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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.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

I don't know if I've experienced sexual violence, and I haven't known for about five years. 
I was thirteen years old going into high school, soon to turn fourteen, and eager to make friends. I laughed at everyone's jokes even if they weren't funny, and I tried my best to get along with everybody... even the obnoxious 16-year-old sophomore boys in my "Fundamentals of Technology" class, which was really just wood-shop. Maybe I was an easy mark to them, these three sophomore boys in my class. I don't remember the names of the other two, but one I clearly remember... blonde hair, blue eyes, pale skinned and short. 
I don't remember much, so I can't tell you much. I know that for the first few weeks they gave me attention, talked to me, and joined my group projects. I know I wanted to be "the cool kid", I wanted to be likable. I know it gradually got worse and worse. He would come up behind me when I wasn't expecting it and touch me, even while I was having conversations with other people. Every touch happened so quickly, so that one moment he was there and when I turned around he wasn't. I remember one time when he held me down and touched me while his friends took pictures. I'm sure I could've escaped his hold, if only I had put up a bit of a fight, but I didn't. I hadn't yet been taught how to say no, firmly, audibly. 
I remember coming into class early one day to finish some homework and leaning over the sharp edge of the wood-shop table, writing answers. I heard him come in with his friends, and I felt him as he pinned me against the table, my legs pressing into the sharp edges. "This is how you rape someone", he said, and he laughed, and they laughed... and I think I laughed. I laughed and laughed. He fumbled with the back of my shorts. I laughed. I laughed and I struggled, and I kicked the table so hard with my thigh that I thought I'd bleed. And I laughed. 
Maybe if I laughed, then it was a joke. 
It didn't feel like a joke. 
The teacher came in and he ran away, back to his own table to laugh with his friends. Within thirty minutes I could barely stand on my right leg, a baseball-sized bruise swelling on my thigh made it difficult to walk. My mother picked me up from the bus stop. When she asked about it, I told her I had just tripped and fallen, oh so clumsy. Over the next few days it became more difficult to ignore, and she stopped buying my clumsy story. In embarrassed thirteen-year-old words, I told her some of what had happened. She demanded I go talk to a counselor, seek punishment and justice for what had happened, and so I did. The counselor asked me where he had touched me, and I looked down as I gestured meekly with my hands. The next day, I was called into the Vice Principal's office to discuss the situation. 
He told me, "We want everyone at this school to feel safe... so I need you to not talk about this with anyone else". After I left he called in the Sophomore Boy, and threatened him with detention. He was told exactly who had complained about him. Me. And when he came into class later that day, he laughed.
He laughed.
It's been five years. I am not laughing anymore. 

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