I’ve been in avoidance...
The hardest part about sharing my story is being seen. Both sides, the desire to know I’m not alone and the fear of being misunderstood. This is my story, my first decade of #metoo.
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Earliest - all I remember is I was really little and sleeping in a dark room and a man who was familiar came into the room and talked to me. I don’t know what happened I just remember the dark room, his voice and hearing the voices and seeing the light down the hall. I knew I wasn’t safe and safety was so close if I went toward the voices.
I was three.
After school program at a local care place that had a playground tucked just beyond the parking lot in the back corner of the property. The boys had a club and sure I could join in, I just had to lift my skirt. They wanted to see what I looked like down there. There was a line of bushes that ran along the fence that surrounded the playground. That’s where they asked me. Between the bushes and the fence just out of sight of supervising eyes.
I was six.
Standing outside an elementary school waiting for my mom to finish up just inside the building. She could see me. So could they... I was wearing a jean skirt and had tucked my foot up against the wall so it was bent at the knee. They whistled and called from the car as they drove by. I stopped wearing that skirt.
I was nine.
Sleepover with friends and a babysitter paid for by three single moms making sure there kids are taken care of while they have a good night out. After they left the babysitter calls a friend to come over. The two of them decide to go out too. And they take us with them into the 35 degree chilled night. Three buildings away from the apartment and I wanted to go back. They said I could, but wouldn’t give me a key. I’d have to wait outside. I stayed with the group as we walked for miles with jackets not meant for freezing temps. I asked again to go back and the babysitter or her friend, I don’t remember which, grabbed me by the face and threatened me that if I told anyone what happened that night she would find me and hurt me. She grabbed so hard I felt like she was pulling my jaw from head. One of the girls gave me her mittens as my hands were frozen in my pockets. Walked to a 7-11 miles away and us three sat on milk crates while they played video games and talked to boys. Hitched a ride back to the apartment piling all five of us into a strangers’ car that squeezed us in the back. The guy driving was in his late twenties, the babysitter and her friend were sixteen, we three were much younger. My two friends were sick the next day and none of our moms knew why. My mom asked me what happened and I was the only one who told. My friends said I tattled.
I was ten.
My first decade of #metoo. They were small incidents but had major impacts on my well being and this was just the beginning. There is more that happened, micro aggressions, too many to count or list, just made me feel like I had to protect my self.
My single mom protected me as much as she could but others who were supposed to take care of me, I was never sure did. There was always a relative that I went to stay with, an after school program or a babysitter found, but even then...not enough.
It set up a sense in me to always look for safety first when I was little. That turned into a saying NO first response and colored my choices growing up in my second decade.
To be continued...