It wasn’t until a few years ago that I even recognized that what I had experienced when I was a teenager was a sexual assault. The fact that I did not even consider it an assault against my body is more offensive to me than the actual assault itself. That what happened to me was so normalized and that for so many years I took on the responsibility of what those two men did to me. That I believed all men just behaved in that way. I blamed myself so heavily that I was convinced that I was in fact the guilty one, not them, and even further, that I caused it because of my reckless behavior.
Because I was suffering so immensely, physically and emotionally after my sister’s murder, my main goal for many years was to just not feel like I wanted to die every single second of every single day. I was emo long before it was cool except I didn’t have black hair and wishing for death wasn’t something I just wrote in my sad journal, it was something I genuinely thought I wanted. The only way I escaped my misery was to not be sober, therefore to escape my own reality. It started with drinking here and there, smoking weed, the occasional joint laced with who knows what and some persistent self harm.
I remember being so excited for this New Years Eve party because it was going to be at Noah’s house and his parties were the best! Or so I had heard, since this was really, probably, most likely, one of my first parties ever. So as most 15 year old newbies do, I drank way too much too soon and was hell bent on doing more and taking risks. Even through my many drunken stupors I still had that death wish buried deep inside, drowning in that alcohol, wanting to put myself in dangerous situations to test the universe and its ironies. I somehow ended up in the company of two older boys who wanted to go buy more drugs. Mixing drunk driving and “magic” mushrooms, for some particular reason, felt like a good idea at the time. Death wish, remember?
I tried to climb into the back- they either had a truck with a camper shell or one of those hideous car/truck vehicles, where it was a car with a truck bed attached to it. Perhaps a ford ranchero, which I just had to google image search using “ugly car truck combo” in order to refresh my memory. …It was a station wagon- bad memory refreshed like a rotten.com web page. My friend Liz and another guy were in the back and I at least had a little sense to want to be with her. The two guys in front shoved me in, making me “sit bitch” which was an appropriate title in regards to their intentions.
Before we left they told me to eat these mushrooms they had and though I had never done mushrooms before, they didn’t have to ask me twice. Honestly, I cannot remember if they pressured me to eat them or not, all I know is that I did. I had no idea where we were going or who I was even with, except I sort of knew Shane, who ended up dating one of my close friends years later but that’s a whole other story. As we drove down those winding and deathly dark Grass Valley roads, I was so out of it and swirling with every turn. My body was numb until I felt both of their hands on my legs. It seemed as if they both were in perfect pervert unison as they worked their way higher and higher up my leg. It did not take long for them to begin rubbing my vagina- one would do it while the other patiently waited for his chance. If one took too long, the other would slap his hand to assert that it was his turn to assault me. They were fighting over violating me. I remember sitting there, not wanting it to happen, yet also not being able to get my body to function well enough to say no or to physically stop them. Their hands were all over me and I just sat there and let them do it. I was scared, drunk, dizzy, mortified and stunned. The only reason they stopped was because we arrived at our destination.
As soon as they turned the engine off and began getting out I felt whatever was brewing in my stomach wanting to desperately be free. I vomited all over their dashboard and floor. I couldn’t quite discern if I had thrown up because of the alcohol, the mushrooms or what I had just experienced or perhaps a combination of all three. On the way back to the party they allowed me to get into the back with my friend and as usual, I began sobbing. Most Bear River high school parties didn’t really start to kick off until Shani got drunk and started sobbing, in case you were wondering. They drove down those dangerous dark scary roads so incredibly fast that I thought for sure my death wish was going to come true. All of a sudden I wanted nothing more than to live- funny how that works. While they drove insanely recklessly and as I sobbed, I could hear them laughing and asking me over and over again, “why don’t you come back up here.” No thanks guys.
I legitimately didn’t realize until this very moment that these two men were the first to ever touch my vagina. I had gotten to first base, or maybe second base without my consent. I’m not really sure since I’m not a baseball fan and honestly, I have always fucking hated baseball, never want to “play” again and would much rather opt for women’s volleyball or something.
Its sort of disturbing that what I was dealing with at the time, my sisters murder, was so overwhelming that two men violating me wasn’t that big of a deal in the long run. I feel this guilt inside me, though I no longer blame myself for what happened, I now blame myself for not being more traumatized because of it. I certainly was bombarded with extreme emotions at the time, as I reread what I wrote about that night in my journal:
“… I deserved everything they gave me. Their faces wont get out of my head…I just want to crawl in a corner and die. Am I stupid? YES! YES! YES! Ill never forget this, never.”
The normalization of sexual abuse and assault against women is rampant and I would hope that it’s gotten better for young women. I not only wrote about my experience with these two boys in my journal but I was shocked to read and remember all the other onslaughts I experienced in just one night, as a teenage girl, at a high school party. There were three different boys trying to force me to kiss them, one trying on two separate occasions to get me alone with him, and one grabbing my vagina after I pushed him away when he tried to force me to kiss him. Yet the sad reality is that what I experienced is nowhere near what other women have survived. That the sexual abuse of women has gotten so egregious that many diminish their own trauma, as I am doing now and while outsiders do the same. We have come to a point where “grabbing women by the pussy” is simply “locker room talk” yet what I experienced was not in a locker room and was not just talk. It actually happened and it actually was pretty traumatizing.
I never realized how much that experience shaped my sexuality, my sometimes shitty sexual and platonic relationships with men and even more disturbing, my sexual fantasies. This experience and the many others I have lived throughout my life have altered how I view my body and its worth in this universe. It took many years and many obstacles, but I reclaimed my body and my sexuality in many different ways, throughout many varied and complex years of personal struggle and growth. I reclaimed my existence through self-abuse, self-love, realizations, actualizations, modifications and alterations. Just to begin to love my own skin, beyond the intricate soul inside of me. No, not just my soulful spirit but to genuinely adore the meat and bones of me. And honestly, I am still learning to love and accept both through this universe that constantly forces you to question your own worth as a woman and sexual being. My body is not a temple…
”… temples can be destroyed and desecrated. My body is a forest—thick canopies of maple trees and sweet scented wildflowers sprouting in the underwood. I will grow back, over and over, no matter how badly I am devastated.” Quote by Beau Taplin