Being a girl is scary: Me too

When I was a young girl, my mom warned me about being completely aware of my surroundings. She warned me to be careful where I went and who I hung around. She gave me this advice to protect me from a society that wouldn’t. But there are still bad places you can end up in and never see the danger coming. 
This place for me was a school bus. The things that happened to me one day when I was in forth grade has affected my life forever. I blamed myself because I had developed early. I had a womanly body and my wardrobe wasn’t adjusted to suit that because my parents still saw me as their little girl. I WAS a little girl. But I noticed how men looked at me like I wasn’t, and it scared me. So I tried to protect myself like my mother said. 
I felt like she must have some history or knowledge on the subject because she often questioned my sister and I. She was always making sure to ask “did anyone say or do anything inappropriate to you? If anyone touches you inappropriately or makes you uncomfortable tell us immediately. If they threaten you still don’t be afraid to tell us. If we are not around find another adult you know and get help.” 
When the time came, I froze for a while. I was on a school bus leaving my lutheran grade school which should be a safe space. I let my guard down only to be attacked by a boy two years older. He sat behind me on the bus and he kept sticking his hands down my pants. When I realized what was happening, I froze. But then I regained my composure and asked the little girl sitting next to me can I change seats, and sit next to the window. 
It started to happen again. He switched seats with his friend and started to stick his hand through the space between the window and seat. He started to grab my breast and I sat forward so he couldn’t reach me. He stretched his hands and pushed his arm through further to reach me grabbing at my butt and chest. The little girl next to me noticed. I stood up and started yelling help. The bus driver looked at me through her mirror and yelled “you better sit down before I come back there.” I kept saying help, help and the bus driver just yelled at me to be quiet. 
The little girl next to me was two years younger than me but she knew something was wrong, so she started yelling help too. Her brother was in my class. He would have her sit next to me to keep her safe while he hung with friends. I got worried my attacker was going to go after her. Her brother was sitting across from us. He noticed too, and told the boy to stop. His sister and I kept saying help, help as loud as we could but was ignored by the woman bus driver. The entire bus ride home I was squirming and dodging his hands. I kept switching spots with the little girl and he kept switching spots and putting his hands down my shirt or pants.
I just wanted to go home and get help from my parents. When we arrived at my house my parents weren’t home. So the bus driver took me to my babysitter down the street. She knew something was wrong because I kept crying. The other children that she watched, that went to my school and rode my bus, knew something was wrong because I kept crying. I kept saying “I want my mommy and daddy.” I don’t know why I didn’t want to tell her what happened. I felt shamed. So she kept calling my parents telling them it’s an emergency they need to come get me. 
When my parents came and got me I didn’t want to tell them for a minute. I just kept crying and hugging them. I was just so relieved to be home. To be out of that situation and with my family. Finally I told my mom and dad what happen. I describe the entire event. My parents were extremely upset and called the bus company and the school. No one believed them. 
The next day when the bus driver came to pick me up, my father went out to talk to her. He asked her did she see what happened to me and the bus driver called me a liar. She claims she was watching us and nothing like that happened. She said I kept making a ruckus on the bus and I was about to get in trouble and I was just covering because of that. My father said “maybe you weren’t paying attention” which made her mad; she started cursing my father out. My father decided not to send me to school that day and told the bus driver to go without me. The bus driver went to the school and told them that my father threatened her life and ask them the call the police. 
When I was questioned I stood up for my father and I told them that he did not say what she said. The bus driver used to flirt at my father and my father didn’t flirt back which used to make her mad. As a child I realize a grown woman was punishing me for that and lying. The school questioned me about the incident on the bus. Things got worse from there. 
The school questioned the parents of the boy and took his side. His parents were well liked and very active in the school. Despite the fact that I was not the type of child that lied. Despite the fact that I was a quiet obedient child, the school labeled me a liar. His father and mother got into shouting matches with my mother and father. Suddenly the whole school wanted to know what happened. 
I told my two “best friends” what happened. They didn’t believe me because the boy in question was really popular and all the girls liked him. I felt so alone with no support system at school. My parents asked the bus service to make sure the boy stayed away from me on the bus and they refused. My parents were paying good money and they wouldn’t even keep their child safe. So they switched me to another bus company. They asked the school to make sure he didn’t come around me and THEY refused. So whenever I saw him in the hall or at recess, he would come around me and I would go a different way. He would laugh and say to his friends “she still scared of me.”
I wanted to transfer to another school but my parents said “you have to be strong & stand your ground.” When he graduated I thought I was finally free. But his brother still went to our school so he still came around. His father taught a money management class to my 7th grade class, and was cold to me because he thought I lied on his son. 
The worst part was one of my “friends” that didn’t believe me kept putting me in situations where I would be around my attacker outside of school. She was boy crazy and she really liked him. She didn’t believe me and must’ve thought I was lying because I must’ve had a crush on him. I kept telling her “you need to be careful around him and I don’t want to be around him.” She kept bringing him up in conversation telling me how she thought he was so hot and asking me if I thought he was hot too. I would tell her I hate him and he hurt me and I don’t want to talk about him and she would just keep talking about him. She would call me up and tell me “I saw him pick up his brother today he looks so good.”
Things got worse after I graduated grammar school. I kept hanging out with my friend, and she would ask me to come to her brothers peewee football practice. When I would get there my attacker would be there watching his brothers team play football. My Friend would say “let’s go over there and sit with him. I want to talk to him come with me.” I would refuse and she would ask why, and I would tell her “because of what happened to me remember?” She would say “girl come on” pulling me over to him. She would sit down and I would walk away, and go for a walk. She would come squealing to me “girl why didn’t you stay he was talking to me he was so cute.” I was so distressed at the fact that my friend didn’t understand what I’ve been through. 
This went on for a while she would ask me to come to her brothers football practice. I would ask her will he be there? She would promise he wouldn’t be there and beg me to go so she wouldn’t be bored. I would go and there he would be, and my friend would try to get me to come with her to flirt at him. I started to resent my friend and hung around her a lot less. It seemed like whenever she would call me it would be to report on a sighting of my attacker. She wanted to talk about how she thought he was so cute and I didn’t want to even hear his name. 
She did this all the way till senior year. She did this until the day after my prom when she called me crying because he was killed in a car crash coming home from college. I felt weird about it. The first thing I thought is why would you call me to tell me he died? Then I felt bad for his family and his brother. Then I felt relieved because he won’t hurt anyone else. Then I felt guilty for feeling relieved that someone was dead. My friend asked me to come with her to his funeral and again I refused. I tried to explain to her that I’m the last person his family wants to see at his funeral. She didn’t quite understand. I feel like our relationship has been damaged because of her lack of understanding. 
I started to think now I will be free but that day on the school bus has changed me. I’m scared of men. Whenever a man is cat calling me on the street and he follows me for too long. I’m always afraid it will happen again but worse. When male coworkers pay me too much attention, and claim they keep forgetting I’m married when I bring up my husband as a defense mechanism to get them to go away, I’m afraid. I’m afraid no one will believe me. I’m afraid my curves and the way my body is very voluptuous will betray me one day. I hate my body. I’m afraid that people will say I had it coming because of the way I dress. I’m afraid that mothers and fathers won’t teach their sons how to respect women. I’m afraid for the little girls that I taught at church. I’m afraid for my little niece.
I really shouldn’t be afraid, but people in this world don’t have women’s back. Especially if you’re a black woman. We are overly sexualized and people believe that we brought it on ourselves somehow. I never forgot the teacher that said my leggings were to tight and that’s probably why the boy was interested in me. As if it was my fault. No one ever said boys should keep their hands to themselves.

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