It’s strange how with age, memories of my youth come back to me in waves.
Vivid memories, snippets of conversations I had dozens of years ago and events down to the detail replay in my mind.
Both good and bad memories occupy space in my head.
One memory I’ll never be able to shake is triggered from time to time and although it’s a part of my past and I’d rather keep it there, never to be recalled again, I know writing about it will help. And sadly, I know I’m not the only one that this has happened to.
26 years ago, just before my fifteenth birthday I was attacked by a fellow classmate.
I was living in Banjul, The Gambia in West Africa at the time. My parents worked at the American International school that I was attending. There were fewer than 200 students in the entire K-9 school, it was a very close-knit ex-pat community.
I had invited him and a dozen other friends to my birthday party. We were at a discotheque at a hotel. The song, “Casanova” by Levert was playing when I left the dance floor.
He followed me into the women’s restroom in the lobby of the hotel, stared at me over the stall and then by the time I had tucked in my aqua tank top and zipped up my white pants to vacate, knowing that this scenario was wrong, he pushed me back into my stall and wrapped his hands around my neck causing me to pass out.
He didn’t say a word.
When I came to, my pants were undone and his hands were groping me.
I lost my mind.
I have no idea how long I was out.
I screamed, I yelled, I clawed at him and chased him out of the bathroom and across the lobby.
I picked up a heavy glass ashtray and threw it at him. It shattered on the marble floor.
I was like a rabid dog out for blood.
I was 14. I had never been touched my anyone that way before.
He acted like I was crazy and the hotel staff was bewildered. Security officials eventually stepped in and escorted him off the property. At the time, I didn’t realize that was the least of my concerns. Come Monday, I’d have to see him in school. There were only seven other students in my class so there would be no avoiding him.
The hand marks around my neck turned red and scabbed by the next morning. I told my parents what had happened. I stayed home from school on Monday and cried most of the day. My father, the principal of the school spoke to him and his father, an apology was made, but never to me directly, our desks were moved as far a part from one another as possible and I was never left alone with him again.
I realize what happened to me was attempted rape and had we been in this country, he would have been charged with that.
Prior to the attack, he had repeatedly expressed a romantic interest in me and it was never reciprocated. We were friends. I didn’t ask for this. I wasn’t dressed provocatively (not that I even knew what that meant or was at the time, nor should it matter anyway), I had been drinking, but was by no means drunk. My memories of what took place that night are crystal clear.
A teenage boy took advantage of me and used his power for his sick pleasure and it has stayed with me for life.
This post was written for Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop, Prompt 3. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Inspired by Carol, a blog friend hosting a walk in honor of her daughter Shaniel who recently lost her life due to domestic violence.
Domestic violence or any other violence against women should not happen. Ever. Period.
If you or someone you love is being abused, please contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE).
My attack was not by definition considered domestic violence, but violence nevertheless.
I am also linking up with Shell’s Pour Your Heart Out.