Here’s to you, D*****

Taylor Hembree

When I was a junior in highschool, I was 17 years old. At the age of 17 I was sexually harassed and threatened by the most popular guy in our school, who also happened to be a local legend.

My last day of summer before school started, an older friend gave me advice and said to never talk to this guy named D*****.  I trusted my friend, so I didn’t ask questions, but if I could go back in time, I would have never spoken to D*****.

Fast-forward from freshman year to junior year, first period, first semester: law class. The teacher is the wrestling coach from the school. First day of class he calls roll and D***** is sitting behind me in the row. My first thoughts were about how cute he was and wondering why I was told to never talk to him.

Picture D***** as a very fit, very handsome, tan, bearded, football player, muscular and strikingly attractive.

Picture me as a naïve, very insecure, extremely shy, not at all comfortable in my own skin, never been kissed and a complete rule follower.

Fast-forward to mid-semester. D***** gets my number from this girl who was bribed to give him my number because if she did, D***** would have sex with her. So she gave him my number. He called me;, I answered. He asked me something about our homework, then proceeded to try and play 20 questions with me. He called me 20 more times that night and I didn’t answer. He texted me saying that if I didn’t answer he would hurt me. On the 21st phone call, I answered so that he wouldn’t hurt me. He asked me vulgar questions then told me to have phone sex with him. I had no idea what to do, so I laid there with the phone on, so that it wouldn’t hang up and make him mad and listened to him jack off to himself, moaning and getting turned on, while trying to get me to participate. After he hung up the phone, I laid in my bed and cried. I was terrified he was going to hurt me the next morning in class or say something to me about the phone sex. I didn’t want to talk about that; I didn’t want to ever hear him moan to himself again., It was weird and gross.

The next morning, he grabs my ass in front of the entire class, and tells me, “you have a nice ass.” He proceeds to smack it every time I walk by him. I look at the teacher and ask if he sees what D***** is doing. The teacher simply said there was nothing he could do because D***** was “just being a guy.”

The continuous texts and phone calls occurred daily and nightly. I was not only being charmed and told how pretty I was, (I was lucky to be getting his attention), but I was also getting threats saying that if I ever didn’t answer, he would hurt me in class or outside of class.

The next week in class, he felt me up during a lesson. I sat silently for fear that his hands touching my boobs would turn into fists against my face.

After being felt up in class, he started to follow me home. He followed me to the dance studio where I taught classes. He tailgated me throughout the county. He knew where I lived and he knew where I worked.

The texts and phone calls continued to get more vulgar and more threatening. At this point, I had no idea what to do because D***** was a guy that no one messed with. He was one of the most popular and attractive guys at the school. I should have felt lucky to get this attention from a guy like him. Even though he was threatening me and following me home and occasionally slamming books on my hands in class, he was charming. He told me stuff I had never been told before. I was responding to his texts, and sometimes I answered his calls; it wasn’t his fault.

But every time he asked me if he could “f**k me,” or if he could “lick my clit ‘till I couldn’t stop shaking,”  a little part of me became more and more broken. If this is what sex was like, I never wanted to do it because if I didn’t abide by his rules, I got hurt. I should have felt lucky to be getting those texts. I should have been excited that someone like D***** wanted to have sex with a girl like me. Girls at school thought this too because they would fight to have his attention like that on a daily basis.

I became depressed, actually depressed. A sadness that overtook my body, overtook my smile, overtook my personality. Everything about me changed junior year. At the age of 17, I had never been kissed before. I had never had a boyfriend, but I had D***** texting me, and for that, everyone should be jealous. I began to think of ways to kill myself. I was scared to go to school because D***** had threatened me so much. He would tell me that if I ever told anyone about the threats, that he would hurt me even more than before and he wouldn’t hold back. The slammed books on my hands in class, and the smacks on the head and leg didn’t help either.

Finally, I told the boy that told me never to talk to D***** what was going on. He texted D***** and told him to leave me alone. The next day in class, I had never been more embarrassed, because D***** was mad. When I got in the room, he told me that he didn’t know why he ever spoke to an ugly girl like me and why he thought I was worth anything because I had made him mad. I had told someone when I wasn’t supposed to tell anyone. D***** wrote me a note that was the most vulgar thing he had ever written me, and he wrote me lots of texts. The note basically told me that I should be scared of him now and that he should hurt me after I told what was happening.  Because I was scared and alone, I complied with what D***** wanted me to do next, which was send him pictures of myself — pictures that I would be embarrassed to see of myself now. He asked for vulgar, and out of fear, that’s what I gave him.

Eventually, I told one of my teachers that I felt close to about my situation. The constant texts and calls never stopped. The administration took necessary legal action, and I ended up writing a police statement about what was happening. I made it as detailed as I possibly could. And that police statement is how my parents found out that I was prey, that I was the slut who played into D*****’s game. Well, I thought that was what they were going to think. No; my parents loved me so much through everything, and they made sure that I knew I didn’t deserve that.

When it came time for me to go to the station to give a verbal statement, the police informed me that because of D*****’s last name, I would never win my case. Being near Athens, his last name held so much prominence that not even all the texts that I received had relevance to battling a sexual harassment case. After I went forward, not only did the threats continue from him, but they also started from other girls that D***** was texting. The football players used to ask me why I got him kicked off the team because they loved him. At the high school, I felt like public enemy No. 1. I had to be escorted to class so that D***** wouldn’t touch me.

After talking over my options with the police, and them telling me that because of his last name, I wouldn’t win. I dropped the case because my smile had already faded enough and a court case wouldn’t help. After all of that, I have some things I would like to say to D*****.

D*****,

Honestly, nothing about what you did is OK. None of that should have ever happened. Because of you, I tell guys they don’t want to date me because I am broken. Because of you, I feel like used baggage. You are my only regret in life thus far, and I have made lots of mistakes. Even though you made me feel like everything that happened when I was 17 was my fault, it wasn’t. At all. Now, I can honestly say that I am a stronger person because of you. I am independent. I am comfortable in my own body. I don’t need affection or attention from guys to make me feel whole. Several times, this has come to bite me in the butt because my guard is up 24/7; guys don’t take the chance to get to know me. I blame you for making me not trust guys, to not trust compliments, to not believe guys when they tell me I’m pretty. However, you want me to still be hurt. You want me to still hate you. That would mean that you won. If I still hated you, my heart would not be open to love. My heart would not be ready to be pursued. So, I don’t hate you, D*****. In fact, I’m glad you didn’t go to jail, because that would be scarring for life, and no one deserves to be emotionally scarred like you have scarred me. I would rather deal with physical pain any day of the week than deal with the emotional pain you have left as a resident in my heart. If I ever see you again, I will probably act like I don’t know you because my heart will be beating out of my chest in with emotions and fear. But, I hope you know that girls are not objects. The naïve girl sitting by herself is not a target. Girls are beings that are meant to be loved and appreciated because, guess what? We are humans, not toys to mess with then leave out to dry and crumble. One day, you’ll have to answer for what you have done and your last name will only serve you well in the SEC. So, I hope your life is exactly how you want it to be, because right now, mine is. My life is great, and overcoming that time in my life where my smile was painted on everyday has become one of my biggest accomplishments. So, thank you for giving me that chance to become who I am today. Because of you, I am strong. I am confident. I know I can handle anything because, because of you, I have hit rock bottom once in my life, and I don’t plan on going back. Congrats on having such an impact. In fact, you are on the top 10 list for most impactful people in my life. What an accomplishment! I hope you know that you are forgiven simply for the fact that a good heart and mind can’t harvest unforgiveness because that shuts yourself off from giving out love to others. So, enjoy your life. Enjoy being the guy that broke me. Enjoy being on that top 10 list, because you deserve to be there. Glory glory to ole family names and to heck with entitled grandchildren.

XOXO,

Taylor Hembree

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