It isn't ok. Assault is never ok. Bullying, whether it be in the form of words, physical actions or sexual assault is not acceptable.
So I've told the story before, as least I think I have. When I was in high school I was attacked by someone who had been a friend of mine. We were alone in the chapel (private school, remember?), it was fairly dark with worship music playing. He called me over to where he was and asked me a question. We talked for a few minutes.
He told me he liked me and wanted to know if I would go on a date with him. I told him no, I was seeing someone else. Before I knew it he was kissing me. "Well now how do you feel about me?" I wanted to scream, "I HATE YOU! I SAID NO!" but instead I just froze. I tried to tell him again that I wasn't interested. And in moments that happened so quickly I am not entirely sure how it happened, I found myself on the ground pinned down.
I didn't know it was possible for anyone to have that many hands, they were everywhere. I couldn't move. He was still kissing me, I couldn't pull away and I couldn't even scream. As he tore the buttons off of my shirt and broke my bra strap, I knew he was going to rape me and in my head I said, "God, help." Suddenly my attacker was against the wall as if he was being held there, staring at me with a blank "What just happened?" kind of a look.
I seized the opportunity and ran, clutching my shirt closed. I wore my coat for the rest of classes. I didn't tell anyone at first. I was so scared and so ashamed. A couple of days later, I told a youth group leader and she gave me the courage and even went with me to tell the school administration.
Here is the surprising part. The school did nothing. First they said I must have been mistaken. Then they finally called him in and he admitted to it. They gave him a one day in school suspension, which basically meant he did homework in the office instead of going to classes. I felt really devalued. My parents were pissed.
Now I know I don't always have great things to say about my mom and that I struggle with her a lot, but this time she did right by me. She went in to the principal's office every.single.day for two months until that boy was kicked out of school. He said he couldn't help it, that was just how he was. They tried to tell us that. My parents would hear none of it. My mom finally went over the principal's head to the director. Finally they acted.
A year or so ago I read an article in my husband's Sports Illustrated about a girl who had been sexually assaulted at school and the school refused to protect her. Her dad stood up for her. I remember reading it and being pissed that once again the school protected the attacker not the victim.
And folks, it is happening again. Read this blog. Ok, so Lillian wasn't sexually assaulted but she was still assaulted. She was hurt at school from bullying, hurt enough to need medical intervention and the school is protecting the wrong person. Her mamma and auntie are tough cookies though and they are advocating for her. Her story has moved like wildfire across the country.
I can't make every bully stop bullying. I can't throw every starfish back in the ocean. But I can make a difference for one. WE can make a difference for Lilly. I know first hand what it feels like for the school to say it wasn't a big deal, that I was exaggerating, that I was lying, and that he couldn't help himself. I know what it feels like when the people who should be there to protect you end up protecting the person who hurt you AND IT SUCKS.
I've written to the principal Nick Johnson (firstname.lastname@example.org) as well as to the superintendent Dr. Johnny Scott (email@example.com). I also wrote a note to Lillian to let her know that I stand with her and that she is worth fighting for. I'm tired of hearing about bullies being protected or rewarded. It isn't right. Tonight I decided to do something about it. It may only be one, but I'm going to stand up for this one. And if I hear of another who needs support, I'll stand up for them as well. Someone needs to change the world. Why not us?