I was 20.
It was the spring term of my junior year in college.
“We are in the same psych class, I think.”, he said.
I didn’t recognize him. I was flattered that he recognized me.
“I have rugby this afternoon, but you want to meet up later?”
Rugby. That explained his filled out 6’4″ frame. The Scottish accent didn’t hurt either.
“Sure, I’ll meet you downtown,” I said.
It was getting late. I was a few drinks in. I was ready to head home.
“I’ll give you a ride,” he said.
I did pause. For a minute. I thought about safety. But…. he seemed nice. He seemed fine. He seemed safe enough to drive me home.
“This isn’t the way to my house,” I said.
“Oh, my roommates are having a party, I thought we’d go there,” he said.
My stomach quickly grew a knot.
This was 1993. I did not have a cell phone. I felt trapped. I felt helpless.
“I’m tired, I’m just ready to go home,” I said.
“We’re going to my house. It will be fun,” he said.
And I grew silent. And still. And the survival part of me started running through my options.
I chose silence. I chose passive.
He drove us 20 minutes outside of town. It was dark. I was scared.
Then he pulled into a driveway of a little house with lots of lights on.
Phew, there is actually a party. I felt partial relief. Maybe this will just be weird, but not dangerous.
He took me by the hand and walked me right through the group of eight or so people mostly passed out in his living room to his bedroom.
The knot in my stomach grew again. Danger.
I was still and quiet. Surviving. I didn’t see any options.
He began groping me. Kissing me. I did not reciprocate. That did not seem to phase him. At. All.
I am 5’4″. I am not a big person. In fact, I am a rather small person.
It was clear that his 6’4″ muscular frame could do anything he wanted with my body.
I said No. I said No again.
And then, I realized that it didn’t matter what I said or did. This was happening.
So, I became passive. I did not engage in the act, but I stopped resisting. I didn’t know what else to do.
He used a condom. I felt grateful. I. Felt. Grateful.
While I screamed inside.
And then he went to sleep, with his leg on me. I felt pinned.
I imagined leaving that bedroom and calling my roommates to come get me. From some phone that I would hopefully find somewhere in the house. And then I realized, I didn’t know where I was. I was 20 minutes outside of town. It was the boonies. I was stuck.
So I laid there. Wide awake. Breathing. Surviving. Until he woke up in the morning. Pretending everything was normal.
And, so, I did too. I was quiet. And passive. Surviving.
And he drove me home. And he talked about when we should go out again. And I gave little polite answers.
And, in my head, I was just getting to the finish line. Just surviving until I was home. Safe.
Away. From. Him.
Finally, I walked into my apartment.
And, everything was normal.
And I told no one.
And I rolled around in my head all the things I did wrong. I was drinking. I got in the car with him. I didn’t fight back hard enough. I must have given him the wrong idea.
I am sharing my story because I am far from the only woman to have this happen. The vast majority of women I know have a story like this. Or something similar. Sharing the stories takes them out of the shadows. It takes away the shame. It puts the burden where it should land, on the RAPIST.
As women, and victims, we tend to roll over all the things WE could have done differently to prevent this from happening.
Because if we make it our fault, then we have power in preventing it. We have power over it. We feel less vulnerable.
The reality is, that was NOT my fault. It is NEVER a woman’s fault. RAPE or sexual assault of any kind is NEVER a woman’s fault.
NO MATTER WHAT.
And this, is where Donald Trump comes in. Let’s connect the dots….
Donald Trump says what much of society believes. Really. Sexism and mysogyny are alive and well. This election has proven that.
Yes, there are MANY wonderful, evolved, caring men out there who would NEVER engage in this behavior. And they are speaking up more and more. And I hope this continues. They are where the change will occur.
However, we just elected a man who believes he can simply grab a woman by the genitals anytime he wants. He is entitled to do so, and believes there are no consequences for doing so. And, so far, there seem to have been none for him.
Brock Turner believes this too. And, our society supported him in that experience.
It wasn’t util 1993 that marital rape was established as a “thing.” Until then, men could force their wives to have sex anytime they wanted with no legal recourse for the women.
Women have been fighting since the beginning of time to be seen as more than property. To be seen as equals to men.
And, clearly, we are still fighting. And we still need to fight. More than ever.
Because the fact that so many American’s did not see his behavior toward women as unconscionable is significant to the women’s rights movement. It speaks to how much of our country does not see the sexism we are swimming in. Does not see the little comments about women and unsaid expectations of women as wrong. They do not see that this behavior continues the same old patterns that keep women in lower status positions in our society.
Straight, white, male privilege is real. And they are about to fill the White House. Again.
Oh, this is happening. It is really happening. No matter what I do right now, he is going to be president.
Which means we need to fight louder, and more openly, and more diligently. Now. Right now.
Ladies, let’s stand up. Share our stories. And refuse to be still and passive and silent.
Let’s take our rage and courage and strength and be the change we want to see.
Get educated on local politicians that support our causes
Write letters to senators and representatives to make our voices heard
Run for office
Speak up. Even when it is hard. Speak up.
Be a Nasty, NASTY Woman.
Because the world needs LOTS more Nasty women. We have incredible power. IF we choose to use it.
So, take your stories out of the shadows. Let YOUR voice be heard in whatever way feels good for you. No more hiding and making the absurd and horrid behavior ok by brushing it under the rug. Let’s reject the shame of victimhood and stand together as a force to be reckoned with.
I’ve got your back. Do you have mine?