These past few weeks have been hard for a lot of survivors of sexual assault. I’m one of those but have been reluctant to be as open about my stories as other people have. Our stories often define us in ways we don’t know or ways we don’t want to admit. For me it has led to years of not owning my own sexuality, not being confident, and being retraumatized in many ways due to too often being scared to say no, or saying no initially, but being talked into or coerced into saying yes, leading to lots of post-sex regrets. There are experiences where the line is murky, so I’m only listing times where the line is very clear. Here are the times I was sexually assaulted and #WhyIDidntReport 1. I was 12, he was my 19-year-old foster brother. We were up at Leech Lake camping, I believe it was Memorial Weekend. All of us “kids” were away from the parents and having a bonfire, and drinking. He was camping by the bonfire, I remember everyone left me there alone with him. I remember going into his tent, feeling pretty buzzed. He had to have known it was my first time because I remember him telling me I might bleed and not to freak out – that was normal. I remember my older foster sister (his sister, my foster mom’s biological kids) acting like I was a slut for sleeping with her brother, my foster parents not wanting me to live there anymore. I didn’t report because at the time I was made to feel ashamed for what I’d done, not realizing until many years later that I wasn’t old enough to give consent and that a grown man getting a 12 year old drunk and then having sex with her IS rape whether she says no or not. 2. It was January 1993. I was 13 years old and my twin sister and I had run away from home – we somehow ended up downtown Minneapolis late at night. I think we were trying to get ahold of people without much luck because we were by the pay phones at City Center. A guy named Lucky approached us and offered to feed us and give us a place to stay. My twin was somehow more street smart than I and knew right away he was a pimp and we shouldn’t go with him, I was naive and thought it was a place to stay and we could always sneak out in the morning “before anything bad happened.” So we went with him, we walked all the way to 28th and Nicollet, he told us on the way what was expected of us and I got more scared with each step. He went inside the 24-hour laundry mat but made it clear he’d be watching us. I got inside the first car that pulled up, it was a green 80’s hatchback of some kind. Maybe I should have waited for a nicer car? Maybe my twin and I should have taken off running instead of splitting up? The guy in the car asked how old I was, I lied and said 15 even though Lucky had said not to say any younger than 16, but to try to say 18…I didn’t think anyone would believe I was that old. He started driving further away, even though I told him we had to stay close. Before I knew it we were on the highway, and soon after that, it seemed we were in the middle of nowhere. I remember he stopped at a gun shop/pawn shop off the highway and I thought about running but thought “he might shoot me.” I’m not sure what he did there since I’m pretty sure it was too late for it to still be open, he said something about grabbing something from a friend. I did try opening the car door at one point while driving down the highway, but he had his hand on the auto lock. I recall seeing a sign for Hutchinson. I remember pulling up to a house that I remember looking like a cottage in the woods. There may have been other things or houses around, but if there were they blurred into the background. I remember the inside of the house was dark, with lots of quilts, and smelled like an old lady’s house. I’d guess he was in his late 30’s so maybe it was his mom or grandmas house. He had dirty blonde hair pulled back in a ponytail, was taller than me, fit, with what seemed like super muscular arms. Maybe they just seemed abnormally muscular because they were strong when I grasped one and tried pushing it off my throat so I could gasp for air. I’m not going to go into detail on everything that happened in that house, it was the most terrifying and traumatic event of my life and the only time I’ve felt certain “I’m going to die tonight.” For some reason he didn’t kill me, maybe he just got off on choking during it? Maybe he didn’t think I’d fight so hard and grew tired of it? Whatever the reason he drove me back to Minneapolis and dropped me off at a Super America gas station, he said he was stopping to get me money, but as soon as he saw police there he told me to get out and sped away. I was terrified to see cops, I tried to look like I wasn’t scared, like it was perfectly normal for me to be at a gas station at 3 or 4 am. I used the pay phone to call “a friend” collect and asked him to come to pick me up. I didn’t report because I was a runaway and didn’t want to get thrown in juvie and/or get sent home. I didn’t report because I was in a state of shock. 3. I ended up “dating” the guy who picked me up. I was barely 13, he was 20 or 21. I didn’t report because I felt like he had rescued me. Only years later did I realize he took advantage of me in my most vulnerable emotional state. Years later, via Facebook, this guy reached out to me to let me know he was now sober (he’d been a HEAVY drinker) and to apologize profusely as now that he has a daughter of his own he realized that what he’d done was horrible, horribly wrong and he was sick about it. (He never used the term rape or statutory rape, but his apology seemed sincere). 4. I was 15 or 16 and living with my dad. I had gone to Minneapolis and had somehow gotten stuck downtown, again. I tried calling several people at the pay phone to come to pick me up, with no luck. I stood at the bus stop, even though I knew the last bus to where I needed to go had already come and gone. A guy pulled up in a car and asked if I needed a ride. It was a nicer car and he wasn’t white (by this time I’d drawn the conclusion that most white guys were creepy) – so I thought he seemed safe. I told him where I needed to go, said I knew it was kind of far so if he couldn’t drive me all the way there it was fine. I had no sense of direction at the time so I had no idea if we were going the right way or not, but he reassured me he knew how to at least get to the town I needed to go to. We made it close to where we needed to go when he pulled over to the side of the road. He reached over and started touching me, I was like “what the hell are you doing” He said, “you didn’t really think you could just get a ride for free did you?” I cannot really recall the rest except that I think he made me give him a BJ, but it could have been more – I just don’t remember, it’s like my mind blanked out perhaps trying to protect itself from more trauma. I had him drop me off a little ways away from my dad’s actual house so he wouldn’t know exactly where I lived. I didn’t report because I felt it was my fault for getting in the car with a stranger. So, there you have it. There have, like I said, been times that were murky, times that were coerced, times where I didn’t feel safe saying no, but all of the above times I was forced and/or much too young to consent. I never reported any of them to the authorities. If asked to testify about them today I’m not sure I could give great details, definitely not specific dates or locations. But I wouldn’t want any of them elevated to a position of power!