I was at a gay club in Boston, and my friend and I were having fun. I was young and it was my first time going out for the “nightlife.” As we danced, a group of men entered the club. My friend and I were near the entrance at the time, so we were the first women in sight. Immediately, one man attached himself to me like a leech, and pressed himself against my body. I quickly lost sight of my friend and twisted my head to get a glimpse of her, similarly entangled. I kept moving to the music, but as the man grinded on me, I became uncomfortable. I struggled to release myself from his hold, but instead of letting go, he grabbed me tighter and started biting my ear. Now, I was completely uncomfortable and couldn’t see my friend at all. He started whispering in my ear, trying to get my name and where I’m from. I finally pushed him off and turn around to face him. When he tried to pull me in again, I planted my hands on his shoulders and pushed. I thanked him for the dance, found my friend who had left the same situation, and moved to the other side of the club.
As a naive person, I wasn’t sure how to feel or think about it. I guess my first thought was, “This is what it must feel like to be sexy.” I was sharing a dance with an older man who came onto me. However, the feeling of accomplishment quickly diminished the more uncomfortable his movements became. I was no longer a participant in a dance, but felt like an object being used. The same thing happened to my friend. It creeped us both out, and it was not something I ever expected to experience at a gay bar.
It wasn’t until hearing from my friend’s boyfriend that I realized this was sexual assault. As someone who regularly speaks up over the issue of sexual abuse, I didn’t even think it had ever happened to me. For a long time I laughed it off as this crazy thing, but through what I’ve learned and through talking to other survivors, I came to the conclusion that sharing my story could only benefit those in need of a helping hand – and a voice that might share the same narrative as their own.
To anyone experiencing or witnessing abuse… We shouldn’t tolerate these behaviors as okay. All it takes is one person to interject to stop a potentially dangerous situation from escalating. If you see someone in need, be an active bystander. If it happens to you, know you’re not alone.