When I first saw my instagram feed blowing up with the words, ME TOO, I thought it was in reference to Meghan Trainor’s song..if I was you, I’d wanna be me too…
It’s not…It’s a raising of hands from individuals saying they’ve been sexually assaulted, raped, touched inappropriately, sexually harassed…The famous and the unfamiliar are calling out their offenders in a group effort to let the world know this is not some little problem…it’s global. It’s happened and it’s happening right now… in our world, our towns, our jobs, our homes… I firmly believe this joint effort will suppress the efforts of the bullies thinking they can continue to get away with it. I think it’s become really clear that we’ve all had enough and now we’re telling on you.
There’s strength in numbers.
Much like anything that is put out there for opinion, there is opinion as to what good two little words can do…I don’t know that two little words can stop a creeper from creeping, a molester from molesting, a rapist from raping or an assaulter from assaulting…but I do know this…
If my rapist is reading this he’s freaking out wondering if I’m about to finally call him out.
Yes. Me too.
Hey. Are you reading this? Are you sitting there wondering if I’m about to say your name? Good. Sit there…I think that’s the good in all of this “me too” campaign. If nothing else, anyone who has ever violated someone else in ANY way and walked away, is now wondering if the facts are rising and their period of escape is coming to a close.
And just so we’re clear…before I go any further…let me give you the definition of rape.
unlawful sexual intercourse or any other sexual penetration of the vagina, anus, or mouth of another person, with or without force, by a sex organ, other body part, or foreign object, without the consent of the victim.
Look. I was kissed on the lips by my brother’s friend on my 12th birthday. I was in 6th grade and he was a senior in high school. He met me in the narrow hallway of our home as I was heading to the car for the annual church valentine banquet. He said I was growing up then pressed his lips against mine…not a friendly kiss…but an uncomfortable, I don’t think you would have just done that if my dad were standing here kiss. It was gross and awkward and what he sheepishly disguised as flattery made me feel ugly and afraid to get a day older if this is what growing up meant. He did not rape me with a kiss. He stole some innocence but he did not rape me.
I got my first real consenting kiss the next year on the way home from the skating rink. Cutie McCutie. I had a huge crush and I said, yes! You can kiss me! There is a huge difference between being okay with someone’s lips on yours versus NOT being okay with it.
In between 12 and 42 I kissed a lot of boys…by choice…had sex…by choice..and was never again kissed or even touched without my consent. I was in the clear by now…right?
Not so much…
So here’s what happened. We’d been friends since the 9th grade and reconnected via Facebook. We’d been visiting on and off like old times for the past two years. It was good to hear from him again and he, like myself, had gone through a divorce. There was zero attraction and just like high school our relationship was founded and continued on the premise of friendship alone. He called and said he was going to be in Dallas and I should drive over. Without hesitation I made plans. I was in much need of a getaway. I looked forward to seeing him after 20 years. I had zero concerns about the decision to meet him.
He made a snarky remark about booking only one room. I took it in jest and made it clear I would be getting my own. I met him at the hotel before we headed to dinner. He said there were storm warnings in the area and another friend from high school that had planned to join us was now hunkered down with his wife and kids due to a tornado warning. The sky was clear from where we stood…for now.
We went to dinner and he went on and on about his child with grand affections…the conversation was totally normal.
After eating, we went to a piano bar within close proximity. I had a glass of wine and then a bachelorette party offered a round of shots to the crowd. I remember taking the shot.
Yes. Alcohol Was Involved.
From taking that shot, to the moment I’m about to describe to you is a blank.
I’m lying on my back on the bed in the hotel room. I’m fully clothed and he is on top of me. His knees holding my arms down on each side as he attempts to put his penis in my mouth. I’m turning my head with my mouth clenched shut as he continues to force himself on me. I realized when I said no, or tried to scream, that meant I had to open my mouth. I was not opening my mouth. There was only one thing to do and I did it well…I took my right knee and nailed him in the groin area. The ramming and twisting of my knee cap threw him off me and I made my way to the bathroom and locked the door. Not knowing how I was going to get out of there I decided the best thing to do was act calm, unbothered and offer to go get us some coffee.
“Hey, I’m going to go get coffee…we need to wake up.”
“I’ll make coffee here.”
I hear him take the coffee pot and begin to run some water…at this point I open the bathroom door, grab my purse from the floor and get out.
I’m making my way down the hall of the hotel when he calls out to me in the calmest voice… “Hey…don’t be that way.”
Don’t be that way.
Don’t be what way? Don’t be smart enough to realize you’re an animal and I made a huge mistake in trusting you?
I got in my car and drove the 6 hours back home in complete silence.
The next morning I awoke to multiple text messages asking me if I made it home safely. He had the audacity to try and talk to me after pinning me down and trying to put his unwelcomed penis in my mouth? Really? I finally replied with, “DO NOT EVER CALL ME OR TEXT ME AGAIN. YOU KNOW WHAT YOU DID.”
You just walked away from the only man who ever really loved you.
Yes. He said that. That’s what a perpetrator will do…they will put the guilt back on you and make themselves look like the victims.
I thought about whether or not to notify the police. I thought about the fact that I drove to meet him voluntarily…I thought how stupid I was in not knowing the monster he’d become. I thought about the fact I’d been drinking and wondered if that would serve as leverage and the case would be dismissed. So, I never said anything and he got away with it. I’m sure I wasn’t the first, but I pray I was the last.
Oh. And I forgave him. Eventually I had to forgive him…and I did. The act of forgiveness was for me…not him. I was fine. I was. I was disappointed and sickened by his behavior but I dusted myself off, learned a lesson and moved on. His illness was not mine and I refused to wear it. I forgave him much quicker than I forgave myself for my silence and the fear that my silence cut him loose to possibly hurt another.
So why now? Why six years later am I telling? Because I can. I have a blog. If you didn’t want me to say anything…you shouldn’t have done what you did. This is nothing compared to the book I’m writing…
Hey…DON’T BE SILENT.
Follow Up: I posted this yesterday evening and I’ve received so many kind words and messages as well as other individuals saying my words encouraged them to try and tell their own stories. In just a few short hours after posting I heard from former students, dear friends, family members and strangers who commended my bravery. Bravery? I think bravery would have been saying something right after it happened…even though I lived alone with my daughter…even though I was single and had somewhat of a reputation in my small town and feared no one believing me…even though I now knew he was capable of evil…even though he had a child that would have to find out his dad was not the kind of man he should be looking up to. Even after all of this and more I could have bravely made a call that could potentially stop him from ever hurting another…but I didn’t. I waited, and over the years silently got over it along with a lot of other things I was getting over. I catalogued this into what being divorced and single must be like and walked away.
This is the part where it hurts the most. That because of my sins, I decided I wasn’t worthy of being treated like anything more than trash. I thought I’d earned it and kinda deserved it. The next year, when I quit my job as a teacher and walked away it felt good because I no longer had to stand in front of those precious students that I adored so much and pretend I had it all together. I needed to go away…so I did. That’s when isolation took hold of me and veiled itself as my friend. “I like being alone….I don’t need anyone….anything….you can have all my stuff…I hate stuff…but I surround myself with books….Books tell them I’m busy reading and do not want to be disturbed.”
I’ve kept shrinking….the smaller the house the more I felt closed in and safe. Tiny. Tiny spaces. I don’t want to take up much space. I’ve lost a lot but failure feels good. It gives me something to peg for the sad.
This is my day of reckoning. I’ve led a very remote, quiet, isolated existence for too long and I’m declaring today that it’s over. I’m here to be used by God for a purpose and the enemy will at this very moment hand me back my keys. I’m driving now. I have a voice. I have a story. I’m the best friend you’ll ever have but you won’t know that if I don’t get outside these walls and invite you to dinner or start that book club I’ve been considering. I’m funny and considerate and compassionate and real and yes…yes, I am brave.
Kurt, I love you. You have been my biggest fan…you’ve been declaring my purpose over me and patiently waiting for me to be everything you’ve known I was capable of being. I love trusting Jesus with you. I love dreaming about our future and I love our story. Thank you for your gentleness and strength. You are a good man. I will never feel like I deserve you, but I’ll take you…forever!
Sweet friends…Promise me you’ll tell your story…it doesn’t have to be on a blog or on Facebook…it can be to your closest friends or a small group…but your telling just might encourage another to tell…and that one encourages another…and eventually we are all telling and bringing the darkness into the light where God works best.
PS: I did not post his picture or give his name because my earnest prayer is that he walked away from that day broken and ashamed and took a good long look in the mirror at what he’d become. I pray he is a changed man.
PSS: God is good. All the time.