TESTIMONIAL: Not a victim, but am I a survivor?

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TESTIMONIAL: Not a victim, but am I a survivor?

Emily Rabasto - The State Hornet

Emily Rabasto - The State Hornet

Emily Rabasto - The State Hornet

Shiavon Chatman

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I was 14 years old. He was older. Too old to be hanging around a 14-year-old.

I could see him watching me from afar when I was with my friends.

What the hell was he looking at … did he think I was ugly?

I had no idea he’d ruin me.

His stares made me uncomfortable, but he was a stranger. He knew nothing about me — he couldn’t hurt me. If I avoided him at all costs, he couldn’t hurt me. At 14 years old, you believe things like that.

But then he started to ignore me.

The stares stopped and he’d walk right past me. I was partially relieved and somewhat confused.

Did I do something wrong?

I didn’t want him to ever look at me again, but why didn’t he want to look at me?

You got what you wanted Shiavon. He’s gone.

I usually walked to Borders every day after school, but I wanted to wait out the rainy weather. It was a Wednesday and I was sitting on a bench on the far west side of campus doing my geometry homework.

I heard some footsteps from around the corner.

There he was.

He came and sat next to me in soaking wet clothing. He started to make small talk and I reached for my backpack.

OK Shiavon, we’ve got to go.

He grabbed my arm. That feeling in the pit of my stomach when he stared at me intensified.

I wanted to scream but no sound came out.

He put his hands over my mouth and told me not to say a word. My voice was muffled but I know he heard my resistance.

I felt the weight of his body press hard against mine. His clothes were still wet.

I wanted to call my dad. He’s always been my knight in shining armor.

Where’s my daddy?

He yanked at my pink sparkly belt and my Glee pencil case fell to the ground.

He was bigger than me and I knew I couldn’t outrun him. I kicked and hit as hard I could. The more I fought the more he held me down.

Dad?

I thought that it would be over soon and I’d be fine. My body froze. My tears filled my eyes like a shallow pool and my mind flooded with dark thoughts.

What did I do to deserve this?

Annoyed at my crying, he scoffed and said he had to “bounce.” I wanted to jump for joy but I still felt empty.

I patted my body. My pants were still zipped. My shirt still on. My eyes still wet. I hadn’t been raped.

The jovial moment was short-lived.

He was a stranger and he hurt me. I never told anyone. I was terrified what people would say and I didn’t want to relive it.

I overheard my family members for years say that it was the fault of the woman for putting herself in these situations or wearing clothes that apparently attracted men.

Would they think this was my fault for being in the wrong place at the wrong time? Or was it my actions that made him think it was okay to touch me without my consent?

But it felt like everyone already knew. It felt like I was wearing my own version of the Scarlet Letter branded on my shirt.

We tell young girls that they need to behave in a ladylike way to prevent these situations, but we never tell young boys to not create these situations.

He’s the reason I check the backseat of my car before driving off; the reason I’m skeptical of every guy that wants to take me on a date.

But he was also the reason I made sure no one ever touched me like that again.

One in five women in America have been sexually assaulted. 14-year-old me never expected to stand out.

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