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Break the silence that surrounds sexual assault, sexual harassment, interpersonal violence, relationship abuse, stalking, hate crimes, and identity-based violence. Share your story here on our anonymous blog.

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Because this blog features stories of interpersonal and sexual violence, we offer this *content warning* as a way of caution. We also ask that you do not reproduce any of the content below, as the authors of these personal stories are anonymous, and cannot give consent for their stories to appear anywhere other than this blog or at a Project Dinah-led SpeakOut event.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The first time my body was invaded, I was a mere child. Only six or seven years old, I did not know or understand what was happening to me. I did know, however, that it was a secret everyone knew about.

By the time I was ten years old, I had stopped visiting my grandfather’s house, and so no longer saw his step-son. To cope, I buried the memories of what all happened so that even today it is blurry.

When I was twelve, I was still good friends with my step-brother. With only six months difference in age, we had many things in common and spent countless hours hanging out together as friends. One night our neighbor and friend came over after a day in the summer sun. My friend had gotten a new camera and we were goofing off and dancing around my room while my brother filmed us. Later, she and I watched what he filmed and saw that he had repeatedly focused the camera on my body, sometimes zooming in on my butt or breasts. By this time, I had begun puberty and my small curves were beginning to grow. This was when I first knew something was different. After she went home, my brother and I were talking in my room before bed as we often did. However, this time he started to grab at my body. I knew it was wrong, but I did not know what to do or say. I tried to push him away, but he was stronger than me and it was almost like a game. The next few nights, he would sneak back into my room after our parents had gone to bed and again try to explore my body with his grubby hands. In tears, I told my neighbor friend and she agreed to help me try to catch him on tape. The plan did not work and I was beginning to get really scared. At the time, my history of sexual abuse was a far from the surface of my memory, leaving unexplained residual emotions for me to reckon with. That night, I snuck into my little sister’s room and slept on the floor, half under her bed, pressed against the wall. In the morning, my mother woke me in a rage because she could not find me. I could not explain why I had crawled into my sister’s room, but my friend told her mom, who told mine. My step-father spoke to my step-brother in his office for a little while that day, and the incident was never mentioned again.

Less than a year later, I was flying alone on the red eye from Las Vegas to North Carolina and the man sitting next to me began hitting on me. I was polite but gave all of the clear signals of disinterest and as quickly as possible put on my head phones. At one point during the flight I had to use the bathroom. The man in the aisle seat got up to allow me to pass. The man sitting next to me in the middle made no attempt to move, but instead guided my legs with his hands. After I returned to my seat I quickly put my headphones back on. Once the man next to me had appeared to be a sleep for awhile, I eventually was able to relax enough to doze off a bit. I awoke not long after with his hand on my thigh, gently squeezing and moving up and in. Startled, I tried to inconspicuously brush his off of me. His eyes were still closed, but I no longer believed him to be asleep. I stayed alert for the rest of the flight and once we landed, I dashed off and then to the bathroom, worried he would follow me or worse during my layover.

When I was in high school, I had my first girlfriend. I had thought that I would be able to trust a woman with my body more than I would a man. I was wrong. At every chance, she pushed me to do things I was not yet ready to do. When I told her no, she ignored me. When I tried to redirect her hands, she would immediately put them right back. She begged and pleaded with me constantly and aggressively for three months before I drunkenly submitted to her request. She had not had a single drink that night. I was fourteen.

My whole life my body has been invaded and violated. All of my sexual experiences since my youth have been marked by this history. I have been single for the past four years because I find I am unable to be both physically and emotionally intimate with anyone. While I do not keep my background a secret, I do not readily tell people, either. I have never sought professional help to help me cope with my experiences, but think about doing so from time to time. I do not blame myself for what happened, but I am still haunted by nightmares and flashbacks. I hope that one day I will be able to enjoy a healthy sexual relationship, but I do not know how to make that happen or if it ever will. All I can do is hope and try.

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