When I was a little girl, probably around age 8 or 9, I was playing in my yard. The neighbor boy was outside, putting up a tent. He was my older brother’s friend who was around the age of 18 or 19. I was a curious little kid. I saw him putting up the tent and even though I was shy, I had talked with him before. His family had lived next to us for years. I have strange flash backs being in their small house, but I can’t really recall why. I remember the older couple that lived upstairs in the mother-in-law apartment that was attached. I spent hours over there, probably chatting their ears off or asking questions that annoyed them. My mom didn’t seem to mind me being gone. She seemed to trust them with her kids, or maybe was blissfully unaware.
So I crossed the sidewalk from our house and stepped into their front yard. Dennis, as this was his name, looked at me and continued putting up the tent. The conversation was small talk really. I asked why he needed a tent and he told me so he could sleep under the stars with a girl, or something like that. I thought that was weird. I really don’t remember the conversation or how it turned into what it did, but I do remember that he wanted to “show me” what he would be doing. And so then he decided to french kiss me. I honestly don’t remember if I ran away or sat there stunned. It wasn’t until years later that I actually remembered the incident, telling my sister and niece when I was a teenager and they laughed about it.
When I was about 18 years old, I saw him again. My brother had died and my family had a gathering at their house a few months later. Dennis showed up. He was now in his late 20’s or so. He kept saying how I had grown up and kept staring at me. I felt uncomfortable and left to go talk to someone else. I never saw him again. I don’t care to.
I see stories on Twitter of girls who have been raped or assaulted. Hollywood is full of these creeps. Churches even have been called out about their cover-ups of abuse. It seems silly to talk about a neighbor boy who “only” kissed me. I don’t feel traumatized by the event, but I have felt uncomfortable around men all my life.
When the #metoo threads came out, I felt drawn to the stories. I kept reading them and was appalled by the pain in the victims voices. I felt sad for all they had lost–their dignity, their respect, jobs, and the like. My story isn’t even close to theirs.
Maybe it’s because I was a child. I didn’t have a job or family to lose. I didn’t need to be threatened because I kept silent about it for 10 years until I told a few people and their reaction caused me to continue in my silence. Even now, I find it hard to write this and not feel it is something that should be told.
Yesterday my daughter told me that a boy in her homeschool co-op was hounding her to send foot video to him. He requested it be 45 seconds long and that she rub her foot on something. He admitted to having a foot fettish. She’s a smart girl and told him no. She eventually blocked him on all her social profiles. My response was swear words and anger. You just don’t expect this in a Christian homeschool co-op, but apparently evil is everywhere. It’s at this point that I find myself wondering if I should rock the boat & say something or walk away and let the dude continue to be a pervert. For my daughter’s part, he’s been blocked from her on all social media, but he still sees my daughter on Monday’s in her writing class. This makes me sad. Should she go an entire 1/2 year dealing with his creepy stares and knowing what she knows?
She doesn’t like conflict and doesn’t want attention drawn to herself either. How do I respect her wishes yet still show her that silence isn’t the answer? It’s taken me a long time to process that too. What actions are worth raising hell over? Which ones aren’t? Is there a line? I just don’t know.
Looking back, I wish I would’ve ran and told someone about what happened to me. Maybe it wouldn’t have mattered at all. I don’t know enough to say I would’ve prevented other situations from the likes of Dennis. I have no idea where he ended up or what he’s done or if he’s even alive. But it wouldn’t have been hard for people to believe me.
In other situations, like my daughter’s, I hesitate to speak up because I know that prize Christian kids will be believed over depressed teenage girls. She could be told she participated so she was wrong (which she didn’t) or she may be shamed or questioned about her part or even about her honesty. And I’m just hesitant to go there.
I wish these things were easy, but it often ends up in “he said” / “she said” and the woman is left defending herself again and again to people who don’t believe her. I am struggling to do the right thing in this scenario–and in so many other scenarios when I’ve had to deal with male bullies and not being believed. It’s like my last church experience all over again. Will I be listened to this time?