I was a victim of statutory rape.
Writing the title of this post was the first time I have ever actually admitted that fact to myself using those words. When I was in high school, I engaged in a sexual relationship with a supervisor from my job. In the state we lived in, this was illegal. He knew it, I knew it, and it still happened. Today, now that I am inching ever closer to the age he was at the time, I just want to fucking vomit.
A year prior to this relationship, my best friend (who was my age) died of natural causes. This dear friend was an amazing person and around the time of his death, the relationship was starting to develop into one of those awkward yet sweet first love sort of things. After he died, I was left emotionally reeling…..he had been the only person (and to this day remains so) outside my family that I’ve ever said “I love you” to, and I felt as if the glue that held me together just dissolved. I was searching for something, and looking back, I think that supervisor knew I was lost. I wanted so badly to feel that sort of love that I felt from my best friend. When I started working at that store, I thought that supervisor was nice….he even gave weed and alcohol to my friends and me! He listened to awesome music! He was so cool! Then, one day, he took me to the back of the store, pushed me against the wall and kissed me. It evolved into a physical situation. Looking back at diary entries, I realize that I was way in over my head. I wanted desperately for it to be something real, and I did things that I thought would make it real…but could never do those things without a joint or a shot. As I got closer to graduation, I felt more and more confused about the relationship. When I left for college, it ended.
After I graduated college, I started working in a high school….and was so shocked how young all of the students looked and acted….I started to realize that I too was young…that I, like these students, was a child. When I was in high school, I viewed myself as the epitome of mature….but I was mistaken. I confused high test scores with emotional maturity. I had the same emotional range and understanding as every other teenager. When I started working with kids, I thought more and more about that man…and still can’t wash away that stupid gross feeling about the situation.
I haven’t had a normal sexual interaction ever…a substance has been involved in all times but one instance (during which for some reason I still can’t fully figure out, I started bawling in the middle of…I feel terrible about the crying because it was actually with someone that I think truly cared about me at the time…and obviously it did not go anywhere after that). My freshman year in college, I was crushing on a guy who lived on my floor. He was nice and cute. I was in his room talking with him, and he kissed me. Things started getting physical, and I just asked him how he felt about me. He stumbled around and it became clear that I was just supposed to be for physical pleasure. I freaked out (probably more than necessary). I know I made him feel like a dog, but I just got so mad. I wanted to mean something to someone, not just be an object to further their pleasure, and up until now I haven’t felt like I could be anything else. To be honest, I don’t know why I’ve had such complicated relationships with men….although now I’m starting to wonder if my teenage experiences impacting my later relationships. Maybe not. Perhaps I’m just a fucked-up individual. Maybe it is all in my head. Who knows? All I do know is that I just really wish I never engaged in any sort of relationship with that man.
Teenagers are not capable of consenting in any shape or form to sexual contact with adults. Unfortunately, there are plenty of people out there who buy into the Lolita archetype…buy into the idea that teenagers have the emotional maturity to seduce an adult and have any sort of control in the relationship. I think that the media has contributed to the way these situations are viewed. Usually, teenagers in film are portrayed by adults. The scripts are written by adults. We view these teenagers on TV as adults in younger bodies, but that isn’t the case (and anyone who has ever worked with teenagers could attest to this fact). I think the Lolita archetype is why you get opinion articles like Betsy Karasik’s “Unintended consequences of laws addressing sex between teachers and students” published in the Washington Post (great buy Jeff Bezos…). She completely ignores the power dynamics in relationships between teenagers and authority figures and seems to confuse biological maturity with emotional maturity. I bet the Lolita archetype contributed to the awful comments Judge G. Todd Baugh made about Cherice Moralez (a girl who was raped at 14 by her teacher Stacey Rambold, and later committed suicide) being “older than her chronological age” and as in “as much in control of the situation” as Rambold. For some reason, the media is okay portraying these damaging adult-child relationships as romantic. Vanity Fair once called Lolita “the only convincing love story of our century” (I tried to read it once, but was so nauseated I couldn’t finish). I saw the trailer for a movie called The Lifeguard that is out in theaters….I’ve gathered it is about Kristen Bell’s character having a life crisis and she ends up “falling in love” with a sixteen year old. I’ll admit that I haven’t seen the movie (nor do I plan to), but if the trailer is any indication, essentially Kristen Bell’s character is essentially using a sixteen-year-old to further her own desires (find herself, escape responsibility…or some other bullshit). These relationships aren’t okay and they should not be portrayed as okay.
When I think about my inappropriate relationship with that supervisor, I feel a mixture of disgust and shame. I would never lay any blame on a teenager involved in a situation similar to the one I was in, but it is extremely difficult for me to extend that same belief to myself. I can’t help but feel so much blame for that relationship. I feel responsible for letting someone take advantage of me. Again, I know that I was an emotionally immature teenager and that supervisor was a full-grown man, but I just feel so damn stupid, disgusting, and weird about the whole damn thing. As I was writing this, I searched for that man online. I found one of his social media accounts, and it is so tempting for me to message him and ask him why he engaged in that conduct with me…and how the hell he could have found a teenager sexually attractive. I want to just scream at him. I want to fucking scream at myself.