Your words don’t defines me, it is only my own that does so. I have been am insulted, disrespected, and treated less than the person I am. But you can expect me to put up a fight. I know my worth even when others don’t.
In the summer of 7th grade it was a burning hot day at the beach. No matter how far my friends and I went out, the tide seemed to stay at the height of my waist. I was enjoying the clear day with my best friend and my cousin when a man approached me along with his friends. At this point in time I hadn’t thought much of it. All he was to me was a stranger hanging out with his friends most likely doing the same as myself. Soon he engaged in conversation with me he asked my age and my name. I replied “I’m thirteen”. This didn’t seem to change his mind about me because after I tried to walk away he grabbed my waist and walked along with me. I was terrified. I wasn’t sure how to react. I could barely even register what was happening. I stopped and flipped the boogie board I was pushing my friends on trying to create a distraction. I quickly jumped to my friend’s sides trying to act as concerned and shocked at what just happened. He walked back to me and grabbed my hands and pulled me towards him. I tried my best to state to him that I didn’t have a phone, (even though I really did) and he couldn’t have my number, and I wouldn’t leave with him. “You know why I’m talking to you right Elizabeth? (which he had for some reason called me) It’s because you are beautiful”. When he said this I wasn’t the least bit flattered and my friends wanted to leave. I quickly replied “Thank you, I have to go now my Grandma is waiting for me.” Right then I turned and my friends and I hurriedly shuffled through the low tide and back to the treacherously hot sand. I was shaking for the rest of the day trying to force a smile and act unbothered by what had happened.
For a very long time I looked at this moment with disappointment. I would get more frustrated with myself thinking about all of the possible options I had. Either when he introduced himself to me, or when he decided to touch me. I would feel disgusted or sad whenever I thought about it. I only continued to blame myself. “Why didn’t you punch that guy, I would have.” “You should have screamed for help.” “You know you could’ve just ignored him completely and swam off.” These were some of the responses I received after explaining the situation I was put in. But they were not there, and I hadn’t before dealt with this harassment before. I wasn’t horrible what happened to me but this affected me.
Now I see myself as a victim who was clueless as to how she should have responded. But I know my worth. I know the respect I should have been be given. Older people who catcall me rude or sexual names and try to stop me for my number are below me. Compared to them, I know I am strong. If anything like this were to ever happen to me again I would defend myself because I know that is what I deserve.