By the time I was a senior I was done with that school. I was done seeing all the boys who’d harassed, abused, and sexually assaulted me in the halls. I was done with my supposed best friends and their rumors about me. I was done hearing their names. I was done running into them. I was done being there.
Trenton and Father
I stopped dating at the school. I dated in my winter guard circle when I was not so sick I was bed ridden or having surgery. The summer before my Senior year me and a guy who was a year and some months younger started dating. I was excited. He was uber Christian, so yea no sex but he was safe. He would not ever be aggressive. He would not rape me. I was fine without sex. Trenton and I had an innocuous innocent relationship. It was refreshing.
But his dad caused some problems. Let’s call him… “M.” M was texting me late at night, around 1am or later. He’d call me “love” or even “babe.” I mean it was odd that he was texting me at all. I had never had that relationship with a SO’s dad. But I was not rude. I mean maybe this was normal.
However, the more M texted me with those pet names embedded while he was at work late the more concerned my mom grew. Finally she pulled me aside and said it was downright inappropriate. She was right, I mean my red flags were certainly up. He was always taking pictures all day at guard competitions, he offered to take pictures of me and a group of girl friends, he was always offering even on girls’ Facebook walls to drive to them and take pictures. My father is a creep and he is obsessed with his camera. He takes pictures of girls, girls playing soccer, girls in guard, anywhere where he can come up with an excuse for his incessant picture taking he’s there. It was too many red flags.
Now, Trenton and I did not break up because of this. But it fed into my growing dispassion for the relationship. When we broke up a girl at Creek, a friend of a friend, who had no reason to know M suddenly became friends with him on Facebook. I was horrified. I messaged her asking if she knew M at all. She said no and that he had just sent her a friend request and she had just accepted. That was when I told her about my experience with him and just warned her that she may want to unfriend and block him. That was when I got really worried about M.
Months later Trenton showed his true colors. I was sick. I had been hospitalized for the pain for a few days, then bedridden, then had surgery, then was diagnosed with a life changing, often debilitating, chronic illness – endometriosis. I was finally coming back to guard. Trenton was there. I still do not know what prompted it. My best guess is that he heard that I’d warned someone about M, that he seemed to take too much of an interest in messaging young girls and taking their pictures. But Trenton, sweet, innocent, seeming saint of a young man, told me that he was glad I had been sick and if I ever hurt his friends or family he would put me back in the hospital. I was aghast.
I have never actually sent someone a threat. I have never actually threatened anyone. I have never told them I was glad they were so ill they were hospitalized. Everyone says “gah I could just kill ____” and I’ve certainly wished people harm. But for some reason I have never actually threatened someone with violence. I thought a line existed and when Trenton crossed it I was disgusted with him from then on.
And sick of it. Sick of guys saying horrible things. Threatening me. Being abusive. Sick of it.
Sick of my aunt saying You’re so fickle. How can you hate these guys so much? There had to have been a reason you dated them but you can’t say anything positive about them…
Sick of knowing that these guys were not saints like the rest of the world saw them. These guys could turn violent, controlling, possessive, and cruel. Most of all I was sick of wondering if I could ever find someone who wouldn’t behave that way.
I did not really date for the rest of my senior year. I had a stupid fling with Daniel again. A weekend with Joe. A couple of weeks with…. Let’s call him “K.” But no “I’ll be your girlfriend you be my boyfriend.” I was kind of over relationships and I was still healing from my surgery.
But then I met Kenneth around graduation. I was in a new head space. I was getting the hell out of that place. Done with high school. Headed to college. I could remake myself. I could be who I wanted to be.
That summer was great. He was a year and some younger than me too. He was in a different winter guard. We had a lot of fun together. He was sweet, respectful, inexperienced, safe. Except he unlike Trenton, wanted sex.
So in the middle of this make out session that was getting so hot and heavy I knew it would lead somewhere. I asked him clearly. If I was going to be his first I didn’t want him to feel any pressure, I wanted him to pause to think about it. He did and it was great. It was enthusiastic consent. It was almost healing. He was definitely safe
But then he got aggressive one day and I realize now that was the nail in the coffin of our relationship. We were play wrestling and then it got real. It got too real. It got Trey real.
See, he started touching me while wrestling. Pulling my shirt down. I got freaked out, triggered, fast. I started using my actual strength. Kicking him off. Telling him to stop. He got more aggressive, even as I told him as seriously as I could to stop.
I remember grabbing onto the dining room chairs, the cabinets trying to get leverage. I remember clawing at the linoleum as I tried to pull myself away. Eventually I got away. He laughed it off. I fixed my clothes. But I felt absolutely assaulted that day. I covered myself up, I told him I had to go home, and I left. He probably doesn’t even remember it and he certainly does not remember it the way I do but I had nightmares for weeks again. It wasn’t the same. I’d given him what he wanted, we’d even discussed it, it had been healthy, and still he got aggressive. And still he had ignored me telling him to stop.
My aunt asked again why I was so irritated with him when we broke up. He had texted me while she was with me and I grumbled about it. He had told me out of the blue that “he got a new mattress.” I didn’t know how to explain to her what that meant to me. It was that implication. I’ve heard that line before. I got a new mattress or I’ve been working out or some bullshit meant to imply “so let’s fuck.” I told him I didn’t give a fuck and to leave me alone.
And there we go I’m the crazy ex yet again…
The End… of High School
And that was high school.
So you might wonder. Like Hannah Baker, did I ever feel like giving up? Did I ever consider suicide?
Yup. I had plenty of those feelings. But I really considered it only once, in highschool. The night I tried to tell my mom about Will. It was after Trey wanted to meet with me once. She saw the texts and she was livid why would you meet with a guy like that. How do you say “well mom it’s basically a compulsion at this point cause I’m super fucked up about sex.” She asked me for a why so I told her the why.
She didn’t believe me. She thought it had to be more recent. And because it was such a convoluted story to tell because I wasn’t sure if it was rape because I wasn’t sure what I thought of myself or Will at 16 years old because I’d never really talked about it the story changed. First I called it sex, then I clarified that I’d said no, I went around in circles like it had been going around in circles in my head. She didn’t believe me, she made that clear.
She took me to Honora’s house (my half-sister’s mother, her then best friend, and her now wife). I felt like they were ganging up on me. For once, I was trying my hardest to be honest to myself, to them. It had all gone on too long. I had to be honest. I had to explain why I acted out. Why I was acting this way. And nothing, I got nothing, I was getting nothing from them.
I locked myself in the bathroom. I saw the razor. And I just wanted to end it all. If my own mother basically a rape victim counselor could not believe me… If the two women in my life who had experienced the worst of the worst, mostly healed from it, and knew how to talk to victims at least better than most people, if they didn’t believe me then fuck it. Right?
Wrong. I told my brain. Wrong.
So, I got up. I called Will in front of them. I confronted him. He admitted it on speakerphone. He admitted it for the first time and my mom and Honora heard him and I was vindicated and a part of me felt free… and then all hell hit the fan. Once I was believed shit hit the fan, for about a week.
See before that I could imagine what my mom might do. What my family might do. I could imagine the support. But after that week of talking about it, it was rarely mentioned again. When I would say well that stuff with Will is bothering me there’d be a nod to it, almost like a shrug, and then nothing. We didn’t debrief, we didn’t break it down, I didn’t go to therapy. We didn’t talk about it.
Here’s some reasons why:
- She hated herself for not making me feel safe enough to tell her as soon as it happened. She felt it was her fault I’d been suffering. She hated herself.
- Honora kinda blamed her, at the time, for letting me take those bike rides.
- Because my mom immediately wanted to lock him up (super normal response) but then… having experienced it herself… having gone through a trial (yes she won it but that didn’t make it any easier or any less traumatizing)… and my fear of trying Will because I knew how complicated it was I knew it was not some cut and dry stranger danger rape with bruises and DNA in a rape kit. I was terrified of trying it and she didn’t want to drag me through it. Not knowing what else to do, feeling so helpless, I think she dropped it.
- And lastly my fucking aunt fucked everything times infinity for me in my head. Colton saying that whatever happened I deserved it had fucked me up enough. But then my aunt… She was driving me to her place in Wyoming and she said the same old lines. She repeated rape culture to me when I thought I was safe. My guard wasn’t up and I wasn’t stable about this to begin with.
“You don’t want to ruin this poor boys life”
“Sometimes we say no when we mean yes.”
It still messes with me. I looked for help and instead had it reaffirmed that I was a crazy girl who just regretted something and was going to ruin an innocent’s life if I said anything to anyone else.
CASE CLOSED. The doors slammed shut. I convinced myself it hadn’t happened. That I was insane. But it came back to bite me, hard, in college.
The only time I considered suicide in high school was over rape. And that’s just another reason this shit matters. This is why even the best parents and families need support in dealing with this. This is why rape culture needs to die. Because all those women in my life knew what rape was, had experienced sexual assault, believed date rape was possible, and still reacted poorly and in some cases in the worst way possible.
Because rape gives you trauma that you cannot handle all alone. Because rape kills and wounds souls even when that soul survives and begins to rebuild. Because trauma wounds the mind. Because PTSD is a thing. Because I was triggered daily. That school was a daily reminder of the abuse.
People deal with trauma in this society all the time. We need to stop calling it bullying or “kids being kids” or “being mean.” We need to stop labeling teenager’s emotions as just “teenage angst.” Because a lot more times than acknowledged that girl isn’t crying in the hall because some girl called her fat. She’s crying in the hall because she’s been raped, or stalked, or harassed.
It’s not nice to call someone fat, or ugly, or a slut. It is a crime to do what happened to me and countless thousands of other people around the world.
That was my favorite part of 13 Reasons Why. It showed how prevalent sexual harassment, stalking, and assault all are in high school and that these are crimes. FUCKING CRIMES.
As Clay screamed that at people a part of my soul felt liberated, it was therapeutic. His fury that “this was the second time a crime was committed on these tapes.” A fucking crime and no one was doing anything about it.
That’s what we need to wake people up to. We have serial rapists like Bryce Walker in our schools every day. Men like Will. Like Trey. In fact, studies show that most rapists are serial rapists. And then we have those who push and coerce, harass and objectify, grope and lash out, right up to the thin line between these behaviors and actual assault. And hundreds of boys who buy into toxic masculinity, nice guy syndrome, and possessiveness. We have people saying things every day that denigrate women and make it normal to see them as less than. And that is what sets up a culture that permits those serial rapists in our schools and in our society.
We need to do better. It’s on us.
So I’m sharing what high school was like. The full experience with every little thing that comes to mind. Everything. Because high school sucked… not like some Bowling for Soup song… rather like criminals stalking and assaulting me.
It’s on us.
So I’m sharing. I’ve been sharing. And I’ve wanted to lay it all out for years, to purge it from my mind. So, there’s high school. In a 22 page nutshell.