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She didn’t tell them, then; she was scared and ashamed. She awoke to someone tugging down her pants, reaching between her legs; she struggled and kicked, and he lumbered out of the room.
In fact, Jane says, she’s been grabbed, chased, followed, and molested so much in her short life that she’s now made it a habit to lock the bedroom door at night and shove a chair under the knob so no one can come in; she’ll wait up, trembling, until everyone at a party is passed out cold before she can comfortably fall asleep.
But what began as a diversion quickly became a safe place for kids to share all kinds of traumas they were witnessing and experiencing: sexual and domestic violence, alcohol and drug abuse, death after brutal death.
The discussions they’d have were rarely prearranged, Erickson says.
But for years, she felt scared, hypersensitive, and depressed.
She never told her parents about the incident; she was too afraid of what would happen, and anyway, when she told one of her sisters, the only response she received was a dry laugh. “Just leave it alone.”Growing up in Tanana, a town of 254, the prevalence of this kind of thing was common knowledge, but rarely discussed.
Instead, the kids would launch the conversation by saying, “Did you hear what happened?
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“You just freeze.”Jane is a tall basketball player with bright eyes, rectangular black-framed glasses, and a wide, eager smile.
She has no trouble listing accomplishments and affinities: She’s ambidextrous by choice, grew up doing all the rugged outdoor chores men do, raves gleefully over beloved local foods like fried moose heart and walrus in seal oil.
She’s learned to avoid being alone with friends’ dads, or with grandpas at village potlatches, or with boys at basketball games, who’ve repeatedly groped her breasts and buttocks.
“It’s just random, like, you’ll think everything’s all normal and then you’ll feel something on your backside,” she says.