Warning: this story contains sexual assault.

Author’s Note: I will start by saying this: I will not include any real names in this story, especially mine. I don’t want my name attached to this story. Not yet at least.

This story begins in middle school; I was in eighth grade. It was a new school for me, with new faces. Everything was completely new to me. As the school year progressed, I became more comfortable, made some nice friends and memories. It was just one class that I hated going to.

My last class of the day was the worst class I ever had. The class subject was fine; I didn’t have any trouble passing the class. It was just this one person who was in my class. His name was Gordon, and he had the power to switch my happy face to an upset one in an instant. 

I had to sit close by Gordon. He was a bit shorter than me and was scrawny with a bit of muscle. At first, I thought he was one of those shy non-talkative types of people. I didn’t think he was going to be a problem, but I learned later that my assumption was untrue.

Over time, I noticed Gordon had a huge ego with a cocky attitude. He had that “I’m the best in every single way, and I don’t care what people have to say” personality. He was always a distraction in class and had been in trouble many times. He chose not to pay attention in class, but rather be on his phone and talk to people constantly.

He was also just not that great of a person. He insulted people for no reason and made people feel horrible about themselves. He called me fat, a hippo, ugly, etc. He said that to me and many other girls.

There was another thing that he did to the girls that made all of us very uncomfortable.

He would make sexual comments about every young woman’s figure in our class. He would make inappropriate comments about their chest, behind, and bodies. Sometimes he would even touch the girl’s private areas without their consent, myself included. To him, they were nothing but jokes. He didn’t apologize or seem sorry; he would laugh like it was nothing.

He did many horrible acts to every girl in that class, but I was targeted the most. Thinking back, I’m sure the reason I was targeted was that he liked my reactions. He would sometimes randomly touch my breasts or slap my ass in class. All I did was tell him off and become upset so upset that I would turn red. He knew I wouldn’t do anything to him and I knew that if I did anything, he would just continue.

My teacher never did anything. I know he saw at least a couple of times when Gordon would harass us. But still nothing.

I have a vivid memory of Gordon being rude to me and touching me one day. I made eye contact with the teacher afterward. Nothing. The teacher did nothing. He didn’t punish Gordon, didn’t report him, didn’t give him detention. The teacher did nothing to help us when we were too scared to ask for help. 

Hope for Gordon was lost after a while. Nothing made him stop so everyone tried their best to ignore him. Throughout the whole year, he continued being inappropriate and rude.

The whole situation with Gordon was not handled well at all. I wished back then that someone stopped him, did anything that would make him realize the way he was treating people was horrible. I wish someone had before what he did to me.

Around the end of the first semester, our class went on a field trip. I was pretty excited; I planned to do many fun activities with my friends, but Gordon was there. I tried my best to ignore him during the trip because I didn’t want him to ruin it for me. 

When we arrived, I decided to leave my backpack on the bus but after getting off, I made a last-minute decision to keep it with me during the trip. So I went back to the bus to retrieve it by myself.

Well, I thought I was by myself. 

I got on the bus and went to reach down the floor where my backpack was. As I reached down, Gordon came up behind me and pushed me down onto the seat of the bus. He pinned me down and held my head down as he covered my mouth. I was shocked and scared. I tried yelling at him to get off of me but my screams were muffled. 

He groped my breasts and he was so aggressive. I tried fighting back and pushing him away with all of my strength. I failed to do so. He was much stronger than me. He managed to receive all my hits like nothing and kept touching me. I remember him saying something but I couldn’t focus on what he was saying. All I could remember was him holding me down, touching me aggressively and having trouble breathing. He smiled the whole time as he violated my body.

I don’t know how long it lasted but he eventually stopped. He just let me go and walked away. He didn’t look worried at all. He left me on the bus, feeling hopeless. 

I cried for a bit before I went back to my friends with my backpack. I didn’t know what to do about what happened. I knew that Gordon had gotten away with things before so I thought telling someone wouldn’t change a thing. I decided to keep it to myself. I didn’t tell anyone. I didn’t want to believe that it actually happened and I felt ashamed that I couldn’t push him off.

For the rest of the school year, I tried my best to ignore him at all costs. I looked away from him and kept a huge distance between us at every moment. I didn’t want to make any contact with him. He kept making comments but didn’t touch me for the rest of the year.

We didn’t end up going to the same high school, which I was very grateful for. Over time, I eventually discarded that memory, but I remembered it again three months after I graduated from high school. I was thinking about my experiences with catcalling and why I am scared of men sometimes. Then that memory came to light again. 

When I remembered that moment on the bus, all the trauma came back. I cried for hours because I remembered that he sexually harassed me and I didn’t tell anyone. The feeling of regret and being violated came back. 

After I remembered, I couldn’t see men the same. When my male friend touched me (in a respectful way) or tried to play fight, it just made me scared. I even felt scared when my friends hugged me tight. 

I never had a problem with being scared of men before, but now when my friends do hug me or play fight with me, I become terrified. I can’t help but feel terrified. The thought of a male overpowering me races through my head and I can’t help but get flashbacks of Gordon. I know my friends won’t hurt me, but it’s hard to maintain that thought.

I hope one day I’ll fully recover from that day on the bus. I hope to play fight with my friends without getting anxious again. And I also hope Gordon is now more mature and learned to never treat anyone the way he treated me.

The kNOw Youth Media
The kNOw works to support and equip young people with the journalism and advocacy skills they need to tell their stories and the stories of their communities.

In 2006, over 25 youth began participating in weekly after-school writing workshops where they congregated in the hallway of a two-story building in West Fresno and learned the essentials of creating media and telling their stories. The group evolved over the next five years and is now proudly recognized as The kNOw Youth Media.

Through our program, we create opportunities for our youth participants, who in turn create long-term positive change in their communities. Our approach weaves youth development and youth media innovation to produce our biannual youth publication, multimedia projects, and community forums.

The kNOw began as a project of New America Media, which was the country’s first and largest national collaboration and advocate of 2000 ethnic news organizations. In 2018 The kNOw became a project of Youth Leadership Institute.

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