Wednesday, October 19, 2016

This Stops with Us: A's Sexual Assault Story


A few days ago, motivated by the rhetoric and scandal surrounding Donald Trump's Presidential campaign, I decided to come forward with my sexual assault story in the hope that I could put a face to sexual assault and enforce that Trump's comments are not just "locker room talk."

I shared what I was doing with some close friends of mine and invited them to use my little corner of the internet to share their own stories. A handful of these women shared that while they had stories of their own and appreciated the opportunity, the feelings were still too raw. A couple women took me up on my offer. Yesterday, my younger sister allowed me the privilege of publishing her story, and today, I will be sharing the sexual assault story of my friend, A (for Anonymous). 

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I have been sexually assaulted five times in my young life. This doesn’t include the countless times that my partners have pushed me into having sex when I did not want to. What shocks me the most about preparing myself to write this, was how hard it was to dig these memories up. Not that I’ve forgotten, but that I’ve done such a good job of storing them away. Women are conditioned to forget. Women are conditioned to stay quiet for fear of not being taken seriously or for the blame to come back on them. Women are conditioned to expect these things to happen to them at some point in their life. Everyone has a story. I guarantee you that every woman, if you asked, would have a story.

Of my five stories, I will only share four. One is still too fresh for me to stir up the dust, when all I want to do is let it settle. I also want to say that these stories are all different. One was at a dark park, one was at work, one was at a good friend’s home, and one was by a woman.

I was first assaulted at the age of 15. I had been dated a good friend’s family member during the summer before my freshmen year of high school. He was a sophomore, I felt special. Our summer romance ended, and I began dating a wonderful guy at the very beginning of the school year. On Thanksgiving day, I went to visit my above mentioned friend’s family that evening. I didn’t know that K, let’s just call him K, would be there, but sure enough, there he was. He was a very tall and broad kid for 16, a jock. He was then 16 and has just received a brand new car for his birthday. He asked my friend and I if we wanted to go along for a ride to check it out. We obliged. Somehow, we ended up at a local park, about 5 miles from our parents’ house. He pulled into a random area and parked. The details after this are fuzzy, mostly because of the lack of trying to forget. We were all sitting on a park bench, talking. Next thing I knew, I was on the ground, on my back, pinned. My friend jumped up, unsure of what she was supposed to do. K takes the keys out of his car and throws them at my friend and says, “Get in the car.” She looks at me, and I look back. And she gets in the car. He turns his attention to me and promises me everything is okay. That he’s not going to hurt me, that I just needed to relax, everything was okay. I repeatedly asked him to stop, that I had a boyfriend, and that I didn’t want to do this. He proceeded to pick me up and forcefully hold me on his lap. My hands were crossed on my lap, with his arms wrapped completely around me, holding me in place. I kept asking him to stop. “Will you just RELAX? This is fine! You’re fine. This is fun!” He started groping me, kissing my neck and face while I struggled to get lose. But when I struggled harder, he would stand up with me in his arms and slam me back down into his lap, like I was some dog he was trying to keep still. I don’t remember how long this went on. But I do remember my friend finally turning the headlights of the car on, getting out and yelling, “We’re going home!” He argued, she stood in front of the car. We went home. After years of talking about this with my friend, apologies have been thrown around, but I do not blame her. It’s not her fault for what happened. And in the end, she stopped it all.

He drove us home, and I went straight back to my house. Terrified and not sure what to do next. So I called my boyfriend, who I thought would understand, who I thought would help me. Instead, it was all my fault. I was a slut. I shouldn’t have gotten in his car. I should have screamed for help. I should have fought harder. I must have wanted it. It was my fault. And I believed that. For years.

At 16, I was sexually harassed at work. It was my fourth day on the job, and they had me on dishwashing duty at the end of the night. Our uniforms were khaki pants and button up tees. I was about an hour into dishwashing when the bakers came in for the night. At this point, despite my waterproof apron, I was soaked. The bakers, three men in their 40s, came in to start making the pastries for the following day. They noticed the new girl and went about their business. It started with whistling. Then was one was brazen enough to say “Maybe just come to work in a bikini next time.” And they all thought that was hilarious. Then another one jumped in, “Or just nothing at all!” And they all laughed harder. I kept my head down and kept cleaning. “Aw, honey. We’re just joking with you! Take a joke!” And they all laughed again. Then they all mumbled about how I couldn’t take a joke and I needed to lighten up.

I was 16. And needless to say, did not return to work the next day.

I was assaulted again when I was 19. I was in a long term relationship with a boy I had known for year, I’ll call him B. It was our freshmen year of college, and he was away at college. We shared a solid group of friends for all of high school, so it wasn’t uncommon for me to hang out with his guy friends often. This one particular friend, who I’ll call A, I had been especially close with. A dated my best friend in high school.  And He had treated all of my friends like shit. He cheated on them with our other friends, emotionally abused them, and had me so warped that I stayed friends with him despite all his abuse of my very close girlfriends. In college, he and I worked for the same company, but at different locations. From time to time, I would pick up shifts at his store, and we began hanging out with our work friends as well. The comments started with “When are we going to have sex?” I would laugh and say never, and he would laugh. I would talk about a cute guy that would come in to our store and he would say “Oh! So you would fuck him and not me?!” We would laugh. Then one day he said “You know you’re going to cheat on B, so it might as well be with me.” I didn’t take him seriously. One night, he invited me over to hang out before going to meet some friends from work. I didn’t drink at the age of 19, but he was 21 and offered me a drink. I said no, a few times, but he insisted. I tried to see what it was and he kept scooting behind his refrigerator. “Don’t worry! It’ll be good.” He gave me a drink in a little metal tumbler. I can still remember the way it tasted, but I can’t tell you what it was. Because I asked him and he wouldn’t tell me. I took two drinks. Because I didn’t drink, I told him it tasted gross and that I was finished. He told me I was a pussy and to keep drinking. I held it and pretended like I was still drinking. Ten minutes later, he started to move on me. Like a bitch, one might say. “Let’s go into my room. It’s so comfortable in there. Let’s just go lay down and take a nap for a minute.” I looked at him like he was insane. “Come on, you know you want to.” And that’s when my legs started tingling. I told him I should probably go. He then started physically forcing me to stay seated. I told him I need to go home, that I didn’t feel well. He kept telling me to just hang out for a bit. And that I had a drink, I should probably not drive. Then he said “Let’s just go have a quick fuck in the bedroom. No one needs to know! I won’t tell B…” I finally pulled myself away and rushed out the door. He laughed as I ran down the stairs. When I got into my car, I could barely feel my legs or my arms. Something was very wrong. I was new to drinking, but I was pretty sure it wasn’t supposed to cause numbness in your limbs. I managed to get home and I was stunned. I called my best friend and she told me what I was thinking but didn’t want to admit because I was so afraid someone would think I was lying. “Did you see him make your drink? It sounds like he drugged you. He put something in your drink. Did you see him make your drink?” I didn’t see him make my drink, because he hid behind his refrigerator while he made it. He didn’t tell me what was in the drink when I asked. He wouldn’t tell me how he made it when I asked. I laid in my bed and just waited for myself to fall asleep. I didn’t tell my boyfriend for fear of being blamed for going to A’s apartment, for taking the drink when I could tell he was being suspicious. I never spoke of it, or to him, again.

The last assault is something that you don’t hear of a lot. But I thought it was important to share because it’s real, and it does happen. I was assaulted by a woman I was dating. It was our third date, and she, we’ll call her F, had become increasingly belligerent as the night went on. We were out with friends and I said to one of them, “If I text you in a little bit, call me and tell me what you’re stuck here at the bar and need a ride. I have a feeling I’m going to need an excuse to get away from her.” My friend agreed, and said she would come by my house to make sure I was okay, since she lived around the corner. I took her back to her car that was parked at my place, and I told her to sit on the porch while she waited for a cab. She asked if she could come in and just have a glass of water, so said sure. I was sitting on the floor, she was sitting on the couch. I texted my friend to call me. She did, and I told F that I had to leave to go get my friend, and she was welcome to sit on my porch and wait for her cab. All of a sudden, she jumped off the couch and I was pinned, on my back, her knees on my shoulders. She was trying to kiss me while shoving her hands in my pants. I yelled at her to stop while she yelled “I just want to fuck you! Just let me fuck you!” She kept yelling at me to just let her do this, and I yelled back. I eventually got my foot lodged into her lower belly and pushed her off of me. I grabbed my keys and ran to my car. She walked outside as I drove off. I parked around the corner, and for fear of her finding me, just turned off my headlights and watched for her cab. I called my friend and the words that came out of my mouth were, “If she had been a man, I would have called the cops. That’s how bad that just was.” My friend said, “Well lucky for you she was a girl! I don’t know if you would have been able to get a dude off of you like that.” Another thing we need to educate women on, it can be men, and it can be women. Assault is assault, and those crimes don’t have a gender.

I don’t want to raise my daughter in a world where this is okay. Where if something happened to her, she would tuck it away in the back corner of her mind and move on. Where if someone attacked her, she would think it was her fault, and not speak up. Where if she is made uncomfortable, she does not say so. Women are the strongest humans I know. They have to endure so much more than majority of men, or even women, are willing to give them credit for, or even know that credit is due. They’re strong because we all have to endure a patriarchal society in which judging women on looks becomes social commentary and measures a woman’s worth. They have to endure inequalities in the workplace, and are punished for being women and mothers. And they have to endure sexual assault at the hands of people they trust, co-workers, even partners. This stops with us. This stops with you. And this stops with Hillary. Let women rise, and let them shine. Fuck the patriarchy.

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A's words, "Women are conditioned to expect these things to happen to them at some point in their life. Everyone has a story. I guarantee you that every woman, if you asked, would have a story" could not be more true. If you are someone who has experienced sexual assault and would like to share your story, please email me. I would be honored to share your story on my blog, or keep it to myself if you just want an empathetic ear.

To anyone who has experienced sexual violence, I say this- it is never your fault. 

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