I was sexually assaulted 28 years ago. I didn’t report it to the police but that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. It means I was afraid I would be doubted and judged.
I was 16.
I was with a friend at her boyfriend’s house and she wanted us to stay the night. I didn’t want to but I didn’t have a car and had no way home short of calling my parents who I didn’t want knowing I was there.
Her boyfriend also had a friend sleeping over.
This friend had been coming on to me all night but I wasn’t interested. There was only one bedroom, so we were stuck together in the living room.
He took the couch and I took the floor.
In the middle of the night, I woke up to him pressed up behind me, beating off on me. When it was over, he got up and laid back down on the couch.
I didn’t call the police.
I don’t remember going to tell my friend. (In fact, I don’t know if I ever told her at all.)
In shock and disgust, I laid back down on the floor, and went to sleep.
The next morning my friend’s boyfriend drove us all home. She sat up front with him, of course, which left me sitting in the back with you know who. We didn’t speak or make eye contact; it was excruciating.
I’ve mentioned this to a handful of people over the years, but mostly it’s an experience I’ve put behind me. In recent days, though, I’ve been asking myself what I might do if this person were running for president.
I don’t know how old the guy was who assaulted me. I know he was older – maybe 18 – but still, he was what I would now call a kid. For that reason alone, I might give him the benefit of the doubt. By the time he’s running for president as an older man, there has been plenty of time for him to change.
But if a tape of this guy came out bragging about forcing himself on women at the ripe old age of 59 years old, forget about it. This is who this man is and America needs to know.
Under those circumstances – nearly three decades later – I would come forward, too.
What a shame that I might be met today with the same disbelief and judgment I feared 28 years ago.
It breaks my heart to see #FakeTrumpVictims trending on Twitter with their vicious character assassinations of the women who allege Donald Trump sexually assaulted them. They’re calling them liars because they didn’t come forward sooner.
But here’s the thing.
The public shaming of one woman does nothing but reinforce to all women that there is danger in coming forward with allegations of sexual assault.
That’s why we don’t come forward sooner…or at all.
Meredith Simonds writes about women and anxiety at PlentyWoman.com.