On October 13, 2016, I went on a first date that changed my life forever. It was with a man I had met a month prior who seemed decent, normal, good. He didn’t seem like the kind of man that would spike my drink while I was in the bathroom and later rape me against a wall outside of the venue where we were watching a concert.
He was older, middle-aged, the CEO of two companies, and on the board of the local YMCA, how could I have ever thought he was a predator? He was divorced with children including a daughter who was still in high school, how could he be someone who would hurt women if he had a daughter himself? He could because it was a front to give him the cover to do what he wanted.
He was intelligent, sophisticated, and smooth; when we met we talked about behavioral economics and music. Looking back on that conversation, he talked about having just been at a concert with his friend and some acquaintances, one of whom he described as a 21-year-old girl who was trying so hard to be sophisticated but failed miserably, like a little girl putting on her mother’s lipstick. He said it with a smirk and I understand now from that smirk and his reply that he raped her too, just like he raped me.
I didn’t report it because my memories were hazy from the drugs and didn’t come back to me until a few days after, too late for a rape kit. I know my drink was spiked because after I came back from the bathroom, I can’t remember anything that happened inside of the concert venue. I do remember parts of what happened outside though. The pain cut through the cloud of drugs and I remember some of the most severe bits and pieces but I don’t remember all of it. When I woke up the next day in my bed with fragments of my memories intact, I knew my body felt wrong, my nipples were sore and my genitals didn’t feel right, but no, that couldn’t be me. I couldn’t have been raped, that was for other people, not me.
But I was. I have a clear memory of being pinned against a brick wall with a bright light above me, him laughing at me and pinching my nipples so hard I cried and tried to push him away and he didn’t let go. But even with that memory, I couldn’t reconcile that the man who pinched my nipples until they were so sore they chafed and peeled a week later was the same man whose daughter was a senior in high school a few miles away. It didn’t make sense to me either, how could someone who seemed to have so much to lose do this?
Because he didn’t have anything to lose. He knew his wealth and his status protected him. How do I know that? Because 2 weeks after he raped me, he came up to me and a friend while we were leaving a restaurant and with a grin from ear-to-ear told me that he got off on how I cried while he was raping me. He did this in public because he had no shame, he knew he could do what he wanted and get away with it. I stood my ground and told him I wasn’t afraid of him, that I would testify in front of a jury. He threatened me, saying that lawsuits were expensive and he had a very good team of lawyers to call on and who knows what they would find.
I didn’t report him because I knew it was true. His privilege was a shield. He had high-level contacts in the defense industry, his clients were former oligarchs from foreign countries, he was on the board of the YMCA. They would close circle and protect him, not knowing that he was a dom who didn’t use safe words, something I found out after sharing my story at a women’s circle and a woman who recognized him from my description was there. She was a friend of a friend I had met before at another event. She knew he was a narcissist, she knew he was into BDSM, but she didn’t know he was a rapist until she heard my story and confirmed with his ex that he didn’t use safe words. She couldn’t help me by corroborating his sexual preferences either because she had her own things she hid in the closet that she didn’t want to come to light.
What broke my heart was that although I cried like a child in her arms when I told her more details, all it took for her to not believe me was one conversation with him. He told her he wasn’t interested after the first date but I was stalking him. I wasn’t even supposed to go to the women’s circle where I spoke with her, I never knew she was his friend, but she believed him. Their kids had grown up playing together, after all. The same way that the day after I couldn’t reconcile the memory of the rape with the urbane CEO I had met, she couldn’t reconcile that the man who had been in her life, who had employed her, who had been so close to her family, was a rapist.
I didn’t report it and I carry the guilt of not reporting him and stopping him, if only for as long as a police investigation. I knew that as a board member of the local YMCA, he had ties to local government that could reach into a police department. I couldn’t report it then and I can’t report it now.
I didn’t report it to protect my mother and father. I can’t break their hearts. I can’t make them feel helpless, unable to protect me from evil men. I can’t put them through the pain and outrage over how others would treat me.
I didn’t report it because I didn’t want to be blamed for what I wore or what I drank.
I didn’t report it because I didn’t want my past trotted out to be put on display by a smarmy defense lawyer.
I didn’t report it because I didn’t want it to be a matter of public record that I was raped, to be in black and white for all to see what had happened to me, as if I was the one who did something wrong.
I didn’t report it because I didn’t want to hear the truth of my story twisted into lies to protect a bad man.
I didn’t report it because I didn’t want to be shamed for being raped – because rapists don’t bear the burden of shame by the public, survivors do.
I didn’t report it because I saw what happens when multiple women come forward like in the case of Bill Cosby, so what would happen if there was only me.
I didn’t report it because I didn’t want to see another wealthy, privileged man worm his way through the in-justice system.
I didn’t report it because if somehow he was convicted and went to prison, precedent says he’d only be in there for a few months like Brock Turner.
I didn’t report it because I have no illusions about what people are capable of doing to protect themselves from acknowledging their tacit approval and enabling of rape culture.
I didn’t report it because I see how we treat women who do.
I didn’t report it because justice is a fairytale and the people who believe in it have no idea what the real world is like.
I didn’t report it because this is America.
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