“When I was a junior in high school, two boys from my almost entirely male robotics team broke into my bedroom and took pictures in sexual positions naked on my bed. They tried on my bras and underwear, played dress-up in my sleepwear, and caught it all on camera. As a parting present, they set up my figurines and stuffed animals to hump each other.
When the photos made their way to my phone, I was at robotics practice with the team. They texted them to me and paid a freshman to videotape my reaction, which wasn’t pretty. As soon as the lab settled down, I ran away to an empty math classroom and cried for hours. I remember sitting there, unable to figure out why I was upset. When I was done crying, I picked myself up, went back to practice, and continued as if everything was okay.
At the time, I was 16 and pretty innocent. I was the youngest captain of Massachusetts’ largest public school robotics team, and I didn’t have time for silly things like romance (oh, how times have changed). I’d never been kissed (simmer down, peanut gallery), much less had sex, nor did I spend much time thinking about these things. Seeing these photos was jarring and surprising, but more importantly, hurtful. They were hurtful in a way I wouldn’t understand until years later, as I grew up and acknowledged their implications more and more.
I never reported those boys because I didn’t know what sexual harassment was. I didn’t know that I had justification to report them. My male co-captain told me that there was nothing anyone could do for me because what happened wasn’t necessarily bad. That I needed to grow up and move on. I respected him immensely, and so I listened and did just that. It is one of my biggest regrets.”
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