When trying to organize my thoughts to write this blog, I didn’t know where to start. I had a flood of thoughts and opinions on women’s rights of equality in the workplace, sexual harassment, and confidence that women lack. I thought I would start by sharing my story.
Eleven years ago I was sexually harassed by a teenage boy, whom I trusted and was very close to. We were in his basement playing ping pong, and some other boys were there too. Once they left to go upstairs, he started asking me if I could unzip my pants. I was seven years old at the time so I only remember chunks of what happened, but the one thing I remember very clearly was when he rubbed his finger very gently over the skin that was beneath my underpants. I remember just standing there frozen and feeling confused. That night, I remember laying in bed next to my mom and thought to myself, “Do I tell her? What do I say?.” Later that night, I told my parents what had happened and my father said he would discuss it with the boy’s mother. They allowed me to talk about it with them, but also encouraged me to move on reminding me that no one is allowed to touch me like that.
A few years went by and I would think of it here and there, but never really paid attention to it. Entering high school, I thought about it more frequently but tried to push it out of my mind since I felt like I couldn’t do anything. We continued to have our annual gathering with our family and friends, which included him and each time I felt as if I had a knot in my stomach. The days leading up to seeing him, I had to mentally prepare myself. It was nerve-wracking, and I felt angry that he had caused this awkwardness between us. Especially since no one knew what happened, besides our parents, I had to go on like everything was fine. A part of me wanted to talk to him and just get back to normal, but then the other side of me knew that I couldn’t just forget about what he did. I realized that what I needed was a discussion with him and an apology.
“After sixteen years of not talking about it, I felt that I deserved that apology and was glad that I used my voice to bring that up.”
I had to try and figure out what exactly happened, how I felt, and what I should do in the future about my relationship with him. When I was sixteen I confronted the boy, who is now a man, because I was close to him and had so many questions. I always wondered what possessed him to act the way he did and put me in that position. I contacted him via text message since that was the only form of communication available to us at that time due to our locations. It was a very short conversation, however, it did consist of an explanation and apology which was something that I needed in order to even consider forgiving him. His apology was simple, yet sincere. It made sense and did not feel as if he was making excuses for his actions. After sixteen years of not talking about it, I felt that I deserved that apology and was glad that I used my voice to bring that up. Had I not used my voice, I think I would still be thinking about that day over and over, whereas now, I am at peace with it and have moved on. After our conversation, I felt as if a weight was lifted from my shoulders. For once, I felt that I had received some clarity and could move on. After years of contemplation and keeping my story private, I have moved on and forgave him. That does not erase what I went through, nor what I feel when I look back on what happened, but it does allow me to accept his apology.
This is the first time I have ever shared my story publicly. If so many women had not come out recently, I don’t think I would have had the gut to share my story. I am a very private person, but have gained a lot from hearing other women’s stories. I hope that this will provide some comfort to those who might have gone through the same thing. There is nothing worse than feeling like you cannot tell anyone and have to keep it trapped in your mind. Well, I am here to tell you something… you can. We are here to listen, and support. It is time for women to come together, stand strong, and support one another.