When I was 18, I was in a lot of high school classes with freshmen and sophomores because I was a transfer student who had to make up some required courses before graduation. Most of my friends were younger than me, and I didn’t think anything about it. Due to my mental illnesses, I always felt a little immature for my age. At the time, I was prescribed sedatives for my anxiety disorder that made my memory “fuzzy.” It felt like I was a little drunk all the time.
One day when there was no school, I visited one of my classmates at his grandmother’s house. He had chairs and a TV set up in the garage. One moment, I remember him being verbally flirtatious, then I found myself being held down on the floor with my pants off while the boy inserted something I couldn’t see into my vagina.
When I went home, I tried to pretend it was a bad dream, but I went to the school nurse the next day because I was in pain. She told the police I was assaulted. The officer who interviewed me also interviewed the boy who told her that “I wanted it.” Imagine my surprise when I was told I was being charged with felony sexual misconduct. The boy was 15, a few months under the age of consent.
After a year of legal battles (where the boy’s own parents defended my innocence), I was told by the prosecutor if I didn’t plead “no contest,” and accept a Stay of Adjudication, I could risk spending years in prison. I was told that the charge would go away if I didn’t “reoffend.” I didn’t know how wrong that was.
Now I’m in my 30s and in a long-term relationship with a man living in South Africa. We want to apply for one of the marriage visas to get him to the US (or me to his country), but I worry I may be banned entirely. I successfully got the record expunged in 2021, but that means nothing in the eyes of government. The FBI background check still shows that there is arrest data on file from when I was fingerprinted.
I have never been a danger to anyone. This event damaged me to the point where I’m unable to have a sex life at all because I equate intimate touch with pain. My partner is kinder and more patient than I deserve. He still loves me anyway, and I worry that our relationship will be destroyed because of a teenage mistake.