I was assaulted by a stranger once, on an escalator on the Metro in Paris. I was there for my 16th birthday. I couldn’t get away, the escalator was packed, I was blocked in forwards and backwards.
Someone I love and trust was stood just in front of me, but I didn’t tell her or anyone else. I thought I should have yelled at the time it happened, and I felt ashamed that I didn’t. I thought I would be told off for not having shouted at the time. I somehow thought it had happened because I deserved it, to be treated that way, that maybe I had asked for it? (By standing on an escalator? By being out in public? By being in a crowded place?)
But I had been too scared to know what to do in the moment.
I was never taught what to do in the moment. I was never taught what to do afterwards. Of course I wasn’t. We always want to hope that our children will be the generation that has it different.
I didn’t see the person assaulting me, and I often think, how many others did they do it to?
I almost didn’t post this. There are so many other battles, all the time, clamouring for my attention. I’m like, really?! I have to open myself up, again?!
And I feel so much safer since I’ve been with Pete.
(Safer. With the “r”.)
And that’s why I have to post it.
Because I want Eleanor to feel safe whether she finds a “nice man” or not.
I want her to go to Paris, to take up space in the world.
And I don’t want Sam to have to carry around being a “nice man” for someone else. I want him to be free, too.
They’re closer, now, to the age I was when I was assaulted than I am.