* Some of the contents of this post may not be suited for children.
Three days ago I published a “Me Too” post on my Facebook wall and it all flooded back to me. I realised that… yes, me too. I didn’t want to post it then and there what had happened, scared of other’s opinions. I realised the day after that being silent was not the way to go. Far too many have been silent and the problem is still around. So… I’m telling my story.
Twelve years ago, when I was twelve, I went on a holiday with my family. I had just lost a lot of weight and I looked nothing like a twelve year old girl. I had breasts, hips and I was tall for my age. With the exception of my oh so sparkly braces, I looked like I was sixteen, but mentally I was that twelve year old girl, readying myself to start my first year of high school.
I met a boy on that holiday, a Belgian guy, who had all the suave looks that a girl of my age would fall for. We met, if I remember correctly, at the swimming pool, and after a few days it became clear we liked each other. The usual stuff happened: you dunk each other’s heads under in the pool, you talk a bit (although I’m sure nervous twelve year old me probably didn’t say much) and you eye each other from a distance. For me, after losing so much weight, I felt like finally a guy was looking at me. Like I was being noticed. I enjoyed the attention. What twelve year old girl wouldn’t?
Only in hindsight do I realise how carefully he planned the whole thing. A few days after we met, he asked me the question pretty much any girl wants to hear: ‘Would you like to be my girlfriend?’ Of course I wanted that. There was this handsome guy, who wanted me to be his girlfriend.
It sounds stupid saying it now. How can that be a serious question on a holiday, far away from home, while you know you have met only a few days ago and there’s maybe six days left? It couldn’t have been. If it was, what constituted being a boyfriend to him was not right. It happened a few days later. We had a moment alone and he grabbed me by the hand, telling me to come with him. We strolled around the campsite for a bit, it was quite a big campsite, so I didn’t know where he was taking me.
It turned out there was this patch of grass with some bushes growing around it for shelter. He asked me to sit down and so I did. He sat down next to me. I hadn’t ever kissed before, but I wanted to, especially with this guy. He leaned over and there it was… my first kiss. Awkward, yes, and not quite as great as I’d imagined, but my first kiss, nonetheless.
It quickly turned into something more. He began touching me in places I hadn’t even touched myself before. I remember laughing awkwardly, not wanting him to do it, but he had this look on his face that told to me to comply. I was naive and didn’t know what to do, so I complied, I let him touch me, though it felt wrong, very wrong. It wasn’t until he asked me to touch him that I felt alarm bells going off. I told him, most likely shyly, that I didn’t want to. He told me it would be OK. He managed to somehow convince me. And so I did, I touched him.
I’m not sure how long it took for me to remember what my mother had taught me. To stand up for myself. I did in the end. I didn’t want any more of it and I told him ‘No’ a few times before he stopped. I remember walking back to my tent on that campsite feeling so utterly stupid. But the worst part is that I didn’t feel stupid because he had pushed me into something I didn’t want. I felt stupid because I had messed things up with him. With my boyfriend.
It’s in my past and I don’t think about it that often anymore, but me writing this down now… I cry. I cried when I posted “Me Too” on my Facebook wall, I cried when I talked about it with my partner afterwards and I’m crying now. Somehow that twelve year old me was shattered by that one moment. I didn’t tell anyone for many years and I’m still shying away from the topic. Right up until now.
I’m not writing this here, because I’m still angry about it. I’m not writing this to get attention. I’m not writing this to point a finger at the guy who did this to me and be a victim. Hell, I’m writing this, because I hope somehow this will make a change. I hope men, women or whatever gender you identify yourself with will realise things are not OK, that stuff like this isn’t supposed to happen. I hope we will teach our kids to be better, to respect each other. I sincerely hope that’s what we’ll do. All of us. Together.