I’ve Never Been Raped, BUT…

With the onslaught of sexual predators being outed among celebrities – political, entertainment, social media, and more – women have been coming out of the woodwork to again speak their truths…that they have been victims of sexual predators before, but were never believed. Victims include many who have been sexually assaulted. Far more have been subjected to sexual harassment that fell short of assault.

The most recent “coming out” has taken the form of the “ME, TOO” meme on Facebook, where women (including transwomen, transmen who lived as girls in their youths, etc.) have been posting the words ME TOO to declare that they have been victims of sexual harassment and/or sexual assault. I have never been sexually assaulted, but I have been sexually harassed. Repeatedly. And some of that harassment bordered on something far more sinister. As an autistic woman, I have a tendency toward naivete and a wish to see the good in people – more so in my younger days, but still susceptible now.

me too. trigger warning: I've never been raped, but...

And so I felt the need to write this all out, for once and for all. All of the things I endured, thinking it was something I had to put up with to be accepted, or endured knowing it was wrong but feeling powerless to stop it. I hate confrontation. I swallowed my pride and kept my accusations to myself.

TRIGGER WARNING: EXPLICIT DESCRIPTIONS OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT

If you are related to me by blood or by marriage, please do not read any further.

I’ve never been raped, but…

The Hotel Business

When I worked as the front desk supervisor of a hotel, I was routinely propositioned by male business travelers checking in to their hotel rooms. I was expected to laugh it off, and I often flashed my wedding ring with a comment that my husband wouldn’t like that very much. Responses to this varied from “That’s too bad” to “What he doesn’t know…”

While working at the same hotel, male employees from other departments would often make terribly misogynist “jokes” while standing at the front desk where I was stationed. My direct (male) superior, the front desk manager, was occasionally present for these jokes and would often laugh along with the jokester(s).

That front desk manager confessed that he was fooling around on his fiance with the woman I was replacing when I was hired. This continued after the woman was no longer working there, and after I attended the front desk manager’s wedding. Before his wedding, however, I traveled with him to a management training conference, as I was being prepared to take his place when he eventually became the general manager of another property.

He spoke openly about his shenanigans with the woman who trained me to take her place, and I always felt there was some subtext that he wouldn’t have minded if we’d taken advantage of the several nights out of town at the training conference to carry out some shenanigans of our own. He never said it openly though.

John with the Pretty Face

There was a certain guy in college I found myself inexplicably attracted to. Because I’m going to mention him several times here, I should give him an alias. John. John was charming, with an attractive face, but an overweight body that was not necessarily appealing to me. But his personality drew me in. I had such a crush on him after I’d first met him when he was dating one of my friends. When this friend of mine went out of town, John and I talked on the phone for hours every day.

John and his male friend, let’s call him Mark, came to visit me at home a few times before taking me out to Denny’s or another location to hang out with other theater people. (They were in the summer community theater production of The Music Man. I was not. As it turns out, I was one of three recent high school graduates cut from the cast because they had been considering us to play Marian the Librarian, and didn’t bother to cast us in the chorus when they went with an actress in her 20s.)

John kissed me for the first time while he was still technically dating my friend who was out of town. It was in my home, after I had to show him where the upstairs bathroom was because the downstairs one had been being “remodeled” for an extended period of time. He hadn’t even had to go to the bathroom.  It had been a ruse of get me alone.

John’s Friend Mark

I would never officially be John’s girlfriend. But a lot of the time I spent with him was also spent in the company of Mark, who I found incredibly creepy. (I should have realized they were both creepy. But Mark was physically repellent to pretty much everyone in the theater group, and he was over-the-top offensive with his crude, obscene sexual “humor.” It’s sick how much we let someone get away with because they have a “pretty face.”) I was forced to endure Mark’s company if I wanted to spend time with John.

Enduring Public Humiliation

Eventually, John would take to humiliating me in mixed company by bragging about my, um, sexual prowess. Our “relationship” had started one weekend when he and Mark drove to New Jersey to pick me up from college and take me back to John’s dorm near home. We did not have sexual intercourse, as we were both “technically virgins,” but there was exploration of all of the bases without getting to home plate. I was repeatedly humiliated in front of the theater friends when he bragged that I could “suck the paint off a house.”

And if other friends of his I’d never met before happened to join us at Denny’s one night (a frequent hangout over the years, as it was open all night) he would repeat this line when introducing me. It didn’t matter if the new person was male or female. I blushed but never said a word about it because I didn’t want him to ditch me and leave me without a group of friends to hang out with.

Beyond Humiliation with John

At Denny’s one night, when it was just John and me, he went into graphic detail about how he could rape me, murder me, and dismember my corpse without anyone ever finding my body or knowing what happened to me. I remember sitting there staring into his eyes from across the table, trying not to blink, trying not to show any sign of how disturbing this was to me. After all, I was sure he didn’t mean it.

But GOD BLESS the stranger at the table next to ours, a man probably in his 40s who was there with his wife or other female acquaintance. I remember his exact words very clearly, “Hey buddy,” he said, glaring at John, “cut out the cock talk.” John did, indeed, cut out the cock talk, but he’d already finished with it anyways. I didn’t even hesitate to let him drive me home that night. Or any night after that.

John, who possibly had a girlfriend at the time, but I get confused because I was so often the “other woman,” once bragged about how he would stroke a girl’s hair for a few minutes before applying “about 60 pounds of pressure to the back of her head” so that she would give him oral sex and “think it was her idea.” It occurred to me that he had done this very thing to me before I was a habit of his. To this day, I’m not sure if this counts as any degree of sexual assault. My poor self-esteem made me willing to perform the act that, frankly, has always disgusted me. Because it meant he paid attention to me. I don’t think of it as a crime, but I do think of how easily I had been manipulated.

Don’t Forget About Mark

John left me alone with Mark for an extended period of time once, when Mark unloaded on me about his own sexual abuse. I was actually somewhat frightened by Mark because of his size and his mental instability, but I found myself making sympathetic comments as he detailed having been lured into having sex with an older woman neighbor when he was in his mid-teens. Objectively, he was deserving of sympathy, because he was indeed a victim of a female pedophile. But this experience had scarred him so deeply that I was genuinely concerned that he would one day act out by sexually assaulting me or someone else. It is often a cycle of sexual violence. And John had known I felt uncomfortable around Mark, yet he’d left us alone together anyways.

And…Jon

At one point, when John had decided he didn’t need me, I developed a crush on another guy with the same name – I’ll call him Jon for simplicity’s sake – who was in a local production of Jesus Christ Superstar with my high school ex-boyfriend. My ex was the reason I’d attended the show’s limited run three times. Jon played Judas, and he played him well. All of my theater friends knew I’d developed a huge crush on Jon. After our last matinee performance of Once Upon a Mattress, which I stage managed the year after Music Man, they decided to introduce me to Jon, who they’d gone to school with.

Jon and I hit it off right away. In hindsight, I realized that John had already told Jon all about our history, so Jon knew I was something of a “sure thing.” We spent literally a whole day together, our whole dysfunctional group of theater friends. There was another guy I found almost as repellent as Mark, whose house we ended up at for several hours that day. Mark was not there, but “Froggy” was. (He had an unlikely nickname that’s pretty close to Froggy, so I’m sticking with it.)

At Froggy’s…

In Froggy’s room, there was a bizarre sort of pseudo-orgy where everyone kept their clothes on, but people were trying to turn each other on. I was…very self-conscious, not really being into this sort of thing. John spent most of his time making out with Froggy’s girlfriend. (She and I were the only two women there.) Jon had been resting his hand on my thigh most of the day, so that was cool with me. When he asked if it would be okay to kiss my ears, I was like, “Um, sure.” My ears are…quite sensitive.

But it wasn’t just Jon nibbling on my ear…Froggy was nibbling on the other ear. Froggy disgusted me, but damn if that ear thing didn’t feel good. I had consented only to Jon though, but I didn’t speak up. Thankfully, it never got further than that at Froggy’s house.

…and After Froggy’s

We moved on to Denny’s from there, where Jon’s hand worked further and further up my thigh. Everyone commented on how cute we were together. I was giddy. My crush liked me back! I let him drive me home…the long way. We made out for quite some time. Pants were shed, and much touching was done. He used a Star Trek quote to ask for permission to have sex. I…hesitated. He was hot. I really liked him. I wanted him. But it would have been my first time, and we barely knew each other, and I didn’t know if he had a condom…I said no, but we could still get each other off.

We did, though he was disappointed. When he dropped me off at home, he took out a winning scratch-off ticket (worth $1) and signed his name on it like an autograph. He told me that I was “pretty hip” and that the ticket was something to commemorate the evening with. (I felt gross about this later. It was like he was paying me for oral sex…a cheap, $1 hooker. Although I think he presumed his autograph would make it worth more in the future.)

The Day After with Jon

…And the night after my “date” with Jon? John picked me up to hang out with the theater friends…plus a girl I’d never met before. Who was this girl? Jon’s girlfriend, who no one else liked. And Jon was on the verge of breaking up with her because she wouldn’t have sex with him. So they’d introduced me to Jon in the hopes that we’d get together and he’d dump this other girl. They’d tried to whore me out because they hated his girlfriend, but I crushed their plans by not going “all the way” with him.

Bonus? I spent at least an hour when the girls group broke off from the guys group to walk around the block…listening to his girlfriend complain about how Jon was neglecting her and not treating her right. Not liking confrontation, and not wishing to become the villain of the piece, I never said a word to her about how close her boyfriend had come to penetrating me not even 24 hours earlier. It wasn’t just Jon being a pig, it had been a conspiracy of my supposed friends hoping that I’d let Jon deflower me.

Dave, the Evil One

Then there was Dave. I’m not even going to change his name. I never officially dated John or Jon, but Dave and I were an official couple for about six months. We’d met at work, a grocery store where we were both cashiers. Fun fact: My now-husband Tom and I went on our first “date together” when I was with Dave. It was a double date: I was with Dave, and Tom was with his girlfriend of the moment.

Dave was, by far, the hottest guy I’d ever officially dated. (Jon had him beat as the hottest guy I’d ever been on a date with.) He and I had been flirting over Christmas break, when I spent a month home and working at the store for extra money. He asked me out on a date. We were a couple from that first date on.

We’d been together for just over a month when Valentine’s Day weekend rolled around, and I begged him to come visit me at school. For some reason, he insisted on bringing his friend along, a friend that I hated. (Noticing a pattern?) Bizarrely enough, he shared a name with John’s friend Mark, so we’ll call this friend Marc. Because I had…plans for the visit, my college friends from the newspaper staff were kind enough to take Marc to the movies one night. My roommate was one of these friends. Dave hadn’t been a virgin, but I had…until that night. There was some pain and some blood, but it made me feel closer to him.

Might as Well Face It, You’re Addicted to Sex

And that’s when it became a problem. I didn’t know I was autistic, but sex was a sensory-seeking addiction for me once I had my first taste of it. (Looking back, he wasn’t even that good at it, but I had nothing to compare it with.) I equated sex with love, and my need for both led me to ignore some major red flags. While my likes included watching FRIENDS on TV and listening to Billy Joel or show tunes for music, Dave enjoyed watching wrestling and listening to Metallica. We never watched any of the shows I liked when we were together. We never listened to any of the music I liked either. To this day, I hate Metallica because of him.

I mentioned how much I disliked Marc, but I have yet to tell you why. Unlike creepy, broken Mark, Marc was just a hateful person. And I was subjected to his presence often, forced to endure horrible conversations he and Dave would have that included as much blatant racism, sexism, and every other form of bigotry you could imagine. Of course, I never complained. Dave didn’t like my friends, so we didn’t hang out with my friends. We hung out with his friend. Singular.

Whenever I talked about my friends at college, Dave would call my best male friend gay. We’ll call my friend Bob. Bob wasn’t gay, of course. But I guess Dave picked up on the fact that this friend liked me, even though Bob had a girlfriend. I’d been fairly confused about my friendship with Bob because I liked him too…the timing just never worked out for us. But I digress. I disapprove of using “gay” as a slur, but Dave said it all the time.

Yep, That’s Emotional Abuse

So I wasn’t allowed to see my friends, or talk about them without listening to Dave insult them. I had to endure Dave’s friend Marc. Dave frequently picked me up from college for the weekend, and we had a lot of sex. But let’s just say that he was a very selfish lover, and I never learned what it felt like to be truly satisfied until after we broke up. He controlled everything. If I hadn’t been so taken in, I should have left him. Instead, he’s the one who dumped me.

And why did he dump me? Because once I was home for the summer, I confessed to him that I’d had a pregnancy scare a few months back. When I was on spring break. I didn’t tell a soul because I was terrified, and I made a DIY morning-after pill after using AOL to research how to do so. I basically swallowed two week’s worth of my birth control pills in one day. (Note: I would not recommend this.) I felt so nauseous for days, and eating Easter dinner was a special kind of hell. But I didn’t get pregnant.

Despite that, Dave was horrified. He told me that he and Marc had a plan. If either of them ever got a girl pregnant, they’d leave town together and never look back. So they could avoid child support and all the rest. He dumped me a week later. It was bad.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the Result of Dating  Manipulative Abuser

It was worse that I wanted him back, and pseudo-stalked him at his new place of employment a few times. I was really bad at stalking though, and he was never at work when I showed up wearing clothes my parents would have killed me for wearing. Later, once I was with Tom, Dave would decide to verbally attack both me and Tom, threatening violence. I dodged a bullet when he dumped me; I would have been trapped in an emotionally abusive relationship that would have almost certainly turned into domestic violence otherwise.

Wait For It…

It was safe to say that I was suffering through sex withdrawal as much as “missing” Dave in the months after our breakup. Someone else was stage managing Lil Abner, but I ended up running the lights for the show…even though I didn’t know a damn thing about lighting. None of my old theater friends were in the show, but they turned up to attend it.

And that’s when John re-entered my life. He’d stopped by to say hi before and after one of the first performances. Tom and his girlfriend-of-the-moment were supposed to come to the show on a later night, but they didn’t. I did have an unexpected visitor in the lighting booth though.

John’s Surprise

Had I not been sexually frustrated and feeling so crappy about myself that I craved the male attention, what happened that night would have certainly been a form of sexual assault. I’d only had the warning of a creaking board to let me know someone else was with me in the booth – during the show. I felt his hands wrap around from behind to cup my breasts before I recognized John’s voice whispering in my ear. It’s a miracle I never missed a lighting cue as he proceeded to feel me up until the show ended. He didn’t drive me home that night, or we probably would have slept together. I’m glad we didn’t though. Otherwise it might have screwed up things with Tom, who I started dating a few weeks later.

But the takeaway from this incident is that John could have been anyone sneaking into that booth. He never asked for consent before he touched me. I don’t know what I would have done if it had been some random perv instead of the perv I knew. I remember thinking that I couldn’t disrupt the show no matter what went on with John in there.

There Were Others

Of course, there were others. There was the Twitter troll who sent me My First Death Threat ™ after sending me misogynist tweets. There were countless reddit trolls who hurled insults and abuse at me, a woman who dared to speak on the internet. And there’s was the guy who swerved off the road because he was staring at me. (I’d been waiting for my son to get home from his first day of kindergarten, and he was late.) I’ve lost count of men who blatantly judged my looks to my face. How many did so behind my back? One guy said I would do well working at DiCarlo’s, the “classiest” strip joint in the area.

Boys on the bus told rape jokes as early as elementary school. Men have described their genitals and sexual prowess to me, despite being no more than acquaintances. Random men try to friend and message me with lame come-ons. I’ve been targeted for conquest because I’m one of the “quiet ones.” I’ve been ghosted by someone I loved when he didn’t need me anymore. Despite my pleas for closure I would never get. That still haunts me, and I’m happily married. And on, and on, and on.

You Too?

If you have a story you’d like to share, but don’t feel comfortable doing it elsewhere, comment here. It’s a safe space. I will remove any abusive or disrespectful comments.

Christina Gleason (970 Posts)

That’s me: Christina Gleason. I’m a professional copywriter, editor, and blogger. My company is called Phenomenal Content. (Hire me!) I’m a relatively high-functioning Aspie who also lives with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), depression, anxiety, and chronic pain. I am not ashamed to admit that I am in the care of a psychiatrist, who assures me that people in therapy are often better adjusted than “normal” people who are not, because at least we know what our issues are and are working on them. I’m a geek for grammar, fantasy, and select types of gaming, including World of Warcraft and Empire: Four Kingdoms. I hate vegetables. I have an intense phone phobia, so I’ll happily conduct business over email or IM instead.


Comments

  1. I want to share some of my stories, but I don’t feel comfortable doing it elsewhere, do you really mind? I don’t know that the people I went to college with feel the same way as I do about our shared past. And my dad and brother are on Facebook.

    College was hard. I was awkward, shy and inexperienced, and I ran with a fast group of girls. They were binge drinkers, and when under the influence prone to promiscuity. And I was lonely. There were a lot of “parties” we went to, where we walked in and everyone immediately paired off. “Which one’s mine??” I remember.

    I remember a night sitting around drinking where one of the guys in their regular circle described in vivid detail how and what he’d do to me, if only I’d let him be my first.

    I remember dancing with friends in a DC nightclub, and being overpowered by a huge guy, who just wanted to rub on me in time to the music.

    Your stories of being the other woman, brought in to break up a couple rang true. I was that woman too.

    Thank you for giving me a space to say this. Thank you for seeing me

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