Everyone gets nervous on their first day of school. I know I was. I was a shy girl—I considered myself to be a a little girl myself, even though this was high school now—with few friends, just looking to make it through classes easily.
So, yes, I was a bit nervous when I met him. We were sitting side-by-side in science class. Nothing was happening, until two girls in front of us started talking about another girl they knew, who was "so pretty," they "don't even know how she does it." I dismissed it as everyday gossip, starting to take my things out of my bag when I caught him looking at me, saying, "Look, they're talking about you!" I was flattered, but stunned, and didn't say anything.
Surprisingly, we talked more after that. He sent me notes during class all the time, sometimes so often that I wouldn't remember the lessons. We became great friends, and I even started to like him—a lot. Sometimes we'd take walks around the campus during lunch and he'd give me his jacket during class.
But months later, something went wrong. What happened, I'm not sure. But his jokes started twisting. He'd ask what underwear I was wearing or what cup size bra I wore. His new adjective for me was "boobilicious." His notes and conversation started getting more and more uncomfortable, to the point that I had to come up with excuses to not talk to him.
School became stressful at this point, and that was one of the reasons I used. "I can't talk to you today," I'd say, "I have a lot of work to do and I'm really stressed out about it."
And that's when the hands first started. He said I needed some endorphins or dopamine to help me relax, and he'd aggressively rub my thigh under the table while I sat there shocked in fear. One day he walked into class saying his hands were cold, and used that as an excuse to tuck his hand right up the back of my shirt. I still remember his fingertips brushing the clasp of my bra, and I knew it wasn't right. There was no way this was okay.
Then one day, we had group projects. I had a friend sitting in front of me with her partner while this boy and I sat on the other side of the table.
"You're so tense," he wrote in his notes, and I just shrugged. "I always am," was my answer.
He pushed on my shoulders to try and get them to slouch, and I remember him telling me, "Don't say anything." His hands were at my legs, wandering closer, trying to pull them apart. My head was burning, there were no thoughts except continual internal screaming. Then his hands were at my vaginal area, and that's where I knew I had to do something. "Stop," I mumbled, shaking harder than I ever have.
I don't know if he didn't hear me, or if he didn't care. His hand was still there.
"Stop, I said stop!"
And he did, probably so as not to cause a ruckus in front of the class. I told the teacher the following day and he changed the seating so I was on the opposite side of the classroom from him. I wouldn't tell him why when he asked. I only told one friend, who was furious with him for it, but she managed to keep it a secret for a while.
I've always been hesitant to share that experience. I wasn't kidnapped and put in a trunk or forced into a dark bedroom. But it makes no difference. It's been impossible for me to trust men since then; I've had several try to befriend me and my nerves took over. It's hard to look at a boy and try not to search for some kind of manipulation behind his eyes.
He found out eventually. He got angry at me and yelled at me, and I felt horrible, like this whole incident was my fault. But it wasn't.
It's never your fault for being put in that situation, and it doesn't make you any less of a person. You are loved, and you have power. You are strong and you are brave. No one can take that power from you.