My inappropriate relationship
Over the years, I have called it an "inappropriate relationship." I have called it "an incident with an older man." Most frequently, I have called it "the thing that happened that summer." As in -- remember the thing that happened that summer?
I never called it sexual abuse, because it felt like an overly dramatic Oprah-ization of what happened. The word "abuse" seems to imply victimization and has always made me uncomfortable in this instance. Until now, I have been far too politicized to admit the chief reason I never called it sexual abuse in spite of the fact that it would be considered as much from both a criminal and a clinical perspective. The real reason is because I believed I asked for it.
The summer I turned 12, I went to sleepaway camp. I shaved my legs for the first time, dumped Sun-In in my hair and tanned with baby oil. I had my first boyfriend -- a skinny, freckly arrogant kid a year my senior who took me for two paddle boat rides and then broke up with me, declaring me a prude and, I was sure, ruining my romantic life forever.