I am a sophomore in high school and have already dealt with two separate cases of sexual assault. One was the summer before my freshman year and the other was during my freshman year. I would have never spoken up about either if it was only up to me to say something. I am extremely lucky that my mother walked in on me breaking down and having a full blown panic attack in the bathroom for me to even be able to tell anyone anything at all.
In high school.
I would claim that I’m very privileged to have been able to ever say anything to anyone, even though I wasn’t able to say anything for months. Even a few months was “too long to wait” to speak up, apparently. I didn't know that my credibility was damaged by the fact that I was terrified. Nonetheless, no matter how long a woman will wait before speaking up and telling her truth, she should be heard and understood rather than attacked for something she almost certainly attacks herself for every day. Having to watch the news and see current events such as this is utterly ridiculous. Terrible things happen in high school that gets disregarded simply because we’re teenagers and “too young to understand.” I have heard so many times that, just because I’m sixteen, I must be lying, or that it wasn’t that bad of a situation, or that I was lying to get attention. So many people who speak up get shut down because they “want attention” when in reality they’re tired of people getting away with things like this and basically getting rewarded for all of the pain they’ve caused to others. The way everything is so disregarded and barely considered a tragedy, it feels as though are they enforcing the idea that it was completely her fault that she deserved it somehow. We tell ourselves and convince ourselves that it truly was our fault, and then hearing others tell us directly that we wanted it, or else why wouldn't we have stopped it, putting all of the blame onto us. And seeing news about other women and hearing them told they were in the wrong for whatever reason, whether it be that she was wearing something “slutty” which must mean that she “wants it” or maybe she really did want to have sex with this guy for a moment and then changed her mind. Changing your mind is perfectly valid, if the word “No” was said in the end, then it doesn’t matter what she said the beginning.
Sexual assault in high school is not insignificant.
Sexual assault in high school is a huge issue that lots of teenage females and males have to go through and deal with but are told to keep quiet and repress the feelings until she can no longer feel anything without completely breaking. It’s insanity how little anyone would believe my truth when I told them my age and grade. Even faculty members at my own school victim-blamed me and took his word over mine. Simply because he was older and was more put together while talking to them about how I was violated.
Sexual assault in high school is scarring and should be handled better. For the victim, they have to live the rest of her life fearing anyone that leans in to kiss them, and is told to deal with that and get over it.
“Well it’s over so why does it bother you, why do you still care?” Because it did happen and traumatic memories don’t just vanish once his face is lost in the crowd. It changes everything about you and how you handle yourself and the world around you. Trauma isn’t a “one and done” deal. It sticks with you, and the only people who understand are people who have gone through it or something similar.
It does not matter when you speak up.
It does not matter “how bad” it was compared to others experiences.
It does not change the fact that it changed you.
It does not change the fact that it happened.