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Joslynn had a big extended family with step brothers and sisters, step aunts and cousins, grandparents, the whole family tree was full of step relatives. She spent a lot of time with her cousins and step cousins at their house.
On one visit she was watching tv with her step-cousins while the adults were all outside grilling barbecue for dinner – two young girls and an older boy. After watching for a while the two young girls went off to play, leaving her alone with the eldest boy.
He moved closer to her on the couch and then reached over and kind of put his arm around her. It was a little weird, and he started telling her how he thought she was so cool and so beautiful and things like that. Josylynn was only nine years old at the time and this boy was much older than her.
His compliments made her so uncomfortable, and his arm around her too, but she just sat there, not knowing what to do, and simply said, in a weak voice “umm, thanks. I guess.”
But that wasn’t the most uncomfortable or weirdest part. After a few more strange compliments, he actually leaned in and kissed her – a real kiss – not at all for a nine-year-old. And, being only nine, and being rather shy AND very freaked out, she just sat there. She should have said something, or gone right away to an adult and told them what had just happened, but she was scared, confused, and afraid, and, even though she felt weak about it, she didn’t do anything or tell anyone.
Even after she got home, and after some time had passed, still, she didn’t tell her mom about it. She couldn’t explain quite why, but she felt like if she told her mother that she would be disgusted by it, that she wouldn’t love her anymore and that ultimately she would just blame Joslynn for not doing anything about it right then and there when it happened. So, she just kept it to herself, a secret.
But, maybe because she didn’t tell her Mom right away, it got harder and harder to find the right time to come clean and let her secret out, and because of that, it continued – that boy kept taking advantage of her in a way that she did not want him to.
The next time she went to her step aunt’s house she was playing outside with the younger girls, then went inside to use the bathroom. While she was washing her hands that older boy step cousin stepped into the bathroom. She got anxiety as it got a little scary for her because she didn’t feel safe.
He apologized for barging in, BUT, he didn’t leave. In fact, he stepped closer to her, too close, and she had to put her hands up and push against his chest, trying to stop him from coming closer, but he just kept pushing into her. She was scared, and told him “No, I don’t want to.” But he pushed her hands away, told her to relax, that it was okay, that she wouldn’t get in trouble.
He closed the door then, and kissed her again, and made her do things with him that she really didn’t want to do. But she couldn’t stop him, was too scared at that moment. This boy took real advantage of her. This just because one of those true stories she heard about but never wanted to be a part of.
Four years have passed and now Joslynn is thirteen years old. Her mother and stepfather have separated, and so, thankfully, she never has to see those step cousins or that awful boy again.
Even though she was happy that those terrible things were behind her, the guilt and shame and dark feelings were all still there – like somehow the whole thing was her fault and that she would have to be alone with those feelings her whole life.
It was always on her mind though, and so hard to keep secret and buried inside, and so, a few months ago when she was out to lunch with her mother, she decided to tell her mother, to share the secret once and for all. And, even though she was terrified and ashamed and embarrassed, she told her Mom everything that had happened. And her mom supported her in a big way, loving her no matter what. The Me Too Movement and Times Up Movement all address the issues brought forth in this story.
Love and Heartbreak:
Embarrassing and Funny:
Bullies and Mean People: