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The Editorial Board
It was the middle of eighth grade, I was fourteen and I thought I had everything figured out. Everything that I thought I knew was about to change though. I was always told I was pretty and I had had a few middle school boyfriends whom I had held hands with and even kissed. I had a sleepover with my friends which was just your usual girls talking about their peers and boys, who were not completely awful at that point. I loved my friends with that innocent kind of love you only have before you suffer from real heartbreak -- before they betray you. You see, my one friend had a brother who always seemed to have an interest in me that went beyond being an older brother figure in my life — but this isn't a love story.
This sleepover was somewhat large because it was my friend's birthday and eventually people started falling asleep as it was nearing midnight. But a few of us were still up and hanging out by their pool. My friend’s brother was getting pretty friendly with me, and of course since he was older I wasn't pushing him away from me. He kissed me, he was an awful kisser, and some people saw. I kind of just giggled and was like "ewwwww". He suggested that we go hang out in the woods that were near their house because they had a treehouse in one of the huge oak trees on their property. Since I was naive and wanted to look cool in front of these girls that went to my school I agreed. The other girls kind of watched as I walked away with him and climbed their tree, but they didn't seem too worried. We were in the tree and he started kissing me again, which I wasn't very fond of but I didn't decline. However things escalated from innocent kissing to very adult things -- which he was. I told him "no" and kind of laughed nervously making excuses, but sometimes boys, or even adult men, don't know what the word "no" means. He continued doing awful things to me. Things that would hurt in the morning and forever. It wasn't brutal and it didn't last very long. I didn't scream, but I cried a painful and silent cry. He realized I was crying and he freaked out and said we should go back. I wiped my tears from my face and put on a fake smile (most of my smiles are fake because after that day the genuine ones didn't really exist.) and we went back to the other girls at the party.
They didn't seem to think anything bad had happened, but I think they knew something had happened. We went back inside with even more people at the party, and we decided to play cards for a while. He sat next to me, watching me, he put a hand on my leg in a pseudo-comforting manner. I ignored him for a while until he slipped me a note saying to meet him back at the treehouse after everyone falls asleep. I couldn't keep my cool much longer, so I got up and hid in a bathroom in my friends gigantic house. I didn't sleep the entire night. My parents came and got me in the morning, but once I got home I took the stereotypical 'super hot shower to try and clean myself' trope that most victims are seen doing in shows like Law and Order: SVU. Just like them I would never feel clean again. I went into denial about what happened and was able to block it out, but of course that came crashing down when the girls who saw him and I kiss told their parents. Of course my parents found out and my best friend's parents who are also his parents. I have never felt so dirty and low in my life than in the moment my parents started questioning me about it, hearing my dad ask "did he do anything else?" of course I told him no.
I never pursued what happened to me because my "friends" blamed me for him doing what he did , and they blamed me because they weren't allowed to go that house anymore. After that I began to become less and less like myself. What happened to me caused me to abuse substances, to date and become involved with boys who would treat me like garbage (even getting in abusive relationships), it caused me to lose friends, I stopped caring about the things I had loved, my relationship with my parents would never be the same because I realized that they couldn't protect me anymore, but worst of all I lost myself. I became manically depressed. I would cut myself, starve myself, throw myself against walls. People noticed my emotional problems and called me crazy. Kids can be cruel, but when adults don't care when you're struggling, it's just despicable.
Things like this can really only destroy you completely or make you stronger. I haven't let it destroy me yet, but some days are harder than others. I slowly have become better. After I ended an abusive relationship I had with a guy when I was in 9th grade, I vowed not to let other people treat me like crap without giving them hell back --I refuse to be a victim. I found out who my true friends were and started dating a boy that would never hurt me. I have come a long way, but I know I still have a long way to go. I still have triggers that send me into fits like graphic sexual assault scenes in movies or shows. Discussing rape or sexual assault in TOK class and hearing how insensitive people can be, or having to learn about the Rape of Nanking in history can be triggering. In these situations I can put on a brave face, but sometimes it's not that easy. Just remember that 80% of rapes happen to people under the age of 30 and there are 293,000 instances of sexual assault to people 12 years or older every year, and one of these people could be the person sitting next to you.