How can anyone call attempted rape by a seventeen year-old “rough horseplay” or “simply part of the natural order of things. Boys, figuring out how to be men” –?
Don’t believe that for a second. As soon as a boy or man claps his hand over a girl’s mouth, it becomes an act of violence.
Don’t breathe a word
When I was thirteen or fourteen, a boy tried to drown me in a swimming pool at the neighbors who lived at the end of my street, Bramley Drive, in Independence, Ohio. I often played with their son, an only child. I don’t remember his name, but he was a few years younger. I don’t remember why I was at their pool party, or the occasion, either, only that there were lots of cousins. One of them was older than me, maybe 16, and cute.
When dusk came and everyone moved inside, I took it as my cue to go home. The older cousin came back out and asked, “What about one last swim before you go home?”
I thought he liked me. I was a young girl with foolish ideas about romance.
“Sure,” I said, and joined him in the pool. The night lights were on. The shimmering water was so pretty. He swam out to the deep end, facing me, smiling like an invitation, so I followed. He pulled me close — my stomach fluttered in anticipation (might he kiss me?) — and then he put his hand on the top of my head and shoved me underwater.
Was this a game?
I didn’t get it at first. What strange play was this? I thrashed and kicked and he let me up, but didn’t let go. I gulped air and then he pushed my head back underwater. Again, I kicked. I managed to get up for another gasp of air only to have him to shove me down and hold me under. I fought like crazy, summoning every ounce of life I had. Years of swim lessons and summers spent at a club pool made me a strong swimmer and somehow I managed to claw free. I scrambled out of the pool and ran home, heart pounding, without looking back.
I could have ran inside the neighbor’s house and screamed my head off, but I was embarrassed. I had no idea what his family might think of some dripping wet girl who said, “Hey, your nephew tried to drown me!” I didn’t want to ruin their party. I was ashamed at having been tricked. I told myself I was stupid. I never talked about it until I was an adult. But I never forgot.
Clearly assault, not play
My sense of trust was violated. For a long time, I would awaken at night, legs kicking, heart screaming, terrified that he was holding me underwater again. The memory of the event is as vivid now as it was then.
Was this horseplay? If so, what fun was it for me? What he did strikes me more as psychopathic, or sociopathic behavior. He didn’t try to rape me, yet his actions were all about cruelty, entitlement and violence. I call it assault. If I hadn’t have fought back, he might have drowned me.
Stupid or not, I learned my lesson. I no longer trusted so easily.
I imagine the terrifying memory Dr. Ford has of Kavanaugh’s hand over her mouth as he tried to keep her from screaming. What might have happened had she not fought back? And simply because she fought back, and therefore wasn’t raped, is no reason to brush such an attack aside, or call it rough horseplay.
I didn’t drown; that doesn’t mean I wasn’t assaulted.
This is not boys being boys. This is the abhorrent behavior of boys who have no regard for someone else’s life or well being.
Linda K. Sienkiewicz is the author of the award-winning novel In the Context of Love, a story about one woman’s need to tell her truth without shame.
2017 New Apple Book Awards Official Selection
2016 Sarton Women’s Fiction Finalist
2016 Eric Hoffer Book Award Finalist
2016 Readers’ Favorite Finalist
2016 USA Book News Best Book Finalist
“…at once a love story, a cautionary tale, and an inspirational journey.” ~ Bonnie Jo Campbell, author of National Book Award Finalist, American Salvage, and critically acclaimed Once Upon a River,and Mothers, Tell Your Daughters
“With tenderness, but without blinking, Linda K. Sienkiewicz turns her eye on the predator-prey savannah of the young and still somehow hopeful.” ~ Jacquelyn Mitchard, author of the #1 NY Times Bestseller, Deep End of the Ocean
Publication announcement: Linda’s essay “My Horrible Celebrity Crush” is included in this new anthology from McFarland Books!
IDOL TALK: Woman Writers on the Teenage Infatuations that Changed Their Lives
In the midst of acne, social anxiety and training bras are the teen idols that make adolescent life a little more bearable. Whether their cutouts are plastered on bedroom walls or hidden behind locker doors, there is no denying the impact of these stars on young women. This collection of new essays explores with tenderness and humor the teen crushes of the past 50 years–from Elvis to John Lennon to Diana Ross–who have influenced the choices of women, romantically or otherwise, well into adulthood.
IDOL TALK is a great gift idea for a woman of any age!
Edited by Elizabeth Searle and Tamra Wilson, Foreword by Peter Noone
252 pages, 70 photos