Being A Girl: A Brief Personal History of Violence

3 Dec

1.

I am six. My babysitter’s son, who is five but a whole head taller than me, likes to show me his penis. He does it when his mother isn’t looking. One time when I tell him not to, he holds me down and puts penis on my arm. I bite his shoulder, hard. He starts crying, pulls up his pants and runs upstairs to tell his mother that I bit him. I’m too embarrassed to tell anyone about the penis part, so they all just think I bit him for no reason.

I get in trouble first at the babysitter’s house, then later at home.

The next time the babysitter’s son tries to show me his penis, I don’t fight back because I don’t want to get in trouble.

One day I tell the babysitter what her son does, she tells me that he’s just a little boy, he doesn’t know any better. I can tell that she’s angry at me, and I don’t know why. Later that day, when my mother comes to pick me up, the babysitter hugs me too hard and says how jealous she is because she only has sons and she wishes she had a daughter as sweet as me.

One day when we’re playing in the backyard he tells me very seriously that he might kill me one day and I believe him.

2.

I am in the second grade and our classroom has a weird open-concept thing going on, and the fourth wall is actually the hallway to the gym. All day long, we surreptitiously watch the other grades file past on the way to and from the gym. We are supposed to ignore most of them. The only class we are not supposed to ignore is Monsieur Pierre’s grade six class.

Every time Monsieur Pierre walks by, we are supposed to chorus “Bonjour, Monsieur Sexiste.” We are instructed to do this by our impossibly beautiful teacher, Madame Lemieux. She tells us that Monsieur Pierre, a dapper man with grey hair and a moustache, is sexist because he won’t let the girls in his class play hockey. She is the first person I have ever heard use the word sexist.

The word sounds very serious when she says it. She looks around the class to make sure everyone is paying attention and her voice gets intense and sort of tight.

“Girls can play hockey. Girls can do anything that boys do,” she tells us.

We don’t really believe her. For one thing, girls don’t play hockey. Everyone in the NHL – including our hero Mario Lemieux, who we sometimes whisper might be our teacher’s brother or cousin or even husband – is a boy. But we accept that maybe sixth grade girls can play hockey in gym class, so we do what she asks.

Mostly what I remember is the smile that spreads across Monsieur Pierre’s face whenever we call him a sexist. It is not the smile of someone who is ashamed; it is the smile of someone who finds us adorable in our outrage.

3.

Later that same year a man walks into Montreal’s École Polytechnique and kills fourteen women. He kills them because he hates feminists. He kills them because they are going to be engineers, because they go to school, because they take up space. He kills them because he thinks they have stolen something that is rightfully his. He kills them because they were women.

Everything about the day is grey: the sky, the rain, the street, the concrete side of the École Polytechnique, the pictures of the fourteen girls that they print in the newspaper. My mother’s face is grey. It’s winter, and the air tastes like water drunk from a tin cup.

Madame Lemieux doesn’t tell us to call Monsieur Pierre a sexist anymore. Maybe he lets the girls play hockey now. Or maybe she is afraid.

Girls can do anything that boys do but it turns out that sometimes they get killed for it.

4.

I am fourteen and my classmate’s mother is killed by her boyfriend. He stabs her to death. In the newspaper they call it a crime of passion. When she comes back to school, she doesn’t talk about it. When she does mention her mother it’s always in the present tense – “my mom says” or “my mom thinks” – as if she is still alive. She transfers schools the next year because her father lives across town in a different school district.

Passion. As if murder is the same thing as spreading rose petals on your bed or eating dinner by candlelight or kissing through the credits of a movie.

5.

Men start to say things to me on the street, sometimes loudly enough that everyone around us can hear, but not always. Sometimes they mutter quietly, so that I’m the only one who knows. So that if I react, I’ll seem like I’m blowing things out of proportion or flat-out making them up. These whispers make me feel complicit in something, although I don’t quite know what.

I feel like I deserve it. I feel like I am asking for it. I feel dirty and ashamed.

I want to stand up for myself and tell these men off, but I am afraid. I am angry that I’m such a baby about it. I feel like if I were braver, they wouldn’t be able to get away with it. Eventually I screw up enough courage and tell a man to leave me alone; I deliberately keep my voice steady and unemotional, trying to make it sound more like a command than a request. He grabs my wrist and calls me a fucking bitch.

After that I don’t talk back anymore. Instead I just smile weakly; sometimes I duck my head and whisper thank you. I quicken my steps and hurry away until one time a man yells don’t you fucking run away and starts to follow me.

After that I always try to keep my pace even, my breath slow. Like how they tell you that if you ever see a bear you shouldn’t run, you should just slowly back away until he can’t see you.

I think that these men, like dogs, can smell my fear.

6.

On my eighteenth birthday my cousin takes me out clubbing. While we’re dancing, a man comes up behind me and starts fiddling with the straps on my flouncy black dress. But he’s sort of dancing with me and this is my first time ever at a club and I want to play it cool, so I don’t say anything. Then he pulls the straps all the way down and everyone laughs as I scramble to cover my chest.

At a concert a man comes up behind me and slides his hand around me and starts playing with my nipple while he kisses my neck. By the time I’ve got enough wiggle room to turn around, he’s gone.

At my friend’s birthday party a gay man grabs my breasts and tells everyone that he’s allowed to do it because he’s not into girls. I laugh because everyone else laughs because what else are you supposed to do?

Men press up against me on the subway, on the bus, once even in a crowd at a protest. Their hands dangle casually, sometimes brushing up against my crotch or my ass. One time it’s so bad that I complain to the bus driver and he makes the man get off the bus but then he tells me that if I don’t like the attention maybe I shouldn’t wear such short skirts.

7.

I get a job as a patient-sitter, someone who sits with hospital patients who are in danger of pulling out their IVs or hurting themselves or even running away. The shifts are twelve hours and there is no real training, but the pay is good.

Lots of male patients masturbate in front of me. Some of them are obvious, which is actually kind of better because then I can call a nurse. Some of them are less obvious, and then the nurses don’t really care. When that happens, I just bury my head in a book and pretend I don’t know what they’re doing.

One time an elderly man asks me to fix his pillow and when I bend over him to do that he grabs my hand and puts it on his dick.

When I call my supervisor to complain she says that I shouldn’t be upset because he didn’t know what he was doing.

8.

A man walks into an Amish school, tells all the little girls to line up against the chalkboard, and starts shooting.

A man walks into a sorority house and starts shooting.

A man walks into a theatre because the movie was written by a feminist and starts shooting.

A man walks into Planned Parenthood and starts shooting.

A man walks into.

9.

I start writing about feminism on the internet, and within a few months I start getting angry comments from men. Not death threats, exactly, but still scary. Scary because of how huge and real their rage is. Scary because they swear they don’t hate women, they just think women like me need to be put in their place.

I get to a point where the comments – and even the occasional violent threat – become routine. I joke about them. I think of them as a strange badge of honour, like I’m in some kind of club. The club for women who get threats from men.

It’s not really funny.

10.

Someone makes a death threat against my son.

I don’t tell anyone right away because I feel like it is my fault – my fault for being too loud, too outspoken, too obviously a parent.

When I do finally start telling people, most of them are sympathetic. But a few women say stuff like “this is why I don’t share anything about my children online,” or “this is why I don’t post any pictures of my child.”

Even when a man makes a choice to threaten a small child it is still, somehow, a woman’s fault.

11.

I try not to be afraid.

I am still afraid.

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The author, age 7

 

1,149 Responses to “Being A Girl: A Brief Personal History of Violence”

  1. Morgan April 28, 2016 at 6:46 pm #

    Thank you for being strong, you made me feel confident after reading this, having 2 boys I feel I can best do my part to educate them.

  2. alizarinrose79 April 29, 2016 at 12:00 am #

    I was raped and never told anyone. I thought it was my fault because I was very intoxicated at the time.

    • bellejarblog April 29, 2016 at 6:16 pm #

      I’m so sorry❤

    • Carmen May 1, 2016 at 11:45 pm #

      I was raped by someone who I thought was a friend while I was very intoxicated. It wasn’t your fault. Going out and having a few drinks, going out and getting drunk. That happens and it’s normal. What isn’t normal is what that man did. It wasn’t okay and you were not in the wrong. You are also not alone.

      • alizarinrose79 May 20, 2016 at 7:38 pm #

        None of us are alone, but sometimes we feel that way.

    • Allison May 8, 2016 at 7:00 am #

      I’m so sorry that happened to you, it def was NOT your fault. I hope you are not fearful, I am, I was almost rapped a few yrs ago, but I got away. I know that feeling of being powerless, but you have power, you have a voice. And I’m happy you shared it here. I hope you’ve found empowerment in your voice! Love, Light, and Peace.

      • alizarinrose79 May 20, 2016 at 7:39 pm #

        No matter how much I write about it though, I don’t feel victorious, or like a survivor. I still feel like a victim, and I don’t know how to change that.

    • Quentin Capes-Ivy May 16, 2016 at 4:34 am #

      I could have written this. Solidarity with you.

  3. Jennifer April 29, 2016 at 1:14 am #

    I highly recommend you read, or read again, the Gift of Fear. (Gavin deBecker)

  4. October April 29, 2016 at 2:14 am #

    At one point in life, not too long ago, I could relate very well to this… But now when I read it it feels like a place I used to live and haven’t driving past in so long I barely recognize it… I can’t really say how that came about but it has something to do with victimization and moving past it… I think self esteem and self confidence moved me to a better place and eliminating toxic and abusive people from my circle… Best of luck to all who still struggle…

  5. Rob Stanton April 29, 2016 at 4:27 am #

    The “men” you describe are not men. At best they are subhuman. Tiny little creatures who are so fearful that they need to attack anyone or anything they perceive as weaker than themselves. When the perceived “weaker” proves to be, in fact, to be strong their fear becomes hysteria. I think it very sad that you have encountered so many of these sad little crawly things during the course of your life.

    • Tewl April 29, 2016 at 11:25 pm #

      The real men need to step up and stop these insects. My daughter once told me that if she had been assaulted she most likely wouldn’t tell me. When I asked why she said “Because you wouldn’t kill him, no matter how hard he begged.” True, what I left would never be able to bother anyone.

      • Cindy May 18, 2016 at 12:50 pm #

        Letting them live creates a monster of another kind. Many times much more dangerous.

    • Jean Bertman May 1, 2016 at 8:00 pm #

      The males the writer encountered are not unusual at all in our society now or many years passed; they are the norm, real guy guys Perhaps bolder than many in certain circumstances (the dark, when egged on by buddies, the nightclub, when Mom isn’t around). Nevertheless, their behavior is acceptable and manly. But it is not, and must be curtailed. Be strong mothers: teach stronger girls, teach better boys to be better men.

  6. Ru April 29, 2016 at 6:34 am #

    Thank you for writing this. I am deeply deeply ashamed of my sex and the horrors that it’s shadow brings.

  7. randomletters April 29, 2016 at 3:55 pm #

    My story is even shorter. Being a Girl: not ever being violated because I was not neglected by my single parent, and was raised to take care of myself regardless of gender.

    • dreamingtoneverneverland May 5, 2016 at 6:51 am #

      well here’s mine. Being a girl: my parents raised me to take care of myself and stand up for myself and I was never neglected. I stood up to bullies and was labeled a bitch because I didn’t take shit from anyone. yet my ex boyfriend forced my head down and stuck his penis in my mouth and I told myself that it was okay. I didn’t want to but I convinced myself I did. why? I can’t explain. I have been violated in many other way by men I did not know in crowed places and it has nothing to do with how my parents raised me. her story, as well as many others, have nothing to do with how they were raised. thank you for completely missing the point of her story.

    • Rafael May 15, 2016 at 8:23 pm #

      I am so glad you enjoyed such a privileged life. Really, I am. Anyone who gets to grow up and not experience abusive behaviour is truly lucky. What do you suggest for those of us not born into such good fortune? Or who, actually, enjoyed a pretty damned privileged and careful life with two present and competent parents, but this did not magically prevent an assault by a male nurse at the age of 23 because what on earth about being ‘raised to take care of yourself’ could stop that?

      I hope you didn’t realise how cruel your comment would sound, or how strongly it suggests that you think that it is a parents fault if their child is harmed by third parties. I’m sure you would never post something so nasty.

  8. mar April 29, 2016 at 5:28 pm #

    I think a lot of women experience some sort of unwanted touching, if they care to admit it or not. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Nova April 29, 2016 at 6:34 pm #

    I read this because my straight male friend shared it on Facebook. What a beautiful piece of writing, and how incredibly important to say these things out loud. Not all women go through as much harassment as you have, but we all get our share. A majority of the men I know are great, and treat women no differently than they treat men. In fact, if anything, they’re perhaps kinder to women than to other men. But until they make an effort to get all of their mates to behave (and their mates don’t always behave), the underlying attitudes won’t change, the habits of the society remain and I look at that girl in a mini dress and think “How are you not afraid to wear that?”.
    Please keep writing and, if you can, reach out and share your message with as many girls and boys as possible. They can change the world.

  10. Rita Crespi April 29, 2016 at 10:29 pm #

    A

  11. Rita Crespi April 29, 2016 at 10:36 pm #

    Unfortunately, this is all too common. We need to teach our daughters to be strong and outspoken. If no one listens, tell a police officer or a friends mother. MAKE THEM listen. In the meantime, if a boy touches you again, punch him in the mouth. Make a scene! When his mother or yours asks you why you did that…TELL THEM!

  12. Jackie April 30, 2016 at 12:19 am #

    I’m near tears by the end of this. This is so absurd that it sounds like it has to be a book or movie, but I (and I’m sure most females) know all too well that it isn’t. I was raped as a child, and for 15 years, I hid it. I hid it because I was ashamed. I thought I was going to hell (thanks Catholic school). I thought I was dirty. Mostly, I thought it was my fault. Somehow our society has turned the blame to us, though many times violence and other attacks against women happen before we really even know what gender is. Thank you so much for being strong, for being vocal, raw, unapologetic, and brave. The world needs more of that! -YNWA.

  13. Kylaearl April 30, 2016 at 4:04 am #

    I think all women have some version of this story – some more horrifying than others, but all telling a similar story of not being listened to, not being considered, not being respected or protected by societal norms. Here are mine:

    1) At age 7 an older boy in the five and dime tells me he wants to f**k me as I pick out a new pencil case. I am not even sure what he means, but it scares the crap out of me.

    2) At age 11 a boy two years younger than me tried to convince me to show him my “kitty” when I was babysitting his younger sibling during church. He acted like I was the crazy one when I turned him down, repeatedly.

    3) At 14 a friend of my grandfather’s looked down my dress and routinely stared at my budding breasts whenever I was around him (which thankfully wasn’t that often)

    4) At 16 a boy (again younger) grabbed my breasts when we were standing in line at an amusement park.

    5) At age 23 a man I was in bed with continued having sex with me after I remarked that he didn’t seem to be having sex with me so much as just f-ing an inanimate object.

    I know millions of women have experienced far worse and that I am to some very large degree “lucky.” But doesn’t the fact that I feel “lucky” having experienced only slight sexual violence speak volumes?

    • Scarred May 18, 2016 at 12:33 am #

      “At age 7 an older boy in the five and dime tells me he wants to f**k me as I pick out a new pencil case. I am not even sure what he means, but it scares the crap out of me.”

      I am a guy, and this happened to me when I was in a religion class when I was 9 or 10. A girl my age repeatedly mouthed the words “Do you want to f**k?” I kept pretending I didn’t know what she was saying, and she just kept repeating it and staring at me. I sort of knew what it was, but her asking me this terrified me. I’ve never mentioned it to anyone before, but I still remember it like it was yesterday. I’m 47. Probably doesn’t mean the same since I’m a guy, but yeah… It’s terrifying.

      • bellejarblog May 18, 2016 at 2:58 am #

        Oof, I’m so sorry that happened to you. That’s scary for a little kid no matter what their gender!

  14. Chris May 1, 2016 at 2:24 pm #

    Your ignorant amazes me. It sounds like your a feminist who thing everything wrong in your life happens only because your a woman. You are not part of the problem, but your way of thinking is. No one pays attention to a death threat on your son, BECAUSE YOUR A WOMAN? Get real! I can sympothize to the bulk of this writing, but the ending…disgusts me. You’re looking for something but you’ll never find it. Maybe your naive readers can flock like sheep to you and your…nvm.

    • Bobby May 18, 2016 at 6:10 am #

      If “you’re” going to shout about ignorance you should probably be able to write a sentence that makes sense.

      I hope that “your” second language is English because that is the only acceptable excuse.

  15. Windy May 1, 2016 at 4:30 pm #

    Wow, I feel ya. I could add a few simular situations myself.

  16. Heather alrson May 1, 2016 at 8:04 pm #

    This is a very real look at society! Sad!!!

  17. notanotherrandomgirl May 1, 2016 at 10:47 pm #

    Reblogged this on Love Sex and Trauma and commented:
    We will not be silenced

  18. adamasahib May 2, 2016 at 3:23 am #

    I am saddened and so sorry to hear about all that you have had to go through. Reading this makes me realize that not only do I need to learn more about this but that I also need to speak up more and do what’s right, especially if I ever see or hear anything that needs to be addressed. Thank you for taking a courageous step by putting your story out there. It helps people like me better understand what is happening out there. For what it is worth, you are a stronger human being than I (and many men) are. May your resolve be strengthened.

  19. katy May 2, 2016 at 1:39 pm #

    Thank you for writing this, and I’m thankful for who shared it on facebook so I stumbled onto it. You speak to what probably many women experience from men and many are scared to speak up against. From the inappropriate comments in passing to the unwanted physical contacts from strangers. This behavior I NOT ok, and its is scary that so many men think it is ok and that woman have a “place” to be put in. And now with technology so rapidly infiltrating the , girls are going to be so much more a target for abuse.

    I punched a guy for inappropriate contact at a concert once, he wound back ready to punch me back luckily my big friend was there to stop him, he was eventually thrown out of the venue.

  20. lindyluwho May 2, 2016 at 2:25 pm #

    Thank you. For every hateful comment from a man, you’ve empowered so many women’s lives and have so many at you’re back. Never back down, don’t submit to their will.
    This makes me so angry, which is what it should do for anyone.

  21. Ruth May 2, 2016 at 3:30 pm #

    >:-0 wtf. This is terrible poor thing wtf

  22. Thomas Bewick May 2, 2016 at 6:33 pm #

    You did a really good job ! I really like the end when you say it’s a woman fault again ! It s so true that society and man want woman to feel guilty of being a woman ! I’m so ashamed to be a man when I read text like yours ! Thank you again ! Awesome text !

  23. Andrew May 2, 2016 at 9:38 pm #

    Thank you for writing this, and for your courage.

    I am a middle-aged, white married straight man, and for as long as I can remember I’ve been a staunch feminist as well. It is disgusting the way many men treat women, and there is no excuse or defense for it. Most states have laws against the actions you describe, and those offenders need to be charged, prosecuted and sentenced.

    Half of the population should not have to live in fear of the other half.

    Stay strong, eventually such behavior will be a distant memory (I hope).

  24. Shannon May 3, 2016 at 7:18 pm #

    Wow…… very beautifully written piece. I have faced many of these things and more in my day and can relate to the author. We are hated and loved at the same time. Hated when we speak our minds and stand up for ourselves and woman hood. We are loved by the same men that put us down and hold us down. Loved as long as we “behave” ourselves and do what the world thinks we should be doing.
    Our rape culture breeds this mentality of women are equal but less.
    We are objects to be treated what ever way men want to. Healing can begin with the way we are raising our sons and our daughters.

  25. Alma Jones May 3, 2016 at 7:58 pm #

    I am appalled reading all these items that women/children are still being violated in this way. We owe it to our children to speak up LOUDLY and at least humiliate these perverts so they may keep their hands to themselves .It really makes my blood boil.

  26. Ben ross May 6, 2016 at 9:14 am #

    Thank you for writing this. I got a small taste of this when I said no to a guy and he threatened my life. The whole community around us divided and the loudest voices were the ones trying to silence me and threaten me further. Court didn’t help, and it dragged on for two years. I’ve never lost the fear though. A small taste though.

  27. Erin woolerton May 6, 2016 at 2:13 pm #

    Wow..thank you for this. As I read..I remembered…today I will tell my granddaughters to speak up if any male or female does or says anything that makes them uncomfortable.

  28. keatonwrenitworks May 7, 2016 at 4:21 am #

    Thank you. Thank you so much. For posting this. For speaking up. For keeping issues like this in the forefront of people’s minds. Your candor and bravery are what can lead to change. Thank you. I don’t think I can truly express how much this means to me.

  29. Rodema5 May 7, 2016 at 11:05 am #

    Please listen and investigate when children tell you things that are going on in their lives.

  30. geralyn mott May 8, 2016 at 12:00 pm #

    very well written – very succinct. very well put. thank you. shared it on my FB page. Bravo!

  31. Maria Studholme May 8, 2016 at 6:24 pm #

    When I was 12 we had a long term PE substitute teacher. He was young, tall and he knew he was good looking. He quickly let the boys know that he was in charge and he ridiculed the ones who tried to question his methods. We girls were not expected to do anything except adore him. I remember one PE lesson, when he way lying down on one of the very thick mats, surrounded by the girls in my class. I felt very uncomfortable and besides, PE was one of my favorite subjects at school and I wanted to join the boys who were actually doing something actively. (I can no longer remember what it was but it is not important to this story). One week, the substitute decided that he was going to hug all of the girls. Some of the girls thought that this was a great game, some passively stood still while being hugged while others were frozen to the spot where he caught up to them. Yes, he chased after the girls. By the end of the week, there were perhaps only three girls left who had not been caught and hugged, myself included. We had our PE lesson at an outdoor ice rink. I love ice skating. Some of us girls were taking a break from ice skating, sitting on a bench, chatting with each other. The substitute teacher suddenly shows up and tells us that he is finally going to get his last hugs! I glee onto the ice, but my two friends are caught and hugged against their will. The substitute teacher has by now spotted me, his last conquest or victim out on the ice. He launches himself onto the ice wearing his winter boots. At this point all ice skating has seized on the ice rink, and everyone is watching me and the substitute teacher. I skate across the ice rink as fast as I possibly can. I get off the ice on the other side and run on the ground, still wearing my ice skates. My laces her working themselves loose and I start having a hard time balancing. I get back onto the ice in panic where the substitute teacher catches up with me and squeezes me, in front of everyone. I am completely humiliated. The substitute teaches smiles from ear to ear. He has conquered all of the girls in our class. We are all either 11 or 12 years old.

  32. Gudrun May 14, 2016 at 2:46 pm #

    When my daughter was 6 she had already taught herself to read and write. At my parents place she was doing a computer game on Spelletjes.nl tending to multi colored horses. When that got boring she clicked on the chat button. She got to talk to a man who told her about porn and asked her to masturbate. When she came home she told me about her encounter on spelletjes.NL. I contacted the company. They only answered my mails once and told me it was my respobsibility to watch my childs online actions and not theirs. I contacted the police, but they found it too complicated to do online research.
    I told my daughter it was goibg to be difficult to find the man that abused her. That look she gave me.
    It was then that I decided to bring down Spelletjes.nl. I mailed all politicians I could get to. l mailed newspapers, talkshows and celebreties. I told them to try out any chat function on the childrens game site themselves, to just log in as Katy, aged 11 ore somehing like that and watch what happened. Two weeks later Spelletjes.NL had closed its chat. So had all other childrens game sites. The pedophile network was discussed on the news, only then it became clear that for years men had lured girls into meeting them through the site. Pretending they were only boys. One girls had died.
    This is now 11 years ago.
    My daughter fears nobody. She knows that we will bring you down when you step over the line.

  33. thesnaggler May 14, 2016 at 6:53 pm #

    By the way, Jon, you are the problem. Looking so hard to make reality more palatable and convenient for you. You can listen or leave.

  34. Shana May 16, 2016 at 3:32 am #

    I am a grown woman, nearing 50, confident, companionable and careful not to give mixed signals. …and at least once a month, I still have to lay claim to a nearby male friend because my refusals are meaningless but another man’s ‘ownership ‘ will be respected.
    (I can always tell when just giving my marital status will only lead to “well, why isn’t he here? ” and outright accusations that I am lying about being married. )

  35. Mia May 16, 2016 at 12:39 pm #

    You commenters have it all wrong – Life is a series of challenges, the only way to become a healthy and positive influence in life and participant of life is by understanding the roof of those challenges – and RESPONDING to them appropriately. Fear is never the answer, neither is aggression. Blame is pointless. Walk bravely through ever day’s challenges, which means, UNDERSTAND other people’s limitations. Only ignorant people will say ignorant things, and act inappropriately. You don’t respond with fear, it’s a pointless reaction in these cases and won’t make you a better person, nor will it change your daily life. A brilliant proverb talks about the difference between carrying other people’s baggage, versus walking your path free of unnecessary burdens. Don’t accept comments if they are not going to contribute to your day, don’t give them weight by thinking about them and analyzing them. If they’re not for you to become a better person, leave them where they are and focus on what’s important. The only way to make a difference, and the only way to be your best human self is by having a laser focus on only those people, words and actions that MATTER in ways to propel you forward. Love, love, love. (: xox

  36. Lloyd Miller May 16, 2016 at 3:19 pm #

    I would not want to detract from the article, but only point-out that the behavior deplored is not only about sexism. Shy boys experience the same thing.

  37. gretagean May 16, 2016 at 10:56 pm #

    I feel sad. My experiences featured different faces, different acts, same cruelty, same senseless degradation, humiliation, violence, oppression, shame, complicit silence from adults who had a duty to protect –who, 40 years later still deny –….and yet there were acts of loyalty, and courage, dignity and strength….from the littlest, the skinniest….sometimes from a stranger or a boy I didn’t count a friend. There is humanity and hope, even in the cycle of violence. Step up, step out, and be a role model, even for strangers. Your actions count. You’re never too old to make a difference.

  38. Mimi Cushman May 18, 2016 at 1:22 am #

    Thank you for being courageous enough to share this story. Thank you for opening my eyes. I was in a relationship for four years and had no idea that his constant insults, jealousy, and belittling behavior was abuse. He would get angry and try to keep me isolated from people I cared about. He controlled my money, my interaction with others, everything. I had no idea….and I am a registered nurse. It was only after he physically struck me that I got him to go away. It never occurred to me that I could have gotten an order of protection based on the threats of physical violence alone. I felt so utterly stupid that I allowed him to keep me down…like it was somehow my fault that I was being abused.

    Thank you for giving other women the courage to speak up.

  39. Cindy May 18, 2016 at 12:45 pm #

    I’m so sorry. As a mom of boys, I hope I did a better job raising them to respect women. I think they had a father who helped also. It takes a good man to show boys how to do that best. This is not to say a mom can’t do that, it just helps. Please have courage to live your life. Bad men aren’t your fault. You did nothing to influence them. Thank you for sharing your story. Boys may be boys, but they have to be taught how to behave with girs/women.

  40. Sandy KS May 24, 2016 at 9:53 pm #

    It sounds you have had a hard life in dealing with irresponsible men. I am sorry. It is not your fault. I too have had some things happen I did not talk about. Some things I have never mention to anyone. When things like this happen, it hurts. I have a big trust issue because of what has happened in my past. I kept quiet. I realized if I didn’t start speaking up and out. My daughter would be just like me. I taught her to be outspoken. If she gets labeled as a bitch. So, be it. I would rather have that. Than hear her tell me bad things happened to her.

  41. Kitt O'Malley June 16, 2016 at 2:47 pm #

    Wow! Powerfully written. No woman should live in fear of violence or sexual violence. No son should. No human should.

  42. Krista July 9, 2016 at 2:16 pm #

    When I was in grade 5 in french immersion, we were looking at the dictionary because there were pictures of a naked man and a naked woman with their anatomy labeled. In the place of the genitals the word to name them was Le Sex. So about 5 boys cornered me and tried to find my ‘le sex’. They were all laughing, so I laughed too as they grabbed at my clothing and tried to pull down my pants and touch me. I did my best to stop them, but there were 4 or 5 of them. I laughed along like it was no big deal. I actually smashed the back of my head on the ledge of the blackboard where the chalk was held and pretended it didn’t hurt because I didn’t want to be laughed at for that too. That was the first of many, many times this that sort of thing would happen. I spent my whole life fighting them off and ‘laughing’ along while being terrified. I don’t do that as much anymore, but I’m still scared a lot. Sometimes I do have to smile thinly and keep walking or I get followed. It’s not okay. I’m sorry that you went through that.

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