I was a kid. There was touching and kissing and fumbling. Guilt. Shame. Ugly. For me, there’s a difference between knowing and grasping. I couldn’t grasp any of it, but I knew what each felt like—and they all hurt. Hurt in ways all their own, in ways I have never been able to articulate. When you’ve been silent for so long it’s hard to find the words, the right words. It’s hard to find your voice.

But I’ll try…

I was a girl. He was a boy. They were boys. Different boys. Same me. Different occasions. Same consequences. Hurt. Do you understand?

When you’re a child you are blissfully ignorant of differences. You’re innocent and pure. You’re a child. But when I was a child, I became painfully aware of the differences that exist between boys and girls, men and women, males and females. I knew how devastating those differences could be. I knew those differences.

I know those differences.

I was practice for older boys. Older, but still, they were boys. I imagine they wanted to get a feel for a girl. Wanted to feel the differences between a boy and a girl. Wanted to know where their hands go. Where they go. They wanted to know what it felt like and how their bodies would react. They practiced for that day when they’d meet a girl they like and that girl would like them back. That’s what I think anyway. Maybe that’s a romantic idea. And maybe to this day I am naïve.

Regardless of their motivations, they did it. They explored. Me. They defined. Me. Victim. I blocked those experiences for a long time. I hurt for a long time. Some times, I still do. But I’m fine. It hasn’t been easy and it won’t always be, but I’m fine. Promise. See, some silly boys defined me as a victim, but I will define myself as a survivor as whatever I want to be. I will define myself.