I’m remembering instances that I brushed off so many times, that I tried to ignore. I’m remembering being told that, when I finally confided in someone about one of them years later, at eleven years old I should have known better. Someone who should have heard me. Been angry. Been appalled for me.
I’m remembering the boy who grabbed me in the school toilets, when I was seven years old, threw me on the floor, took off my knickers and chucked them out the window, then ran back to his friends telling them I was a dirty cow who’d wet herself.
I’ve never told anyone that.
I’m remembering the almost-man who grabbed my arm and put his hand up my short skirt at a club and hotly muttered in my ear that I was a filthy slut and how much he wanted me to suck him off. How dirty he made me feel even as I pulled his hand off me and told him to go fuck himself. I cried in the toilets.
I was seventeen.
I'm remembering the boy I said no to, but who held me down and did it anyway. Did I struggle? I tried. But afterwards I wanted to hide it, pretend it wasn't real. It couldn't have happened to me. Could it? Did it?
I'm remembering being told to smile and say thank you when some shitwad slapped my backside as I tried to make my way back to friends from a pub toilet.
And I'm remembering being told to be grateful for the attention I didn’t want, over and over.
I'm remembering every rape joke, the sound of them clanging in my ears and clenching my gut every time, the laughs and the nonchalant reference to the kind of event that changed me irreparably, that still holds me back.
I shouldn't let it but the scars still weigh heavy.
These are just some of the stories I could tell you.
These are a drop in the ocean of injustice and injury that people I know have been made to endure. An ocean.
You don’t have to tell. You don’t have to join us, but know we are with you whether you refuse to be silent or not.
Make it your choice.
No one else’s.
Take back what was taken.