Woman's post about being groped while swimming laps prompts others to share their stories

Ask any group of women if they've ever been touched inappropriately by a stranger, and most will have a story to tell. While there is some gray area when it comes to occasional bumps or grazes in public, there are some situations that are so blatantly gropey, there can be no question as to what's happening.

Some men (and yes, some women) simply cannot seem to keep their hands to themselves, and some will go out of their way to get their creepy fingers on someone else's body. Gross, but true.

A thread on Reddit highlighted this fact when a woman who goes by the handle "thestashattacked" described what happened to her when she was swimming laps at the pool.


"So I'm lap swimming, and we have 7 swim lanes. 7. That is a ridiculous number of lanes. And, as per usual at this time in the morning, they're all occupied. Now, usually, you share lanes under these circumstances. Not a problem.

Except this time I'm somehow the only woman swimming, in the crappy shallow lane.

Man comes in, and wants to swim. That's fine. He has to share a lane (which is risky due to COVID anyway), but he won't share with any of the men in the good lanes.

No, he absolutely has to share with the only woman in the pool. And of course, every time we pass he has to graze his hand across my ass.

Eventually, I told him if he couldn't keep his hands to himself, I'd either start hitting, or he could move to another lane. I was here first, and the only reason he came into this lane is that there's a woman here. Seriously, this is the worst lane.

(Yes, the lifeguard told him to get out after I yelled at him. Apparently he's way more obvious about the groping when you can see it from outside the water.)"

Choosing the crappiest lane because it's the only one with a woman in it is no accident. When you're swimming in the same lane as someone, it's natural that you may accidentally bump or graze them, but groping someone's butt every time you pass is also no accident. It's sexual assault. It doesn't matter how quick it was, whether he "grabbed" or "grazed," or whether it was one second or three. Repeatedly putting your hands on a woman's behind as she swims by is sexual assault. Full stop.

This woman's story inspired others to share their own experiences with similar Gropy McGropertons, and they're all just as infuriating.

Cyssane wrote:

"I had this shit happen to me when I was just 14 years old. I was hanging around at a local mall by myself (I'd done this plenty of times before without incident). I was looking at clothing on a rack and some older guy walked past me and grazed my ass.

I'm a young kid, so I thought it was accidental at first, but every time I went somewhere else this creep would follow me around the mall. It was about equal parts infuriating and scary.

Finally I found a group of girls around my age and quickly explained what was happening. They were so great -- they immediately grasped the situation and formed a wall around me for the rest of the day. They'd ask where I wanted to go next and then we all went there in a group. Several of them pulled out small items that could be used as weapons in case the creep tried to get too close to us -- keys held between the fingers, metal nail files, things like that. Creepy guy didn't dare to approach after that, and he finally left us alone.

I'll always be grateful to those girls. They were amazing."

Creepy stalker dudes are familiar to most women at some point in their lives. Good for that group of girls for sticking together and protecting her. But seriously, that should not have to happen.

The_Thugmuffin wrote:

"When I was about eleven/twelve I was at a swimming pool party in a indoor place you could rent out. Bunch of kids there and we were all having fun. Myself and my cousin went to the super deep end to play that game where you toss items to the bottom and pick them up.

Anyways, this older dude decided he wanted to play with us and my cousin and I thought that was cool that an adult wanted to play a game.

We dive once, old dude rubs up on top of me at the bottom. His crotch was aggressively shoved against my butt, his full weight pushed me to the bottom of the pool. I think that's weird, but that he was just really into the game and was trying to grab the ring. We dive a second time. Same thing. Third and fourth time this dude keeps rubbing on me. Full body rub too, he got better about it as we dove more.

Finally I decide to test it to see if he is just into the game or if he is actually molesting me. So when we count down for the dive I wait and give my cousin a head start then dive again. Dude waited and rubbed on me again. I finally just had enough and got out of the pool and refused to play again. Stopped swimming the whole day and never went back to that place again.

Place was FULL of parents and other adults and lifeguards. Not a single person noticed this guy feeling me up because it was the pool. Because I was young and didn't know better I didn't tell anyone.

I wish I had screamed at that guy and called the cops. Good on you.

Edit: I was in fifth grade"

Fifth grade. That's around age 10. Disgusting.

dkettlecorn added:

"Yup it's weird. When I was on my club team one boy grazed my crotch during backstroke not one or two but THREE TIMES and when I called him out for it the guys just shrugged it off giving some bs excuse. Got fully credit carded once and another time a boy actually somehow stuck his hand in my suit (touched my belly) from the next lane. Like touching someone's feet is an accident, flip turning and head butting someone is an accident, but I've never groped anyone especially by "accident" during a practice."

Three crotch grazes? No. Not an accident.

kendall_black, another swimmer, shared her story:

"OH MY GOD.

THIS SO MUCH.

I" was a competitive swimmer throughout school, and this was always so bad. Well, ok it was worst on my high school swim team, not so much on my year-round team. But anyways, fuck those guys, and fuck that guy. I had this one guy on my high school team who was the worst perpetrator. He would be standing at the wall while everyone else was swimming and when I'd do my flip-turn, he'd always touch me somehow trying to grope me. I finally yelled loud enough for the ENTIRE POOL to hear, 'If you touch me again, or if you are still standing on the wall in the way of everyone swimming, I WILL flip-turn ON TOP OF YOU and kick you as hard as I can.' The next swimmeet, that same guy stuck his hand INSIDE MY SWIMSUIT FROM THE BACK AND CARESSED MY STOMACH. WHILE I WAS TALKING TO MY PARENTS ON THE BALCONY."

What the heck. What did this guy go on to do after high school?

"Keep your hands to yourself" is basic kindergarten etiquette that anyone should be able to follow. We should not have to have awareness campaigns to keep women's bodies from being fondled without their permission. Yes, men's bodies too. It's not that hard to not be a creep, regardless of your sex or gender.

Hands. To. Yourself. Everyone.

Connections Academy

Wylee Mitchell is a senior at Nevada Connections Academy who started a t-shirt company to raise awareness for mental health.

True

Teens of today live in a totally different world than the one their parents grew up in. Not only do young people have access to technologies that previous generations barely dreamed of, but they're also constantly bombarded with information from the news and media.

Today’s youth are also living through a pandemic that has created an extra layer of difficulty to an already challenging age—and it has taken a toll on their mental health.

According to Mental Health America, nearly 14% of youths ages 12 to 17 experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. In a September 2020 survey of high schoolers by Active Minds, nearly 75% of respondents reported an increase in stress, anxiety, sadness and isolation during the first six months of the pandemic. And in a Pearson and Connections Academy survey of US parents, 66% said their child felt anxious or depressed during the pandemic.

However, the pandemic has only exacerbated youth mental health issues that were already happening before COVID-19.

“Many people associate our current mental health crisis with the pandemic,” says Morgan Champion, the head of counseling services for Connections Academy Schools. “In fact, the youth mental health crisis was alarming and on the rise before the pandemic. Today, the alarm continues.”

Mental Health America reports that most people who take the organization’s online mental health screening test are under 18. According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 50% of cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and the tendency to develop depression and bipolar disorder nearly doubles from age 13 to age 18.

Such statistics demand attention and action, which is why experts say destigmatizing mental health and talking about it is so important.

“Today we see more people talking about mental health openly—in a way that is more akin to physical health,” says Champion. She adds that mental health support for young people is being more widely promoted, and kids and teens have greater access to resources, from their school counselors to support organizations.

Parents are encouraging this support too. More than two-thirds of American parents believe children should be introduced to wellness and mental health awareness in primary or middle school, according to a new Global Learner Survey from Pearson. Since early intervention is key to helping young people manage their mental health, these changes are positive developments.

In addition, more and more people in the public eye are sharing their personal mental health experiences as well, which can help inspire young people to open up and seek out the help they need.

“Many celebrities and influencers have come forward with their mental health stories, which can normalize the conversation, and is helpful for younger generations to understand that they are not alone,” says Champion.

That’s one reason Connections Academy is hosting a series of virtual Emotional Fitness talks with Olympic athletes who are alums of the virtual school during Mental Health Awareness Month. These talks are free, open to the public and include relatable topics such as success and failure, leadership, empowerment and authenticity. For instance, on May 18, Olympic women’s ice hockey player Lyndsey Fry will speak on finding your own style of confidence, and on May 25, Olympic figure skater Karen Chen will share advice for keeping calm under pressure.

Family support plays a huge role as well. While the pandemic has been challenging in and of itself, it has actually helped families identify mental health struggles as they’ve spent more time together.

“Parents gained greater insight into their child’s behavior and moods, how they interact with peers and teachers,” says Champion. “For many parents this was eye-opening and revealed the need to focus on mental health.”

It’s not always easy to tell if a teen is dealing with normal emotional ups and downs or if they need extra help, but there are some warning signs caregivers can watch for.

“Being attuned to your child’s mood, affect, school performance, and relationships with friends or significant others can help you gauge whether you are dealing with teenage normalcy or something bigger,” Champion says. Depending on a child’s age, parents should be looking for the following signs, which may be co-occurring:

  • Perpetual depressed mood
  • Rocky friend relationships
  • Spending a lot of time alone and refusing to participate in daily activities
  • Too much or not enough sleep
  • Not eating a regular diet
  • Intense fear or anxiety
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Suicidal ideation (talking about being a burden or giving away possessions) or plans

“You know your child best. If you are unsure if your child is having a rough time or if there is something more serious going on, it is best to reach out to a counselor or doctor to be sure,” says Champion. “Always err on the side of caution.”

If it appears a student does need help, what next? Talking to a school counselor can be a good first step, since they are easily accessible and free to visit.

“Just getting students to talk about their struggles with a trusted adult is huge,” says Champion. “When I meet with students and/or their families, I work with them to help identify the issues they are facing. I listen and recommend next steps, such as referring families to mental health resources in their local areas.”

Just as parents would take their child to a doctor for a sprained ankle, they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help if a child is struggling mentally or emotionally. Parents also need to realize that they may not be able to help them on their own, no matter how much love and support they have to offer.

“That is a hard concept to accept when parents can feel solely responsible for their child’s welfare and well-being,” says Champion. “The adage still stands—it takes a village to raise a child. Be sure you are surrounding yourself and your child with a great support system to help tackle life’s many challenges.”

That village can include everyone from close family to local community members to public figures. Helping young people learn to manage their mental health is a gift we can all contribute to, one that will serve them for a lifetime.

Join athletes, Connections Academy and Upworthy for candid discussions on mental health during Mental Health Awareness Month. Learn more and find resources here.

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