i was 5. the kids in my kindergarten class started playing kiss-tag, where the boys would chase the girls around the playground and if a girl got caught, she got kissed.
i was 6. we sat in groups on the floor during reading time. a boy who was a friend would stick his hands under girls skirts. mine, nicole’s, candace, jennifer’s. where did he learn that behavior?
i was 12. we had to get physicals from doctor’s the school recommended in order to play sports. dad took me that day. he didn’t know he had to go into the room with me. i didn’t know i needed to ask the doctor to bring a nurse in. the male doctor checked my lymph nodes. i felt uncomfortable.
i was old enough to date. i went to the movies with a boy. afterwards we were kissing in the front seat of his parents car. his hands were everywhere. i said no. we kept kissing. suddenly i felt his penis on my thigh. i freaked out and asked him to take me home. i never saw him after that.
i was 17. a cyst ruptured on my ovary, causing me to bleed internally. for hours i told the emts, firefighters, and medical staff that i was a virgin when they suggested it could be an ectopic pregnancy. they told me i needed to tell the truth so that they diagnose whatever was causing my abdominal pain, and blood pressure to be so low, and the life to be slowly draining from my body. i WAS A VIRGIN, but no one believed me. i bled internally for over 12 hours before they realized a cyst had ruptured and they had to perform emergency surgery.
i was an adult, a college graduate, a divorcée. i was running in the park. a man in a car would sit watching as i ran by, then once i got out of view, he’d drive a little further up and park again where he could watch me run by. this occurred for 2 miles.
i was at my best friend’s apartment. we were in her pool, with a couple of kids whose mother was watching them from her pool chair. across the street was an overgrown strip of land with trees that lined a railroad track on the other side. do i really see what i think i’m seeing? i squinted. yes. yes, i do see a man hiding in the brush, masturbating. he ran when i got out of the pool staring in his direction, still wondering if my eyes deceived me.
i was at oysterbake. i had shorts on, and i was walking through a crowd. some person grabbed my ass as i walked by, and then disappeared into the crowd. my bf at the time later asked me, “well, what were you wearing?”
it happened again in vegas, the weekend of my thirtieth birthday. at a club on a crowded dance floor. i whipped my head around, but the guy was already through the crowd.
i’m 32. i don’t wear earphones when i go running. i stop and watch every car that drives by me. one man slowly drove by in a pickup truck, his phone pointed in my direction.
i stared down a man who was sitting across the street watching my sisters and i unload corinne’s truck one evening our parents were out of town. when he drove off, i went inside and armed myself and then continued unloading the truck.
i get angry when my bf doesn’t leave the outside lights on when i am going to get home late at night before him. i get angry when my family leaves the lights off at my parent’s house too, even if they are already home, even though they have security cameras.
these are the moments that stick out in my mind. there are others, i’m sure, that i don’t remember. and maybe one or two that i don’t want to talk about. some of the ones i’ve written here today, i’ve never told anyone before. i couldn’t tell you exact dates, but i remember certain details vividly, like what i was wearing, what i did afterwards.
these are just my experiences. my sisters and my mother and my aunts and my grandmother’s have some of their own, i’m sure. most women do.
we hope that you start listening to us. we hope that you start believing us. we want a world where our daughters and our sisters and our friends don’t have to keep looking over their back. we want a world where all people feel empowered, and we don’t have to turn on our location services to go on dates, or training runs, or the gas station/grocery store.
my heart is with dr. christine blasey ford today. my heart is with survivors everywhere, every day.