What do you think of when you think of an abuser?
Trigger Warning: This article mentions sexual assault. If you find this distressing you can reach out to a variety of helplines.
Sexual assault is an act of physical, psychological and emotional violation in form of a sexual act, which is inflicted on someone without their consent. It can involve forcing or manipulating someone to witness or participate in sexual acts.
This happened to me five years ago. I didn’t realize it was sexual assault until three and a half years ago. Since then, I have been to therapy and have done a lot of work on myself.
When I was eighteen, a virgin and newly single, I went on my first night out with my grocery job crowd after being cheated on. I got pretty drunk and flirted with one of my coworkers. He ignored me and kissed some random. The narrative of me being obsessed with him appeared. At the end of the night, he approached me saying, “Yeah okay.”
This is where I want you to pay attention.
He kept telling me I wasn’t sexy, (I wanted to prove him wrong).
He told me I was pretty when I had makeup on.
He wanted to have sex when we started kissing in a park. I said no and admitted I was a virgin.
He said he should have gone home with the girl from earlier.
He forced me to give him a blowjob and went down on me.
He suggested we have sex again and I said no.
He left me alone in the park crying my eyes out.
He told everyone in work every little detail.
Because of him, people that barely knew my name knew I was a virgin.
He messaged me the next day and said “Sorry, I’m not the best drunk.”
I brushed it off and swiftly lost my virginity to my ex.
But this guy had such an impact on me. I wanted him to like me, this was before I understood any of what he did to me.
At other work parties, he would get jealous when the boys danced with me-I had a weird fantasy of rejecting him so I could humiliate him like he did to me.
The worst came six months later.
One of my other co-workers added me to a group chat then removed me straight after so I could see what my male co-workers said about me.
They had a photo of him and me holding hands as their group chat photo:
“I heard her box (vagina) is in bits (destroyed), fair play”
I heard another story of him sneaking into another girl’s bed when she was passed out.
I don’t know how many other people he has abused and I never will know.
I left the job for other reasons but I was getting sick of the rumors. Every night out there were stories about me with different guys, that were completely untrue.
I was 18 years old and I thought this was normal in a workplace
About a year later I attended a course to volunteer with my local rape crisis centre.
It was only when I saw the definition I realized I was a survivor.
I never pressed charges or did anything about what happened to me. Sometimes I regret that and blame myself but really I blame the fucked up system of victim shaming.
I know I am not a weaker woman for not telling my parents or pursuing justice.
I am not saying I am glad this happened to me, but it has made me more aware of the manipulative behaviour predators use. Differentiate between the macho ego types and the good ones. After my assault, I did not have sex for 20 months because I had various trust issues. Briefly, I thought it would be a big deal when I had a new partner like I was damaged or something fucked up, but there’s the growing up Catholic for you.
In high school, we were taught to protect ourselves from the weirdo in the alley. Be wary of the one in front of you.
So where is he now you may ask?
Well, he’s back in my hometown after living abroad for a couple of years and he was recently arrested for driving under the influence. It gave me some satisfaction to see him get punished for something. Unfortunately, the judge was sympathetic because he came from a “good” (rich) family and the air hit him the wrong way.
I have not seen him in years and don’t know how I’ll respond if I ever do see him.
I hope he’s grown up as he approaches 27, but I don’t have much faith.
Will he ever understand and reflect on the things he’s done?
I don’t have much of a conclusion but there are some things I want to say.
To everyone out there who feels like the lines were blurred, they were blurred on purpose by an abuser.
To every survivor who makes the brave decision to press charges, I admire your bravery and I believe you, always.
To those like me who stay silent and only tell their friends, I understand and your struggle is no less.
To the two guys who were nice to me in that job and warned me of the abuser, I thank you and I admire you.
To the twenty other men who stayed silent and did not call out his behaviour only speaking to spread rumours and have me as the butt of your joke, I pity you.
I know I will not get an apology from any of those men of my abuser, but I know what happened.
I know it slowly but surely is getting better for survivors out there.
We are more educated than we ever have been about consent, rape sexual assault and image-based sexual violence.
Remember we are not victims; we are survivors.