Why I Wrote a YA Novel About Sexual Assault

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When I was fourteen, one of my best friends, Tim Coyne (not his real name), decided it would be fun to start punching me in the chest—not once, not twice, but every time he saw me. He’d greet me and be friendly, he’d tell a joke or two, and then, out of the blue, wham, right in my newly formed breasts.

I don’t know why Tim started doing this. It hurt like hell, but I never complained about it. Not to him, or my parents, or teachers. Not to anyone. I accepted it as normal. Boys will be boys. At 14, I had already learned that lesson.

During my first day in the dining hall as an 18-year-old college freshman, I came out of the kitchen holding a tray of food and looked out into a sea of unfamiliar faces. Was I dressed right? Was my hair wrong? Could everyone tell how nervous I was? Then I heard the murmuring. And the snide laughter. And this: “Nah, her tits are too…

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