Under Canadian law I’ve actually been sexually assaulted several times.
1) In middle school, a male peer decided my ass provided too great a temptation and held onto and forcibly humped me. I reacted by bursting into tears and never really understood why I wanted to make it a secret until becoming an adult.
2) My ass again provided too much temptation to my deranged grandmother. Groped. I generally see this as part of her ickiness.
3) And again, while bending to look at a counter of pastries. Difficult because stealth gropes can be brushed off as an accident. The worst part was having the conviction that I had been groped by no proof other than feeling it.
4) At a college dance, I say hello to a stranger, who proceeded to grab my ass. I forcibly remove his hand and get told “Don’t be an asshole!”
5) In the scene, a well known rope top decided that since in his demonstration of pressure points that since none of the other ones worked on me, he’d demonstrate on my nipple. He teaches an anti-rape class. I was… not happy. This was one of several incidents.
6) A male in the scene, as part of a hug, put a hand on my ass, justifying it that I’d been at a nude beach with him. Hand removed. Stammering self justifications from a man who was a literal peer of my father.
7) While on the metro, I smiled at a young man with a passing resemblance to my gentleman. He proceeded to bump his crotch against me.
Rape victim, no. Nobody has ever forcibly penetrated me. I don’t like the term “survivor” either, which is supposed to make me feel empowered, but ends up making it feel like a bigger deal than it was, as my life was never threatened. It had an impact on me. I was victimized repeatedly by people who could not respect my bodily autonomy. But I never was torn or bled. It just… is tiring.
Up until very recently I didn’t see it as more than frustrating human social interactions, an assault the way that poking is an assault that you are unlikely to get a conviction on. It was actually weirdly embarrassing when I finally looked up what was against the law in Canada, to realize that I was actually sitting on a pile of legal violations. Like when you discover that the person you thought hated you had your back all along. And yet I feel, for some reason, like if I tell people this was sexual assault it’ll somehow be used as proof of how unreasonable I am for not wanting to get my body touched in a sexual fashion.
If I had a purpose in talking about this it is because the fact that I feel I should keep it to myself if the biggest stain these assaults have. Seriously, if people walked on my feet deliberately I’d be twittering that shit in rant caps. But it’s taken me this long to actually, at 27, say “Hi, I’m Pearl and these are the ways people sexually assaulted me.”
Hi, I’m Pearl. I’m legally a sexual assault victim.
Hi, I’m Pearl. Men and one woman has touched my body sexually, without my consent.
Hi, I’m Pearl. I can’t enjoy my buttocks as much as I’d like because other people treated it like collective property.
Hi, I’m Pearl. I have so little trust in society that I brushed off twisting my nipple as a “miscommunication” and took for granted he should have thought he had consent.
Hi, I’m Pearl. I don’t smile at strange men anymore as easily because I can’t tell when one is going to rub up against me.
Hi, I’m Pearl. And a part of me thinks that by writing this people won’t take me and my feelings seriously.
Hi, I’m Pearl. I know damn well I’m not alone.