I was an early bloomer. Very early. First they targeted my body. "Do you stuff your bra?" was a common question my classmates asked in fourth grade. One boy seemed to get a kick out of commenting about how gross I was. I wore baggy clothing, and jeans that were two sizes too big. Then I couldn't sit at a lunch table without someone saying :no wonder she is so fat if she eats like that." I was nine when I first became bulimic. The violence increased until one classmate was pushing me against walls, pushing me down stairways, stealing my homework, and sexually harassing me by telling sex jokes to other students about me, and shoving items like pencils and rulers down my clothing during presentations.
I first tried to kill myself when I was nine. Small things - like being pushed out of line - made me burst into tears. I had nightmares, never at lunch, and saw my circle of friends change every week, depending on who was willing to talk to me.
I hardly told my parents about anything. I had it drilled into me in first grade that tattlers were annoying, and telling someone was useless. I told a substitute teacher that I was pinned against a wall with a chair; I still do not know if my teacher ever found out.
I did not own my body. I did horrible things, and frequently planned out various complicated ways to kill myself, since my mother was and ER nurse, and there was a fire station just down the road.
The only reason I survived was thanks to a very loud and demanding dog, who refused to be shut out of my bedroom.
Finally the school acted, towards the end of the year, when my mother threatened to call the police. She knew about the pushing and shoving, and the name calling. She wouldn't hear about the other abuse - that continued until Junior High - until I was in high school, and then I told her even more in college.
At 23, I have grown so used to sexual harassment that it took activist videos and testimony from other women to make me see what was happening. I have developed health concerns due to my eating disorder, that went untreated for years, and still have trouble remembering how I escaped from violent situations. I still have people ask me why I didn't fight back, question the reality of what I tell them, or ever suggest that I "liked" what happened to me.
But I am a survivor. And a writer. I tell my story in almost every piece of writing I do, though none of it makes sense, and there is so much that is left unsaid.
I can think of five people who stood up for me during the years I needed the most help. A teacher that jumped in a reported the violence. Two students who warned me about tacks hidden around my desk and the handles of my backpack, and warned me when they saw anyone go through my backpack.
This all makes no sense. But the hardest thing - the worst thing - was seeing how what happened to me affected my parents, my older sisters, and my relationships with other people. But if it weren't for them, and one very persistent toy poodle, I wouldn't be here.
By writing some words below, you are showing your support and letting everyone know they're not alone.