Nisha’s story: Growing up, I have realized that it was a hard penis on me, and that I had in fact been sexual assaulted.

I had just turned fourteen when I went to London, England with my cathedral choir. On a free day, my family and another family decided to visit the Nottinghill carnival parade, which is supposed to duplicate the carnivals found in South America and the Caribbean in areas where immigrants settled. One of the main attractions are the bright, colourful and revealing costumes women wear. Often costumes are a bikini, a large headpiece, with jewellery and accessories to decorate the material-lacking costume.

The carnival is fueled by music, dancing, secretive alcohol, and energy. Maybe because I was so young and had grown up with Caribbean parents, I did not find Carnival explicitly sexual. I stood beside my mother and another chorister my age right in front against the fence to bar off the audience from the performers. I watched dancing bodies and floats pass by and was enjoying myself.

I had realized there was a man behind me the entire time, slowly inching up towards the fence to get a better view. Or so I believed until I felt his hard penis against my ass. I didn’t want to make a big deal of it, nor did I feel particularly unsafe since – this would be my first interaction with a penis and didn’t even know if what I was feeling was his penis.

I kept silent about it and kept telling myself it wasn’t his junk touching me. Eventually, he was pushing into me so hard that my torso was starting hurt from being pushed into the fence. When he started swaying slightly, I became confident it what I was feeling. I stopped underplaying my situation and told my mother. She put her elbow in between me and the man and pushing him away. After that I couldn’t feel anything hard on my ass again.

When the parade was over, my parents didn’t make a big deal of it or have much of a reaction, so I followed their lead. I remember being confused and wondering if it had been a man’s hard body part rubbing up on me. I was sure it was, but if it was, wouldn’t my parents been more concerned?

Growing up, I have realized that it was a hard penis on me, and that I had in fact been sexual assaulted.

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