I’m still pretty new at getting back to writing, so I don’t know how polished this will be just yet, but I want to throw some thoughts out.
So, this post. One of the things that stands out to me with more distance since it happened is that yeah, sure, I would certainly have done things differently. I probably would have taken more safety precautions, not met him in my dorm room, etc. But you know? I’ve gone home with strangers plenty of times and NOT been assaulted. The difference is that of the person who chose to assault me. So I don’t beat myself up any more about my choices.
What really strikes me, though, is how much a lifetime of having my body be completely devalued for being fat totally contributed to me being the perfect target for abuse. Since I was about five, my parents berated me for eating and being fat and not exercising and of course they “meant well”, but how does someone that young really understand that they were just disgusted by my fat and not me, as if again, my body were somehow a foreign grotesquity my brain was trapped in?
And of course it wasn’t just my parents. My story is nothing unique to fat kids at all. I was picked on on the playground, taunted, called a whale. (I remember my mother telling me that I should just tell them that “whales are beautiful and proud creatures and so I’m happy to be called a whale,” which, while I appreciate the sentiment as an adult, was about the least useful advice for elementary school bullying I can imagine.) The school nurse in 4th grade yelled at me because I came to her with a twisted ankle and she said that my ankles were so thick that she couldn’t tell if it was swollen. My orthodontist, during the three years I wore braces, would wait until he had his hands in my mouth and then tell me that I really needed to lose weight.
These instances – only the tip of the iceberg – were really painful to live through, although I have rarely admitted that out loud to people. Even now some of the shame lingers (hence my decision to write about it, get rid of it). But my overwhelming emotion now is anger. Anger that my body was not my own, but something public, something to be remarked upon, criticized, forced to be modified to become more pleasing to the people who had to look at it.
Is it any wonder that the man who sexually assaulted me felt he had the right to my body as well?