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hs123
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So I've typed this up a bunch of times and deleted it because I didn't think it was worth it, but now I'm up two hours early because I can't sleep so I guess it's worth it...
So, two days ago I was at graduation practice and we were all lined up and one of the guys in my grade who was standing behind me came up behind me and grabbed me really innappropriately, and it really freaked me out. One of my guy friends literally pryed him off of me because I was crying, and about 10 other people in my grade saw, and also my principal saw, but she didn't even say anything, she just turned her head-which is weird because I go to a religious school and we're not allowed to touch each other, so I don't know why she didn't do anything, I mean, I was obviously in distress...

And now, the girls in my class are acting like I'm some sort of slut, like I brought it on myself or something. Like I hear them talking behind my back and all, when this kid is a guy who is a known jerk. I mean, all of the senior girls had a meeting about certain guys we didn't want to come to our graduation party because we were scared that it would get out of hand, and he was one of the two, but all of the sudden, I brought it on myself?! Also, I keep hearing them say that there must be something going on between us because if there wasn't then the principal wouldn't have looked away, and I feel like screaming at them to use some decent logic! Like if there was something going on, if I wanted him to touch me I wouldn't have started crying when he did, and he wouldn't have had to be pulled off of me!

Anyways, I don't know if I should tell someone higher up than my principal. My friend wants me to, but I think that would make my grade hate me more, when I wont have to deal with them in a month anyhow... Mostly, I'm just really upset with my principal for not doing anything about it, I'm not even so upset with the guy because it's something I would expect from him, it just brought back really bad memories of things.

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Heather
Executive Director & Founder
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I'd absolutely have a talk with your principal, especially since you saw her see the incident and do nothing against your school policy.

Ask for a meeting, go to that meeting and calmly explain the whole of the situation, and voice both feeling as if your principal did not enforce a school rule and explain what you've dealt with, part of which may be because she did not do anything and thus left this open to be interpreted as treatment you wanted.

Beyond that, the best you can do when you hear someone talking is to simply make clear that you were grabbed in a way you did not want to be grabbed, and resent the implication to the contrary. You can also make clear you are disappointed your principal did nothing.

Unfortunately, this kind of behavior is typical and pervasive. If you want a great read on the subject, Leora Tenenbaum's "Slut: Growing Up Female With a Bad Reputation," is all about how that label is often applied to women who are being harassed, who have been raped, who are in a different racial or economic class than peers, etc. But in time, talk does tend to fade when the next big thing happens, so in the interim, I'd just have that meeting and old your head up, even though I understand it isn't at all easy.

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About MeGet our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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hs123
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So I had that meeting and it went terribly. My principal basically just made a million excuses... She said since we weren't on school property (but it WAS during school hours) it wasn't her responsibility- which is ridiculous, I mean, when people go on field trips, they absolutely have to abide by school rules... Also other extenuating circumstances make it so this specific guy absolutely cannot touch me or any other girl in the school. Also she said that she thought maybe we were going out, and I said she should have realized that when my friend slammed him against a wall, and I got hysterical and he carried me out of the room, we weren't going out, and she said that she did but she couldn't do anything about it then. And I said I was dissappointed that she felt that my friend was enough authority in that situation, because he's not.
I also said that even if he were my boyfriend and and he touched me like that during school hours and I didn't seem to want it, it scared me that she just turned her head, and she was just like, yeah i'm sorry about that.
So I don't really know what to do, she didn't really seem to care what I said, and had a defense for everything.

Like, she didn't say, I'm sorry it happened, it's my fault I shouldve stepped in and done something... Nothing!

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Heather
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She may not have reacted well to what you said, and may not have taken responsibility, but you were heard, and you were able to say all of this.

It sucks, but plenty of times, that's just as good as it gets.

If you want to do more than that, you obviously have the option of something like writing a piece on harassment being dismissed for your school paper, things like that, but it all depends on what you're willing to further open yourself up to, and what you feel like you really need here as a result/product.

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About MeGet our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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hs123
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I feel like there's not much more I can do without people getting fired/kicked out of school... And my school doesn't even have a newspaper, and wouldn't allow stuff like that to be written in it even if it did.

The thing is, when things like this happen in my school, since they so rarely do, they last forever. So I know I'll be the school slut till the end of the year, no matter what I say to anyone.

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Heather
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Well, a lot of us have lived with that reputation and other like it, and it always stinks. My last year in public school before I switched to an art school, I was often known as "that girl who killed her boyfriend," a particularly painful -- and false -- rumor since my boyfriend had very violently committed a suicide I would have given anything to prevent.

But things like this aren't usually about truth, but about social strata and bullying.

That's not me saying this is okay or inevitable, nor that a person can't do anything about it.

Again, you could take more action, but if you feel that someone being chided at their job or being suspended because of participating in or enabling this isn't an acceptable possibility to you, then that's a choice you're making. So, it's all about what result you're seeking, how proactive you're willing to try and be, and what results you feel you do and do not want to be possibilities.

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About MeGet our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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hs123
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The problem I have is that the results I don't want to happen are what are going to happen if I take the next step, which would be talking to the religious leaders and director of our school, since I don't really have any other option.

They would almost definitely kick this kid out, a month before he's about to graduate, which I just don't see as "worth it" because it's not like that's going to make him a better person, it'll probably only make him worse, and my grade will hate me. And, they'll almost definitely fire the principal...
I just don't see this stuff as neccesary. I see it as neccesary to reinforce the rules, and to hold some sort of seminar about these types of things, to reeducate teachers who don't have any idea about the prevelence of these things because they're a) older, and things like this- though they happened a lot, weren't as on the rise, as they are now, and b) in my school at least, teach in either a boys school or a girls school, so when the boys and girls come together they don't even seem to think it's innappropriate behavior for something like this to happen.

As much as we usually try to hide everything from the religious teachers in the school, I wish one of them wouldve been there because they wouldve flipped out- which was kindof the reaction one hopes for when they're in that situation.

But yeah, I've had really bad flashbacks all today. I just don't like to be touched by guys I don't trust, it just freaks me out. Like, my skin is crawling. I feel gross- especially because he came up behind me, like I didnt even fight, I was such an idiot, I just froze. I feel gross.

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hs123
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maybe im just complaining about nothing, i dunno
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orca
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I wouldn't call sexual harrassment nothing. I think your complaints are more than warranted. I'm sorry this has caused such a bad reaction, both in your school and emotionally for you. You can't blame yourself for freezing. You were at a school function with a lot of people around you. No one expects something like that to happen in that place, and no one should have to.

Really though, it's up to you whether or not you take it to the religious leaders. It sounds like that principal could certainly use a reality check and someone breathing down her neck making sure she makes some real changes. Might people be upset at you? Sure, but people always get mad at those who try and make change for the better. (Margaret Sanger certainly never had it easy for being so active.) But this is really something to decide based on what you feel you can handle at this point.

I wouldn't blame you for not going to the religious leaders and saying something. High school is hard enough without having to deal with something like that and the aftermath of going forward about it. There's always the option of waiting until after graduation and then telling the religious leaders about it, or even sending an anonymous letter about the situation. I hope, though, that this is something you talk with your therapist about (you are still going, right?) as it can definitely be a set back in the healing process and your therapist would be able to help you with it. Maybe he will even have some suggestions on how to handle it at school.

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Listen, strange women lyin' in ponds distributin' swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.--Monty Python and the Holy Grail

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hs123
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yeah, i still go to therapy, its a she now though cuz my therapist left the practice he was in so i got switched... but i didnt tell her what happened cuz i go to school with her daughter, eventhough we're not in the same grade, i thought she probably already heard what had happened and i'm just really embarassed about it.

i mean, i think because on the outside i literally had no reaction to anything going on, people thought that i wanted it to happen. like most people probably wouldve slapped him or done SOMETHING. but on the inside i felt like my throat was closing up, and i was starting to cry but nobody could really see that except for my friend. and at first it wasn't bad because he was just saying really crude and degrading stuff into my ear and i was about to turn around and tell him to shut up but then he grabbed me and i just froze up.

uch, i'm just pissed off. i feel gross, i so dont like being touched by guys i dont trust which has become most guys.

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orca
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I can't blame you for that. I think most people don't like being touched by someone they don't trust. I know I don't (and it takes a while for someone to earn my trust).

There's a chance your therapist hasn't heard about the incident, and even if she did, it doesn't mean you can't talk about it with her. She's not allowed to tell people what you say, including her own family. If it bothers you that her daughter and you go to the same school, you may want to look into going to another therapist. Either way, I do think this is something you should talk to a therapist about. It's hard enough to heal from sexual assault without something like this happening to put us several steps back in the healing process.

I know people's reactions is causing you to feel bad or embarrassed about it, but you shouldn't. You did nothing wrong. I think it would help if you didn't make excuses for people for not understanding what was going on and if you stopped blaming yourself for your reaction. If your friend could tell it was bothering you, then you couldn't have had such a strong poker face on that no one else could tell either. Just because no one else spoke up doesn't mean they didn't notice, and you shouldn't make excuses for them about it because it will only cause you to feel bad, which you shouldn't.

Also, it's hard to know what most people would have done in that situation. Everyone reacts in very different ways, and freezing up isn't an unusual reaction in the least. In our society, we like to think that unless someone is very verbal about not wanting a certain kind of attention, then deep down they must want it. But that's simply not true, especially when you consider how historically women have been socialized to acquiesce to everything a man does, even if it really bothers her, because otherwise she just wouldn't be a "good woman." Passivity is not consent, just as much as a slap in the face is not consent.

I'm sorry that no one else was willing to put a stop to it, but it sounds like you do have a very wonderful and caring friend there.

[ 05-03-2008, 12:27 AM: Message edited by: orca ]

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Listen, strange women lyin' in ponds distributin' swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.--Monty Python and the Holy Grail

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hs123
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I know I shouldn't blame myself, but on the opposite end of the spectrum, if I weren't blaming myself this little bit, I'd be blaming everyone else for not noticing what was going on, and I'd be freaking out about how incredibly unsafe I feel, and spinning into a world of anxiety over it, so I'd rather just blame myself for a little bit, because I know there's no in between. I either freak out, or just say I was really stupid. And I can deal with saying I was stupid, even if that's wrong of me to say.

But after this happens I start to wonder if I'm doing things that somehow like, I dunno, attract these people to me. I mean I don't think I am, but like, there are at least 10 other girls standing in the room and this guy didn't touch them... I dunno... And my ex-boyfriend/bestfriend dont know what we are now...comes up with the most invalid arguments as to why maybe these people are attracted to me, and like he knows theyre invalid like he can hardly get them out because we're laughing so hard, but at the same time I wonder if there really is something about me that i need to change

I dunno, but I always feel like Im doing something wrong.

And i think my friend cares a little too much. he got really violent which just kind of scares me, and he just told me well that's just kind of how the guys are with each other, and i was like oook, well i get that but you weren't just playing around like he looked like he wanted to kill him. i dunno it puts a lot of added pressure on me.

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orca
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It sounds like it's time to have a discussion with your friend then about what you feel is appropriate behavior in that situation and how it makes you feel when he acts so violent. You may also want to explain to him that while you understand he was concerned for you, that you don't approve of so much violence and that it really scares you and gives you a lot of anxiety. I'd also point out that that isn't "just how guys are with each other" and that it's a learned behavior that can, and should, be changed.

As for whether you are doing something to attract these guys, no, but there are certain behaviors people may have which will make them an easy target. One of the things sociologists and psychologists will say is that if you appear to have a lot of confidence and strength, then you are a less likely target. So one thing you could do is practice every day in front of the mirror looking confident and strong. You might even try different poses or repeating something aloud to yourself, reminding yourself that you are strong (because you really are). This doesn't mean that anybody has the right to treat you that way just because you may appear to lack self-confidence or that it is your fault they treat you like that. No one deserves it, and no one should have to put up with it.

--------------------
Listen, strange women lyin' in ponds distributin' swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.--Monty Python and the Holy Grail

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hs123
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I tried to tell him that today, and he said better I get you out of it violently then not get you out of it at all...
Posts: 401 | From: USA | Registered: Sep 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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