#metoo – In honor of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford

This is my story.  One of them, at least.

It may make you uncomfortable.  You can turn away now and I will be none the wiser.  Neither will you.  But today I need to tell this story, big and out-loud.   Today, I heard the testimony of Dr. Ford and just had enough.  I don’t want this inside of me any more and I am so damn proud of her, I wanted in some way to stand up next to her.  To stand up without shame and tell it. Tell it like a Southern Baptist preacher on a hot July Sunday.   Here it goes.

That night

I had just turned 16

drunk and high at party – very sick and incapacitated

picked up and carried out by 25 yr old man

driven away in his jeep as my head lolled

begged him to take me home which was just blocks away but he kept driving

It felt like we drove a long time

I felt bumps under the wheels like we were traversing up a dirt road or off road

My head and thinking started to get sharp, while my body was still completely offline

He stopped the jeep and started to touch me

I begged him not to.  I said “no” very clearly, over and over.

He said “if you don’t want it why are you so wet”…

I started to pretend to vomit, hoping it would turn him off

I told him I was wet because I had a yeast infection (I did not but i didn’t know why I was wet and felt shame)

He had me on his lap, sitting atop his flaccid penis. I could feel it next to my skin.

He put his fingers in me, everywhere.

I continued to say “No” and beg him to take me home.

I continued to pretend to vomit and, frustrated, he pulled my arms behind my back so I couldn’t put my fingers down my throat.

I tried to get to the door of the jeep so I could escape.  He held me back.  I realized though that since I had no idea where I was, escaping may be worse than sticking it out.

I don’t know what shifted but eventually he grew tired of the game and started to drive back to the neighborhood.

Very sharp minded now, I lied to him about where I lived and had him drop me at a nearby diner instead.

I walked home and collapsed on the living room sofa.

The day after

I was hung over and my body was irritated and rashy from the abuse.

I told my family about what happened. My older sister who was a high-achiever in her early 20s, in college, and my current guardian, was angry with me.  I made her look bad.

My mother was kind but immediately forgot what I told her like it never happened (I have told her countless times over the years and she always thinks it’s the first time she heard it).

I decided to call the police and report it.  They took my report by phone.  Never asked to see me.  These are the close to exact and only questions the older sounding male officer asked me:

– What were you wearing?

– Were you drinking? Were you drunk?

– Were you flirting with him?

– Where were you?  If you don’t know where you were, we don’t know whose jurisdiction it was in so we couldn’t prosecute.

I gave the names of other kids who were at the party.  I didn’t know his name except he was “John”.  I said he looked like the Marlborough man on the billboards, with curly brown hair and a big brown mustache.  I had heard he was 25 and a drug dealer.   I heard that the other kids at the party were worried about getting in trouble because I was so sick and out of it – so they asked him to get me out of there.

The repercussions

The cops apparently talked to the kids I named.  They said I was leading him on, flirting with him at the party.

(I was indeed fully trashed.  I remember giving him a massage, using vodka to wet my hands – in front of everyone – because I was proud of my massage skills.  He had his shirt off but otherwise we were fully clothed and it wasn’t a sexual massage.  That was it though.  The extent of our interaction.)

When I went to school the next day, I discovered the kids were furious at me for giving their names.  One girl who was sent to inform me said that if it comes up again everyone will deny even knowing me.  It never happened.

Then, at my brand new job – McDonald’s at the mall – the same girl came to me with a message from “John” that he liked me and wanted to go out with me again.  I started shaking and said something to the effect of “tell him if he comes near me again he’s going to jail”.

Shortly after, he sent her back with another message: he’s a drug dealer; connected. If I tried to go to the police, the girl implied in words I can’t quite remember now, I would be eliminated.

Message received.  In case it wasn’t obvious, here is a recap of the messages I received in total:

1) If you are wearing “suggestive” clothing, a man can’t help himself so it’s your fault if something happens

2) If you are drunk or otherwise incapacitated, you probably were asking for it

3) If you try to go to the authorities, they will make it your fault, as will any and all witnesses

4) If you try to go to the authorities, the people you name will harass you and threaten you; you will be socially dead (as a squealing little slut) either way

5) If you tell your family, they will be angry with you because it makes them feel like they failed you – which is definitely your fault

6) If a penis didn’t enter you (because you were gross and he couldn’t get it up, thank God) you weren’t raped. This being a message from you, in your own shame-filled mind)

7) Everyone is right and you are a stupid, drunken whore with the audacity to claim rape and expect people to rally around you. Again, me to me.

8) He can do whatever he wants, and you can’t without severe retribution.

9) You are completely, utterly, totally alone. At 16. Completely. Alone.

This is my #metoo story.

It’s real and unembellished. It’s still in me, lurking somewhere under some dysfunction or another. And while I have thrived in my adult life despite all the trauma (this really is just a small fragment in the grand scheme) it has never left me. Let me be clear: I am not a victim.  I made some really bad choices and was in a position to be victimized as a result. I own my part but I do not own his or those of the police, my family, or those bystander kids.  I am a survivor.  And a truth teller.

Why tell it now, when what happened was so long ago?  When that adult man who kidnapped and molested an underage girl from a party where his alcohol and drugs incapacitated her is probably now an upstanding citizen with a nice wife and a couple of darling children?   Because no one can heal without getting it OUT.

Stuffing and forgetting don’t work. Ask any recovering addict, alcoholic, over-eater, pretty much anyone.  To heal we need to outwardly process what happened before we can inwardly process, and find some way to let it go.  Same goes for the perpetrator.  But back then, in the 80s, there was no way to do that.  I was one of the few who actually tried, but as you see from my story, there wasn’t a soul who wanted to deal with it, to validate me, to help me in any way.   So, my generation learned to stuff it, take another drink (or donut) and move on.

Only now, with #metoo, many of us are realizing the power of our stories.  The power of the collective coming to the surface after all this time.  Looking back at my own case with grown adult eyes, I am shocked to realize that:

1) I still have the same physical and emotional reaction to my story as I did the day after it happened

2) People are still very uncomfortable hearing it and wish I would just not bring it up

3) Added to the voice of my sisters (and brothers) my story can actually be used to help someone; to help our society be better.

We survived to tell our stories.  We are strong.  But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t ask for the children who were harmed within us to be vindicated, finally. At least with a nod of solemn acknowledgement and pledge to do better, now that we know better.

Do we know better, yet?

#metoo  #timesup #drchristineblaseyford



One thought on “#metoo – In honor of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford

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  1. oh, t. i already love the “old’ you. now i also love the 16 year old you. i am not uncomfortable hearing your truth. i am however uncomfortable hearing the drug dealer’s story, your family’s, the cops’ and bystanders’ stories.
    when are we having salted coffee*?
    i have #metoo moments too and love your perspective.
    and i love you.
    *coffee w tears in it.

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