is a resource for caring adults—the front-line staff in schools and community based programs—to help teens who are struggling with difficult emotions.
Visit Our Online Store
Email Newsletter icon
Follow us on:
Share Youth Communication Follow Represent on Facebook Follow Represent on YouTube Follow Represent on Twitter
Follow Represent on Facebook Follow Represent on YouTube Follow Represent on Twitter
My Body, Not Your Business

I was at a Mets game with my 7th grade class when, without warning, an 8th grader who’d been verbally harassing me about my body for a year turned around and touched my breast. I hit him quickly and hard in the face. People near us in the stands screamed, “Ooh!” His expression looked angry and he turned back around.

I was shocked at what I’d just done. Hitting him was a reflex because I was taken off guard and I felt violated. All the kids around me, including my friends, started laughing.

Although I’d stood up for myself and he left me alone for the rest of the school year, I didn’t feel satisfied. I wanted to be taken seriously and I felt like I wasn’t. I wanted him to know that what he did was offensive and disrespectful, but instead, I felt like my
hitting him was taken as a joke.

A Sex Object

Before that day he had stared at me a lot and made me feel uncomfortable. He whispered things to his friends about me and catcalled at me when I walked past him.

He wasn’t the only boy who sexually harassed me in middle school. In fact, as soon as I started developing physically, boys viewed me as a sex object. I didn’t feel comfortable in my new body. Earlier in the year, before the baseball incident, another 8th grader asked for a picture of me undressed. When I refused, he asked for my bra size. I stupidly told him, thinking that he’d finally leave me alone. But his comments continued.

The next day, at a school basketball game, a friend of his asked me to do sexual favors for him. I tried to ignore him but ended up leaving after sitting there for five minutes hearing him run his mouth.

Other times, I’d overhear guys talking about me; they’d wonder how I looked naked, and if they saw me what they would do to me. Because of that, I would wear heavy layers of clothing so most of my body was covered. Even in spring I’d wear two sweaters. I would be sweating in those layers of clothing, but guys harassed me less.

No One to Turn To

I went through this alone. Although other girls were harassed, it seemed like I was the only one who minded. I never heard the other girls complain, just brag. They would give me advice like: “Tease the guy and that will make him want you more.”

Although I’m close with my parents, I didn’t feel like I could talk to them about this either. Looking back, I regret not being open with them. But I felt like they wouldn’t understand and I was scared about how they would react.

One afternoon, I was hanging out by my school with a girl named Estelle and a boy asked us if we were virgins. “Yeah,” I said. Estelle turned to me wide-eyed and turned back to the boy and shrugged. “I don’t know,” she said. I gave her a weird look because I knew she was. We started to walk down the street.

“If a boy asks you if you are a virgin, say ‘I don’t know,’” she said.

“But I am a virgin. Why would I say that?” I asked.

image by YC-Art Dept

“So he has to guess. If you say no, he will think you’re a ho, but if you say yes, he’ll think you’re not down.”

But I had no interest in playing games like that. From the way girls in my school talked, I felt like I was the only one who wasn’t sexually active. I felt too young and didn’t feel comfortable doing things with guys who acted like they didn’t see me as a human being and didn’t care about me. Also, I cared about my reputation.

Another reason for the tension between the other girls at school and me was that they didn’t want to be told that their sexual behavior was wrong and they knew that’s how I felt. They thought I was a prude, but the truth is I respected myself too much to do things with boys who I did not trust or like.

Now I Speak Up

When I entered high school, I started fresh by deleting my Facebook profile and making a new one, leaving middle school behind me.

Fortunately, I met other girls who felt the same way I did about sex. They’ve become my close friends and I also made some good guy friends. But after being sexually harassed so much when I was only 13, the thought that guys only wanted me for my body was still fresh.

Now I’m going to be a senior and I have not had a boyfriend yet. As the years went by, I longed to be in a relationship, but there was no one I was interested in. I’m just letting things flow and if I meet someone that I really like, we’ll see what happens.

Now that I’m older, I understand that what I went through was sexual harassment. Boys made inappropriate remarks to me, and about me, and one ended up touching me without my permission. Now, I’m more confident about speaking up. I feel like I have more of a voice. I stick up for myself whenever I don’t feel OK about something, whether it has to do with my body or just me as a person.

It helps that the guys in my high school act respectfully toward me. When I get looks and get catcalled on the street I ignore it. I don’t care because I won’t see those men again, unlike in middle school when I saw my harassers every day.

I am becoming more comfortable in my body by reminding myself that I am important inside and out. I’ve also learned that keeping quiet will only make a situation worse. If I could, I’d go back in time to tell my parents what was happening in school and get the help I needed and deserved.

I don’t want the experiences I had in middle school to make me scared of guys for the rest of my life. I know that not all guys are the same. I hope to meet someone who respects my decisions, makes me feel comfortable, and who likes all of me, not just my body.

Sexually Harassed at School?

Sexual harassment is unwanted sexual comments or actions. This can include unwanted touching, gestures, sexual insults, and persistent compliments about physical appearance. The harassment can be spoken or written in graffiti, texts, social media, or e-mails.

Every school is required to have a staff member identified as a sexual harassment reporting officer and posters that explain your rights if you feel you’ve been sexually harassed. Talk to that person or a teacher or counselor you trust. Also write down what happened, where, and any witnesses.

horizontal rule