I remember the night like it was yesterday. A group of us were at a nightclub that had a “teen night”. I arrived with a friend and she introduced me to the rest of her friends. We had a great night, dancing and laughing. I was about 18 at the time, graduated from high school, working full time. It was getting late and I had to work the next day. Many of the group were also dispersing. My friend came to me and told me that one of the group needed a ride home. He couldn’t find who he came with. I said, “No problem! I’ll drop him off.” He came over and introduced himself and we started talking. He was nice and we started having a pleasant conversation.
The last sentence of that picture above is something that I wish I’d thought about then. I felt safe because he was my friend’s friend. He was “part of our group”. The unseen unfamiliarity is so stark now, but then? I felt comfortable. When we pulled up to his house, I knew the street well. I knew a few people on the block and we both chatted about our common knowledge of these people. I felt safe. Not wanting to stop talking, he invited me in to chat. I didn’t see anything wrong about it because there shouldn’t be a reason why I wouldn’t. Right?
We went inside his house; his parent’s house, and proceeded to sit down for a chat, continuing our conversation. Without so much as a comment other than, “You are so pretty”, he proceeded to grab me, push me down on the couch and aggressively kiss me. I was stunned and told him, “Please stop. I’m not like that!” My pleas were ignored and I tried to break free. He was very strong and held my arms down. I told him, “No!!” more than a few times and he ignored my pleas. When he started to try and unzip my jeans, I knew I was in trouble. He had no intentions of stopping. My heart was pounding in my chest and not because I was excited. I was terrified.
I don’t remember much after that, but he was unsuccessful in his attempt to rape me. Fortunately for me, he had a younger brother who happened to be home. He came past the room, down a hallway and stopped to look in. I managed to turn my head and say, “Help!” to the brother. He said to his brother, “What are you doing man?” and he jumped up, saying he was just fooling around. I didn’t stick around to say another other than, “Thank you” to the brother, grabbed my purse and run out of the house. I didn’t look back, fumbling with my keys to get in the vehicle.
I told my friend the next day, but I was ashamed and embarrassed that I allowed myself to get into that situation. So I downplayed the entire event. It was dropped pretty quickly and I recall it never being addressed again. I never saw that guy again, but I had a hard time dealing with stress and anxiety over the next year. I had some trouble sleeping and was fearful of going out at night and being alone with men for a long time.
It wasn’t until years later that I realized that I was the victim of a sexual assault. At the time, I felt “lucky” and that I had “escaped” doing something with someone I wasn’t “into”. Now I know that this man was dangerous and had the potential to rape and could have easily done that by now. Could he have learned his lesson and stopped after that night? Perhaps. Did his parents find out and deal with the situation appropriately? Possible? Doubtful.
With all the stories in the news today with the sexual assault claims in the news, I see many of the women being told they are lying, making up the story and others doubting their claim due to the “timing”. Well, this happened to me over 30 years ago and this is the first time I’m bringing it up. Survivors of abuse don’t always come forward because of the exact same treatment they are getting in the press, due to the powerful nature of Donald Trump’s position. Coming out with the story is exposing them to the hatred and accusatory tone of many. Instead of sympathy and respect for them and abhoring of what happened, they are met with condemnation, crude comments and dismissal of their story and their feelings. This is very sad to me. While I don’t know exactly how they feel, I know that I am far from alone in what I experienced that night, so many years ago.
I am personally repulsed by a lot of what I see regarding the treatment of these women. Am I 100% certain that every single person is being 100% truthful? I cannot say yes because I do not know these women and I was not there. All I know is that it takes a lot of courage to speak up. Yesterday, I saw a photo from a Trump rally with a man wearing a tee shirt that said, “She’s a C**T, vote for Trump”. His wife was standing proudly next to him. I’m still speechless to be honest. I was brought up to care about the message I present to others and to respect my fellow man and woman.
There is a culture around the world that in some respects, condones this type of behavior. Most abhor it and work, some tirelessly, to make this a better world full of equality for all. However, there is still a strong segment of people who try to walk over the powerless and crush their voice. This needs to stop.