By Stacie Worrel
When adults argue over who was telling the truth, if she was old enough to give consent, if he knew how old she was, if she should have known better, if his life will be ruined, I think about a diary entry I wrote when I was fifteen years old — “04/06/2011: …I feel like there’s something else [I meant to write about], but I dunno xD sorry :P OHMYGOD. I just remembered. I don’t want to write about it anymore hahaha but basically I was really lonely and called this YouTuber named Mike who has a voicemail for fans to call and I left a message, then the next morning he sent me a super sweet text about how I wasn’t alone and he would’ve called back but he was working” — and then I think about how Mike was later arrested for soliciting child pornography from other young female fans, how those girls’ stories started the same way my diary entry did, how star-struck I was when Mike texted me, how his use of a heart emoji made my heart shiver, how I didn’t know anything about sex or twenty-something boys or being taken advantage of, how I hadn’t yet begun the process of learning to value my body or my privacy, how lucky I was that he hadn’t answered my phone call, how if he had answered the call and things had gone wrong it wouldn’t have been my fault because I was a lonely unknown fifteen-year-old and he was a grown man-slash-minor celebrity, and how I still would have blamed myself because that’s what girls do in a society that doesn’t listen to them, and that’s the truth.
Stacie Worrel is a creative writing (nonfiction) PhD student at Ohio University.
Art by Chrissa Somerset.