Today had been a pretty great day. No lines at Kings Island, our local amusement park. The threat of rain kept the crowds away. My 13 year old brought a friend with her and had been enjoying the independence of riding the rides on their own as I waited below. As our day was winding down we headed back to the kids area for one last ride to appease my 4 year old.
As we crossed passed the middle of the park we came within ear shot of a group of young teenage boys. No older than my own teen. So the words I heard come out of their mouth shook me to my core. Fuck yeah, I’d rape her. I was stunned for a moment thinking there is no way I just heard that right. I swung my body around in time to see one of the boys start humping a bush as to demonstrate the sexual assault he just shouted at my child.
I had a chain of 4 children hanging onto my hand and let go and started angrily staring and approaching the misfits until they ran. Every fiber in my body wanted to grab these kids by the scruffs of their necks and find their parents and have them explain the obsenities they hurled. But, I couldn’t. What’s worse is that my kids didn’t even know why I was having an out of body anger experience because they had no idea what it meant.
We were steps away from the the kid coaster and the kids got on, unscathed by the awfulness. But, I was NOT ok. I called my husband and relayed what happened. He was angry and spewed what he would have done. In short, if either of us had had followed our first instincts we would have been arrested.
But, he said a phrase that got me thinking. He referenced me as an angry mama bear. Don’t hear me say that I was mad at him. But, this is bigger than that. I am not just angry as a mom. I am angry as a woman, I am angry as a human. I am angry as a sexual assault survivor.
As I originally wrote this post, it was therapeutic for me to write down all the details of my experiences with boys and men who found their urges and crude humor more important than my well being. But, those details don’t bring anything to this situation or my past. But, know that while I am ok now, I will forever stand in the gap with survivors because I have been there in varying degrees of hurt, none of which were ok. None of which I asked for at any age or event.
I am angry as that kid. The one who had no voice. Who listened to the man who told me not to tell.
I am angry as the teen who thought this is just how boys and I should “have known better”
I am angry as the teen who spoke up only to be ridiculed and questioned for reporting it.
And yes, I am angry as a parent. I am angry at these kids parents. Rape culture begins at home. The way you teach your kids to treat and respect others on the playground leads to how they will treat others later on in life in the bedroom and beyond.
So to those teens who cackled with laughter while yelling Fuck yeah, I’d rape her. I am not just angry at you, I am sad. I am sad that no one taught you better. I wish I could have approached you without fear that I would have been out of line. I wish I could have shook some sense into you.
But, I didn’t and I couldn’t. But this is what I can do. I can live out in the open as a survivor instead of carrying it as a secret. I have carried over 30 years of shame that these things must have been my fault.
So, there it is. I am trading my shame into my story. I won’t hold it in anymore. I also won’t accept that boys will be boys. I won’t accept that he as a good man who made one questionable decision. I won’t accept that they didn’t “mean it”.
I will stand for what is right. I will teach my son to protect and honor women as much as I will teach my daughter about self respect and defense.
I hope the parents of these boys see this and can teach them before it’s too late. If you are a parent let’s stop blaming culture and start having the hard discussions that stops this in its tracks. Rape culture starts at home and as parents we are at the front lines of stopping it.