To the man who grabbed my 12-year-old ass:
I was twelve.
You were the first man who touched me without permission.
You were an adult.
I was so small that I looked nine.
Skinny… no, scrawny.
Stringy hair. Tomboy.
Nothing advertised sex appeal.
We were on a train platform in Germany.
It was broad daylight and the sun was shining.
I moved away from my parents and older brother to sketch a crumbling tower on the side of a hill. Our father encouraged us to keep a travel journal.
It was quiet.
This station was in the countryside.
No hustle. No bustle. No throngs of people.
For a while our family was alone on the platform.
Then you appeared.
You paced back and forth from one end of the platform to the other.
I was aware of you, but I was not watching you.
Like us, I thought you were just waiting.
We had waited with so many people at other train stations.
That was a mistake.
During one pass, you came closer.
You grabbed my ass.
I was shocked — convinced I imagined you touching me.
Don’t all predators bet on fanciful childlike minds?
But then you came back. You touched me again.
You grabbed my ass. Again!
I wager what came next was unexpected.
I spun around, smacking you with the journal in my hand.
Stunned, you stepped back.
We stared at each other.
I could see the guilt in your eyes.
I could see the fear.
What if I screamed?
You didn’t make a scene.
But neither did I.
Then you quietly left the platform.
But, you never left my mind.
My family never knew.
Had he known — had he seen — my brother would have beat the shit out of you. Twenty minutes later we boarded a train.
I was twelve.
Then you grabbed my ass and everything changed.
It’s the day I learned girls always have to live on high alert.
Again, fuck you.
You were the first man to touch me without permission.
You were not the last.
Note: This letter started as a personal Twitter thread at height of the #metoo movement. It was then published on April 30, 2020 via Medium. Later in 2020, I migrated that writing content to my personal webpage.