Tag: rape

She’s a Little Runaway

I laid low for a little while, on my best behavior, after the social worker came by the house. The thought of being sent back to the small town Missouri high school of 400 after attending the exciting Arizona high school of 4000 terrified me. I had a new set of friends that I wanted to keep, even if I only got to see them at school.

I was no longer grounded, not that it mattered much, since I wasn’t allowed to go anywhere anyhow.

There had been no mending of the relationship between my father and me. As my bruised face healed, my pain was forgotten by the adults in charge. After a trip to the dentist to fill in the chipped portion of my front tooth with composite resin, all returned to outer normalcy (if you didn’t count what my father had deemed my “whorish” blond hair). Minus the physical reminders of the fight during which he punched me in the face repeatedly, we moved forward without discussing the incident, as if it had never happened.

There would be no family therapy sessions, no psychological counseling, like in the After School Special television shows. In our family, when abuse happened, we did the sociological equivalent of a cartoon character emitting a “just minding my own business” whistle and sidestepping uneasily out of the room. Nothing to see here, folks. Move along.

I had my gym bag packed with clothes and all of the money I had ferreted away to date; around forty dollars. The plan was to ask to spend the night at a good friend’s house. If I was denied, I was running away. Because I was never allowed to go anywhere, I was pretty sure I would be running away.

I’d had it. I was angry about being beaten up. I was angry that nobody cared. I was angry that I didn’t get to have a social life and was expected to spend my teenage years friendless, in the middle of nowhere. I was just plain angry, and I wanted to do something bad to the people who were making me feel this way. It really was that simple.

A therapist would probably call it a cry for help, but a more accurate assessment would be that it was a middle finger. Fuck you. Fuck you, you awful, kid-punching people who never let me be a teenager or have any fun. Fuck you, I’m leaving. Oh, and also: fuck you. Did I mention that?

That morning, I asked my father if I could spend the night at my best girlfriend’s house. He said no, as expected. I left the house with a goodbye yelled down the hallway, so that my gym bag would not cause suspicion. I walked the usual route down the dusty gravel road to the bus stop and rode it to school, just to get out of nowhere-land and into the city.

When I got to school, I walked off campus. The girl who had been in accelerated classes and the gifted program her entire life was now resigned to not graduating from high school. I didn’t even care. I was so unhappy with my life; I couldn’t stand it in my desert prison with the guy who’d beaten me up, even one more day.

I wandered around the city, getting further away from the school as the day progressed. I worried my father would send the police to the area, looking for me. What I didn’t realize in my naivety was that he had as much reason as I to avoid the police. The police would ask his teenage runaway daughter questions with ugly answers that painted him in an unflattering light. He never called the police.

Foolishly thinking I would need a disguise, I bought a hair dye in a grocery store to change my white blond hair to a burgundy red. I grabbed a bag of on-sale bread rolls while I was there. I ate a few and gave the rest of them away to a homeless person in a Phoenix alley.

I found a bathroom and changed my hair. The violent incident that led to my eventual running away from home was set into motion by the bleaching of my hair, and the irony of now putting it back to a more father-friendly color to evade the police was lost on me.

After school hours were over, I found a pay phone and called my best friend. She told me about a party that night and we arranged a meeting place where she would come get me. Nothing else to do, I headed that way.

The party was in a cheap motel room. It was being thrown by three older military guys with a penchant for high school girls. The bathtub was full of ice and free booze, and the dimly lit room was packed with illegal deeds. A boom box sat on a bedside table, blasting the latest rock. It was sweaty, crowded, and overpowering. The smell of teenage pheromones was louder than everything.

The party tapered off into the late hours, and as high school curfews slowly eliminated the crowd, I found myself wondering where I was going to sleep.

One of the older guys throwing the party had latched on to me. We were drinking and talking, sitting on the edge of a bed, which would have seemed like a dangerous idea if the same bed hadn’t been used as a crowded couch for the last few hours. It seemed benign enough to an ignorant young girl who had no idea what he really wanted.

He pounced fast, kissing me roughly. I didn’t want to kiss him, not at all. I looked around wildly for help as he pinned me to the dirty motel bed, but the room had cleared. There was nobody left but the two of us. He had been waiting patiently for this opportunity, placating the stupid drunk teenager with small talk and alcohol.

Outside the room, I could hear talking in the parking lot as people said their goodbyes. I could hear cars starting, engines revving, and help leaving.

While he was sucking on my neck, giving me the kind of red marks I would despise the rest of my life, I was trying with all of my strength to push him off. I had moved from not attracted into completely repulsed by him, but I couldn’t make it stop.

He was a big guy, and muscular from the military training. He wouldn’t budge. I started to get genuinely scared, as I let myself think the frantic, horrified thought I’m sure many victims have had: “Oh my god, I’m about to get raped.”

This was how it happened. This was how girls got raped. I was saying, “No. Get off of me,” and he wasn’t listening. At all. But I didn’t want to get raped. I needed a new approach.

My whole life I have had a really calm mind in moments of extreme pressure, and this was one of them. I quickly assessed the situation and decided to psychologically outwit this bastard, if I could.

I stopped struggling and saying no, and acted like I was into what was happening. I kissed back. I used my hands. I convinced him that I wanted it as much as he did. I just needed to earn his trust and get him to lower his guard for one second, because there was no way I was getting out of the situation otherwise. He was just too strong.

Once I’d sold my desire enough, I told him in my best husky, oversexed voice that I thought we should both take off our shirts. He temporarily shifted his weight off of me while he sat up to pull his T-shirt over his head. I made bedroom eyes and pretended to start taking my shirt off too.

This was the chance I’d been hoping for, probably the only one I was going to get. I shoved myself out from underneath him while he was off-balance, and ran for the door to the motel room. I knew that if I could just get outside to yell for help, I’d escape.

I made it outside, with my potential rapist running thirty feet behind me. He was shirtless and angry. I spotted my best friend across the parking lot, exchanging phone numbers with a guy she’d been talking to all night. They were in front of his car, getting ready to leave. I ran as fast as I could in their direction.

When I got there, I said in a low, whispering voice, “Help me, please,” right before the guy I’d left in the motel room bed caught up. I said overly loudly to them, “I just realized I’m late for my curfew! Can you give me a ride home?”

My friend and the guy she was talking to both understood immediately what was happening and hustled me into the car, amid protests from my pursuer. We kept it really chipper and friendly, exclaiming things like, “Hey, thanks for the party!” as we drove away. We left him dejected and annoyed, standing in the parking lot.

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When You Did Not Have Consent

girl-worried storm

 

 

When I was a little girl, age 5-7, and the older boy often took me into his bedroom to pull down our pants and touch genitals, saying, “This is how people show they love each other.”

When my grandfather encouraged my female cousins and me to look at the underage porn magazines he kept in his bedroom.

When he got caught molesting one of my cousins, only because the other one told on him, and was never legally punished.

When he showed up to family gatherings with the little neighbor girl as his “date,” and my family made remarks behind his back about how tacky it was—but nobody helped his new victim.

When I was 6 and a stranger tried to get me into his car while walking home from school, and my lizard brain told me to run back to the school for help, where they called my mom to pick me up.

When walking home from school another time, a man flashed his penis at me, and laughed as I ran.

When the 20-something guy started hanging out with my group of friends, tickling and touching us, until we asked an adult to make him leave, and he tried to make us feel guilty.

When my mom divorced the pathetic bully who held me down to push his stinky, crunchy-with-sweat, black work socks in my face, and then hit me as hard as he could because while struggling to escape the smell, I instinctively kicked.

When the same man would make me go get the belt to add psychological torture to physical abuse.

When, before I turned 6, “bare-bottomed spankings” were a thing, as if a the grown son of a pedophile making a little girl pull down her underwear so the spanking will sting more is not perverted and inappropriate as fuck.

When my mom married my stepfather who had a 6-years-older-than-me son who would often grab girls in the crotch, until one day his sister yelled at him to stop doing that to us.

When the same stepbrother, who was 9 years older than my younger sister, secretly raped her in his bedroom from age 5-8, telling her, “This is how people show they love each other,” while calling his semen on her stomach “baby food” when she asked what it was.

When nobody wanted to believe her because it was icky, and she had to live alone with her abuse, for years, until the weight became too much to bear.

When we were moved away from all friends and family to the middle of nowhere, and my new stepfather decided I hadn’t watered and fed the chickens right, so he dragged me by my 8-year-old arm to show me what I’d done incorrectly.

When he then kicked me in the tailbone so hard my legs wouldn’t move for a while, so I stayed on the ground waiting for the numbness to subside, reaching into my pants to check for blood and crying because I was alone, in pain, and nobody cared.

When my biological father beat me so violently my face was unrecognizably distorted, one of two black eyes completely shut, chipped front tooth, clothes blood-soaked and ruined from the teeth-ripped flesh inside my swollen lips gushing blood.

When I was curled up fetal on the cold, gray tile of the foyer, where I hadn’t made it to the door because he grabbed my skirt, so I instead faced down into the pool of blood forming beneath me, wondering who was screaming because I’d dissociated from my body.

When he then kicked me, and scornfully told me to “stop being so dramatic.”

When I hitchhiked because I had no ride home and the guys drove me outside of Phoenix, pulled over in a scary, deserted area, and the driver pulled out his penis, imploring me to “Touch it, come on, touch it,” while the others in the car laughed.

When I refused to “touch it” and had to walk the psychological tightrope between indignant and annoyed, but not too angry, lest I trigger violence, then play nice and talk about “going rafting together sometime” after the driver gave up, praying I would make it home alive.

When my high school boyfriend broke up with me for someone else, got jealous that I, too, had moved on, and beat me up in an empty parking lot after confronting me, bruising my face, and breaking my ring finger, later making it harder to play guitar in bands.

When I went to the police and filed an assault and battery charge afterward, and later heard the ex-boyfriend only got a $50 fine for the permanently damaged and crooked finger I still stare at every day.

When the football quarterback I was kissing in the back of a car ripped my jeans zipper open and pulled them off to fuck me, when all I wanted to do was kiss, so I went somewhere else in my head until he was done, and lied to my parents about how the zipper broke.

When I got drunk at a high school party and puked on my shirt and pants, so the girls put my clothes in the washer and dryer while I was passed out in a pile of dirty laundry in the garage, and a group of boys started talking about raping me.

When a boy named Scott I didn’t know very well told the group of my would-be gang rapists, “If anyone touches Tawni, you’re going through me,” so they left me alone—and one guy doing the right thing was enough of an anomaly that a surprised person who overheard later relayed the story to me.

When I went to college, poor and without a car, and run-walked home from my fast food job late at night, scared when men would often pull over, offer me a ride, and yell “Bitch!” at me before spinning dirt and rocks on me for politely refusing.

When the guy stalked me in the dark morning hours every day walking to my early doughnut shop job, talk-driving next to me, offering me a ride “for my safety,” and got mad when I wouldn’t get in his car, forcing me to find different and further-to-walk routes to avoid him.

When I only wanted a ride home from a college party, and the guy who gave me a ride made a point of dropping off the other guy he gave a ride first, then wouldn’t let me out of his car at my house until I let him fuck me while I went somewhere else in my head.

When my all-girl rock band was visiting our record label in New York and a strange man behind me in a crowd pushed his penis into my rear end, smirked, and walked away when I turned around to confront him.

When the creepy ex-boyfriend with a secret stash of rape porn and an SKS rifle under his bed once used my chain necklace to choke me without my consent during sex, bruising my neck, until the chain snapped, allowing me to breathe before I passed out.

When the same boyfriend got mad at me in a bar and left me there, so I walked home crying, and a group of guys pulled up next to me in a car to offer me a ride, yelling “Bitch!” at me when with tears running down my face, I told them, “No thank you, I’m not having a good night. I need to walk,” foolishly hoping that maybe because I was crying this time, I wouldn’t have obscenities yelled at me for refusing to get into a car full of strangers.

When my 15+ years-older step-uncle moved to the same city as me, began flirting with and harassing me, coming to my band’s shows, entering my apartment to leave items when I wasn’t there, or to knock on the door while I hid, making me feel violated and unsafe.

When he came to the convenience store job where I was trapped behind the counter, forcing me to deal with daily visits, afraid of disturbing the family balance if I told him to fuck off, stop acting like a pervert, and leave me alone.

When, after turning him down for drinks and movies and nights out together, trying to “be nice,” at least 20 times, he finally got angry, yelled at me, stormed out— and I felt nothing but relief.

When he recently turned up at a family gathering, and after not seeing him for over 10 years, he told me, “I used to have such a crush on you. You still look good. If I were a younger man, I’d wear you out,” in a lascivious tone of voice, making me feel repulsed.

When I didn’t call him out for being completely inappropriate to his married step-niece in front of her 10-year-old son out of unspoken pressure to “be nice” because he’s family.

When this same man gave my 21-year-old niece the creeps by looking her up and down, telling her in a sexual tone of voice that made her uncomfortable, “she’d grown up into a very attractive young woman,” as if this epitomizes all she might aspire to be.

When a 60-year-old man who knows damned well he’s being inappropriate is allowed to do so because none of the women in the family who discuss his behavior want to cause trouble, so we just endure it, and he gets away with it, and he knows this, so he will always do it.

When I lived in Los Angeles, and the large man I tried to not make eye contact with as we passed on the sidewalk punched me in the chest so hard my heart skipped a beat and I couldn’t breathe, and I didn’t bother finding a business and calling the police because I knew nobody would take me seriously.

When the guy at my gym has been monopolizing a machine for 30 minutes, walks away, and I try to use it quickly for 5 minutes, refusing to “be nice” and obediently move when he comes back to stand over me aggressively—so he sits 10 feet away, glaring threateningly at me.

When I share this story on social media, and guys oblivious to their own male privilege call me rude names and comment that I should have had better gym etiquette and “been nice,” completely missing the point, because they don’t have to feel physically threatened for existing while female.

When I used to go for runs and felt I needed to wear baggy clothing, or else the male attention that made me feel frightened for my safety was somehow my fault.

When I used to go for runs in baggy clothing, and still had to listen to men yell demeaning things from their cars at me.

When women are judged purely for how we look, as if we exist only for decoration or visual pleasure.

When women are threatened, harassed, or stalked on the internet by anonymous, cowardly assholes with something to prove and nothing to lose.

 

 

These are all examples of when you did not have consent.

 

This is not how people show they love each other.

 

Girls and women aren’t supposed to fear violence or violation from boys and men, ever.

 

“No” is a complete sentence.

 

When we place a boundary, or are too emotionally immature to know how to do so, you don’t get to cross lines you shouldn’t without consequences.

If we are physically unable to place a boundary—for any reason—you should assume that also means no.

Your vile actions haunt us, and change who we become, who we might have been.

Because we remember. Forever. So you should, too.

 

You should feel guilty for these things.

You should feel sorry that you did these things.

You should, at the very least, take responsibility for, acknowledge, and apologize for these things.

You should never blame the victims for these things.

 

Women are allowed to be angry.

We are tired of being unwilling participants forced to march in your endless parade of insecurity.

We are tired, and we are angry.

 

This writing seems long, yet is an abbreviated list, because I’m not special. Many women have longer, more haunting lists.

But the one thing we have in common is that we all have a list.

A list of when you did not have consent.