The first time was in middle school. But the worst time was in college. I was threatened by the president of the guy’s fraternity that if I reported what happened, they would make sure no one believed me. They had so many brothers, and I had just a few friends. They said they had witnesses who would say I was asking for it –with my oversized Benetton shirt and shoulder pads. Asking for it because I had made small talk with the guy at a party.
The leader of the fraternity surrounded by about 10 members in their acid washed jeans and arms folded over their ZBT t-shirts, told me if I said anything they would see to it that my remaining two years in college would be a living hell.
I was not raped, but he tried. When his hand slipped off my mouth, I screamed for help, and finally, someone came. It was the summer of 1987, women were not empowered. People assumed the victim was to blame.
Campus police were not called nor the Waltham police. I told three friends. They were sad for me, but we never mentioned it again.
My last two years of college were still a living hell.
I drank too much. I ate too little. I drank too much. I ate even more. I smoked a pack a day.
I went back to school that fall and founded a sorority that became the largest student organization on campus. I hated every minute of it because what I was doing was not inspired by joy –I was building an army of women to serve as a wall. Those women were my protection.
After graduation, I ran away to the mountains.
I got physically strong. I could give a shit about competing with women, I wanted to be stronger than the men. I decided that being physically strong would make me safe. I believed that being physically strong would eliminate the possibility that a man could ever fuck with me again.
But I couldn’t run fast enough or climb hard enough to undo the fact that one summer in 1987 I had no power. And today, a man who probably went on to do this again was not punished.
About a year ago a male climbing friend told me about how his night of beer drinking with some visiting climbers was ruined when one of the women got drunk and confessed to a story like the one I just told. But hers was worse –no one answered her screams.
His response was, “She ruined the whole night. It was so inappropriate. A total buzz kill.”
It never occurred to him that someone created a nightmare for her that could take years to end, if ever.
Me too. So pardon me for being a buzzkill on your Monday, your coffee, your lunch, or your beer drinking.
Me too. And a lot of hours and thousands of dollars sorting this out in therapy as an adult.
Me too. And this experience does not define who I am. It is something that happened that has made me stronger than any of those acid-washed wearing fraternity boys who I hope today warn their daughters about predators like they once were.
Me too. And don’t offer me an apology on Facebook but stand-up and fight for change.
Me too. This was hard to write. But the truth is more important than the people who will roll their eyes and gossip.
Me too. My experience is only unique because it is mine. It is not rare. And that is sad.
And women will no longer be quiet.