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The Secret Life of a 12 Year Old

Alisha Salazar

Content Warning: This piece contains sexual content that may disturb some readers. 

I vividly remember being twelve years old. What a shitty age to remember, right? For me, being that age would symbolize a turning point in my life. I’m not meant to understand why my soul had to go through what it did. But maybe my story will make someone else feel less alone. 

I started middle school when I was twelve, and it seemed to be going well at first. I made the volleyball team so I had a bit of popularity, I had a group of friends, and I was a straight-A, good Christian girl. Then the biggest thing happened: the captain of the football team asked me to be his girlfriend. Present me wouldn’t give him a second glance, but past me? Holy shit, I was completely moon-eyed from day one. I was only twelve, but in all of history, one human has never loved another the way I loved him. I remember tears of joy pouring from my eyes the moment I realized my dream of meeting true love finally came true. My present and future consisted only of him, and nothing would change my mind. I had no idea that I was confusing his lust for me for love.

We started dating in September. The following months he introduced me to things that were foreign to me, but I went along because he said he loved me. 

In February, after 50 “no’s” and one unsure “yes?”, he took my virginity. I told him I wanted to wait till I was 13. He didn’t want to wait. After he was done, I ran to the bathroom and mourned the loss of the girl I once knew. 

I always thought it was so strange how the girls my age were worried about having Uggs and Kavu bags while I had just damned myself to hell in my eyes. It’s almost comedic, in a way. Hardly anyone was even kissing yet, so if anyone found out, it would be the end of my reputation.

In April, he broke up with me. Seven months together was all he had time for.

In May, he boasted our business like I was a trophy he won. Small town gossip always wins, so everyone found out fairly quickly.

In the months and years following, girls would judge and whisper. Some guys would avoid me like the plague while others would slap my ass and smirk in the hallways. I never played volleyball for school again. 

All these horrible consequences for the beauty of being in love. I will never be ashamed of what happened, and I will always thank God for allowing me to fall in love so effortlessly. I have never been able to fall in love the same way since; in fact, I have no idea if I have even been in love since. Sometimes I think back and can’t help but cry at all the bullshit that happened that year. However, it changed me for the better. I look at people with no judgement; I never use the term “slut” unless it’s in an endearing tone, and people who have been through similar situations feel comfortable talking to me about what they went through.

I wasn’t the only one that year who went through something similar, and I feel that it’s almost taboo to tell stories like this today. I want that taboo gone, and I want people to be more open-minded about the subject. My life changed at twelve, but there are people out there whose lives changed even earlier than that for a similar reason. We need to end the stigma. You are not alone.

If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, please reach out to someone you trust or call the National Sex Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673.