Recently a girl in my area was walking to her car after sports practice with a boy with whom she was on good terms. She had flirted with him a little at a previous football game and he figured that meant she wanted to hook up with him. Earlier in the day, she had told him she might be interested in starting something, but on the walk back to her car she decided that she did not want to do anything sexual with this boy and told him so when he brought it up again.
While she was putting her bags in the trunk of her car, the boy opened the side door of her car and got in. He wouldn’t move and she thought he was just trying to be funny, but soon it was clear he had no intention of leaving and it was no longer funny at all. She went to push him out, but he grabbed her and started making out with her. She told him to stop but he didn’t; instead he put his hands all over her. She tried pushing him off and told him to stop, but he wouldn’t for several minutes. He attempted to get her shorts off and put his hands up her shirt. She finally pushed him back hard enough that he stopped, but the damage was done.
Even though he did not rape her, the fact is this girl was sexually assaulted in her own car. To be clear, sexual assault is any type of sexual activity that a person does not agree to, and that is exactly what this girl experienced. She cried the whole way home and ever since she has been extremely worried about having to face him at school. She refuses to tell the school or the police because she doesn’t think anyone will believe her and she doesn’t want to people to judge her or whisper about her — despite the fact that she did nothing. She blames herself.
The problem is that many people, like the girl I know, are too scared to report instances like this because they don’t believe they have been sexually assaulted, or think it’s not “serious” if it’s not rape. This is a huge problem because many people who have experienced such assault must deal with the psychological and emotional after-effects. Many have to see their attacker every day. It is detrimental to their education, mental health and emotional health.
It’s important that individuals who have experienced instances like this know that what happened to them was assault, that it’s serious and that it’s not okay. People need to recognize that sexual assault is painful for the victim and that the men and women who have experienced it deserve help and support. They need to know that they are strong and deserve justice.
For more information on sexual assault, visit RAINN - Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network