Trigger Warning: The following stories are first-hand experiences of sexual harassment and assault, written by Paly survivors. Graphic language is used and may be triggering to some readers; please continue at your own risk.
In the past month, we have seen truly how much sexual violence exists at Paly through stories shared by survivors. To all victims who have faced any form of sexual harassment, assault, or abuse, thank you for your strength. At The Campanile, we will always believe you and whole-heartedly commit to sharing your stories and bringing this issue to light. Visit the National Sexual Violence Resource Center or contact the Paly Wellness Center team if you need support.
“It was sophomore year. The night of the Paly v. Los Gatos game, my friends and I hung out with some guys that we were friends with. I had been drinking throughout the night, so I was a bit out of it. One of my guy friends, who I thought I liked, told me to follow him because he had forgotten his backpack somewhere. I willingly went with him, and once we picked up his bag, he aggressively pushed me against the back of the shed where he had left his bag. I was in shock, but I thought I liked him so I went with it – until he started asking for me to do more stuff with him. I remember being sober enough to tell that I didn’t like the situation, and I wanted it to end. So I just said, ‘Maybe another time,’ but then he kept prodding me and wouldn’t let go of me, until I gave him what he wanted. To this day, his friends still make fun of me, and I have no idea how to tell them what really happened.”
“It was the summer after freshman year at Paly, and I never thought I could get so mentally and physically traumatized by someone who I trusted so much. I don’t know how to feel because I said ‘Yes’ in the beginning, but then felt uncomfortable and said, ‘No,’ and ‘Stop’ multiple times in the middle, and he did not stop. I tried to talk to him afterwards, but his argument was that I said yes in the beginning so he was allowed to continue. I tried to get comfort from him since I was his partner at the time, but all I got was silence. I tried to not think about it and move on, but seeing how I was crying uncontrollably and not able to eat properly for a few weeks proved how scarred I was from this. It’s scary to think how it’s already been three years since it happened, and it still haunts me today.”
“I was 6 years old living in my foreign country. I was living with my grandma and sister at the time. My grandpa from my mom’s side decided to bring people over to show them around the house, and they decided to spend the night. I remember like it was yesterday. I remember his face staring at me with a nasty look. At night I wanted to use the restroom. When I was (with) him in my room, he grabbed me and held his hand over my mouth and told me that it was OK, that he didn’t want to hurt me, but if I talked or snitched he would. I remember him pulling down my pants and his hand touching me in places I didn’t want to be touched. I didn’t know what was happening. I kept it quiet because I know no one would believe me specifically because he was really good friends with my grandpa. Every time I saw him, I felt the world coming down, crushing me.”
“As a young child, I was abducted and raped. I have now grown up to have PTSD, schizoaffective disorder, severe depression, anxiety and I have been hospitalized in a mental hospital twice. As a freshman, I got involved with the wrong guy, and I was repeatedly blackmailed into having sex with him for over a year. I am a survivor.”
“I was 7. I remember I was laying down. Next thing I know, I feel a hand. I was wearing pajamas. Nothing here tells someone that ‘I wanted it’ or that ‘I was looking for it.’ I pretended to be asleep. I didn’t move. I waited years to tell someone, and I regretted it. Now that person has a daughter, and I’m not sure if this person has done it to someone else. It was hard going to family events and seeing them knowing what they did. Do they remember? Are they not afraid I’ll say anything? Except they weren’t scared. They knew I wouldn’t say anything. I was a girl, and I didn’t have power. Just imagine your little sister, your little brother, your little cousin, your daughter getting their innocence taken away from them, not knowing what to do or what to say. Don’t blame them. It’s never someone’s fault. Please support someone you know who has gone through this, and sometimes it could be your closest friend, and you wouldn’t know.”
“It’s less of a story and more just a common occurrence at this point. While it may not be as extreme and horrific as some other experiences, multiple times at school I have been groped or photographed by boys. I am not the only one to experience this. The overall important message of this is that it is a casual and frequent occurrence that students at our school feel it is ok to make disgusting comments and actions (towards others). There is something horribly wrong if people feel comfortable and safe enough to harass and assault girls on campus during school hours.”
“Freshman year, I went to a small party/kickback with my friend. I hadn’t really had my first kiss yet, and was hoping it would happen with someone there. I got a bit tipsy on some different drinks from there and before… eventually I started flirting with a guy there, and he led me back to a room in the house. I told him I didn’t want to do anything below the waist, and he agreed. We started making out and he tried to take off my pants, but I physically pushed his hand away and verbally said ‘no.’ He tried again a few minutes later, and to sort of calm him down, I let him take off my shirt. Another couple of minutes later, I just got bored and uncomfortable and wanted to go back to the party. When I said this, he got annoyed and kept trying to convince me to stay, saying things like, ‘Can I get another kiss? Can I eat you out? Can you let me finish?’ Being intoxicated, I really didn’t think much of these, and just declined and eventually got out back to the party. After that, he continually messaged me asking to hook up again, which I refused every time. It got to the point where I blocked him because I wanted to forget. Eventually, I got an apology out of him, and personally I forgive him and hope he learned from what he did. What really bothers me is that the only reason it didn’t go farther was I had the strength and confidence to push back and assert my opinion –– many other people would have caved and knowing that worries me. The next day and some weeks after, I felt gross, dirty, and embarrassed about what happened. I hope that some day we can reverse the culture so that survivors won’t feel this way and won’t be afraid to seek help and justice.”