He held me down. Hands on my wrists. Knees on my thighs. He was so much heavier than I was. He was 4 years older than I was. He kissed my body as I struggled and he left a slick of spit everywhere his mouth went. He tasted like Malibu Rum, and I still can’t stomach the smell. He pawed at my clothes while I kicked and fought. He covered my mouth when I tried to scream. He never managed to get all of what he wanted because my friend screamed when the boy on top of her did, and I managed to get out from under him.
My friend and I let him and the other boy drive us home because that was before Uber and Lyft existed and I didn’t know exactly where we were. I don’t remember the ride there. I remember the ride home.
It was a pickup truck with a bench seat and I had to sit squished almost on his lap. I still hate bench seats. When he opened the door of the pickup truck on the highway and threatened to throw me out because I elbowed him as hard as I could for trying to rub on me again, he laughed. He laughed while I dug my nails into the dashboard like that would save me.
He laughed the angry, terrifying laugh of a man that knew he could overpower me. A man that knew he could do whatever he wanted.
He was right.
I knew it then, and the American government has just made it clear to all of us again.
They just gave the go ahead to all the other men out there who could, who might, and some of whom WILL do this to other 13 and 15 and 30 and 50 year olds.
I was 13.
I didn’t tell anyone.
I didn’t talk at school the next day. I cried a lot. But a crying middle school girl isn’t unusual, so no one checked in.
I don’t know if my parents realized something was off. Maybe I hid it really well. I don’t remember that part.
But I remember him. I remember the taste. I remember his hands on me. I remember the laughing.
Over the next 25 years, I never told more than a handful of people what had happened to me. Not until after I had kids. Because it probably wouldn’t have mattered. Because I thought it was my fault. Because I would have been blamed. Because I was a dumb girl who made bad choices and did you see my short skirt?
I must have been asking for it.
This is why women don’t report.
Look at what’s happening to Dr. Ford. Look at the death threats she’s still receiving. Look who has just been confirmed to the highest court in our judicial system.
This is why women don’t report.
And now, survivors across the country—across the world—are reliving their own experiences and their own trauma. Watching this all unfold and saying, “Yes. This is why I didn’t report. This.”
Women and girls and nonbinary folks across the country are getting the message: Men’s reputations and perceived right to anything they want is more important than women’s everything. Especially white men. They can have whatever they want.
Editor's Note: I've written about this experience before for Brain, Child Magazine. That was the first time I'd ever spoken openly about it, but I felt it was an essential aspect of explaining why I feel it's so crucial to speak to my boys, explicitly, about not raping. About not pushing. About how to avoid growing up to be like Brett Kavanaugh.