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Violence

Hi, I'm sixteen and am turning seventeen in three months. Last April on my spring vacation, my supposed best friend and her boyfriend set me up. I guess I'm trying to say is he forced me to have sex with him and she watched. For the rest of the weekend he kept tickling, touching, poking, prodding, and forcing himself on me. He wouldn't stop ... he even watched me in the shower (it had a glass sliding door, he stood in the doorway of the bathroom and gawked at me). I've never felt so dirty and worthless in my entire life. I came home and didn't tell a soul exactly what happened, I've actually never been able to talk about everything that happened that night. I did tell my friends I had sex and didn't want too.. my close friends knew I was upset, but they didn't/don't think it such a big deal.

Ever since I just can't be with guys. I know its irrational but I've actually felt that having sex again will make me dirty all over again. I was scared of guys, sex, having it, and feeling the way I did. I was so scared it's going to happen again. Writing this it sounds so childish but my world is falling apart, I just don't know what I want anymore. The anniversary date of when this happened is in a little less then a month.. recently I've wanted to do all these things I wouldn't normally and I just haven't cared. I don't care about staying out past a certain time, and or getting in trouble, I don't care if I make it into the AP classes that I've been wanting to get into since freshman year, I want a tattoo, and now even sex. I just want to..I don't know and at the same time I know it's not something I want to do but I just want to get it done before that day comes. Does this sound weird? My mom had read my journal this past Dec. She didn't even care, and it said EVERYTHING. I think her not caring hurt me more then the fact she invaded my privacy. But It's not like I have a relationship with her anyway.

I'm seeing a therapist but I don't like talking about it even with her. I just want my life back.. I want control and everything around me is changing. I've even started making myself throw up after I eat. I hate myself, my friends have told me if I get any skinnier there won't be anymore me (this was before I started) but it's as if I have control over it I guess.

He ruined my life.. when he forced himself on me, what he did was why I felt dirty, etc., except I allowed myself to feel that way. He was responsible for what happened, I'm responsible for how I let that affect me. He wasn't the one saying not to trust people, he wasn't telling me sex was dirty or that doing that again would make me feel that way, he wasn't telling me to fear all men, that was all me. Of course, I acted the way I did, thought, felt, the way I did because of what he did, except he wasn't the one making me feel that way - I was. I don't hate him anymore I don't even know if I ever did, I just don't like what happened I'm not angry anymore, and I don't hate him..I'm not happy about how he acted, his actions, or the act itself. I forgive him, but not what happened. Does that make any sense? I'm not over what happened, I don't know if I ever will be.. but I feel for me to not forgive him, or to hate someone - in order to have such a strong feeling like that for someone they must have meant a lot, and I don't care about him at all. The things I wanted after this happend, to wait until I met the right guy or was ready not caring if it were a year or 5 years down the line, now I just want to hurry and get everything over with.

I started getting interested in feminism sometime after this happened, at least I think it was.. I know it was somewhere around the same time, I was reading up on a few pro choice sites and one thing lead to another. I so much want to aspire to be independent, and not worry about trivial things, and or be tied down. I want so much to get away, get a job in a business corp. or open a private practice.. I don't care too much for having children anytime soon.. I just want to get away. All I do is look forward to small events, vacations, and what may happen over the years. When I read or watch TV its as if I'm escaping for a time being. I want to be anywhere but here, living with my family, and what happened. I don't really know what I'm asking and I'm sorry for wasting your time, I just don't know what to do. I'm scaring myself.. .. I just don't understand why I have to hurt so much over what he did.

Thanks, T.

(Also your site said to say if we cared if what we write was posted, I don't mind.)

Thanks so much for your note to FEMINIST.COM. Though I do wish that you were writing under better conditions. First of all, you do not have to apologize. Reading your note was anything but a waste time--mostly because when I was 14 I had gone through a similiar situation. The point of my e-mail is not to compare our situations, but to say that you are ten steps ahead of where I was with this.

When I was in 8th grade I went to a party, passed-out because I drank too much. The next morning I woke up with my sweatpants and underwear down around my ankles with no recollection of what had happened. I later learned that this guy had taken advantage of me while I was passed out. I learned this because my friend watched the entire thing happen. (Amazingly we are still friends and I often say to her "what were you thinking?" She was scared to speak up, scared to go against the grain. So I imagine that your friend is similar.)

The worst was yet to come, which is that I spent the next days and even years being called a "slut" and internally feeling awful. While he spent that time being glorified. Therein lies the real injustice. Why you are many steps ahead of me--is that I didn't tell anyone--(I didn't even tell my mother, but I don't think she could have heard it). This maybe what is happening with your mother. Though she probably knows what happened, she doesn't know how to broach the subject and talk to you about it. Maybe she is also respecting your privacy, by waiting for you to bring it up.)

Anyway, I continued to think that it was my fault--and thus be riddled with guilt. I do believe that talking about these things is the first step toward feeling better. One, because it releases the pressure of the secret and, two, you realize that you aren't alone. It's only with this initial step that the healing can happen. You realize that you aren't alone, you aren't dirty....I know that my saying this won't wish away all of your feelings and thoughts, but hopefully it will point out that you are moving in a positive direction and by talking about it now, you will clear a future path that is somewhat free from this pain. You need to do this yourself, but your therapist can certainly help. Also, you have to know that not all guys are this invasive. However, some are. It's not healthy to will away sex from your future life. But you can make sure that all future sex is not violent and invasive, but wanted and equal.

I really am at a loss of words. and now I'm babbling. Please let me know if you want to clarify anything, if you want to talk or if you just want to know that I'm hear in cyberspace should you need a friend.

I would also advise you look at my suggestions in past answers in this section, as well as resources under our Violence Against Women links.

 

FOLLOW-UP NOTES

Amy,

Thank you so much for responding to my email (I know that is the whole point of "Ask Amy," but I figured you got so many emails that I wouldn't hear from you for awhile.) and thank you so much for what you said.

I'm terriby sorry about what happened to you when you were fourteen, I'm sure that must have been hard for you (or anyone for that matter.) . Recently I've read up on this sort of thing (violence against women/different forms/etc,) and it seems that in many cases like yours and mine that the woman (or victim) ends up blaming herself for what has happened.

I don't know if you mind my asking (if you do please disreguard my "?") but after that happened to you, I know you said you felt awful for years - did you eventually tell anyone? Your mom as time passed? I have felt the way you had, but I can't imagine how I would handle it if people would have said those things to me. Did many people know? (((((((hugs2amy))))))))).

You're probably right about how my mom was acting, I only found out she knew when she yelled at me for things I wrote in my journal about HER. (It just came out then) It wasn't even mentioned until I said I wanted a therapist, even now we don't talk about it but I don't want too (not w/ her).

I don't think you were rambling at all, and if you do ramble like that then you can to me anytime ~smile~.

I appreciate your talking with me. I'm sure you're a very busy woman, with this, the magazine, and Third Wave. I think its wonderful that you started that, from what I can tell (but maybe I'm wrong) is that you know what you want and you go after it. In my opinion to do what you do one would have to be outgoing, independent, determined.. and that's wondeful. People like that are the ones that make things happen.

I do hope I haven't taken up too much of your time, I would like to talk sometime if you'd ever want. Hope you have a good weekend.

xoxox..

FROM AMY:

Thanks so much for your note--and sorry it has taken me sometime to respond. I was actually away and am now uncovering from everything that piled up in my absence. Your note meant a lot to me--it was so genuine--and thoughtful. I don't do what I do because I want recognition for it, but every now and then I feel invisible. Your note helped make me feel very visible--so thank you.

Reading your note I realized that not only did I not tell my mother then, but I don't think she even knows now. Now, I don't really care, but then I didn't want her to know. And, now, I can't quite figure out how I could work it into the conversation. Also, I feel that she might somehow think that she could have prevented that from happening to me. If she doesn't know yet, she certainly will someday.

Actually, the first time I ever really acknowledged that it happened was when I was in college and approximately 7 years after it happened. I was actually at a Take Back the Night March, but in my mind I was really there to support other women who were telling their stories. Then I realized that I had a story so similar to the one's these women were telling. The weirdest part of the entire story is that when I realized this--I was randomly sitting next to this woman that I knew, but not that well. We were more friends of friends--though I always thought she was a really nice person. It turns out that she was actually the cousin of the guy that did this to me. I knew that beforehand, but it wasn't until that moment that I realized the irony of it all. I think I might have said something to her--something to the effect of--"oh, I had an experience like this--and it was your cousin that did it to me." I can't remember if I really said that or if it was my subconsience speaking. If I did say it--that was pretty rude, because she has no bearing over her cousin.

After I had that moment of reckoning I never shied away from talking about it. The only people that had known about it prior to me telling them--were people from my middle school. In a small town rumors spread pretty quick, so it started with the group at the party and spread from there. Of course, I was labelled a slut and he was "congratulated." Oh, the double-standard. A colleague of mine actually just wrote a book on this very topic--SLUT. It will be in bookstores by this summer. If you send me your address, I can send you a copy.

I think that's all--but obviously please feel free to write again. I hope you are doing okay.


Amy

 

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