For me, the rumour started when I was about 13 yo, and grew out of control once I entered high school. Not sure exactly why or who started it, but it basically ruined my high school experience. I find it incredibly ironic that I was called a slut and a whore in school, when I wasn't dating anyone and hadn't been having sex with anyone. I had my locker vandalised twice, one time it was covered in black marker, mustard and a used condom. Nice. I blamed one person. Just one. The boy I lost my virginity to. This all started 23-24 yrs ago and it has made me miserable and vulnerable and I have had my share of horrid relationships because of it.
Now... to take ownership of this problem tho, I can not 100% blame this guy. It's interesting that he found me thru one of those online *find your school mates* websites and contacted me. I wasn't nice to him when he did. I basically let out all the anger I had toward him in emails, I *vomitted* all over him. Boy did that feel good!! I felt he needed to know how he'd ruined my life, and how I felt, and how hurt I was and everything else I had left bottled up inside of me for all these years. To say he was surprised is an understatement. He did apoligize for things, but, he also told me he knew nothing about it. Whether or not I believe him is irrelevant tho. He claims he was not responsible for those things that happened to me, that he knew nothing about them, and none of the *gang* he hung out with had done it (he claims he would have known if they had done it). I can't say I believe him as all our *conversations* happened thru email or IM chats.
I won't say we are friends now, but the anger and frustration and everything else I felt towards him is for the most part gone. We talk now if not daily then at least once a week. I can't forgive him for something he didn't do, and I think I will always harbour some resentment toward him (I know, foolish me)... but at least I am at peace as far as I can be.
The rumours and name calling destroyed my already low self-esteem and I have bounced from one failed relationship to another since then, recently in the process of ending my 10 yr relationship (8 yr marriage) and finding dating nearly impossible. I doubt everything every man says to me and I don't trust them or their motives at all. My marriage didn't end because of the self-esteem issues I have, and infact it was probably the best relationship I have ever had. Too bad he chose to let his family go instead of fighting to keep us together, and I could only fight so much before I had to stop from exhaustion.