Sexual Assault


I was assaulted on a cruise ship as a child in 1978. I was 12 years old and my sister was 9. We found the crew to be very friendly, and thinking nothing of that at that age, we were friendly back to them, chatting occasionally with them. You have to remember, we were children and living in very different times than today. We thought nothing of speaking with crew members and considered them safe. My parents thought nothing of leaving us to do our own thing on the ship. Again, in those days, ship assaults were unheard of and times were much more innocent. Or so we thought! One night, I wanted to return to the family cabin early, but had forgotten my key. Whenever that happened, all we had to do was to see our cabin steward so that they could let us in. So that is what I did. Unfortunately, when he let me in, he let himself in as well. The next thing I knew, this guy had his tongue down my throat. I was repulsed and terrified. I had never kissed anybody in my life, nor had I led this man on. I remember telling him that I was only twelve..he just kept nodding his head “no” and asked if he could return to the cabin to see me later. I can’t remember how I responded, but I’m pretty sure I said no. I was just SO SCARED and the important thing was, he was leaving. He finally left and I proceeded to the bathroom and spit into the sink over and over, completely disgusted by what just happened. I remember crying and looking out the porthole, praying my parents would return to the room.
I knew they were at a show, but apparently I didn’t know exactly where. And frankly, I was afraid to leave the room. Finally my sister returned to the room and I told her to go find them and bring them right back. They immediately came back and I told them everything that had happened. They kept me with them for the rest of the night and reported the incident. The officer who took the information also talked to me to see if I had the cabin steward’s name, which I did not. He also asked me for a physical description, which, with all due respect, was futile, as most of the crew looked alike to me. They were all dark and all had on the same uniforms. The next day they had me sit in an area where the crew members gathered to collect their paychecks. They expected me to pick the cabin steward out of literally hundreds of men who were coming in and out of the area quickly, in a rushed, disorganized fashion. A couple of times I thought I saw him and said it may be him, but I wasn’t sure and I told them that. They seemed frustrated, but, I was the victim and this whole process was extremely humiliating, not to mention the assault itself! My parents tell me now that the ship staff were not very cooperative or sympathetic. I know one thing, I felt the lack of sympathy then. I remember being made to feel as if I were a pain in the you-know-what. I was told that an announcement would be made to warn all crew members that this type of behavior would not be tolerated. And that was all I got..oh, and the wonderful memory of it all.