Submitted by Ryan Lee, a follower of Women’s Rights News
When I was 14 years old, in eighth grade, I had a well known secret. Everyone knew. The teachers, the students. People watched it happen for over six months. Day in, day out. Never behind closed doors, always out in the world where there was an audience. It was a performance FOR an audience, actually. And it has defined my life in ways almost no one knows of. I am in trauma therapy and this is a huge factor. This has shaped me as a human being, caused so much trauma for me over the past 25 years that it has ruined a lot of relationships for me and has even put a strain on my marriage.
I was in a friend circle that had a guy in it. It started small, a shove here, a poke there. It slowly escalated in time. As we would change classes, being pinned to a wall by my neck, walking thru the halls, he grabbed the door frame, swung up and kicked me in my chest, walking thru a door at church he smashed my head into a steel door. This guy was a “friend”, he ran in a circle with my other friends, and while this was happening it was almost a running joke. He couldn’t truly be an abuser, we were friends, right? There’s not even a real term for this, I looked. When he’d do it, we’d all get a laugh out of it. I mean, he couldn’t MEAN it right?
The day he pinned me to the wall, I was late for class, because after he let me go I ran up, jumped on his back and punched him repeatedly in the head. When asked why I was late, I told the teacher what I had done, and their response was “Good for you.” Why? Because they all knew. They all saw it go in, day after day. And no one stopped it. Boys will be boys, after all.
One day after he had done something to me, I can’t even remember what it was, I threw a pencil and it hit him in the eye I believe it was. I was called down to the office for assault. Mind you, while he assaulted me daily, no one cared. I dared defend myself that day and they spoke of suspension. They called my mom in, and she said “So you’re telling me this kid has been beating on her for months, you all knew, and the one day she defends herself SHES to blame?” I ended up not disciplined. I will always remember that moment and have done the same with my own daughter because I will NEVER let her feel like I felt, abandoned and alone at the hands of an abuser.
It went on for months. During this time I was brought in for weekly weigh ins. I was 88 lbs at the time, in my second year of anorexia. I hadn’t reached my lowest of 76 at that point. I was the weight of a ten year old, being beaten on the daily by someone twice my size. Who smirked when he did it, or saw me in the halls. Thought it was the funniest thing ever. And I had no voice because he was in our friend group. I had to suck it up and deal. After months, my older boyfriend went to his door to threaten him that if he touched me again he would retaliate, and it stopped. The abuse, anyway. The smirks never did. Even when I ran into him later down the road. He knew what he did, and he got off on it.
It was always in the back of my mind, but because it was a “friend”, I never saw it for what it was. I never realized all the people who watched and never spoke up for me were essentially accomplices in his abuse. To this day, 25 years later, I am effected. Not only because while in trauma therapy I am dealing with this and how it has effected how I deal with men in general, but because one of my nearest, dearest, and oldest friends is married to the old best friend of this person. He saw it all happen and never spoke up, and I can’t even be angry. He was a kid. He didn’t know it was wrong. Hell *I* didn’t realize it was wrong until later. We were “friends” right? But regardless, 25 years later, it’s in the back of my head, and I can’t get over it. I don’t speak of it, and to bring it up may have consequences. But I am going to speak my truth. This is my story. And I have to deal with it and how it has ruined my life.
I’m going to have a grandson here in the next 2.5 months. A boy I have to help mold into the world so that he will never do this to another person. That he will never strike fear into women. I was scared to get pregnant because I didn’t know if I could deal with having a son. I had a foster son at one point and I had to have him removed for reasons I will not go into here. Men terrify me. Things have happened in Kentucky that have strengthened this fear, no less than 5 accounts in under a year, on top of going to trauma therapy for this incident, and another with my father, and another with my brother. And now, I have no choice but to learn how to try to help my daughter shape her son into a man who doesn’t strike fear into women, while fearing that one day, regardless of how well he is taught, will he too hurt me? Or my daughter?
Women are taught from a young age, walk with keys in your hands. Don’t dress a certain way. Be submissive, never argumentative. We teach our daughters to not accept drinks, rides, friend requests. But what we need to do is teach our son’s acceptable behavior so we don’t have to teach our daughters to be in defense mode their whole life.