WARNING: The content of this blog may be triggering and some viewers might find it offensive. This blog contains a descriptive true story of sexual assault. Viewer discretion is advised.
Why I’m sharing this part of my life.
In Cuba one in every one and a half women are sexually abused at some point in their lives, one of them was me. What I want to create through this shared horrible experience is not hate, but comprehension and to create a safe space for my readers to feel safe and understood.
Throughout time sexuality in women has had a taboo that allows abusers to rape, murder and kill women all over the world. Cat calling, slapping buttocks, hitting, stabbing, and killing is normalized in most third world countries because men are considered to be better, period. In first world countries 80% of women have been sexually assaulted or sexually harassed. In small groups this topic is still marginalized and seen as something we should not talk about to protect our integrity as women, F that! Today I’m giving the middle finger to this mentality and the marginalization against this topic. I no longer fear society and its dismissive behavior towards truth only when it comes to women. This story is not for me, it’s for you.
THIS IS MY BOLD STATEMENT.
Once Upon A Nightmare…
Santiago de Cuba, Cuba. 2009
I was 16 when it happened the first time. To be honest it might have happened more often. I sometimes think about it but I don’t cry, or resent anyone. Somehow I did get myself in these situations.
I got a call from one of my best friends; I had 4 at the time. The youngest one, (I’ll call her L to protect he identity) called me on a Saturday to tell me that she needed a third wheel. She was at the time dating a guy much older than her and her parents did not agree with the relationship until later on. I was a wild child, I must admit, I gave my mom headaches just because I was born as the living reincarnation of resilience. What I did do is tell my mom everything I was up to except for that day.
L wanted to go down to a river called San Juan that was about an hour walk from home. We really didn’t have transportation to go to remote places and it was very common for us to walk miles to get to our destination. L and I go down to her boyfriend’s neighborhood which was not far from ours, maybe 15 minutes walk. When we get there we realize that her boyfriend has brought with him a friend. I did not think anything of it because being a third wheel sucked and we all know it. I thought it might not be so bad since there was someone else I could talk to.
On the way to the San Juan River this man who’s name I do not remember insinuated that he wanted something romantic with me and I refused. At the time I was dating my first official boyfriend and was very much in love. Adding to the fact that I found this 20 something year old man repulsive, I repeatedly told him that I was not interested. Once we got to the river L and her boyfriend decided to go to a private place, leaving me with this man alone. I took my t-shirt off and kept my shorts and my bikini top. I told L I was not comfortable with the idea of staying alone, they left anyways.
It was a magical river; I can tell you many stories that happened before and after this event and they where glorious and fun. San Juan was not like one of those rivers and lakes that are showcased all over the media. It was big, yes it was. One of the biggest rivers in Cuba. The part of the river that we frequently visited was very rocky and it had huge rocks surrounding it, making the current through it very strong when it was high tide. That day the water was very high and this man and I tried to stay at the shore. As time passed by and L and her boyfriend were not coming back he sexually harassed me. He started to insinuate that I wanted him to beg him to have sex with him, that I was just “playing hard to get”. I told him that I was not interested and that I already had a boyfriend. He ignored what I had told him and grabbed me by my arms. At this point he was very close, right in front of me breathing the same air I was breathing. As I tried to let go he grabbed me by my waist, my 16 year old waist. He tried to force my shorts down and I kept on telling him that I wanted to go home and was going to scream.
The river was surrounded by thick vegetation and it was far from civilization. L and her boyfriend had gone so far they couldn’t hear me scream. He forced me against a huge rock right in the middle of the river. At this point I was standing towards the current and this man was standing against it. He forced my shorts down to my knees and started to kiss me aggressively. I kicked him and punched him and yell loud, so loud I couldn’t hear what he was yelling back at me, all I could see was him looking at me with vicious and furious eyes. He reminded me of a fierce wolf that was hungry and wanted to eat me alive. To the day I cannot remember his name, or his face but I can remember his eyes.
He then tried to pull down my bikini bottom and I kick him very hard so hard he lost balance. I then manage to let go and as I try to run away he grabs my hair. The pain of having my hair literally pulled out of my scalp leaves me paralyzed. I could feel and hear my hair getting plucked and at this point he was behind me with one hand pulling my hair and the other pulling my bikini bottom down. He pushed forward towards the rock to gain more power over my body. His body was behind mine and I was trying to force my bikini up. At this point I give up and I think that he is going to rape me. That there is nothing I can do to stop it. I let go.
He pulled my bikini down to where my shorts were and started to unbutton his shorts. I realized I had a final opportunity to get away and I kicked backwards. With the force of the current he lost balance and the current pushed him about 4 feet away from me. I started to climb up the heel and to the path I saw L and her boyfriend go. I started to run and scream their names. At one point this man catch up to me and grabbed me by my hair. I told him to let me go, that I just wanted to go home. He called me names I can’t repeat and said I liked it rough. I told him that I had a boyfriend and needed to go home and that he was hurting me. He began to loosen up my hair and I sprint away and found L who was naked, having sex with her boyfriend.
I was hysterical and I didn’t mind at that point seeing them. I was actually very glad to be among them, even in that circumstance. I was trying to tell them what happened while they were trying to cloth themselves and then this man arrived and grabbed my hair again. L’s boyfriend asks him to let go of me and this man said he was playing with me. L told him that I was crying for a reason and asked him what had happened. He laughed and let go of me without saying a word.
Back to Normal
L hugged me and I told her I wanted to go home. The hour walk back was hell to me; my head was pounding from the pain and ache through my entire body from the physical trauma was taking all my strength. Yet this was not all. This man kept on pulling my hair on the way back and at one point L and her boyfriend stopped asking him to leave me alone. We walked through the highway towards the city and once we got to the beginning of my neighborhood L and I took our separate paths and I went home to bathe. I never spoke of this again until a few years ago to my sister.
Weeks after my boyfriend and I go dancing to this huge plaza that hosted different djs and dancers to perform on Saturdays. As I was hugging my boyfriend I see this man. He was looking straight at me with the same wolf eyes. I stayed quiet and pretend that nothing happened. This man then does something that has stayed in my head ever since. He ran his thumb across his neck while looking straight at me without blinking. I then tell my boyfriend that I was feeling ill and wanted to go home. He takes me home and that is the end of this story.