Story Seventy One: Samar from Jordan
My experience with sexual assault has felt nothing short of
discredited, marginalised and discarded. I wasn’t molested by thugs in
Cairo, abused in Tripoli or persecuted in the Gulf. I haven’t made any
public statements, written any books or stood for ‘the fight.’ I
haven’t even told my best friend, or even worse, my own mother. But I
was sexually assaulted. And it matters. And I matter. And that is why
I’m writing this.
I was 12 and a relatively confident yet confused and overtly curious
kid. On holiday in Jordan one summer, a new cousin was introduced to
us. He was 21, a rebellious young man, with tattoos and a nipple
piercing. He would soon become the one shadow in my life that I could
not shake for many, many years to come.
All the girls in my father’s village swooned over him. He was
different to the polite, conservative boys they were so used to. He
was dragged back from university abroad for failing continuously,
dating a stripper and developing a gambling habit. He was an
outrageous flirt. And he decided to use it on me.
It wasn’t uncommon for older men to pursue me when I was younger. I
developed breasts and a bottom that were the envy of my junior school
class, and at 12, I had the body and figure of a 19 year old.
I’d like to make it clear, at this point, that I had a great childhood
and that I love my life and that I am a whole and happy person, with
nothing but gratitude for my incredibly loving family. What happened
was not their fault. AND IT WAS NOT MINE.
The evening after a mutual cousin’s wedding, He knocked on the door of
the apartment some of us younger ones were sharing for a sleep over.
He had spent the day at my side, telling me I was the most beautiful
girl at the party and that my English was so much better than that of
the village girls. I soaked up the compliments.
I opened the door and He dragged me out, closing the door lightly
behind me. The corridor was dimly lit, an uncle and an aunt living on
that same floor, mere meters away from where we stood. And He kissed
me. It was my first French kiss so I had no idea what he was doing.
There was saliva all over my face. “Do you like that?” He asked. I
nodded, confused and overwhelmed. “We’ll have some more fun tomorrow.”
And He left me at the door, wondering what was actually happening.
In the days to come, He molested me several times. I was always too
overwhelmed to stop it, understand it or tell anyone. For a long time,
I thought He was just a guy that fancied me. With the overtly
poisonous nature of how taboo sex talk and sexual abuse claims were,
plus the on going issue with honour killings in Jordan, it took me
several years to understand the gravity of what happened.
It happened in my grandmother’s house first. He took me up the stairs
to were the roof door hung slight ajar, to mask noise. He unbuttoned
my shirt and removed my breasts from my baby pink bra and sucked on
them, while He rubbed his cock with one hand and fingered me with the
Then it happened in several dimly lit corners. The most memorable was
when He ejaculated all over my bottom and back, as He rubbed his cock
against me feverously, my breasts plastered against the window of our
apartment block, the darkness on the street outside only illuminated
by the occasional car driving past. One man walked by on that street
that night. I was certain he’d seen us. I still remember his face.
When I was at college, we found ourselves sans families, in the same
city. He emailed me once, suggesting theater and a show. And a hotel
room. I declined. He called me an ice queen.
Almost fourteen years later and I still struggle with what happened
that summer. Confiding in limited friends and, once, my sister, has
both helped and hindered my progress in overcoming the tragedy that
occurred. I was a child. And my innocence was stolen from me, in all
feelings, thoughts and forms.
He moved on with his life a long time ago. A family man. Some have
told me it is my duty to convey these messages to my family, for fear
of what kind of person he is, what he could do. But this will only
bring grief and suffering to everyone involved. So instead, I take
solace in my faith in him being a changed person. For his own sake.
And I pray for his family.
And I will be ok.