It’s not often you get to say you felt sexually violated twice in one day. I’d imagine most people never get to say that. But here I am. I cannot say I feel particularly inspired by this eventful day, but I can say I feel sad. And angry. And just generally not okay. I am not okay with what has happened. And if I don’t write it out, it will stay inside, fester, grow, continue to hurt. And I’ll be damned if I am going to give those who’ve hurt me more than the last 24 hours that they have stolen from me. So allow me to speak directly to these men, who somehow both felt like they had a right to my body.
It seems so cliché to wonder if maybe I invited your attention with my clothing. Like, as I was thinking it, I was also thinking how fucking ridiculous that it was that I was even thinking it… but then maybe… my crochet shorts are totally cute and pretty short. My goal was actually to get a little tan while enjoying the sun as I worked, not to invite your attention. And later, I didn’t have time to change before our date because earlier events screwed up my work day; although I guess that is good because the dress I wanted to wear may have made things worse. Not that I should have to justify my clothing choices, yet here I am – still feeling like I need to justify my choices because of the choices you both made.
I was working for probably two hours before I noticed your eyes avert to my legs as I adjusted my position in the chair. As your eyes darted between your laptop screen and my legs, my mind was trying to comprehend what my eyes were telling me. Were you talking to someone on that weird cordless headset draped around your neck or just mumbling to yourself? Were you watching something suspect on that laptop? More importantly, what exactly was going on with your hand and your pants? Like, scratching an itch doesn’t take that long. I really didn’t want to make any assumptions, but what the hell?
It seems you noticed my abrupt exit from the situation as you followed me inside. I really questioned what to do. I would not want to accuse anyone of inappropriate behavior if I maybe misread the situation and, again, maybe I should have not worn those shorts? Maybe I should burn them. I erred on the side of caution alerting the staff at Starbucks. I was relieved to know I wasn’t the first to notice your behavior. But I wasn’t relieved to discover that I was one the one left with feelings of humiliation and shame. Why should I feel embarrassed?
I hate that you brought up old wounds. I hate that you violated me to that degree. But, more so, I hate that you weren’t the first older man to have put me in this position. I was probably around 8 years old the first time. I was in the Clown Club – even the name makes me feel stupid now, despite our good intentions. Men like you ruined that for me. We practiced skits and songs, we dressed up in clown outfits, and we went to a home for the elderly to cheer up those who, as members of our community, were like our grandmothers and grandfathers. Who the hell knows why someone thought it was okay to leave an 8-year-old girl alone in a room with an old man, but it was the 80’s so things were a little different back then. He was bedridden, how much harm could he do I guess they thought. At any rate, I quit Clown Club with no explanation to the school or my mother. And I never mentioned it until now because I felt shame. I felt the shame. I doubt very seriously to this day that he did. My only solace is that he died. Hopefully, no one other little girls were asked to deal with his zipper that he supposedly couldn’t manage. My uncle had zipper issues too but that is a story for another time.
Once I got past the shock of you believing it was okay for you to do that in public, I wondered – surely you have family? You weren’t in shabby clothing. You had one of those headsets that all the young people wear these days. Do they know you have this issue? Family or no family, I need you to know that you need to seek help. My shorts were not tacit permission for you to masturbate in front of me.
I thought my day surely couldn’t get worse, but as I joked with someone about that notion I worried I was jinxing myself and, apparently, I was. Because then the date I waited for all day happened and I think that is what really broke my heart.
It’s actually really hard to date as a Christian woman. Our church doesn’t have any events for singles and divorcees do not seem particularly welcome. My sin is on the outside. So, to be going out with a professed Christian man was exciting and, as we have been friends, my trust in you was two-fold. I wondered if you’d pray at dinner and I was happy you did. That has never happened on a date before. I enjoyed our conversation so much – hearing about how you came to Christ, getting to know your background, talking abut work with someone in the same field who could relate. I felt okay going to your house only because I trusted you on this level that is reserved for my brothers and sisters in Christ. I later questioned if, along with my shorts, I had somehow given you the wrong impression by agreeing to watch a movie at your house after dinner.
Don’t get me wrong. I knew we would kiss by the time the movie was over. Despite moving your hand away from my leg multiple times, I still felt the connection and I was comfortable with kissing before going home. But, somehow me saying I felt like I needed to go home didn’t seem to resonate. I was uncomfortable with you pulling me down over and over again – how did you not see that? I am not sure how many times I had to tell you that I needed to go home, it was late, I really should be getting home, my goodness we were up so late, and I was so tired and still had to drive home. Your persistence scared me. I was trying so hard to be polite as you pushed yourself against me. There is no instruction manual for how to convey to a guy that you would like to leave and that it is really scary when he physically is overpowering you, preventing you from leaving. You are stronger than me. I wish you knew how awful that feeling is – literally being unable to escape a situation in which you feel unsafe.
I don’t know when I will feel okay going on a date with a Christian man again. Because from us, I’m sorry, but I expect more. You didn’t even give me the level of consideration secular men have shown. Like the older man who somehow thought he had permission to use my body for his purposes, you somehow thought you had my permission for yours. So, again, allow me to say in clearer words – You don’t have my permission. You never did. And, now, you never will.
In your own ways, you both took my power – all in one day. It has been really difficult to wrap my head around all of it. My overwhelming feeling, not that either of you actually care, has been absolute sorrow.
I will not allow you to continue to take my power. I am beautiful. I am not apologizing. My shorts are awesome and comfortable. I am not apologizing. I like good movies but that doesn’t mean I want your hands on me. I am not apologizing. When I feel like I need to go home, it is time to let me go. I am not apologizing.
You don’t have my permission until I express you that you do. And you – you never, ever will.