I’ve contemplated a lot. And then I contemplated some more and I will probably contemplate even more after I post this, if I do because this is vulnerable and there’s a chance I may delete it at some point depending on how I feel…
Because there are many reasons women, or men (like boys in Catholic Church stories) do decide to keep things like this to themselves or do not report stories of sexual assault to the authorities.
This is my story.
When this happened in the winter of this year this was the height of #metoo, a perfect time to share if you look at it from that perspective, but it wasn’t right for me. It didn’t feel okay, despite the whole world saying, tell your story— I still wasn’t able to talk about what had happened to me. Today is the first time I’m able to talk openly about it. We all have our own time and I share this only so that people may try to begin to understand the complex mental toll that sexual assault places on the victims, which makes the concept of reporting complicated and emotionally taxing.
I had been on a few dates with X. I was familiar with X. He wasn’t a stranger. After our third date I invited him in for some wine. I didn’t want to have sex. I made that clear. In an ideal world, that privilege is for people I am in love with or in a relationship with. I told him that and we were not at that point. Either way, it’s my body and my agency to say yes or no to any uncounter I want.
We started making out or messing around, however you like to put it. I already feel vulnerable saying that. I don’t want to have to type this. I don’t want to have to say what happened physically that evening. It’s embarrassing. It would have been embarrassing to recite to an authority figure. I was fine with making out. I consented to that. And that’s where my consent ended.
At one point, the dress I was wearing got pulled up and I noticed that X was getting closer to me. I told him to stop. I told him that I wanted to stop everything that was happening all together. I was polite and calm because I thought this was someone I was getting to know, and I thought he would stop. He did not. He got closer. I said no repeatedly. He didn’t listen. I was in shock. I remained calm but I was in shock because I thought he respected me and would listen to me.
I emotionally and physically went numb as the unthinkable happened, for which I do not feel the need to put into physical terms. I thought for years that if for some reason I got myself into a mildly compromising situation it was because I didn’t know how to say no properly but here I was unequivocally saying “No.” and “Please stop.” On repeat and my clear and valid requests were not listened to or adhered to.
For five minutes I said those two phrases on repeat, begging him to cease what he was doing, as I was held down, until I went completely silent and just looked off into the distance. I always thought I would fight. That’s just the type of woman I thought I was and I was ashamed in that moment that after five minutes of repeated requests to stop, I felt deadened inside. I had a friend say that she would have kicked him in the balls and ran out but something happened when he didn’t listen to me, I became very very afraid for my safety. My main concern was not to show this man my strength, my main concern was to keep myself safe. If he was willing to do this, what else was he capable of. So this strong resilient woman who I have always strived to be, was replaced my this scared and frightened little girl. I was so ashamed. I shrank.
He finally stopped. And I was broken. I told him he had to leave. He didn’t want to. I felt I had to remain calm. I did tell him that what had happened was not okay and he proceeded to tell me after that he did it because he was in love with me and that he did it because he wanted to be with me. As if I wasn’t emotionally exhausted enough, I had to navigate through the mindfield of manipulation and bs that was this rediculousness. I kicked him out of my apartment in a calm manner that took into account a need for me to feel safe first.
He proceeded to text me for weeks on end after this, professing his love for me. When I told my therapist at the time, she was no help and didn’t recommend that I report what had happened. I got a new therapist. But in the days that followed I was confused and couldn’t call it assault or even the other word. I still can’t. I have often times referred to him a small “the guy who didn’t listen when I said ‘no’.” I didn’t want to date or be touched or go out with anyone for a few months and it took me a long time to process what had happened and why. I blamed myself more than a strong woman cares to admit. I thought of all the things I should have done differently. I didn’t think I stood a chance bringing it up. I wasnt sure if it was assault or just a man not adhearing to consent. I didn’t know the difference. At 32, I am still figuring this out.
And so I went to work and ran my business as if nothing happened. A few people knew. Those who have been in similar situations understood the toll and emotional taxation that would happen by trying to seek “justice”. I just honestly wanted to put it behind me and buy my house and go on living my life. So I did, as best I could.
So why didn’t I report it? And why do I not intend on reporting it now? It’s a far too fuzzy case in my mind. We had dated, we were making out. He wanted to be with me. He didn’t see it the way I did. I was ashamed at the way I handled it. I didn’t consent and said “no” and “stop” for five minutes but there’s no way to prove that in court. It’s his word vs mine. I was also working 80 hours a week at the time and didn’t want to go through the time it took to give this my all. I didn’t know if it classified as assault. I thought about him ending up in jail and honestly that thought made me feel conflicted and guilty. All I really wanted for him was to understand when and why to listen to a women when they are expressing themselves in that way. I didn’t think he was the most terrible human, I felt like somewhere along the way, he was given a false notion that he, as a man, had a right to a woman’s body, despite what she said or did.
Here’s another thing that happened.
Many of you don’t know this but I had a restraining order on an ex many many years ago in Phoenix. One time after his best friend stole a book of my checks and ended up writing $3,000 worth of checks to himself, I saw my ex and he ended up hitting me across the face when I confronted him. It was in public and police officers were not far and so they filed an assault claim. Day of the hearing, there was no protection for me dispite my order of protection, and because my friend who saw me get hit had moved out of state, my ex boyfriend left that hearing getting off completely free. We left the courthouse at the same time without any reguard for my safety. I know from experience how to shrink to keep yourself safe, so on this night I speak of, I reverted to the smallness that I felt in the courtroom that day. It feels safer there and I won’t apologize for what I feel I needed to do to keep myself safe, even if it was the weaker choice in the long run. We all can’t be brave in every moment, in every part of our journey. Somedays we just survive.
The court knew I had an order of protection. And when I had tried to file a claim, it became a he said/she said situation, and I lost. I moved to Chicago shortly after to follow my dreams in comedy, and also to get away from the ex who hit me and I knew was capable of much more if I stayed in Arizona.
So I know the court system isn’t the greatest at protecting women and their stories. I knew I would be essentially alone in this. I knew I would be subject to judgement. I knew I would be subject to people saying what they would have done differently in my shoes. I knew that if it came out people would have opinions and I knew it might be a strain on my mental health, which I couldn’t take the risk of. I did what was best for my mind at the time. I assume that’s what all women or men do when confronted with this.
So I stayed silent. And I still have no plans to report anything, so please respect my wishes not to. But, if my ex who hit me or X who didn’t listen when I said no, were to try to get one of the highest public offices in the country, saying that he has lived his life with full integrity, I would, in my conscious, have to speak up. I would say something. I would make my voice heard. It might not make a dent in a regular courtroom because the nature of those situations are generally lets be honest, “he said, she said” with the general conclusion being both parties walking out of the court at the same time, the woman always fearing for her safety for opening her mouth, and the man always angry that the woman dared to try to confront him.
I don’t know what happened to Dr. Ford. I don’t know if Judge Kavanaugh did this but for Trump to insiunuate that charges would have been filed, without knowing the deep shame, embarrassment, guilt, and fear that lives in the lives of victims of assault is an indication of his lack of many things. I didn’t speak on this for months because I wasn’t ready emotionally, I think everyone should be given that right, to process their trauma and speak on it in their own time.
My story is likely just one of many. I don’t say this for pity, I have processed my emotions and moved on. I don’t say this for attention, I get enough attention from my dog to last a lifetime. I say this because life isn’t black and white. It’s not clear cut. It’s not simple. Peoples reasons for doing things are largely based on their past experiences and what they see around them so— if you think more women/men ought to come forward and report claims like this then lets make the system better and society better for that to happen. Or, maybe here’s a thought, let’s not create a culture where men feel comfortable doing anything that even remotely looks like, feels like, or resembles assault. And lets talk about consent in our schools, in our relationships, in our movies, in our culture as a whole. #metoo
If you read all of this, thank you.