This past Saturday, at the Gulf Terrace Hike and Bike Trail, I was assaulted by a teenage boy.
I noticed him when I first started on the trail. He was in front of me, and had stopped on the right side of the trail. While I was prepping myself to go around him, he moved to the other side. I thought about him for longer than a second, because he looked so much like a co-worker’s son.
I continued on my first real summer run of the season. It was hot. Though there were clouds in the sky and an occasional sprinkle, I barely got a shady respite. It was the kind of run you barely make it through. I made compromises with myself the whole time. “Run this quarter mile and you can walk,” I’d promise.
As long as you run a total of two miles.
Maybe I’ll walk you up to the water fountain at the Phelan entrance.
My body was covered in sweat and I was exhausted.
At just shy of the 1 mile marker, the boy assaulted me. A double palm slap. “It caught me a little bit inside the cheeks,” I told my husband later.
I turned to see what had happened. The boy was running away. I was paralyzed, sweaty, overheated, thirsty. Victimized. I yelled an expletive laden rant. When I finally got my legs back under me, I chased him. But my ankles felt like rubber. I wasn’t going to make it long.
An older man in a camo hat was behind me. I stopped him. He didn’t see what happened. I told him. He called it weird. I almost started crying. I thanked him and walked away. Tried running. No good. I walked and chewed on the memory. Chewed on what I should have done. Ran when I could, though there wasn’t a point. He was gone.
He was just a boy. Would kicking the little shit in the nuts buy me justice? Plus, with all of the anger and adrenaline, what would I have done to him? What kind of image is a 30-year-old woman beating up a 14-year-old boy? Maybe it was all moot. I was so very drained.
But little boys become men. And this boy had learned he could assault a woman twice his age and get away with it.
I got back to my car. I called the police. They sent a deputy. She told me there was nothing she could do.
I didn’t know I could press to place a report, so I didn’t. I drove away, and, shortly after, so did she.
Hours later, I could still feel the slap. I could still feel the panic. The terror. The shame. The frustration.
Last Wednesday, I sat down with a reporter from KFDM to share my story of being a sexual assault victim who never reported her rapist. Three days later, I was assaulted by a teenage boy. The coincidence isn’t lost on me. No matter what I say, or do, I live in a man’s world. And even when I do everything right, there is no justice when rapists feel safe to rape because, as boys, the system never caught and punished them.