It all began so innocently. I was in seventh grade and had the biggest crush on Zach*, a cute guy with deep brown eyes and a great smile. At school, I’d go out of my way to make sure I’d pass by him in the halls. We’d make eye contact, and I’d feel a jolt of electricity. Then, one day, he stopped me, introduced himself, and told me he liked me. We talked for a little, hugged, and walked in separate directions. It wasn’t much—a few words, a quick hug—but that was all I needed to fall head over heels for Zach.
Not much more happened between us until the following year when we shared several classes. He’d flirt with me and seemed super interested. All I wanted was for him to be my boyfriend.
So of course I said yes when he stopped me one day after school and asked if I wanted to hang out. I didn’t know where we were going—and my parents have a strict rule about me coming home right away. But I ignored my gut and walked off campus with him. What was the worst thing that could happen? We were only in eighth grade.
He led me to a park where my family and I used to ride our bikes. I followed him into the woods, to a big bush that reminded me of a fort I’d play in with my friends when we were kids. We went inside and the world went silent. I checked the time on my phone, only to have him take it out of my hands and place it by our backpacks on the ground.
Then, he kissed me. I couldn’t believe what was happening. It seemed so thrilling at first. This boy, who I’d liked for so long, was actually kissing me. My head was spinning. I couldn’t help but smile. It was almost like a dream come true.
But then, his kisses, which were soft and sweet at first, grew harder and more aggressive. He began touching me all over, moving his hands beneath my shirt and tugging at my pants. My body went stiff. I wasn’t ready for that and wanted to stop. It felt weird and gross. But even though I pushed him away and asked him to slow down, he just kept going.
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