Tiny Coconut

I have things.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004


I've never been raped, and I wasn't really the victim of any significant childhood sexual or physical abuse. Certainly not like some of the stories some of you could tell. Certainly not like some of the books that are written or TV movies-of-the-week that are shown.

And yet, I have a pretty significant handfull of stories about ways in which I was...let's call it maltreated...over time. And an even more significant handfull of near-misses.

It came up recently in a conversation with a friend, and it's been plaguing me to some extent ever since. My stories include a 20-year-old who tried to kiss me and wanted to be my 'boyfriend' when I was 12, and who harrassed me when I said no (he was later convicted of the rape of a 14-year-old, so clearly I lucked out); two teachers who did some significantly inappropriate things to/with me in junior high school; a boyfriend who smacked me (once, only once, but I still dated him for a long time afterwards); a date that would have ended up as a date rape had he not decided to shove me up against a wall instead and walk off when I hit the concrete ground; a group of young men who chased me around my college campus (I was on foot; they were in a car) yelling about what they were going to do to me when they caught up to me; and a good friend's husband who made a very physical pass at me, effectively ending that friendship.

And like I said, nothing 'bad' ever really happened to me. These were all near-misses, more or less, and while they changed me, scarred me, made me me, they didn't destroy me like they could have if things had gone just a little differently. Still, the 'could have' haunts me, when I let it.

Is there anyone out there who doesn't have stories like this, or one that's worse? Do any of us, women in particular, escape some sort of violation as we grow up? This is the part that's been plaguing me. Can I protect Em? Is there something I can do as parent? Is there any chance that she's going to escape? Or is it really, sadly, part of growing up? Is this how we all get shaped, through a series of violations? Through fear and shame? Do we really just have to accept it, even welcome it, in order to become the people we are?

Like so much these days, this is an issue I'm having incredible trouble wrapping my mind around...

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