Shayna’s story as told by Kimmi Beard
It took me years to realize that I had been sexually assaulted. It blew my mind to actually put a name to it. That’s why I wanted to share my story, because no one ever told me growing up that even if you “like it”, if you didn’t want to do it then it isn’t okay. I’ve always been someone to help other people. I wish someone had been there for me so I could’ve understood what was happening.
I was fifteen and he was my best friend. I didn’t think anything was wrong at the time.
We grew up with each other and reconnected as teenagers and started dating. He was manipulative from the start, but I had no idea that’s what was happening. He had to know everything about me all the time: where I was, what I was doing, who I was with. But if I asked him those same questions, he would get mad at me and tell me to leave him alone. It was very one-sided.
Softball was my life, but that didn’t matter to him. He would still want me to skip practice to go places or do things with him. If I couldn’t because I was busy, he would threaten to hit up his ex-girlfriend and hang out with her. Which honestly, I wouldn’t have cared if he hung out with his ex-girlfriend if he were okay with me hanging out my guy friends. But of course, what was okay for him to do wasn’t okay for me. My family began to notice this stuff, but I was fifteen and really into this guy so I denied that anything wrong was happening.
But some stuff bothered me more…
I had an extreme PDA-phobia. I absolutely hated being touchy in public; it made me super uncomfortable. On Valentine’s Day the year we were dating, we went to the movies. We sat in the front row of an incredibly packed theater and he kept trying to get me to kiss him. I told him repeatedly “I’m scared. I can’t do that.” But he kept pushing me to do it and eventually just did it anyway. I justified it because it wasn’t that a big of a deal—it was just a kiss, right?
He did other things, too, though. Like if we were kissing, you know making out a little bit, he would always want to go further. I was young and pretty scared and I would tell him I didn’t want to do those things. This one time when my parents were even home and he did it anyway. He would say, “It’s okay, it’s not sex.” And my body gave the impression that I liked it, but I never wanted to do it.
I suffer with the aftermath today. If I see someone who even slightly resembles him, I’ll have a panic attack. It took me a long time to be able to open up to people. I’ve been very cautious dating because I don’t want to go through anything like that ever again.
If I could say one thing to someone else going through an abusive relationship, whether or not it seems that way at the time, it would be this: if you feel like something is wrong, trust your instincts and tell someone.
I’m so thankful for the support system I have.
This story originally appeared in Facing Teen Dating Violence, a publication of The Facing Project that was organized by A Better Way in Muncie, Indiana.