I think I was 18 or 19 when I was almost raped. My best friend and I went to her boyfriend’s apartment with another mutual friend of ours. We knew him — we went to high school together — and we’d come back to hang out during a break in college. I knew I wouldn’t sleep with him. I wasn’t “like that.”
But I had been drinking. We all had. And so when my friend went into a bedroom with her boyfriend, I went into another room with the friend. I knew almost immediately it was a mistake. My usual protestations didn’t work. When you’re a girl who likes to flirt, but not “go all the way,” you get used to getting out of such situations. But he got rough. He pinned me to the bed. I was saying no. He wasn’t taking it for an answer. I was finally able to push him off and lock myself in the bathroom. I was for all intents and purposes a grown woman. I was in college for God’s sake. But yet, still, I’ve never shared this almost-rape with anyone besides that friend. Not even my husband.
So to see high schoolers, children in my eyes, stage a walkout in support of classmates who say they were raped is the ultimate act of bravery for me. The alleged victims, three girls of varying ages, claim that the same assailant — a student at their school — raped each of them and that they were subsequently bullied by him.
The protest was spearheaded Monday morning by a group that has now also spawned a hashtag, Yes ALL daughters.
I don’t have daughters, but the callousness of the alleged assailant chills me to the bone. That could one day be the voice of my son talking about someone’s daughter that way — and it scares the hell out of me.
That these students have the gall to walk out of their classrooms, to shirk the authority in order to bring attention to what they see as grave oversights in their school and its system speaks volumes to me. We all have a voice, whether we were raped, “almost raped,” or know someone who was raped. And until we stand alongside those who are brave enough to use their voices, we will never put a stop to this.