“For a good time, call: 867-5309…”
My name’s not “Jenny,” but I do know that back in the day, no respectable girl wanted her number on the bathroom stall.
Today, the “stall” comes with its own keypad. God help the girl whose number gets "posted." You might as well put it in a song, for anyone to call, for all eternity.
If you came of age in the eighties, you’re laughing with me.
But your stomach hurts, because now it’s our kids we are talking about. The song is theirs, and they-- God forbid—could be the victims of these “posts.”
This final story of the “social media” series—it is the one I saved for last. Or is it the one I put off until last, because I knew it would gut me to write about it?
When I began this series, a girl whom I shall call “Trinity” sent me a message: “Hey. You could interview me. A guy has been sending me inappropriate text messages for months, and I haven’t known what to do about it…”
From that time on, I had weekly conversations with Trinity, following her saga, which was still unfolding (and may not be over yet, pending police
Trinity’s situation has shaken me. Evoked in me confusion and disbelief and fear and sadness and righteous indignation.
And now, I bear the weight of the telling. I wonder: how is a precious young girl’s innocence stolen like this, and why, when it happens, does she hide in a prison of silence for months?
How do I tell her story and do justice to it, without giving too much information? Or too little? I don’t want teens to get any ideas from what was done to her. Or from certain reactions/responses she resorted to.
But I know her story ought to be told. Trinity’s victory deserves to be shared.
Late this past summer, “Sander” began texting Trinity. Though he didn’t offer how he got her number, he seemed “normal” enough, so Trinity responded in conversation. He was 15 and went to a local high school (not hers). Then, he began sending sexual messages. Trinity was taken aback. She had not been in that kind of a relationship, nor had she had those conversations.
At some point, she asked him to stop. She stopped responding to his texts. Not knowing what to do, she simply deleted his texts, but he persisted in sexting her. For several months.
She showed me some of the texts she’d saved (once she finally opened up, she was advised not to delete them). They were not “PG-13” or even “R” rated. The wording was pornographic, even by adult standards, describing things he wanted to do to her and the effect thoughts of her were having on him, in specific, x-rated detail. All sent to a not-yet-fifteen-year-old.
I wanted to throw up. To purge myself of what I’ve seen. Of words I’d just begun to digest but that Trinity had been metabolizing for months.
After she showed me those initial texts, a second boy contacted her, saying his name was “Jay.” She said she didn’t know a “Jay” and he said, “I know, but I heard a rumor about you…”
(Which I won’t repeat, but trust me when I say that it objectified her body and demoralized her person.)
The possibility exists that these “two” boys could actually be the same person, because "Sander" had actually texted her from several different numbers-- from his phone, his ipod, and from friends’ phones, but “Jay” said he had “heard about” Trinity from someone else, and that, too, is plausible.
Her number had effectively been posted on the "virtual" bathroom stall.
For months, Trinity told no one of her dilemma with Sander-- no adults, no kids her age. Even after she found her voice, she still felt the weight of what she had been “told” she “was.”
The day I met with her for our formal interview, Trinity had red marks on her wrists.
“I was cutting myself and thinking about suicide,” she said. “The things they were saying just messed with my mind…”
But Trinity says she will not cut again.
“It’s a bad idea. If you think you will experience some sort of ‘release,’ you will actually feel worse later. It’s just not going to help you at all…”
Trinity’s story is precious, and I want you to hear it in her very own words,
so next week, “The Growth Chart” will feature parts of our interview together. Trinity's voice.
Hers is a voice of Victory, and I can't wait for you and your teen to receive her words and talk about her story together.
Until then, remember, there is nothing new under the sun. You, too, have a story to share with your teen, even if you start out singing an eighties tune.
Chances are, your son or daughter just might be able to sing along.