We Too …
I was 12, I think, I do not remember the date. I had gone through puberty and was developing breasts. It was a Saturday, that I know, because the Hunt used to meet in the village and I was a horse crazy kid that had been out there every winter, seeing the horses. There was a man who parked his horse box on a piece of land across the road from our house, and I saw him every winter. That day was different, he called me back into the horse box to show me something – but what he wanted was something else. He started to fondle my breasts and told me how pretty they were. I was scared. My Mother had always warned me about Strange Men – but this was not a strange man. I knew him. Then he took hold of me and he was kissing me with his tongue in my mouth … I broke away somehow, I do not remember but I ran, out of the horse box away from the horses, away from him. I did not tell my Mother, I did not tell my parents, I felt sick, nauseous, all twisted up inside and was terrified that people would “see”. I don’t know why I felt that way, I just did. We, my parents, my brother and I, went to an ice show that night, something I would normally have enjoyed, but I was like ice inside, I said very little, watched without seeing, wondering if it showed, but nobody noticed. Would I recognise his face if someone showed me his photo? No, I would not – but I remember his name. I will never forget his name.
When I was 14, my best friend and I were adoring helpers of a young man old enough to own and drive a car, and he was restoring one in a garage on the family property. We would spend time down at the garage helping him strip paint off the car, and for a treat when his friends would come from another town we would be taken to a pub, riding in the back seat of the car, which was a convertible. It was fun. Oh, don’t worry, as we were both under age we were left in the beer garden with a lemonade, just as our parents would have done. One day that summer he invited my friend and I to go with him to the house and took us up to his room in the attic, what for or why, I do not remember. I do remember him pulling me down on to the bed. I tried to get away, he would not let me go, my friend watched and giggled. I had no idea what he wanted but I was afraid, and I struggled, but the more I struggled that harder he held me down. My friend watched and giggled. I knew it was getting late and my Mother would be waiting for me and I must have started getting hysterical because he let me go. I don’t remember the date, just the year. Did I tell my Mother? Of course not! She would probably have slapped me and told me I should not have been there in the first place. The young man and my friend would probably have said it was all in fun, but was it? I do not know. Writing this, I now wonder. My friend was a year older than me, she was 15, and we moved from Sussex to Buckinghamshire that summer. I never saw either of them after that, but I kept in touch with my friend for more than a year with regular letters. The letters stopped after she wrote to tell me that she was getting married. At age 16.
After we moved I was transferred to a new school since it was in a different county 100 miles away. I hated it there, it was a co-ed school and I had previously gone to girls only schools. It was a culture shock! Teenage boys that were lewd and crude using words that I had to look up in a dictionary – no, I did NOT ask my parents! They made my life hell, knowing that they could get under my skin with indecent questions and suggestions. It was made worse when they joked with each other as if I were not even there and made suggestive hand gestures. There were no physical assaults, but their attitude was certainly indicative of the kind of men those boys would become, and how they would treat any women that they met. Their fathers and brothers were probably the same.
A few years later, I had been working in London and travelling every day and thought perhaps a job in Birmingham would require less travel time so went for a job interview that sounded promising. No, I do not remember the date, or the address or even what the job was about, but I do remember what followed. The interview had taken longer than I expected, and I missed my train home. The next train was not for another three or four hours. The boss’s girl friend suggested that I go back to their place rather than wait at the station. We had something to eat, but I do not remember what, and things went downhill from there. The conversation became background noise and I became more and more uncomfortable, especially when “the boss” started drawing cartoons of an enormous penis with hairy testicles! I said it was time for me to catch the train. “Oh dear, the clock must have stopped, you had better stay here tonight!” They did let me call my Mother to tell her that I would not be home that night, but it soon became obvious that I had been “selected” – but not for the job I expected. The man became angry and aggressive when I resisted – and slapped me. He left the room for some reason and his girlfriend grabbed me and told me to get my coat, we ran downstairs where she opened the door, pushed me through and said GO! I went to the railway station and waited there for the first train out and went home. My mother was surprised to see me at the door. Did I tell her what had happened? No.
As the years went by there were many other occasions where my “date” expected more than I wanted to give, and I learned to take precautions so as not to be in a position of risk when I did not know a person well. That did not help the day I had been to a house party given by some friends but did not take my car as somebody else had given me a ride. My boss asked a business associate to give me a ride home. I knew the man from work, and gave it no thought when he walked me to my door, and came in. I asked if he wanted some coffee but what he wanted was to pull me down on to the couch. I played for time and fell off the couch while trying to figure out what to do next, he pulled me back on to the couch – so I pretended to be drunk! I was stone cold sober but playing drunk was my only ticket out of there. I pulled the slider on to the deck open and let my dog in “What are you doing?” He has to go out I told him, or he will shit. Using that word for maximum effect. So, we left my apartment and I walked the dog, turned around and ran up to the door rushed inside and slammed it shut. He pounded on the door yelling for me to open it. I did not. Did I tell his friend, my boss? No, I pretended I did not remember anything, even who took me home. Do I remember the date? Did I write it down? No. Why would I?
Then there was the time when someone I knew asked if his brother who was from out of town, who I also knew casually, could sleep on the couch downstairs and I agreed. Around midnight, I was woken up by my bedroom door being opened. The brother walks over to my bed, gets on top of me and shoves his tongue in my mouth. This time I was not playing, I bit it – hard! You should have heard him scream. I grabbed my clothes and my keys and ran out of the house and down to a local bar/restaurant that did not close until 2 am. When I finally made my way back home, he was gone. Did I tell anyone? No. Do I remember the exact date? No.
What would have been the point of telling anyone? Did I have any witnesses – or did he? Which of his friends would have refused to back up his story when he had just backed up theirs?
No, the “me too” movement is not the reality – “WE TOO!” is the truth.
© Stephanie Hunt-Crowley