Thursday, October 18, 2012

This Girl's Sexual Assault

This girl was 10 years old in the 5th grade.
This girl lived in a tiny, old town on a quiet, little street.
This girl was the oldest of two living in small, single parent home.
This girl and her younger brother used to play with the three neighbor boys across the street every day. They weren't great friends, but they were all this girl and her brother had, so they played.
This girl's mother worked far away and long hours, so this girl helped raise her brother, only 19 months younger than she from the time she was 6 years old, when their parents divorced and their father moved away.

One Saturday in early spring in that 5th grade year, this girl and her brother were, as usual, playing with the neighbor boys; one older than she, one the same age, and the same age as her brother. The neighbor boys were large for their age; tall and powerful. The neighbor boys and she had their run-ins from time to time when they had attempted to bully this girl's brother and she protected him. But the neighbor boys were there and so they played. This day they played a game involving two teams. This girl's brother was on the other team, so this girl was left alone with the oldest of the neighbor boys and the one who was her age. This game involved crawling on the ground as one would on a military obstacle course to scoot over the ground fully prone. This girl was the only one on her team who took this position, though she didn't know it at the time. This girl discovered, too late, that the oldest boy was beside her, kneeling powerfully over her, jamming his hand between her legs and up into her very private crevice. This girl was assaulted. This girl's assault was watched by the other neighbor boy. This girl felt instantly alone, terrified, and humiliated. This girl spent her life learning from her family that emotions are wasteful and useless, so this girl brushed them off, moved his hand, and continued with the game, her head a mess and her innocence forever lost. This girl brushed it off another time as the neighbor boy again assaulted her and his brother watched. This girl and the neighbor boys went round and round like this several times, each time this girl broke a little more until finally she got up and went home.

This girl mustered up all the courage she could and said, "Paul [Paul Ring of Beaumont, CA] touched me." This girl was told to move with a tsk. This girl was dismissed. This girl was not believed. This girl was never the same again. This girl became this woman far too soon.

Today, this woman runs a parenting page on Facebook. Today, this woman posted a photo of another sexual assault - a very famous, beloved, and misunderstood photo.
Today, this woman relived that girl's sexual assault at the hands of dozens of commenters who doubted, didn't believe, and dismissed that assault. Today, this woman grieves. She grieves for that girl, for this woman, for that woman, for all the women and men in her world who both understand and do not understand, because something is wrong in their culture - the very much alive rape culture that so many are so quick to deny - when sexual assault is accepted as it was then and as it is today. Today, this woman changed. She does not know yet if it was for the better or worse. All this woman can hope is that someone else may have changed, too.




(To see the thread on the photo above, see https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=479052112126639&set=a.315627968469055.76743.309745955723923&type=1&theater¬if_t=photo_comment)

16 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing. Assault, sexual or not, is assault even if the victim does not say it is such. Anything unwanted is unwanted. I think it takes courage to speak up when so many would prefer to ignore or push such issues aside. Thank you!

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  2. I saw the thread yesterday and was shocked as much as you. From another woman who experienced sexual assault as a child and then again as an 18 year old woman, I agree with everything you have said. Whether we name it or not ourselves, assault is assault, and until we all stand up and name it women and girls will continue to not be believed.

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    1. I'm so sorry you went through that, Michelle. And I'm so sorry you had to witness that on my page, what I have tried so hard to make a safe spot.

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    2. I have had a lot of healing for my childhood abuse so I am in a healed space with it, but it's still shocking to see people STILL disbelieving women or trying to 'grade' sexual assault/abuse, that's the sad part.

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  3. **hugs** I am so sorry you had to go through that. As someone who as very nearly in the same position, I feel for you. When I was about four a neighbour boy told me I should pull down my pants. I did. For some reason it didn't raise a red flag until he told me I should pull down my underwear too. I ran home and told my mother. She told his mother, who was appalled. Really, no matter how little an action or what the motivation, assault is assault. And really, isn't it the attitude we're talking about rather than the specific actions?

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    1. That's exactly what we're talking about. Thank you!

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  4. I admire your courage and thank you for your words. It really is shocking how many women have stories like this. I still have a hard time talking about my experience because I still blame myself. It is still hard for me to really accept and understand that society is what helped to make that man not accept my "no" and that same culture influenced my inability to believe in myself and my strength to stand by my wishes. Thank you for sharing.

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    1. I am still in the "blame myself" headspace a bit, but sharing this has helped me heal. Love and hugs to you, Laura. <3

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  5. Thank you for writing this brave post. Your words will help many.

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  6. I Love you. Which sounds ridiculous coming from someone who only knows you through one aspect of your life, and probably at that a very narrowly-focused aspect, but still. I love you. And I love the little girl you were. And I'm sending you both some healing hugs.

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  7. Great post. Didn't know about that "iconic" picture. There's a hidden history to everything I suppose.

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  8. As a father, hearing things happening to little girls about my daughter’s age rambles me. Why are things like this are happening to our society? I would never let my daughter experience this and if she ever tells me something like this, I would believe her. She will not embarrass herself for something that is not true.

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  9. as a survivor of sexual assault myself ( 4 MEN before I was 10 years old) and a parent of 4 boys I can only hope to teach my boys enough that hopefully this never happens to them..Thank you for sharing!

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    1. I'm so sorry that happened to you, Jodie.

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  10. Good post but the bit about the famous pic is inaccurate. Here is an interview with the woman in the pic. Hardly a sexual assault.

    http://lcweb2.loc.gov/diglib/vhp/story/loc.natlib.afc2001001.42863/transcript?ID=sr0001

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    1. The quote is from her. It was non-consensual sexual activity - thus is it a sexual assault. I will not debate this, especially not here, especially considering such comments of imbedded rape culture are what prompted this post in the first place.

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