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I have written and re-written … re-thought this article over and over again. I've been trying to figure out how to dive in and more importantly unravel the feelings that a man who crossed the line on a date caused. As a victim/survivor of sexual assault I don’t know if how I feel and felt about the moment he went in for a grab is a “normal” feeling. I feel a sense of frustration at not knowing how my reaction and feeling would have been different had I never been victimized; I guess I will have to tackle this article on two fronts.
While the photo of the text gives a “feel” for what this individual did, it does not really depict just how off-base it was. I find myself dancing between justification for my feelings and explanation of his un-welcomed …UNSOLICITED action.
This was a second date and there was no indication that this man was anything but pleasant. He was dynamic, quick witted, and it was one of those first dates that left behind a sense of happiness and thought of the possibilities. With the second date being a week away, we spoke and texted throughout the week. I was excited to see him again; at a minimum I thought he had great friendship potential, which is never a bad thing in my book.
The dinner date was unremarkable. Good conversation but on the romantic front, I was tepid at best. He hadn’t done anything wrong or even said anything wrong, there was just no spark. He drove me home and we chatted in the car for a moment … that’s where it all began to unravel … in a shocking grab.
Him: “I have all the time in the world … “ (leaning in for make-out session in the car.)
There had been no physical contact to this point. None.
Me: "I have an early start, thank you for dinner (politely setting the stage for my leave whilst simultaneously unbuckling my seatbelt.)"
The next thing I know, as I am opening the car door, he reaches out and grabs my breast. I was shocked and said nothing … I just kept on moving out of his car and quickly made my way into my building without so much as a glance back. As I climbed the stairs to my flat, my inner questioning began. Typical of me; blame myself. Full victim mode feeling that sense of I must have done something to provoke his grab. I say full victim mode because I feel like there are things left behind … that will always be left behind that allow me to momentarily take ownership of someone else’s bad actions; it takes several moments for me to come to my senses. I wonder if every person who receives an unwanted sexual advance feels the way I do; if they react the way that I do. I will never know differently. The men who sexually assaulted me took that away; they wrote on my memo board in indelible ink. My inner wall looks like an erased chalk board. There seems to always be traces of what was written before. It's in moments like these that the traces are suddenly written in fresh chalk. The faded words are anything but.
After I finished giving myself the first-degree anger set in; thankfully. Anger … outrage is my friend. It’s my “hey snap out of it, that man is a jerk!” friend. I called my best friend (other than myself) and I called one of my daughters. Both had the same reaction; “Are you OK?” That was all of the validation I needed. Now my mind was at rest in terms of blame. Unfortunately, the rest of my mind and my body wasn’t. I spent the next few days replaying the scene in a state of something that I can only describe as a numb anxiety. People that know me can see it on my face. I can feel it in my soul. There is no other way that I can explain it. I know what he did is a trigger for me and I also know I cannot control it. I have to just let it be until it dissipates into nothingness.
I sometimes feel a little sad for myself. Not sorry, just sad. This is one of those moments. It bothers me when I don’t know if my reaction is “normal.” At the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter. What matters is that this is my “normal.” What matters is how I feel about it even if those feelings have been altered by my experiences. Everyone has feelings that are altered by experiences and there is no right or wrong in how we feel. I aways say there is no measurement for pain or reaction.
I do wish that I did not and hope that I will never again have another moment of self blame. The bottom line is that I was not in any romantic or sexual moment with this man. There was NOT an area of blur. It was very black and white; he is someone who went to get what he wanted and the only other person whose problem that is or will be is his next date.
P.S. While I realize (according to his text) he was only joking … it’s OK … NOT.
P.S.S. if he understood, he would not have grabbed my breast in the first place.