Disclaimer: This post contains my story of an attempted sexual assault. There are details that some may find disturbing or uncomfortable.
My name is Isabella Belden, I’m sixteen years old. As of Monday, July 9th, 2018 I became the victim of an attempted sexual assault. Before that afternoon, I didn’t think I would ever have a #MeToo moment. It’s not something you want, yet as of 1998, an estimated 17.7 million American women had been victims of attempted or completed rape(rainn.org). Females ages 16-19 are four times more likely than the general population to be victims of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault(rainn.org). It’s funny, I didn’t go looking for the statistics until I became one.
On Monday, July 9th, 2018, my father went to work and my mother took my three younger siblings to the pool. I was at the house with my two dogs where I could blast music and clean without anyone bothering me. Hours past and my neighbor came to the door. He moved in last November and had been friendly towards me and the other neighbors.
He had come to the door two times before the incident. It didn’t occur to me until after the incident that both times I was home without an adult. The previous times he had come over, I had forced my dogs into their crate but that day I was tired and didn’t bother. I stepped out onto our front porch. He told me he had accidentally kicked his ball into my backyard. I told him our side gate was unlocked and he could go retrieve it. He asked if my mom was at work. I told him she had taken the kids to the pool. He then asked why I wasn’t with them and I told him it was too hot an I wanted to have the house to myself. I said with three siblings you take alone time when you can get it.
He then said I had a nice body, “do you play any sports?” When I tell people this they wonder why I didn’t see then that this man was a creep and something was off. Because I trusted him. I thought he was being friendly, neighborly, and quite frankly, I didn’t want to see the situation I was in.
I told him I used to run with my dog, then she got out of her last harness but I want to start running again. He asked if I wanted to play soccer with him. I told him no. He said he really needed a goalie. I said I played soccer once, I was five or six, was goalie once, took a ball to the stomach and never played again. Why I rambled I still don’t know, but around this time my eyes shift down and I saw the outline of his erection.
I told him to go get his ball from my backyard and he told me to meet him back there. I should’ve gone inside and locked the doors. I should’ve called my mom. I shoulda coulda woulda. Instead, I went through the house as he went around. I stepped out onto my back porch and saw where the ball had supposedly landed. As I watched him pick up his ball I finally began to question his true intentions. From where his backyard is and where the ball landed in mine, it just couldn’t have landed there by accident.
He pointed out the shade in the backyard, said we could play under it and I wouldn’t get hot. I told him no. He looked behind me and noticed one of my dogs at the door barking. He said he was pretty, could I see him? My family rents our house and on our lease, our dogs must be leashed even in our fenced yard. I went in to retrieve one of my dogs. My foot pushed the door closed behind me as I leashed one of the dogs, he pushed in. He got one foot in and mentioned something about the temperature of the room. The dogs were barking and growling at my neighbor, someone I once trusted, reached out for them to sniff his hand. That’s when one of the dogs tried to bite him.
That was a big red flag for me. My dogs growl for attention all the time, but this one wasn’t the same. The one who tried to bite him nips at me when we play, but this time… this time was different…
I pushed past the dogs and, without touching the man, pushed him out of the house. He asked my age. I said I was sixteen. He again, said I had a nice body. The dogs were going crazy as I tried to close the door and lock him out. One of the dogs going as far as nudging my legs and pull me inside. I couldn’t hear him over the dogs but I did make out the words “your” and “butt”. I don’t want to know the full sentence or what was going on in his head. I told him I need to get back to my lunch and he should get back to his game. He put out his hand and I shook it before closing and locking the door.
I wasn’t going to tell anyone. I thought what had happened wasn’t that bad, and if he did something else, then I would tell. But as I paced around the house trying to catch the breath I had lost, I decide to tell. My mother came home 30-40 minutes later and I broke down. I told her what I’m now telling you. I then told a cop who recorded my story and sent it to the special victims unit. Two weeks later, we went to the prosecutor.
I live in the state of Kentucky where the age of consent is sixteen. I can’t vote, I can’t see an R-rated movie, and I can’t purchase a gun. But I can legally have sex with a man who is in his late 20’s. Not only that, but because this is the age of consent in Kentucky, it makes his comments(in the eyes of the law) just creepy. Because I didn’t tell him he wasn’t welcome in my home before he stepped over the threshold we couldn’t get him for trespassing. The prosecutor couldn’t take my case because the laws in Kentucky “suck”.
My neighbor thinks he’s gotten away with this, but I assure you, you haven’t gotten away with this. I promise you I won’t stop fighting until the law is changes and girls won’t have to go through all this.
I’ve had multiple panic attacks since the incident. My doctor thinks I have PTSD. I can’t imagine what women(and men) who have been through a completed sexual assault have to go through. I was lucky. I try not to think about what would’ve gone down if I had put my dogs in their crate.
I don’t sleep like I used to. I can’t live like I used to. I can’t be at home by myself anymore. I went out for ice cream with a friend and she had to leave me on the sidewalk so she could run back in and grab napkins. “Please don’t leave me.” I didn’t know what I was saying until I heard it and the fear in my voice.
I was sitting in the driveway, my mother had run in to grab something, and I swear I heard footsteps. I couldn’t breathe as I looked around me. No one was there but I feared he had come back to finish what he had started.
I can’t release his name. Not on the slight chance he could use it against us. But, I release my story and my name and I beg you to learn from my experience. Learn about your state laws and if something isn’t right, fix it. I pray my story reaches the ears and hearts of Kentucky State Legislation. I pray they too learn about my experience and fix it so men, like my neighbor, don’t have the chance to think they’ve gotten away with it. Please, for your mothers, sisters, daughters, and loved ones, share my story.