Thursday, January 9, 2014

Things That Really Piss Me Off: Victim Shaming/Blaming

As a warning to victims of assault or abuse who might be reading this: This could be a trigger. I hope it isn't, but I understand how it works, so here's your warning. I'm going to talk about what happened to me and how angry this whole situation makes me. What happened to me will probably be very triggering for some.

Some things really grind my gears. Seriously. As if violence against women wasn't bad enough, there seems to be is a culture of victim shaming/blaming that goes on in perpetuity unless the victim decides to join the witness protection program and start a whole new life. This has been brought to my attention recently by a small number of friends who have had issues in their social circles with people disbelieving/publicly blowing off their attack. As if the first attack wasn't violation enough.

A friend pointed me toward This Article which left me both livid and extraordinarily depressed. Are you kidding me? Because a man presents himself well he couldn't possibly have assaulted anyone? Because he's charismatic it's the woman's fault? Dude. FUCK THAT.

I was assaulted too. More emotionally than physically, but in a sense I was VERY lucky. I'll explain. I was in between boyfriends and a guy whom I knew from the theatre group I was in expressed interest in grabbing dinner one night. We'd never spent any amount of time together, but we had mutual friends and although he wasn't my usual type, he seemed like a nice guy, so I said yes. We went out to dinner. We came back to my apartment. I was expecting that we'd make out, nothing more. Well, it went a bit further than that and when I was down to underwear and a t-shirt I decided I was finished. So I said I'd like to stop. I expected he would try to convince me to go further, he did, and I said, no really, I'm done now. I spent the next 30 minutes trying to crawl out from underneath him, repeating NO over and over again. He wouldn't let me out from under him and kept grinding his pelvis into mine as if that would somehow change my mind. He NEVER got the idea that I was serious. It was all a game. The game being that I was playing hard to get and at some point I'd cave. Eventually he relented. I was in serious pain from all his stupid grinding against me and exhausted from the fight. At that point I felt like he understood that there would be no sex that night, so I didn't feel like I was still in danger. I was too damn tired to process any of it and I fell asleep. So did he. He left the next morning and it wasn't until then that everything started to sink in and I became really upset. I wasn't sure, but I thought I had been assaulted. It could have been MUCH worse, so I didn't know if it actually WAS an assault. Did I even have the right to complain? What constitutes an assault? When I look back on it, I find what he did insidious. I was left so confused that I couldn't figure out if I had brought this on myself or what the hell had happened. All I knew was that I felt sick. And I never wanted to be alone in a room with him EVER AGAIN. He called me later that day to schedule another date and I expressed that I was considerably agitated by what had happened the night before and that I didn't think I wanted to see him again. He sounded mystified. To this day I don't know if it was all a ruse or if he was in fact, SO FREAKING CLUELESS that he thought that the previous evening was all fun and games. I don't remember a whole lot about the conversation except that I'd gotten my point across. I can't remember if he apologized. I can't remember if he argued. I put it out of my mind. I didn't want to think about it anymore. Ever.

About a month or so later the show at the theatre group I did shows with was having their big end of the show party. A couple ex boyfriends were there, one from out of town, who was staying with me. Everything was going fine until I was talking with a girl I knew in the bathroom and she informed me that assault guy had told everyone that we had slept together. For me, THIS was the ultimate violation. I had said NO. A lot. And now he was bragging about our night of "hot sex" with me to all his friends. I lost it. The girl I had been talking to was visibly surprised by my reaction and she went and got some of my closer friends as well as my ex-boyfriend who was staying with me, and another Ex that I was on good terms with. I would have to explain everything, which was mortifying. I sure as hell didn't want anyone to know. I just wanted to forget it. I wasn't just upset because he lied. I was upset because I had to fend him off for as long as I did and THEN he lied. So basically, I'm a whore on top of being violated. I sincerely felt in that moment like I was going to lose my mind. I had no idea what I was going to do. Here's the part where I got lucky. All those friends were furious on my behalf. Some of them were beyond that. Half a dozen or so men went out to find this guy, who was also attending the party by the way. There was a pretty frightening verbal confrontation, that I could only sort of see from indoors, but I could hear it. He denied saying anything, of course, but my friends knew that I would not publicly lose my shit so completely for no reason. I was hysterically crying in public, which I hate, but I couldn't help myself. Everything that had happened had built up and boiled over when I found out what he had said. They basically threatened him with physical harm if he ever came near me or the theatre again. He left and I never saw him again.

I cannot even begin to fathom what I would have done if my friends hadn't believed me and sent him away. I probably would have hurt myself if they had made excuses for him or said I was overreacting. I know it surprised a lot of people because he seemed so unassuming, passive, quiet and reasonable. I'm sure there are some of his friends that don't believe my story to this day, fortunately the insane fury of my friends shut their mouths forever. At least, in the presence of people who know me.

 I become FURIOUS when I hear of other women who are shamed by ignorant assholes (men and women) who would rather believe in a man's shiny exterior than the word of the woman he abused. I mean, REALLY? Come ON. Charisma counts for that much? Bullshit. What is WRONG with society? I wish I could wrap my brain around it and come up with a definitive way to shut up the Blamers and Shamers forever. Sadly, I've got nothing. All I can do is shut it down when I see/hear/read it and let the victims out there know that they're not alone.

Telling my story has been pretty cathartic, I mean shit, anyone can read this, right? I've put my story on the internet and I can't take it back. There will be a record of this somewhere forever. I hope it does somebody some good. It felt really good to be completely honest and leave it all out there. Like I said, I was lucky. It could have been much worse. I can't say how much it affects me. It probably does more than I realize, less so I think because of the friends who stood up for me. I am so grateful for that.

Respectful comments/conversations are welcome.


  1. I'm just going to say this much. Yes, that was sexual assault. He does not get a pass on that just because he didn't rape you. He probably thinks he does. He's wrong. And an asshole.

    1. Well, fortunately for me some individuals left no trace of doubt in his mind that even if HE didn't think he did anything wrong, they sure as hell did. I cannot even begin to tell you how happy I am that he's no longer a part of my universe.