meets Girl. Boy likes Girl. Boy courts Girl. It’s a narrative so deeply
internalized and socialized that it can warp reality beyond recognition.
Initially, it explains away childhood behaviors — “Boy pushes Girl on
playground” — that would otherwise merit course correction.
Boy meets and pursues and gets Girl, taboos can be so strong that they adhere
when Boy is 16 and Girl is 12. Boy is player and Girl is slut — rather than
Boy is predator and Girl is victim.
12 years old, Eden didn’t have the vocabulary or community to understand that
what she experienced was a sexual assault. As far as she knew, she deserved the
shaming she received from her peers.
too easy for the parents of those peers to say — their whispers more
cacophonous than any schoolyard taunts — that their girls would never stoop to
what “that Girl” had done. All too hard for Eden’s own parents to shield their
daughter from a scarlet letter and an adolescent mob armed with social media
sharper and more combustible than any pitchforks or torches.
didn’t know how to cope with what had happened,” Eden describes, looking back
with a clarity that was so understandably and tragically elusive at the time.
“So I did what many victims of sexual assault or violence or rape do. I became
hypersexual. I was really just letting my trauma further control me.”
far as Eden knew from depictions in the media and popular culture, rape and
sexual assault were violent, coercive — the stuff of black eyes, bloody lips,
dark alleyways and police sirens. In fact, sexual assault can be physical or
psychological — often involving elements of both — and can lead to anxiety,
depression, or even suicidal thoughts.
than receive the timely intervention and treatment she deserved, Eden doubled
down on the violations of her physical and mental wellbeing with self-harm. She
started to cut herself. She attempted suicide twice in the same year.
was pushed to a mental point where I felt like I had no choice.” And for anyone
self-medicating after post-traumatic stress disorder — least of all an
adolescent still trying to make sense of a developing body with a developing
mind — feeling like you have no choice rapidly becomes a self-fulfilling
prophecy in which you truly have no choice.
initial step to recovering and rediscovering her self-worth was finding the
courage to name her trauma — and to believe herself: the sexual assault of a
is strength in naming your injury. There is strength in understanding that you
can help to break the cycle:
think I get my strength to deal with this and to share with others by knowing
how much of a difference it would have made if someone would have been doing
this for me. If someone would have been there to say ‘it’s okay’ and ‘you are
not to blame.’
describes the road to recovery as a strength to “keep going and keep trying and
keep making more positive choices that will help you in the long run.”
way Eden looks out at the world and sees choice — not always easy choices; but
a far cry from the fatalism of her darkest days — should serve as a beacon to
others who feel like they’re trapped in the shadows of Boy likes Girl.