Saturday, October 8, 2016


Asalamu Alaykom,

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.


Unknown said...

As salaamu alaikum,

Wow, subhanAllah, what a way to contextualize Trump's attempt at normalizing sexually abusive words and actions! Normalizing it insofar as it stays "in the locker room" (so, he says)... as if such a thing belongs ANYWHERE within society!

Your account humanizes this issue in such a profound way; I was moved to comment, despite my inability to sift through the blog in its entirety. May Allah increase you and preserve you!


Yosra said...

Wa Alaykom Asalam Halimah,

I'm glad you stopped by and commented. It's tricky to share---anywhere! with anyone! It's harder when it's so personal and the place is so public. Thank you for being someone who understood and was kind enough to take a moment and share. As I said before---it's tricky to share, so may Allah bless you for sharing your good wishes. Ameen to them.

I'm going to read your other comments now...I see there were a few!


Love and Light!