His arm tightened around my neck, choking me. I could feel the full weight of him lying on my upper half as I tried desperately to put my face to the floor. I did not want him to know I was crying. As I fought to put my head down, he lifted it up by the chin, laughing and strangling me at the same time. With his other hand he repeatedly felt between my legs. The ultimate humiliation. I was ten. My perpetrator was nine.

That evening, I looked at myself in the mirror. Tiny red dots covered the tops of my eyelids. I didn’t know at the time that they were burst blood vessels. Back then the impact that this event would have on the rest of my life was unknown to me. All I knew, in my young preadolescent brain, was that it was wrong and it had been a truly horrific experience. It was, sadly, to be my first of many.

A LUCKY ESCAPE

I cycled to my Grandma’s house on a normal Saturday afternoon, just like I had done numerous times. Feeling the wind blow the hair back out of my face, I was excited that I was halfway there. I turned a corner, the one on a busy roundabout that is usually buzzing with nine to fivers in the week. The car park to my left was weekend empty as usual. A car slowly pulled out in front me, completely blocking the pavement so that I had to stop.

Him: Hi, can you tell me where the nearest McDonalds is?

Me: You carry on straight ahead, turn left, right at the round about then carry on. You can’t miss it.

Him: Can you tell me again?

Me: You carry on straight ahead, turn left, right at the round about then carry on. You can’t miss it.

Him: Sorry, I’m just not sure. Why don’t you get in and show me?

Me: Honestly, it’s really easy. You carry on straight ahead, turn left, right at the round about then carry on.

Him: Can you show me? It’ll only take you a minute and I’ll drop you where you need to go.

Me: No. My Grandma is waiting for me. But it’s really easy to find.

Him: I’ll buy you a burger…

Me: No, that’s okay thanks. Just go straight ahead, turn left, right at the round about then carry on. You can’t miss it. Honestly.

Him: Okay. Thanks.

My thirteen year old brain didn’t twig onto what had gone on until much later. As I relayed the story to my Grandma her look became more concerned. The questioning on the guys appearance and car type alerted me to the fact something had been amiss. She suggested we call my mum about it, and then the police. If it wasn’t for a combination of things, like my confidence in the clear directions I provided and the fact McDonalds was not only insanely easy to find but also a huge landmark in that part of town, it could have gone very differently. If he had picked a more obscure place I may have gotten in the car to show him.

Would I be here today?

I absolutely shudder at what could have been. I wonder if he had watched me. Maybe for weeks before the approach. Had he learned my routine? Or was it all simply down to opportunity?

Did he ever get a girl?

IN THE WORKPLACE

An innocent conversation with my manager about how I had been a member of a swim club ended with him lecherously remarking how “I must have buns of steel” and forcefully groping my behind. I suppose that’s how a slap and tickle here and there began during my time in that particular job. It wasn’t just me, he was like it with all the young girls not assertive enough to challenge his inappropriate behavior.

I was eighteen.




#METOO

Like many others, the recent Hollywood news regarding sexual harassment and assault has spurred me to speak up. I’ve rarely shared these stories and, sadly, it’s not actually all of them. In fact, it took me years to speak of the very first one. I thought people would brush it off because we were both kids, but the truth is, it continues to have a major impact on my life.

I’ve been sexually assaulted and harassed multiple times. It’s happened in the workplace, at one of my homes and, I guess, because of naivety. (Exploring the argument that women should be able to go, do and wear whatever they please without risk would take me a whole other post). In the past, I’ve put myself in situations that I would balk at now. You’d think that I would’ve been extremely cautious after all the things that happened to me as a child. But it’s almost like I expected to be abused or taken advantage of, and therefore didn’t try to avoid it. My self-worth was non-existent and, for the most part, I didn’t know how to communicate with the opposite sex in a way that ever felt comfortable.

WHAT IT FEELS LIKE FOR A GIRL

When it comes to the twins, I worry a bit more than with Little Man. Will they have a boss that is inappropriate with them? Will they be safe when they’re at university? Will they have their bums squeezed when they’re out and about? Will they be treated with respect?

My gut screams no. That’s the awful truth. It’s almost like I know they won’t be free of comments, roaming hands and harassment. I don’t even want to imagine the worst outcome that could befall them.

Hubby initially didn’t understand things like the argument surrounding pay equality or why girls are treated certain ways, because HE himself isn’t like that. I’ve explained to him that, in my experience, females are treated differently in so many ways. In my opinion, I think you’d be hard pressed to find a woman that hasn’t been harassed or assaulted in some way, and isn’t that absolutely terrible?

Staying on the subject, the law does not take rape seriously as far as I’m concerned. Fear among victims that they themselves will be put on trial or condemned by the public is because that IS what happens. It’s not just my girls that I worry about in that kind of scenario. Consent is very much a conversation I will be having with all of my children.

NOW BECAUSE OF THEN

Enrolling Little Man in daycare filled me with anxiety. From early on I drummed it into him that private parts are private and that a secret is only a secret if Mummy and Daddy know. I’ve been triggered more than once due to innocent incidents that have happened. Constantly on high alert for signs that something more untoward has happened to my son.

According to Katie #METOO

I’m not a helicopter parent but I am very protective. I have anxiety when I think about my kids at school. I worry about other children, teachers, older siblings of friends and even other parents. I don’t like the idea of sleepovers and the thought of school camp fills me with dread. It’s not like I’m accusing or particularly suspicious of anyone. It’s simply the way my brain works and how my body panics. Thankfully my psychologist validated that my concerns aren’t irrational. They’re based on extremely traumatic events that have shaped who I am. I’ll never be apologetic for worrying, even though it may sound a bit mental to some. I will, however, try and not let it affect my children in a negative way.

Today I was talking to Michael about this post and what direction I wanted to take it in. I still don’t know, and maybe there isn’t even a good answer to that. I feel pretty scared, my heart has been thumping as I’ve written this. I want to publish it and I don’t want to publish it too. I’m a little sad that I’m even in the position to write it I guess. I’m not game enough to name and shame and that admission doesn’t exactly sit well with me. There is a feeling that I’m protecting people but I’m actually looking out for myself. Not wanting the fall out works for me. I’ve confided in who I want to confide in and I will continue to practice self-care. I’m not saying it’s the right thing to do as far as dealing with these matters, but I’ve been doing it for so long now that it’s all I know.

All my love,
K x

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