Sweetie, I know

tw: sexual assault on a minor

I’ve finally decided to erase my anonymity and share my story because I want people to know they are not alone. And in all honesty, I want to feel less alone. Sometimes tragedies occur that we could never have prepared for and we are forced to reflect on the decisions we made at a young age.

I was 7 years old and my family went on our annual Fripp Island trip over the summer. One day, it was getting late out on the beach and my sister and I wanted to stay longer to finish our sand castles. Our house was literally on the beach front so our parents told us to be in before the sun went down. An hour passed and my little sister decided to go in too, but I was determined to finish building. Before I knew it, the sun was going down and I had to go back inside. I walked up towards the dunes in the boardwalk to get a hose and rinse off all the sand. Then suddenly, this man comes from out of nowhere and grabs me from behind. Thinking this man just doesn’t know any personal boundaries (because I’m 7 years old) and just wants to use the hose, I tried to slip out from under him. Because I had just hosed off, I was able to slip right out of his grasp. I quickly found the steps leading up to the back of our complex and walked up, not realizing this man was still following me.

He called out to me, “Hey!” I turned around and saw, for the first time, an erect penis coming out of the bathing suit of a 45 year old man. Shocked and confused with what I saw, he proceeded to say, “Want to touch it?”

Unaware of the immense danger I could be in, I thought to myself, ‘this man is really weird, why would he say that?’ I stuttered, “ew no!” and thankfully ran inside my house.

Later that night, my mom was washing my hair and I asked, “Mommy is it weird for a man to show me his penis?” She gave me a concerned look and said, “Yes absolutely! Why? Did someone show you his penis!?” Shocked from her quickly changed tone, I nodded and started to cry while my mother immediately called the police. The police showed up asking questions about what the man looked like and if I could identify him. We went around to different beach houses in the neighborhood with the police looking for a man with super round glasses, curly brown hair, and around the age of 45. No luck.

A couple days later, after my family and I decided to move on from this catastrophe, I see him.

But more importantly, I see him with his family.

With his wife.

His kids.

I grabbed my mom in tears saying, “That’s him!” The police arrested him and put me in a police car later that same night. They told me I had to identify him through the tinted car window. If I said he was the man, he would go to jail. If I said he wasn’t, then they would release him.

So they put me in this car and we drove by this man. Handcuffed and desperate for freedom, the man was crying. I had never seen a grown man cry like that before. Looking back on it, I don’t know why it was all up to me to decide this man’s fate. It’s possible he had other charges, but I don’t know the full story, I was just a kid. You can’t leave serious life decisions to an innocent 7 year old girl who doesn’t understand the severity of the situation. I felt bad for him, my parents taught me empathy. Deep down, I knew this was the man standing behind the tinted car windows, but I thought if I said no, then he would start over. Be a good person. That he wouldn’t ever show a little girl his penis again. So, unfortunately, I said “no” and they released him back to his family.

10 years later, realizing the mistake I made, I approached my mom and I said, “you remember that disgusting man from Fripp island? You know it was him right?”

And she goes, “I know sweetie... I know.”

written by Reevie Walton | @reevesmygurl

Self portrait by KMR | @acinematicdisaster

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