In the last few months of my junior year of high school, I spent lunchtime hiding in the library. Lunchtime had always been a savior from the endless of classes and pressures of college prep. I sat with the same lively group of friends every day. I was proud of our little family- we were a diverse group of guys and girls who would sometimes erupt into food fights or nose goes. It was our time to catch up and dive into all the highs and lows of being silly high school students. But when I was 15 I fell in “love” with a guy, (let’s call him Todd) who was part of our group of friends. The relationship was like this mixture of the worst dream I ever had and being completely high/drunk the whole time. There was one more member of our relationship- named alcohol. Or maybe tequila, Jack Daniels and Smirnof Ice.
One particular night we got drunk together, I was with my first “real boyfriend”, someone I admit to have been obsessed with… but in ways felt like I could trust him. I don’t remember too much except knowing that we all drank too much and I passed out on a bed. I was in a room with Todd and his friend Mike. It seemed that my passing out was an opportunity for Todd and Mike to sexual harass me. I remember wearing a jean skirt, one of my favorites with a small lace belt embroidered on the skirt. My legs were already slightly open and Todd moved her hand up my leg until he was fingering me, Mike filmed it.
As a young girl living in the early 2000’s no one was talking to me about sexual assault, what was right or wrong and how I needed to react. Was this considered rape? I didn’t know. Would I be overreacting if I reported it? I was the one who got so drunk that I passed out, so maybe it was my fault? My parents would be disappointed in me wouldn’t they? I invited this in didn’t I? After a friend of mine told me he saw the video, I remember lying awake in the dark at night, realizing there were parts of that night I actually remembered. I knew it was wrong. I knew it
was disgusting. But I thought I was in love. And I didn’t know what to do. My girlfriends who had always been amazing support system didn’t seem to know what to do about it either. When I continued to try to make a relationship work with Todd despite what had happened they didn’t intervene. We all didn’t know shit. When the relationship finally hit rock bottom and blew up in my face I chose to step out from my friendship circle until I could feel like myself again. Todd didn’t stop having lunch with everyone, he didn’t stop talking on the phone with my best friend or laughing with my friends like nothing happened. I knew I couldn’t be around him, so I would find excuses to not join my friends anymore. It was that confusion and hurt around what had happened, and the way we all dealt with it that scared me.
*names have been changed in this story to maintain anonymity.