My first assault was by a cousin when I was very young. When I was 19 a city bus driver tried to groom me by telling me I had to sit at the front of the bus. A few bus rides later he told me I had to kiss him to get off the bus. Finally he grabbed me and pulled me to his lap. I got away and never rode the bus again. A coworker when I was in my 30's decided since our birthdays were the same day that I had to give him a birthday kiss. I never went to work on my birthday again. I can imagine how these men talked to other sexual predators about their hunt and conquests. I never said anything about the bus driver. It was years before I told anyone about my coworker and only then because I was called out on being angry with him.
There are of course more incidents that have occurred. I think we have an opportunity here to talk. To talk about our experiences. To unearth the secrets. To realize that this was not our fault. We did nothing to bring it on. There are some men on this planet who prey on women and children. They have a strategy that involves being charming.
I invite you to let others know about your experiences. Let's support each other. Let's change the national conversation. Let's challenge the norms that allow this harmful culture. Let's teach our boys how to treat people respectfully, to take responsibility for their actions, talk about their feelings and experiences. Let us treat ourselves and each other with respect.
On your mark, get set, go!