I was eighteen years old and I was riding my bicycle home from the mall. I had just stopped at a stop sign and was looking for a break in traffic, to turn left in safety. All of a sudden another bicycle pulled up to my left and stopped. The man on the bicycle told me I had nice breasts and then proceeded to touch them.
In that short moment time seemed to stretch as I tried to process what was happening to me.
There was shock:
- This man was touching me
- I was on my bike
There was fear:
- This man was bigger than me
- This could get worse
- There was no opening in the traffic – how do I get away?
- Will he follow me when I move?
Finally a break came in the traffic and I rode as fast as I could to get away. I kept looking back and checking to see if he was near. He had not followed me, thank God.
As soon as I got home I changed out of my track suit that he had touched me through. I never wore it again. And then I told my parents what had happened to me. We discussed, and I decided I had to call the police. The police officer came very quickly and took my statement. Mom and Dad were with me. They immediately went looking for the Cretin, but he was long gone.
Both the constable and victims’ services followed up to make sure that I was okay, and offering support. They were awesome.
It was sexual assault, pure and simple. This cretin touched me and took away a beautiful part of me. I lost my sense of security. I now knew true fear. No longer could I imagine I was in control of my body or space and that even a busy street on a bloody bicycle was not a safe space.
I worked through my worst fears with time, and I think by reporting it right away I asserted some of my personal power in dealing with the incident. I understand that I did nothing wrong, I did not ask for it, and all men are not like that. It took a bit of time, but I dealt with the emotional shock and moved on.
But I did not talk about it to anyone after the initial reporting. It has been thirty-one years and I have not even talked about it with my closest friends. Hearing the Donald Trump groping tapes and watching how he has danced around an apology by trying both normalise his attitude and mitigate its effect by alleging that others are worse, have made me question my silence. If by hiding what was a life changing event from those close to me, am I enabling those that choose this behaviour, or support it, to somehow normalise it, to make it acceptable?
By coming forward now I am claiming here and now more of my personal power. What happened to me was wrong, and it was hurtful, but the shame belongs to the man who assaulted me, not me. My silence is over, and I am acknowledging its occurrence and its legacy. I hope that by doing so, I will be helping others, empowering them to deal with similar situations and to help rid society of the idea that groping is normal, or acceptable. I have been pleased to see how so many have come out to condemn such behaviour, but more needs to be done to fight the stigma of assault, and to prevent the habit of normalising the act of assault.