In 1984, I was on the school debate team. On the way home from our first meet, all of us squished into one car, I fought off a groper.
I had known him by name only. Paul was someone I'd lived near when I was in elementary school. I moved away and then moved back, but it didn't mean any kind of closeness for us. I honestly didn't know him---ever.
Suddenly, in my plaid, pleated skirt, I was trying to move away from his hand which was trying to go under that skirt. He was persistent---again and again. I didn't say a thing. I was the only girl in that car---the only girl on the debate team. I liked the cool team captain. I didn't want to ruin my chances for either the team or the guy.
I was silent. He was defeated. Yet, he won. He won because I quit the debate team. I never went to another meeting. I never went to another debate. I never had to ride in the backseat with the groper.
Could debate team experience have helped me in life? Probably. I'll never know.
Years later, I realized that he was on my university campus. When I saw him from a distance, I had a kind of panic attack as I froze on the spot. He had the freedom to walk around without fear and I didn't. I reverted back to being a scared and confused high school sophomore instead of the college freshman that I was.
It didn't help that I had already gone through sexual abuse as a child. One out of every six girls in America have experienced some kind of attempted sexual assault. The experience lays down a kind of framework which makes the next attempt seem almost normal.
It isn't normal.
It isn't a joke.
I have NO idea where Paul is today. I wonder if he's been a good person---especially in how he treats girls and women.
I do know the whereabouts of another groper---he's running for president.