winding_stairs_paris_by_dana223-d6r5kcwToday I said to a group of good friends, “If all of the women in the world told about all of the assaults, sexual and otherwise, that had happened to them, the world would explode.”

Imagine.

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I have an essay coming out soon, and while it’s not at all about this, it is, of course it is, in part.

Like this part.

I’m 20. Late winter. An older gentleman with a well-shaped beard – a regular at the Sunny Hill café where I work – comes in for biscuits and gravy. He tells me he’s a photographer. “I’d love to take some pictures of you.” He tells me I have a great smile. At home I look in the mirror and make smiles, try to see what he sees. After a few weeks, I borrow my roommate’s blouses and sweaters and scarves (without telling her) and I go to the man’s apartment. It’s dark outside. It’s dark inside. I have chills and I don’t want to do it now, but it’s too late. He takes a lot of pictures. He gives me $20. I never see him again.

We’ve been taught that we get what we ask for, and that it’s not ladylike to speak of such things.

We have to be ashamed.  Of course we do.

Shame is a powerful drug.

I’m thinking about all of the times I’ve rationalized an encounter.  Haven’t we all?  I was flirting.  He didn’t mean it.  I had too much to drink.  He’s a really nice guy … otherwise.  I should not have done those shots.  I let him take me outside.  I asked him to drive me home.  He asked nicely, at first.  I wanted him to like me.

Notice how, even now, I call it, “an encounter”?

Bill Cosby.  Today his wife issued a statement:  “None of us will ever want to be in the position of attacking a victim.  But the question should be asked – who is the victim?”

I just remembered that Bill was not just a doctor on The Cosby Show.  He played an OB/GYN.

Who do you trust more than your OB/GYN?

It’s dark outside.  It’s dark inside.

Ray Rice.  You don’t cold-cock a woman if you’ve never hit a woman before, do you?  Really?  And yet his wife issued a statement, saying she’s still never seen the elevator video, that she just wants their lives back:  “I was ready to do anything,” she said, “that was going to help the situation, both help the way we looked in the media, help his image, help obviously his career.”

I have chills and I don’t want to do it now, but it’s too late.

There’s Ray MacDonald.  He plays for the San Francisco 49ers.  We have this.  “The fiancee, who was not identified by police or prosecutors, refused to cooperate in the initial follow-up investigation to McDonald’s arrest, including having photographs taken 48 hours after the incident, and told police who responded to her 911 call that she did not want McDonald arrested.”  McDonald has not missed a game this season even though “the victim, who was 10 weeks pregnant, had ‘visible injuries’.”

He takes pictures.  He gives me $20.

Today, Darren Sharper.  It now appears he’s been drugging and assaulting women.  For years.  A 2011 Miami Beach Police Department report shows two women who said Sharper sexually assaulted them went to a rape crisis center. Police wrote in their report that a nurse at the center “did not find any evidence of sexual battery,” but the nurse told CBS News she “would never say that, that’s not my role.”

What kind of person drugs women?

A man you do not know.

A man you know.

I go to the man’s apartment.

I was fully clothed in these photos.  I saw the photos.  I felt okay about them.  Some of them were good.  And yet.  He was old, the photographer.  He was not above-board.  He was 20+ yrs older than me and  I was a kid.  He was weird.  I knew he was weird.  I knew better.  And you know what?  I did it anyway.  And I’ve never told anyone this tiny little story.  Until now.

I borrowed my roommates clothes.  Without telling her.

Of course I did.  Who wants to tell anything like this?  It is still hard to tell.  30 years later.  This is what I think of when I hear the women come forward, when I hear them tell stories they never wanted to tell.

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If you had to tell all of the things that have happened to you … could you, even now?

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