I sat down, on the floor of a hotel room, whispering: “If you can make it through the night, then tomorrow will bring good things. I believe in you.” That’s how I survived the night I was sexually and physically assaulted.
So let’s get the hard part over with and talk about what happen (names used are not their REAL names):
It was during work retreat. My boss (lets call him ‘Grant’) and I were leaving the party. Grant’s boss (Mark) offered to drive us back to the hotel. Grant and I sat in the back of Mark’s car. Grant was drunk, and I spent half of the day trying to make sure he didn’t look like more of a fool. Grant had index cards in his had. He begin to tear them up and toss them out the window. I asked for the cards and Grant gave them to me. Then, Grant laid down and put his head in my lap. And then, it happen.
a: a threat or attempt to inflict offensive physical contact or bodily harm on a person (as by lifting a fist in a threatening manner) that puts the person in immediate danger of or in apprehension of such harm or contact — compare battery 1bb:rape 2 – via Merriam-Webster
He touched me – three times. I wasn’t expecting it. And yet, it happen. And, I froze. All I can hear is the beat of my heart. I kept thinking: “Did Mark just see this? Is anyone going to say something?” No. All there was is silence. When we pulled up to the hotel, I ran out of the car. I ran to my room and locked the door. I couldn’t gather my words. All I felt was shame, shock and anger. Mostly anger. Incredible anger. Oh, I was pissed.
I changed my clothes and went back outside. I knew he would be at the bar, and there he was. I asked him to come outside, and he followed me. Every bit of strength I had in me wanted to punch him till my fist went numb. I didn’t care for what happen next, he violated me. He needs to pay. However, all I could say to Grant was: “Why did you do it?” I went into all the details, I left nothing out. Then I repeated: “Why did you do it? This is wrong!” And, with all of Grant’s energy, all he could say is: “Do you want to kiss me?” I screamed out ‘No!’ and walked away.
I returned back to my room and tried not to give up on myself. I tried to believe that this situation can be resolved and I will find justice. But, I knew the truth. It’s been the same for centuries over. My word against his. But, in this moment, all I felt was broken. That’s when I posted this photo and poured my heart out on Instagram.
I had thoughts of suicide. I knew nothing would come of this. I knew no one would hear me. I knew nothing would be resolved. In order not to cause any harm to myself, I sat on the hotel room floor and begin to meditate and try to reassure myself. “You’re all you got.” I said. “No one’s coming to rescue you.”
I had to look in Grant’s face for the next five days as I pondered on how I was going to report this. Becoming ashamed of myself because I felt I didn’t stand up for myself enough. Then, a friend reached out to me and reminded me just how much I matter. He gave me the extra push I needed to write my report. And so, the drama began.
What happens when you report your boss for harassment? Well, for me, not much. I was reminded how the victim must repeat their story to as many higher ups that want to listen. I was reminded how the HR department is for what’s good of the company, not what’s good for your well being. Regardless of the help they tried to push on me, I no longer had or felt the trust. I feared that anything I tried to do or say would be used against me. Because this is not my first encounter assault, I was reminded how you have to re-live your story and no one believes you for a series of reasons, most just couldn’t believe Grant would do something like this. Yes, many uncomfortable things are implied when talking to me behind close doors. Of course, I was given “We don’t tolerate these type of things”, and all of these meetings made me exhausted. Nothing was resolved because the option given to me did not make me happy. I still had to see Grant’s face daily, they wanted to move him to another side of the building. WTF? This is how you make it better?
I began dreading work. I had several panic attacks and ran home sick. One week, I became dehydrated, sick with an unknown disease and had vertigo. My doctor explain that the only thing she can see was that I was mentally stressed. I knew exactly what was wrong, my body didn’t want to go back to work and was begging for me to stop. I had to make a decision, lawyer up or remove myself from the situation.
Many forget, when they are telling you to quit your job, that you have these people called: ‘Rent’, ‘Bills’ and ‘Taxes’. I have a single home income. I have to protect myself. For all the friends to told me I should leave that crazy job, not one was willing to help me out until I get another one. In these situations, many give up simply because they can’t afford to move on or find another place to go. So, I decided to remove myself from the situation. I have no money or mental capacity for a lawsuit. It took me about six months, but I finally did it. I couldn’t wait to run out of there, and into a brighter future. My last day was the day before my birthday. The next day, I celebrated my freedom from that horrid place. I got on a plane and left it all behind, for a few days.
And when I returned, I started a new job. I’ve been there for about three months now. I don’t miss anything about that place except the friends I made along the way. Till this day, I can’t sleep some nights without waking up in a cold sweat. There’s the nightmares, the feeling of being followed, the feeling of being worthless. Hopelessness. Doubt. I trust no one. I spend many of weekends in my room, staring outside, wondering what the wind feels like. Crying. So many tears. Panic attacks. I hear voices and I know no one’s there. There’s no cure. No remedy. You learn how to live with the scars. Every day brings new life, and some days are good…and some you rather want to forget. But, all I have is me.
And since this day, my social media has never been the same. Instead of progression, I’ve loss my creativity. I know it’s still in me, but no one tells you how to deal (mentally) with being assaulted. It’s different for everyone.
I will live with the scars for the rest of my life. I will work, endlessly building my self assurance and regaining my confidence. I’ll struggle with the fear of allowing others in my personal space. I’ve paid a very steep price, and I’m sure Grant and that company sleep well at night. If our legal system and society wouldn’t chastise our victims so much, this situation may have turned out differently. But, I can’t think about it. I have a life to rebuild mentally and financially. There’s no stops along the way to have a mental breakdown and just take a vacation. At lest, not for me. These are my emotions and I’m allowed to feel this way. Not every day will be rainbows and unicorns, but, every day can be a blessing.