Trigger warning: descriptions of sexual assault
When I was 9 or 10, I was sexually assaulted for the first time. Wow, it still feels weird to type out that sentence. It hasn’t really sank in yet.
So here’s the story: My brother was in boy scouts and there was some big party for his troupe one summer. I ended up playing in the basement with two of my brother’s troupe mates who were brothers. We were giving each other random dares. The older one (who was probably two years older than me) dared me to take off my shirt, throw it behind me and run backward to get it. I was too young to fully understand the significance. At the time I felt a little weird about it. I wouldn’t have done it if they hadn’t dared me of course. At that age, dares are taken very seriously. And so I did it. A part of me knew why he was doing this, but I also knew that my body wouldn’t look any different from theirs at that point. I felt a little smug knowing that they wouldn’t see what they wanted to see. They didn’t take their eyes off me as I did the dare. And I told no one.
It occurred to me about a year ago that this might be sexual assault, but I’m honestly still having a hard time seeing it that way. But today I think I’ve finally come to reluctantly accept it. After all, it does fit the definition.
- It was a sexual act. I knew that they wanted to see my body, and in their eyes the act of taking my shirt off was sexual.
- It was coerced. I didn’t want to do it, but only “sissies” back out of dares.
Within a year of that, give or take, I was actually sexually assaulted at a similar gathering. I was playing tag, and a young boy purposely tagged me by putting both his hands on my chest (which was still entirely flat at that point). He smiled as he did it, as if he’d gotten away with something mischievous. I remember standing there frozen and then my friend saying that we need to tell some adults. I really didn’t want to, but she convinced me to. Telling them was awkward, but at least the kid’s mom promised to confront him about it.
It’s disturbing to think that this happened to me so young, but thankfully it never really had much of an effect on me. I mean, it makes me cringe when I think of it now, but I’m long over it. I just see it as something weird/gross/inappropriate that happened in my childhood. The only difficult part of this situation is admitting to myself that this was in fact sexual assault. I’m having a hard time letting that sink in.
(Note: Since these experiences had little to no effect on me, it is unlikely that I will ever take them into account when discussing my recovery. So, for example, I might refer to N as the “first person who sexually assaulted me” even though that’s not really true).
Thank you for reading this article. You can find my backstory here.