My column is rarely about me. But an experience of sexual assault or harassment is never forgotten.
The pain and humiliation stay buried inside, whether the ugly incidents happened to children, to females, or to males.
Today’s news and social media explode with allegations when the perpetrators are media moguls, celebrities, and politicians.
Yet there are countless people who still carry the shame of degrading sexual interference by so-called ordinary people and depraved family members, who believed they had the right. The huge #MeToo response has proved that.
We never lose the searing memories.
I speak up now, to encourage my many readers to do likewise if they need to finally give voice to what happened to them.
I was 15. My mother took me to a manufacturer’s showroom to buy a coat. We got there early for the best choice and price - the only people there at first, along with the salesman.
My mother studied the coats. The man – in his 50s as I still visualize him, likely a husband and father – picked a coat and insisted on putting it on me himself.
It had a thin scarf attached at the back of the neck. He took hold of its ends and placed them inside the coat across my chest, smoothing them down over my teenage breasts. Repeatedly.
My mother kept looking through the racks, about ten feet away from me.
I felt trapped, helpless, unprotected. Ashamed, since it must’ve been my fault for it to happen to me.
After I mumbled an okay to the coat, we left. There seemed no point to tell my mother about what happened.
I’d already been groped. I’d already been made insecure about womanhood. And the memory still gets triggered.
I offer to others who want to tell their stories of sexual assault and harassment, that I’ll print them in my column - anonymously, of course, without locales.
It’s for you who have these memories burrowed inside, sometimes surfacing in your mind with a shock, as mine just did, about its having left an unhealed wound.
If we tell enough true stories, the currently seeming shift away from a culture of acceptance, will hopefully make more people aware of a different consequence.
Perpetrators, evil-doers, and plain nasty jerks are seeing that sexual assault can now haunt them - through the courts, loss of their jobs and families, and through public exposure.
My on-off girlfriend has asked to be “just friends.” She says her dream career is taking off and she can’t focus on anything else.
She’s always said she’s not ready for a relationship, even though we had great times and conversations, and the sex was amazing.
We learned a lot about each other. I thought we were getting closer. Now she doesn’t even want “benefits.” She says I’m free to date, but she wants to stay in touch.
I thought I loved her. But she’d close down sometimes and we stopped seeing each other for a while. I thought this time we were more solid.
Does staying friends still give me a chance with her or should I just move on?
Say “no thanks” to crumbs. She knows how you feel about her.
And you know how she feels… that is, self-absorbed.
She’s never allowed a relationship with you to develop. Maybe it’s her career drive, maybe it’s other stuff from her past.
But she’s more of a taker than a giver. And she’s giving even less from now on.
FEEDBACK Regarding the writer whose “closest guy friend” is dating a woman who doesn’t want to meet him (Nov. 16):
Reader – “You were mean. He’s suffering the loss of his good friend and you just tell him to back off, and are you gay. Nicer if you’d tell him he’ll have to get used to it.
“Perhaps his friend will be able to see him once a month or so on his own which my husband does with his best friend from before our dating days.”
Ellie – Thanks for pointing out how easily a situation can be misunderstood. The writer of this question is female, not a male as you and perhaps others presumed.
I thought this was clear (wrongly) because she’d referred to their being “fallback” for each other to marry. Easy for me, because she ended her question with her name… but I never publish names.
A lesson for me, here!
Tip of the day:
This is when telling your experience of sexual assault or harassment may make a difference.