Content warning for rape.
I’m sharing my story today, in part, because I support the #CalltoPause the Evangelical Culture Wars and the Brett Kavanaugh hearings. With the recent allegations of sexual misconduct, we MUST PAUSE and conduct FBI investigations into the women's claims. Women's Lives Matter and Integrity Matters on the Supreme Court. You can join the #CalltoPause by going here.
Here is my story & why I have chosen -for now- not to report.
How can you report something you didn’t understand at the time was assault? For many young girls and women the greatest vulnerability lies in the abuse of power. Deception is necessary to make it seem as if we asked for it. When you struggle to trust your intituion because it’s been violated so repeatedly you begin a narrative which exonerates your abuser and demonizes yourself. Happens everyday.
I was severely sexually abused by my father for several years. I reported it to my mother. In this instance, the reason I reported was because I didn’t know I was reporting an actual crime. I was 10. I told my mother as casually as I might have told her, “my Daddy & I went out for ice cream.” Thankfully, she reported.
Fast forward several years to a much more complex scenario. I have not reported a rape. I did not report the rape because I did not view it as rape or even allow myself to begin viewing it as rape until many years later.
The complexity begins with a date rape. And not even a date. A visit with a man I had no business being romantically involved with in the first place.
I stopped at his apartment for a quick afternoon hello. We were supposed to try & catch lunch but when I arrived he told me he didn’t have time to go out. He didn’t have time for me to be there at all, he said.
In fact, I came in his apartment with a coat, hat, scarf & a purse on my shoulder & I didn’t ever remove them. I expected a quick kiss & to be gone. Less than 10 minutes later, I was gone. In that time, a rape happened while I was still wearing a heavy winter coat, a hat, scarf and with a purse on my shoulder. Everything that happened was unexpected.
We were standing up kissing. He said he wanted to have sex...something we had not done before. We had done other things before that he pressured me to do after I’d told him I wasn’t ready for sex.
When he started trying to take my pants down, I asked if his mother was in the other room, just a few steps away. He confirmed that she was but that everything would be fine. I communicated my discomfort in that. I said no. I told him we didn’t have time. To be clear, I wasn’t against having sex with him per se. I was adamantly against having sex with him in that moment, with his mother present, while I was still wearing a giant winter coat and without a condom.
He began pushing me towards the couch & pulling my pants down all the way to my feet. I asked if he had a condom. He said they were in the room with his mother and he felt uncomfortable going to get them. He turned me around. I said no for a second time. I said I didn’t want to have sex without a condom. I told him I could get pregnant. He bent me over. I said I didn’t want to do it like that. He told me to be quiet. He told me that he’d warned me. He inserted. I surrendered defeat.
Like many adult survivors of childhood abuse, I pretended to like it. For the entire 3 minutes. I stood there, vacant but present enough to pretend. Pretending to enjoy horrific sex is a learned survival tactic and something I have struggled with my entire life, top to bottom. It happens usually after feeling “worn down,” and coerced or pressured so many times that it becomes a way of saving face.
Pretending was my way of accepting defeat, but somehow finding it in my heart to not want my abuser to find out I didn’t want it or that I was in excruciating pain because -wait for it- it might hurt his feelings or wound his ego. Feelings are better, because a wounded male ego is dangerous. Either way, for safety sake, just pretend to enjoy it. Give a moan or two, what can it hurt?
If I were to report, this man might counter back with something about my heavy breathing. Maybe he’d even say I enjoyed it. Again, that male ego has a wild imagination. A women who’s wearing a thick winter coat with her purse on her shoulder, sweating in a small heated apartment after zero four-play while she’s worried she could pregnant? Would anyone believe that woman is enjoying herself? Anyone at all?
A few minutes later, he finished in his hand & left to go the bathroom leaving me ass-only naked in his living room wondering what the hell just happened.
I pulled my pants up & sat down feeling utterly defeated. I started crying. He came down & sat next to me he asking what’s wrong. Aghast, I told him I didn’t want to do it like that. I told him I imagined that if & when we had sex it would be under utterly different circumstances & that I wouldn’t be forced into it. He said, “well I told you not to wake the sleeping monster.” The implication that I shouldn’t have kissed him when I arrived.
When I arrived he did in fact tell me that kissing him would “awaken the sleeping monster” and that he would lose his ability to control himself. This was our 3rd or 4th meeting in person after a few months of getting to know one another. In the moment, I did not take that as a red flag. I understood him to be joking. Maybe even some sort of backwards-ass compliment about how irresistible I was.
At the time, I didn’t think much of his comment and I definitely did not take it as a warning. If we only had 5-10 minutes to spend together, what was I there for if not to kiss? So we kissed. I did not believe standing up to kiss one another would be force me to surrender my unwilling body.
After the sleeping monster comment, I left immediately. I opened his door & slid down the side of the wall to cry. He came out to check on me. I didn’t have words. I just sat and cried while he seemed confused but remarkably attentive. I didn’t want to walk or move. He sat there quietly & watched me whimper.
Finally, I got up & walked slowly to the elevator with him following a few steps behind. I got in the elevator and inexplicably asked him for a hug. He gave me what felt like at the time, a tender kiss on the forehead with a look that made me think he felt bad. I’m not sure what his look meant, honestly. He seemed to be on new ground. Puzzled and befuddled by my tears.
I cried my way home. The primary feeling I felt was regret. I wondered why I was so stupid… why I let this man sleep with me...why I allowed this...why I made such a horrible choice...why I went to his apartment in the first place...why I thought he was a nice person when I’d seen red flags before. Why? Why? Why?
I didn’t once ask myself why he had the right to push forward despite my saying “no”. I didn’t once question why he still moved & manipulated my body and clothing despite me offering objections. I didn’t once question why he told me to be quiet.
I called one of my good friends wailing. She asked what happened & I said three wrong words, “we had sex,” and not the truth, “he raped me.”
And from then on for years, that was the narrative. We had sex. As if it were something I chose or wanted or welcomed or even agreed to. He took what he wanted and silenced my objections in the process.
“Be quiet,” he said. And I did, because that is what I was trained to do by my father. And that is what so many men after him insinuated with their attitudes and actions towards my body as under their control.
To further complicate matters, I kept calling and texting him for another month or so. He & I proceeded as if the entire event was consensual sex. Many months later, we agreed to meet up to talk. I wanted to apologize for everything that happened between us. (Sigh). In what was supposed to be a neutral setting at a public location turned into him taking me to see his new club where we were alone.
His peer pressure game was strong…”it will only be a minute,” and “can’t you be happy for me?” In these few brief moments, he grabbed my ass without permission and stole a kiss. I pulled away, I said no. I did everything in my power to avoid. Yet, he got his kiss.
We remained Instagram friends for awhile before I finally unfollowed after him sending me several messages like “sit on my face.”
He is vile.
It’s very sad to acknowledge how long it took me to realize this though for other women it may have been clear right away.
Why didn’t I report? I didn’t understand and was to mortified to acknowledge even to myself that I’d been assaulted.
Why don’t I report now? At 11 years old I sat in a dingy courtroom while my father’s lawyer tore me to shreds. His insinuation that I’d asked to be repeatedly violated by my own father stuck with me for over 30 years. I am uncertain if I am willing to subject myself and my family to whatever horrors might come my way as this man is now in a place of power & influence. And would he receive justice? No.
What I am doing now is lending my voice to the movement. I’m joining the #CalltoPause because #SCOTUS matters. Because the next Justice will decide the course of our nation for the next 2-3 generations.
I'm raising my voice with many other like-minded leaders across the country to issue a Call to Pause the Kavanaugh nomination. Watch to find out why. Then join the Call to Pause here