriately under any circumstances.
Sexual violence can happen to anyone and anywhere.
An anonymous source was willing to share what she went through and how she coped with the situation over the years.
When the source was 11-years-old, she enjoyed hanging out with her friends at the pool. She claimed that she and her friends were a “pretty tight bunch”. One day, though, a new guy, Peter*, was introduced to the group and little did they know, he would be the sole reason for another person’s trauma.
“Peter* was very open about touching people and being excessively friendly towards another person. Me, being young, I didn’t realize that the excessive affection indicated something more,” said the source.
She explained that as she was in the pool, Peter* joined in, but for the wrong reasons. As she was wading in the water with her friends, Peter* grabbed her waist behind her and pulled her closer to his chest to where she could feel his erection against her. Needless to say, the source was mortified.
“He said that I misunderstood the situation and that what I felt was something that he wears for baseball. It was a cup that he wore to ‘protect’ himself,” the source said.
However, the source stated that she was not oblivious to what happened. It wasn’t a one-time thing and he kept pushing himself onto her in ways that she knew what his intention was: sex. She was uncomfortable, but couldn’t find the right way to express it to her friends as they shrugged it off as something playful. Keep in mind though, the source was 11 years old and Peter* was 16 years old.
Even though the source tried her best to express her discomfort, her friends failed to believe her and chose to pass it off as something meaningless. This impacted her childhood in ways that she became tense when someone would touch her waist or scared to hug her loved ones. She believed that she couldn’t trust anyone because of what happened.
Nearly 1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men in the U.S. will have experienced being sexually assaulted, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center . While the ratios vary differently, both men and women are vulnerable to sexual violence. These statistics portray the unfortunate truth of the young men and women who have to endure something tragic that doesn’t need to happen at all.
Hearing thousands of stories of how sexual assault can happen within families, to children and to adults should be a strong affirmation to prove that sexual violence is a huge problem. People who violate another human being in inappropriate ways have a common theme of subjecting one’s body to a mere object and not taking into consideration their cognitive emotions and how they can be affected.
Another anonymous source struggled with sexual trauma as a young girl.
“I was pretty depressed for a while and developed a really bad eating disorder,” said the source. The source explained that close relatives and other people in her life did inappropriate things to her as a child.
“Basically anything you can think of that could happen, happened,” the source added. “And it was really hard to deal with because we’re related. Like I’m upset with you, but I also care for you.”
For the source, there was a lot of inner conflicts in which she felt bitter towards them, yet oddly scared when she missed them.
Both women interviewed for this article experienced sexual violence in different ways, but both were left emotionally and mentally scarred. However, those scars do not define them, it is not their whole identity. They show the world and their community that what happened to them only made them stronger. By their strength, they let other boys and girls who have been in their shoes know that they are not alone.