I know that I ultimately don’t owe anyone any explanations about absence and lack of posts; however I also have this innate inner need to do so – I don’t like being misunderstood.
Everything will be below the cut as there’s going to be talk of sexual assaults and harassment.
So while I have been getting on with life stuff; the media coverage Kavanaugh and everything surrounding, the continuing MeToo tweets and articles… It hasn’t gone unnoticed by myself and it got me thinking. I’ve been reading the accounts of men and women and how they were treated during and after – How it changed them and how people speaking up is now changing definitions and hopefully laws.
When the movement first started I sent out my tweet in support of. It took me twenty minutes to press that send key. After reading initial tweets and posts and seeing all these people standing up to what is wrong and standing up to rape culture not only did I want to show my support, I wanted to add my voice. I’ve been there too.
I want to say first; I have not been raped. I went through many years of sexual harassment and then one evening I was assaulted and I finally realised it needed to stop and that it wasn’t okay.
So let’s go way back to my late teens/early twenties when I started talking with “C”. I can’t for the life of me remember how we started talking but I do remember we emailed every day and then moved onto chatting on Skype.
Over time C had told me that his sense of humour was “different” to many because of his Asperger’s; he specifically said he may come across as inappropriate but he never meant it.
I was young and naïve, so I believed him.
By the time I was 23 we were video chatting most nights while I scrolled through forums and Tumblr and other sites. C started making comments about my appearance – especially if I was wearing a strap top. At this age, my weight started to fluctuate a lot and as I put it on my breasts grew and seemingly it was over night.
It took only a couple of months for C to be asking to see them or working the question into a “joke”. Knowing that his humour was “different”, I laughed it off and said no. I said no every time he asked or passed a comment. This wasn’t every so often – this was multiple times in every conversation every time we talked. Still, I said no.
Somehow in my brain when he said “hey we should finally meet up!” It sounded fun, we organised for him to come stay at mine (living room) and we’d head out to a local gig spot for a night out. I won’t deny that I had a good laugh and the gig was good.
Looking back, I don’t know why I was so surprised at what happened. Maybe it was because I thought, as my friend, he would have just a little respect for my boundaries.
We come home from the gig and neither of us are tired so we’re sat on the end of my bed – this is where I sat to game – and he’s helping me through some Assassin’s Creed because I SUCK at the flag chases… it’s approximately 1am and after I die for the umpteenth time, this time by pulling off the perfect swan dive… Onto pavement, he shuffles himself to sit partially behind me and leans his chin on my shoulder. I will never forget his words.
“Well…now I’m here… Can I see them?”
I blink and semi-freeze. What….the fuck?!
“Come ooooonn just a quick flash!”
“No. Bugger off.” I jiggle my shoulder and try to laugh it off.
“Go on, please!” He laughs, he’s trying to make it a joke.
My heart is racing, my skin is clammy and I no longer feel safe. I’m concentrating on this game I’m trying to play.
“No!” I’m sterner. My answer is short and my voice more emphatic.
“Aww, pleeeease? I won’t tell anyone.”
“I said no.”
I wasn’t expecting him to then reach around and grab both my breasts and squeeze them. But he did.
Bare in mind that my mum and her now ex-husband were asleep in the next room over. I could have screamed, I could have slapped him. I didn’t. I felt so unsafe that I daren’t do anything.
My dog at the time, Scooby – he knew something was wrong and he snapped with a growl at C who decided it was probably time for bed. I agreed and he went downstairs to the blow up bed. I shut my door as much as I could and my Scooby was by my side all night.
C went home later that day. I spoke to mum but didn’t mention anything to her husband… I told her what happened and that I had been terrified. She told me flat out to block all contact with him and carry my alarm on me at all times. I got some cheap perfume too – can’t buy mace in the UK.
I did the most “me thing”. When I can’t say what I want to say, when the words don’t want to come out; I write. I wrote C a two page letter (not quite Rachel Greene standards) and told him to never contact me again, I told him to get help…and I told him to stop using his Asperger’s as an excuse for sexual assault.
Even though I know what happened to me was assault it’s something your brain doesn’t really process until it’s 100% ready to do so?
Perpetually asking to see breasts or any part of a person’s body is sexual harassment. Groping without express permission is sexual assault.
I should have screamed. I should have slapped him and I should have reported it. However, I know what I would have been told – of the few friends I told about this at the time it happened, only 3 took me seriously and were as disgusted as I was and as my mum was.
The others told me….
- to get a grip of myself
- no harm – no foul
- he was kidding
- there was no harm done
- it was just a joke
- there’s no harm
- he was just being a guy
- no harm
- why didn’t you show him?
- You’re just frigid
- It was just a quick feel
- What are you? Lesbian?
- No harm done.
That phrase kept coming back – “No harm done”.
Are you sure? I don’t like men touching me – at all. Ever. I don’t like men looking at me or if I’m out even talking to me makes me uncomfortable. I mostly don’t go out any more and it’s because I don’t like being around large groups where there will be men I don’t know.
I didn’t show him my breasts because I didn’t want too. I said no…and that is reason enough.
My sexual orientation has nothing to do with me not wanting to be assaulted and wanting my boundaries to be respected.
There’s no excuse to harass and assault someone. “Just being a guy” doesn’t count. Neither does “it was a joke” – Jokes, by definition, are funny. Harassment and assault are not funny.
I think at this point it goes without saying that those people are no longer my friends.
I have very few male friends (not including family) who I completely trust. In fact – I can count on one hand with spare. Why? Because C was my ‘friend’ and look what happened there…
I did get a grip of myself though; I realised that I deserve to have boundaries respected and that saying “No” in itself is a reason and doesn’t need explaining.
Keep speaking up, as long as you’re ready and comfortable to do so.
I believe you.