Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Hard to write

A few weeks ago I started thinking about writing this blog. Again. I have gone to write it a few times and then not. It's a really tough one for me to write because there are a lot of conflicting emotions around the story. Part is that it's about me as a teenager and I wasn't nearly as good of a kid as my own kid is, so to write about myself in those days is not going to be easy for him to read. In fact part of what I will write will be down right squicky for him (this is your warning to back out now, C). Part of it is that I go through stages where I am pretty sure I have dealt with it completely and there is no need to talk about it at all. Then something happens and I have a nightmare. Part of it is that there are people around who know who I am talking about and I am not sure how I feel about them reading this either. But then there is a part of me that thinks, I tell you guys everything so I might as well tell this as well. And then someone prints something like this and I take a deep breath and tell my story.

Let me start out by saying I am lucky. My story is a good one in the fact that something much worse could have happened. I also learned a really valuable lesson and a lesson learned is always a good thing. Even when it happens in the middle of a very bad situation. Okay, so here we go.

Even though I got married at 18 I dated a lot as a teenager. I was a serial monogamist, I didn't generally date more than one boy at a time but did date boy after boy. I enjoyed the company of guys, I had fun dating and because I wasn't shy about letting a guy know I liked him I generally had a lot of opportunities to date. I was also a virgin. It's a big part of the religion I was raised in and I got married at 18 so it's pretty easy to stay a virgin until you are with the person you are going to marry if you get married that young. Because I dated boys in and out of the church I was also very clear about the fact that I was a virgin and would be staying that way. I dated a guy for awhile who was much older than I was, I remember the phone conversation where I told him he might want to change his mind about asking me out. He wasn't part of the church and he was of the age where sex on a date would be more natural. I told him he needed to know I was going to be a virgin when he picked me up for our date and I would still be one when he dropped me off. If he had a problem with that then he could cancel the date right then and there would be no hard feelings from me.

However....being a virgin was not the same as being a saint. Basically anything above the waist was fair territory if I was with someone. Second base in common vernacular right? It felt good, it was fun and I was still a virgin. Now in the church this was, of course, still frowned upon but I didn't really care. Didn't hurt anyone, didn't bother me. But it was beyond the chaste closed mouthed kiss and holding hands that we were supposed to do and as girls were supposed to reinforce because boys just couldn't help themselves. Yes, that was the message from our minister at the time, he did a series on teen dating to let us all know the proper way of conducting ourselves and it was entirely up to the girls to dress modestly and maintain the distance on a date so as not to drive the boys crazy. But for me, at 15, this was not an okay message. One it put it all on the girl, nope, not okay. Two, I looked really good at that age and dressing modestly was not in the cards.

So the summer between my freshman and sophomore years in high school there was a lot of turmoil in our church. Turns out our youth minister was abusing a group of our teenage boys. At the time we weren't told of this, we were told he was gay and that's why he had to leave the church. Happens a lot in churches, gay used as a synonym for pedophile. I know I've blogged about this before so I won't go back in to it, but I wanted to bring it up because it is important to the story. At the time the boys involved didn't say anything. I heard the stories years later from a friend who was one who was abused. I know his details and second hand the details from a few others that the friend shared. But it's important because there were two things that happened that summer because of the abuse. One was they planned a lot of activities and functions with our youth group and our new youth minister. They wanted us all to move on...to not talk about the old minister. Because those of us that had no idea what actually happened were sympathetic to the old minister. We missed him. We had no idea that he wasn't gay, that he was a monster. Because we weren't told. So anyway...the powers that be wanted us to forget that he ever existed and to do that they put us together with the new minister 4 or 5 nights a week all summer. The other piece that was happening is that the guys that were involved were all sizing each other up. They didn't know while the abuse was happening that it was happening to anyone but themselves. So when it all blew apart there was some posturing and posing that was done. Excess testosterone being bandied about to "prove" they weren't gay. There was a lot of dating and story sharing going on.

Out of that mix comes my story. There was a boy in our youth group that I had had a crush on off and on for years. He was a year or two older, I can't remember now, and had dated a couple of the older girls. He wasn't as active as some of the rest of us, he sort of came in and out of the group. Which was odd since his parents were really active in the church, his father was even an elder. So this summer he finally noticed me.  We spent some time flirting back and forth and hanging out together at youth group functions. The new youth minister was house sitting for a couple from the church so a lot of functions were at this house. It was on a golf course, or park, something like that, I can't remember now exactly but there were walks in the dark holding hands and talking. It was all very sweet.

Then one Sunday night after church he gave me a ride home, which was pretty normal, I didn't drive yet and we would often all go out as a group after services and grab something to eat. Rides were divvied up by who had a car and who lived near whom. Since we were a couple now it was normal that he would give me a ride home. It also wasn't that unusual when he pulled over before taking me to the house to kiss me goodnight. Most guys didn't like kissing you goodnight right in front of the house. We were living in a trailer park off of University at the time and generally my date would pull over in the driveway on the way in and kiss me goodnight then drive the rest of the way into the park and drop me off at home. This night he pulled over into an area that was under construction. Off of the main drive in. Right away I was a little uncomfortable with this but I didn't want to say anything. I didn't want to be looked at like I wasn't cool. Oh the curse of the teenager!

So anyway...we started kissing. Things got a little hotter and heavier than they would get with most boys from the church. But it wasn't that far out of bounds from what had happened with boys outside of the church that I had dated. He then asked me if I wanted to move to the back seat. I said no. He asked again. I said no again and said he should probably take me home. That's when it turned. He grabbed at my jeans and started to work at the button while telling me that this is what was going to happen and that he knew it's what I wanted. I was in shock. I had never had a boy not respect my boundary. I had never been in a situation where I felt like I was in danger while dating. Or where someone talked to me the way he was talking to me. I don't remember all of what he was saying because I was starting to just shut down but there were a lot of sluts, bitches and tease thrown in there. Then I banged my head on the door as he yanked at my waist band and I think that is what snapped me out of my stupor.

I went from being in shock and passive to pissed off and ready for a fight. When he raised himself up a little I got my legs under me and kicked him as hard as I could. In the crotch. I got my door open behind me and fell ass over teakettle out of the door while he was vomiting out his side of the car. I got up and started walking back to the main driveway and to the house. Pissed as all get out. Once he got himself together he drove after me. He pulled along side me as I walked up the hill and yelled..."You might as well not tell anyone because no one will believe you. And if you do, I will let them know you wanted it." This made me even madder. But it worked. I didn't say a word to my parents when I got home. I didn't even know what I would tell them. And honestly it really didn't cross my mind at the time to talk to them. I viewed it as a date gone bad.

So a couple days passed and I head in to a youth function at the church. I walk in to the kitchen and there is the boy and he is talking to another boy who happened to be a very good friend of mine. As I walk in my friend walks over and grabs my arm..."Did you let him touch your chest?" What? "Did you let him touch your chest?" I was shocked. This was what the important part was? This is what was being said about what happened that night? As I looked over my friend's shoulder at the boy he smiled at me and mouthed the words "told you".

For the rest of that summer he tormented me. Teenagers in a church do a lot of things so you can touch each other without being bad Christians. The games sardines is one of them. One person hides and you all look for them. The lights are off, it's dark and if you find them, by whispering "sardines" and listening for the whispered response of "it" back...you hide with them. Basically an excuse to get as close to each other legally as you can. If he was at a function he would make sure he was right next to me pressed up against me. Until the one night he went a step further. We were all crammed in a corner about to be found by the last person and he snaked his hand up my shirt and grabbed my breast. He knew I wouldn't say a word because he would just say we had been dating and this was what I allowed. Making me out to the be the bad one. But what he forgot or didn't realize was that the passive chick in the car was the anomaly. The one who kicked him in the nuts was the real me. I reached up and grabbed his finger and started bending it back. He whispered in my ear to stop it that it hurt. I whispered back that if he didn't stop touching me I was going to break it off and shove it up his ass. He told me that I didn't want a scene, I told him to try me. He backed off. Imagine that entire conversation happening in a dark room surrounding by a group of giggling teenagers to get the full surreal experience that it was.

He would also tell people that I had a ride home and try to make sure he was the one to take me home from places. I was able to side step him each time by arranging a ride at the beginning of the night. But I still didn't tell anyone what happened. The closest I came as a teen to telling anyone was the new youth minister. One night at a function this boy did the usual stance that he would take me home and our youth minister stepped up and said that he had it handled. Now this didn't make sense considering we were at his new apartment at the time so why would he leave to drive people home? But it worked and the boy backed down.

So on the drive home that night I was the last one in the car with our new youth minister. This poor guy wasn't even out of college yet, he came on in what was supposed to be a temporary summer position and ended up staying for a couple of years to help all of us messed up kids out. He must have only been around 20 himself at the time. Which made him entirely relatable for all of us and entirely too young to be in-charge of a group of almost peers. On the drive home that night he asked me if things had gone a little too far with the other boy and if that's why I was uncomfortable being around him now. I clenched my jaw and didn't say anything but I did tear up. Here it was. I was going to be judged by this guy now too. He had been doing a lot of work with just the teen boys in our group to help them sort of get past what had happened and I knew that he had been told that I was easy, that I had let this other boy go too far and that it was all my issue. And then he did the one thing that I couldn't deal with. He pulled over and stopped the car at the entrance to where the other boy had taken me. I panicked and started to get out of the car. He reached out and grabbed my arm to hold me back and I swung at him with the other. And the realization of what must have happened hit him. He looked crestfallen and told me, "I think I understand now. Don't worry. From here on out I will be taking you home. I will be your only ride. You are safe here." And I believed him. Took a deep breath and closed the car door. He drove me home that night and every night from there on out. I was always the last person in the car with him and we had a lot of great talks during those drives,but I never ever said what had actually happened and he never asked again.

For years I thought of it as a bad date. As a boy who wanted to go further than I wanted to. And that was it. Then years passed and I realized that what it had been was an attempted date rape. Then a few more years passed and I dropped the qualifier that seems to lessen the crime and called it what it was, attempted rape. When someone tells you no and you try to force them to have sex with you it's rape. Doesn't matter what you were doing before the no came, it's rape. Doesn't matter if she was wearing a tight t-shirt and had just been kissing you, when the words no take me home are spoken and you respond by grabbing her jeans and trying to undo them it's attempted rape. I have no doubt that if I hadn't gotten out of the car that's what would have happened. As it was I stopped him. But I didn't say anything. And for that I am sorry.

Years later (we are talking 15 or so years) I was talking to my friend from the kitchen scene. I was telling him that for a long time I was really mad at him. That he was supposed to be my friend, to listen to me, but he didn't ever ask me what happened he just had accusations for me. I told him what had happened and he got very quiet. Then he told me that a year or so after my incident he was talking to another girl from our church. Turns out that boy had done something similar to her. The difference being he forced her to give him a blow job. And she had said she knew other girls he had done similar things to. And none of us had ever said a word. He had a pattern. Rape, and then let the girl know he would blame her and we all believed him. Because in our world that was what would have happened. It was the girl's responsibility to make sure the boy didn't lose control and we had all obviously failed. What a crock of shit.

So that's my story. It turned out better than it could have since I got away. It turned out worse than it should have because I didn't say anything so other people were harmed as well. Though I will never know if saying anything would have made a difference. The atmosphere I would have been outing him in was one that had just let a child molester out on to the public by branding him as gay instead of turning him over to the police. I have a feeling I would have been the hussy and he would have skated.  But the biggest lesson I learned was to never ever let yourself get in to a situation where you feel uncomfortable. When he pulled off in to the deserted area I felt uncomfortable and I should have said something right then. It might not have helped, it might still have gone all the same way, but don't ignore that little voice in your head that tells you when something isn't right. When you are on an elevator and the person who gets on with you makes your spidey sense tingle, get off. When you are walking down a street and you get that creeped out feeling, look around, duck in to a shop that has customers in it, pull out your phone and call someone to tell them where you are and how you are feeling.  Pay attention. And the final lesson...a good hard kick in the balls isn't unladylike or undignified. It's a valid and useful way to fight. Especially in a situation like that. If he is about to use his dick as a weapon then it's only fair to disarm him.

Now some of you might be wondering why I didn't use his name through all of this. It's because the statute of limitations has passed on what he tried to do to me, what he did do to other girls from our group in those years, but it would still be libel if he saw me call him a rapist in my blog. So instead he is just that boy in this blog. And the boogey man in my nightmares. Now that I've written about it and shared the story for the last time I am hopeful that the dreams where I don't stop him, where it goes much worse never come back.  Here's hoping....


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