This is a story about two men. One was my friend, who said he was a feminist (bless him), and another who was his cousin, who sexually harassed me to the point of me losing my fucking shit.
Two years after the incident, I bumped in to my former friend. He looked at me with eyes that glittered with… hatred, anger, upset… hurt. Maybe he’d had a bad day. One of those terrible fucking days, when the rug is pulled from under you and you land on your arse with a jolt and your like “fuuuuuuuuuck”, this is a terremoto of a day, bleeeeeeeeeeeeeeh can’t deal. Can’t process.
I’d written some shit. What had happened was vile, complicated, as sexual violence always is; some people reacted, others stood by, some sides were taken…
My side is a lonely side. But it’s where I live.
It’s arrogant to think that his look, his terrible look, was because of what I wrote. But, the honest to god’s truth is, I’m still, two years later, so traumatised about what happened, I can’t even bear to look at what I did actually write. To reread. To relive. (There should probably be some hyphens there. Fuck hyphens.)
Maybe I said/wrote something awful about him.
Look again. Face what happened.
No. Not strong enough. Can’t relive. Can’t face.
Did I make a mistake? Of course. The best thing is probably to always retreat, to be cautious, to feel out others. Group dynamics. La manada, pack mentality. Avoid, smile, “Oh, thank you sooooo much for the compliment, I just have to go over there now. Have a great day. Love you so much. Byeeeeeee”.
My former friend, the guy who I had thought was really awesome, is cousin to the person who seriously harassed me. I’d gotten on well with him. I held him in regard. Until what happened, happened.
When “it” happens, “it” being the nightmare you are always trying to anticipate, always trying to avoid… Fight or flight. Only two responses?
No. There is a third response. And that is FREEZE.
You come out of the bathroom. The bar is empty. All your friends are outside. The bad guy, the cousin, is there. He’s blocking your path. He’s telling you a bunch of vile shit.
“I don’t care if your boyfriend is a boxer. I’m going to take you like this, I’m going to do this to you…”.
My soul froze.
It was less than five minutes. It could have been three. Maybe it was even two.
I wish that I was that strong girl I have shown to the world for so long, fearless. Bullies can smell fear. The wolves come after you.
Anyone who knows me, really knows me, knows that beneath the fachada/façade, I am so sensitive, and that I feel things so deeply. But you cannot show that to the world. No one can. No one, or very few people, can say: “I was vulnerable. I was xxx”. Whether that “xxx” is being fully raped, or just all those other “little attacks”, little femasculations… You wish it didn’t happen. Had never happened. You can wish a lot of things away.
He didn’t rape me. He didn’t lay a finger on me. But to me, the threat was there, the threat that cut me like a knife. And my reaction was from that deep, nightmarish fear, and the lack of support from everyone, the silence of everyone else, was the real nightmare.
What if he’d done more? He could have done anything.
He didn’t. He only went a few steps down that road.
My female friends stopped to say “hello” to him in fiestas. I turned on my heel, went home immediately, betrayed.
“His mother is sick. He’s got so many problems”.
My mother died of cancer. I spent six months living in her house 2 weeks a month. It fucked me up big fucking time. I was a mess for a year after, I still live with the aftershocks.
Did I do weird shit like that? Did I threaten to rape anyone? Did I?
No. I was fucked though, more fucked than I’m ready to admit right here, in this little story. I lived with my then boyfriend at the time. After we parted ways, I told him “Yo, I’m sorry that I was such a cunt while my mum was dying and after.” He was surprised. He was like: “I don’t remember you being like that at all. AT ALL”.
Maybe I want to believe that. After all, we all want to believe that we are “good”, that our position is “right”. Hitler, me, everyone; no one wakes up in the morning and thinks: Today I’m going to be a complete fucker and fuck everyone over that I possibly can. The bigger the arsehole, the better. Mwah hah hah haaaaaa. Not even Tr*mp.
Ok, maybe Tr*mp.
Everyone justifies. People beat their partners. Emotional scars last years. Men, earning more money than women, beat their wives for years, and the woman stays. Women, having power of custody over the kids and all that, can right royally screw a guy by stopping him from seeing his kids. But all abusers see themselves as victims, that’s how they conceptualise the physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual breaking of another being. Everyone is right, so everyone must be wrong as well.
Except me. I’m right, right?
After what happened happened, I’ve seen the cousin about 10 times. I completely, utterly, 100% blank him. If he sees me with girls, he calls my name, over, and over, and over again. If he sees me with a guy (he often sees me with male friends. I have a few good eggs that I cherish), he’s silent.
I wish I could punch him in the face, break his nose, nut him. I would love for it to stop. But the idea that violence solves conflicts is a fantasy. He is a man, he has problems, he acts the way he acts. The more violence I show him, the more I am in the wrong, the more he is the victim. Like when he started making unwanted sexual advances to me at lunch time, then a few hours later, he followed me to the toilet, to get me on my own, to sexually harass me. Bullies are so empty inside, they need the easy prey. If he’s calling to me in the street, calling my name, and I go up and twat him, he’s the victim. That is the justification he wants and needs.
So, my former friend looked at me.
I can live the whole rest of my life without seeing that look again.