Middle school: the time when everyone wore tank tops over their shirts and tried on thongs for the first time. For most girls, it was a period of experimentation – eyeliner was applied thickly around the entire eye, because, let’s be honest, we had no clue what we were doing.
At the beginning of sixth grade, my appearance started to change. My boobs began to grow and by the end of the year, I was quickly surpassing a C-cup. My hair turned curly, and I got my ears pierced when I turned 12. Everything was going wonderfully – I loved being in middle school!
However, I wasn’t the only one noticing the changes in my look. Boys were taking notice, too.
I don’t remember the first time it happened, nor do I remember the last. Honestly, I don’t remember each individual time, either. I just remember some of the most distinct times, and the fact that nobody ever did anything to help.
What am I talking about? Sexual assault that I faced on numerous occasions, and the lack of effort anyone made to help. People turned their heads away from it – how marvelous human beings can be.
In sixth grade, everyone was in the same classes. In seventh and eighth grade, there was some separation for math class, but for science, social studies and language arts, we were all together again.
I thought this was good! I could keep a steady group of friends – we could complain together about the ridiculous dress code, or snicker to each other while desperately avoiding being called on in class. What I failed to realize at the time was that, unfortunately, this also meant the same boys would be in my classes as well.
At first, I marveled at the attention I was getting. After all, not many girls were developing as quickly as I was, which remains true to this day. Since my boobs were bigger than others, I suppose they believed this was an open invitation. In the beginning, I didn’t say “no” – but I didn’t necessarily say “yes,” either.
There was a core group of boys who were assaulting me, though they weren’t the only ones. Back in sixth grade, one of the boys in the group said I had the “finest tits and ass of any white girl he had seen.” In seventh grade, each member of the group took turns running up behind me and reaching down my shirt. They loved telling each other how “soft [my] tits were.” The only time one of them was punished was in my seventh grade social studies class. One of the boys called me babe and kissed me on the cheek. My teacher finally noticed, and he was suspended.
One time, a boy came behind me in class and whispered in my ear, “I’m going to bend you over and your legs are going to do some crazy shit. I’m gonna f*ck you til you’re screaming.” It haunts me to this day.
On another occasion in seventh grade, my class was in the computer lab with a substitute teacher. Like many middle-schoolers do, I chose a seat with an empty one beside it to save for my friend, Kennedy. Instead, the guys sat next to me.
I was wearing this little snake ring from Target that I loved. My classmate tried to reach down my shirt again, and in the process, broke my ring. To my disgust, the substitute called me over and told me to cut it out – to stop distracting them, as if my appearance justified their assaults.
They never did stop.
I remember being in my eighth grade social studies classroom when half of the guys in the class cornered me. They were violating me. I remember loudly telling them to get away from me, but they just laughed in response. I would get violent, even kicking them and hitting them in their beloved balls. Sadly, I usually missed.
But it wasn’t just the boys in my class – the torment came from all around. On one occasion, even my assistant principal passed me in the hall and told me my past-knee-length dress should be saved for the weekends… remember that I was only 12.
I could go on forever. In eighth grade, I was nearing a D-cup and a random teacher pulled me out of the lunch line and brought me to an empty classroom to tell me I looked like a whore. She said, “What would your mother think of you? What kind of messages do you think you’re sending the boys?” She made me feel like I deserved the assaultl thanks to my body’s natural development.
These are the memories on the forefront of my mind. These aren’t special occasions, nor are they the worst of them – they are what I think of when I think of middle school.
They’re the reason I contemplated suicide in middle school, multiple times. They’re the reason I know that over-the-counter pills don’t kill you easily. They’re the reason I’d always carry a bottle of pills around, in case I suddenly got the urge to attempt to take my life. They’re the reason my parents believed I hated them for over a year. Most importantly, they’re the reason I hated myself, my peers and my life.
I’ve never spoken any of these words aloud. People know the vague details, but I never bring them up. A few people know the full story, though not as specific as what I’m sharing now. Looking back, I genuinely wish I had gone to the police.
Sometimes, I see the boys’ names on my Facebook feed and I cringe. It’s been almost five years since I’ve seen them, yet I think about them every day.
I wish so truly that every person that has ever been sexually assaulted in any way gets their justice and peace. I hope they find solace in something or someone. I hope that if they want their assaulter in jail, their assaulter goes to jail. No one deserves the slightest bit of pain, especially something like this.
These are our lives, and they’re precious.
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