I am Anyone

When I was about 7 a boy at school tried to kiss me. I didn’t want him to. I punched him and somehow managed to give him a blood nose. Thing is, he tried to kiss girls all the time, it was his thing, and there were a group of girls and boys circling us when it happened, encouraging him to try and do it. No one thought it was wrong, everyone was laughing. I never told anyone either.

When I was 8 or 9 we were at a barbeque at a friend of my father’s house. He had a son who would have been in his mid teens. He took me into his room to show me some comics. Once inside, he shut the door and asked me to sit on his knee while he read them to me. I didn’t want to. He then offered me money if I would look at his penis. I ran out of the room. Later, he keep walking past me singing Linda Ronstadt’s song ‘I am a woman in love’ emphasis on the ‘I’ll do anything to get you into my…’ bit. I still can’t hear that song without feeling anxiety and panic.
I never told anyone about it.

When I was 11 or 12, I was biking home from school and had to go over a narrow foot bridge. There were two boys waiting in the middle of the bridge and I knew straight away that something bad was going to happen from the way they were looking and me and laughing. They were about the same age as me. I didn’t have a choice but to go past them and as I did, one of them grabbed my breast and squeezed it really hard. Then they both pissed themselves laughing. I was incredibly angry and yelled and swore at them but it just made them laugh more  – which upset me even more.
I don’t remember if I told my parents but nothing happened over it.

When I was 13, my first year at high school, a guy told people he’d had sex with me. I didn’t even know him. People believed him.
Later we became friends, but I never said anything to him about it.

When I was 14 I lost my virginity to a 21 year old man, whom I was having a relationship with in secret. NOW I see the all kinds of wrong that is – on his part.

When I was 16 I was seriously stalked by a much older crazy man. He followed me and my friend home from the beach one day. We ended up leaving the beach because he was lying on the sand close to us (in a nylon tracksuit), constantly staring, and he’d creeped us out. Then he started following us; we had bikes and so did he. We thought we’d lost him when we waited at a dairy until he’d gone past, but somehow he found out my name, where I lived, and my phone number. He started ringing me up and saying weird things to me that didn’t make sense, as well as turning up everywhere I went. I still don’t know how he knew anything about me or where I would be (definitely pre-facebook). It was terrifying. I was afraid to go anywhere alone. When I told my parents about him, they didn’t believe me. One night he turned up at my house. When I answered the door he was standing there, stroking his beard and telling me I was ‘the one’. When my mum walked past he left. My parents still didn’t get it but the next time he turned up I called out to my parents and my father went outside and spoke to him. He told my father a bunch of crap about how he’d met me at a place I’d never even been to. I know my father still doubted me when I told him it wasn’t true. I never felt like he took it as seriously as I was feeling it. But the creep left me alone after that. The next time I saw him was some months later when he came into a store where I was working. He had a young girl with him. I felt sick. Sick for her. Sick it was going to start again. He did come in another couple of times but never approached me. It was still enough to start the fear all over again.

I never went to the police because my father WAS the police and he didn’t think it was anything serious.

At age 17 I was in town, minding my own business, when a gang member started hollering at me about how he was going to rape me and break my legs so I couldn’t run away. Who would I tell that to? What difference would it make? People were around, they did nothing. I felt EMBARRASSED and ashamed. Also, terrified.

When I was 19 I got falling down drunk at a friend’s party. I’m tempted to justify that, but I don’t need to. I crashed out in the spare room and a guy I only vaguely knew came in and started pestering me for sex. I kept telling him I didn’t want to – I was barely coherent and barely conscious. He wouldn’t leave me alone and had sex with me anyway. I remember just wanting him to hurry up and come so I could go to sleep. I remember the door opening and closing and the sound of other guys laughing. I woke up in the morning and he was gone. Weird parts of my body hurt, including the back of my head. I think some of my hair was ripped out. I got my stuff and got out of the house as fast as I could. There was a guy I’d never seen before sitting on the front step. He looked at me with a shit-eating grin and asked if I’d had a good root last night and used my nickname.
I never told anyone. The shame of that moment and the one when I saw my rapist in town two weeks later and he made hip thrusting movements at me from across the road made sure of that. I found myself confused and unsure about whether it was rape or not.

Between then and now let’s reference the countless times I’ve had disgusting and/or threatening things yelled at me from cars or even dudes just walking past me.

The three times I’ve been in bar queues and someone behind me has put their hand/s up my dress and everyone around them was complicit with their silence or their laughter.

The time I didn’t know I was some creep’s wank bait when I was sunbathing at the beach until some people on the top of the bank yelled out.

The times dancing, at bands, bars, festivals, whatever, and strange men have come up behind me and put their hands on me – like it was just okay to do so. Without so much as eye contact with me, without any kind of invitation, or acquiescence, or CONSENT on my part. From behind me. I see this all the time and it disturbs me a lot. It’s very rapey. And what happens when I tell these rapey acting people to back off? They laugh. Or they get aggressive and intimidating. I’m subjected to insults and/or threats. But they don’t go away. And my day/night is ruined anyway.

I’ve had so many days and moments spoiled by men who think I’m public property somehow, just for being in public. Constantly leered at and stared at and objectified when I’m just going about my life, minding my own business, not seeking any kind of attention. Just being a person, the same as them.

Just two days ago I was followed through town by a man I don’t know who kept hollering at me even though I ignored him. He followed me back to my car where he then acted all aggressive and scary at me while I drove off. I still couldn’t say anything. Chances are it just would have triggered him to act worse anyway.

And the knowing is there, in the back of my mind, that this will NEVER end. I will be 70 and I will STILL have to worry about rape.