CN: sexual harassment
Decades ago, when I was in fifth grade, a boy on the bus groped me while we were on our way to school. The way he sneered as he touched my thigh, the way he mockingly said my name solidified a lesson I’d begun to learn from years of being bullied: be invisible. Be invisible. Be invisible.
Perhaps the strangest part of the incident was that someone reported the incident–I was certainly too shocked to say anything at the time–and told a teacher that I’d hit the boy. Except I hadn’t touched him. I tried to be invisible. I couldn’t hit him. I couldn’t move. I cried, but I couldn’t move. I tried to be invisible, then and later.
Except my attempts at being invisible didn’t protect me from further incidents of harassment, both at school and later in my life.
So I’m done with trying to be invisible. I couldn’t hit back at the boy then, but I can hit out at the shame that comes with being harassed.
And I can add my voice to others who remind us that harassment and assault start early. Education to prevent harassment and assault must start early too.