This year my daughter turned two and I turned thirty, which is arbitrary, really, but still feels like a big deal.
We sat down together on a lopsided bench made from tree stumps, beside the sidewalk, under a silver lace climbing vine.I told him what happened, skating around the worst parts by saying as little as possible. He quizzed me about how much I’d had to drink and offered platitudes about the dangers of alcohol.We rehashed elaborate inside jokes that drew on years of shared history — one was a rude song we’d made up about an old classmate, set to the tune of “Oh My Darling, Clementine.” The boy and I had been friends for a third of our lives, strictly platonic.I thought of him as a weird sort of sidekick, or a jester who made me laugh and ran errands for me, and certainly not as a threat.Telling a different adult seemed easier, like practice, and I took it for granted that after I told my teacher, he’d offer solace and support, maybe even tell me what I should do.
I didn’t know what he would say, but I felt certain that it would help, and that I would feel better having told someone.
We attended a small, private, hippie-leaning alternative elementary and middle school that was a universe unto itself, and formed unusually close bonds with our teachers.
The teacher, a man in his early sixties, had made favorites long ago of both the boy and me. I knew I had to tell a grownup, but I wasn’t ready to tell my parents.
“Sexual assault,” was more palatable, clinical, even.
I got hung up on technicalities, like, if it was only oral sex, did it really count as rape?
In the years since, a conversation about rape and how we handle it as a culture has exploded, largely online.