It was bad but it could have been much worse. I was new to that school and I didn’t have any friends yet. Therefore the people I’ll be referring to were simply my peers.
There were four of us in total, three males and me. Three of us were in the basement, the boy whose house we were at was upstairs. Clayton and Timothy grabbed my arms and legs and carried me as I squirmed, fought and verbally protested. At first I was just annoyed but when I saw where they were carrying me my blood ran ice cold.
It was a room, with a bed. The room was dim, a bluish light from the small window illuminated the mattress on the floor with the blanket that was slightly askew. We had just started seventh grade.
I struggled harder but they were stronger than I was, the sheer terror of realizing I couldn’t get away is something I’ll never forget. They put me on the bed and just as they were getting me held down firmly the boy whose house we were at came downstairs and asked in a stern accusatory tone “What are you doing?” They both began talking at once, scrambling to make excuses for themselves but he wouldn’t have it. Embarrassed they let me go and we all left. They walked with me back to the school and from there I walked home alone.
We were all the the house of this hero kid but he came with us. It was after school and he was already at home but he came along. I assume he did so because he couldn’t in good conscious leave me alone with them after what he walked in on.
The four of us walked back to the school and then went our separate ways. I walked down the long alley of back fences, crab apple branches heavy with fruit overhanging them and I felt like I was dreaming. I knew this new classmate had saved me but I didn’t know what to do with that. I wanted to make friends, I didn’t want to believe that the worst could have happened, but I knew in my gut that it could have. This had been like my introduction to being a woman in the world of rape culture. Unfortunately there wouldn’t always be a brave boy around to step in and save me.
I separated myself from all of them after that incident and tragically I remember the names of the boys who so easily stole my agency but I don’t remember the name of the boy who stepped up. That big stocky kid in the basketball jersey who would not let them hurt me any more than they already had.
He did not need to physically intervene or really do anything except speak up and make clear to them the obvious wrongness of their actions. They could not carry on their shameful behavior in the light of that question. “What are you doing?” He didn’t even need to tell them to stop.
Women are pretty good at looking out for each other because we know what can happen. But it’s much harder for us to stop a man from doing something than it is for another man. When a man (or in this case a boy) calls out another man on his behavior he becomes an example of how men should act. He points out to that other guy how wrong his actions are without needing to spell it out. I told those two “no” sixteen ways from Sunday and that didn’t mean squat to them, but the second another male questioned their behavior they stopped.
Think about it, if this male is willing to carry a girl kicking and screaming to a bed and hold her down there, why would he care if another girl tells him not to do that? What women want or think is obviously not in his concern. To him they have no power, their feelings don’t matter, they are just ripe fruits to be picked.
There are a lot of websites with detailed tool kits explaining exactly how to be like this kid who saved me and I’ll link a couple below. As Dumbledore said to Neville Longbottom “It takes a great deal of courage to stand up to your enemies, but a great deal more to stand up to your friends.” Don’t just be a bystander, be Neville Longbottom.