This isn’t one of those good stories. The ones that lift you up and make you feel better about the world or your problem or your life.
Nope. This is a sad story. It’s the story of my childhood. This is a story about #metoo.
Lets be clear about some things up front. Some things that I already know.
- People had/have it worse. (I know this.)
- My life was an exception to the rule (also true. A reported 20% of girls experience childhood sexual abuse. That number is still shockingly high, and possibly higher due to non-disclosure).
- I should get help for what you’re about to read (this one has already been handled by, literally, a decade of therapy).
The reason I’m writing this is to share why I’m not surprised by recent allegations of sexual misconduct by men who most people had put on the Hollywood pedestal. I’m writing to share why the nice guys are scarier to me than the “bad” guys.
When I was 6 years old, my mother (who was not a winner, by all accounts) “asked” me to babysit her neighbor’s infant. Her reasoning is that she’d be right down the sidewalk from me. After all, our neighbor was only 2 doors down. I said no; I said I didn’t want to. She insisted. What power did I have? I reluctantly went.
That night, while I slept, I was raped by a family friend. But here’s the deal: that’s not the worst part. After he left me, naked and afraid, I immediately ran to the baby’s room to check on him. He was unharmed and oblivious to the trauma I had just experienced. I put on one of my neighbor’s coats. I was little and it fit me like a dress. And then I stood at the window, willing anyone to come past the house so I could scream for help.
No one came.
So I waited at the top of the stairs. It could have been minutes, but it felt like hours. I stood there, shaking in that oversized coat, and listened with my eyes closed. I tuned every single sense toward what was happening downstairs, because I was convinced the man that just raped me was waiting to do it again. Finally, I gathered all my strength and all my courage and I ran to the bottom of the stairs, out the door, and down to my house. I crawled under the kitchen table because I was terrified and uncontrollably wailing. My oldest brother crawled in and coaxed me out. He called the police. I sat, shaking and terrified, because I didn’t know who was safe anymore.
My mother arrived home, drunk and high, and cancelled the police report. That was when I learned that my mother wasn’t safe.
But the story isn’t over yet.
You see, my stepdad was home all the time. He was my new protector, as far as I was concerned. I stayed near him because he assured he’d keep me safe. Months later, he started molesting me and didn’t stop until I was 10 years old. That’s when I learned that no one was safe.
I’m sitting here, now, with a burn of rage in my stomach that I can’t quite express in words. Because every. single. fucking. time. someone expresses shock, I think of my mother. And I think of my stepdad.
And I think of the guy that was masturbating in his car and exposed himself to me when I was 13. Or the *grown man* who asked me to come to his hotel when I was 14 and traveling alone and had a layover in Vegas (I hid in a bathroom stall until it was time to board). I think of the “friend” in high school that pinned me up against the wall and threatened to have his way with me. I think of the coworker I had that always had to make comments about my ass or tits. I think of the man who cornered me at a trade show conference and said that I was a tease because I said no after making “bedroom eyes” at him all day. Or the countless times I’ve walked faster, pretended to be on my phone, avoided eye contact with men on the street.
You know why? Because *no one* is safe. Because the bad guys are scary, but the “nice” guys are dangerous.
I understand that it’s #notallmen. I was married to one and I’m not engaged to another. Hundreds…thousands! of men are completely benign.
But those men. Those two men from my childhood… they ruined it for everyone. Because now you’re not truthworthy unless you prove it. I’m not surprised by seemingly “good” men who take advantage of their stature or position or prowess or strength to intimidate, harass, and sexually traumatize women. Because those two men taught me that if a six year old family friend or relative isn’t off limits, no one is.
Trust me when I say that all of these assholes deserve exactly what their getting. I’ve never been so proud of women in my life. There is no innocence by comparison. Because Louis CK only masturbated in front of women versus Kevin Spacey who came on to a child versus Harvey Weinstein who has dozens of allegations against him… that doesn’t absolve CK at all. They are all guilty. They all deserve to be held accountable.
So do me a favor- if you’re reading this and nodding your head, like “FUCK YEAH”, feel free to share it with your seemingly shocked friend. Because if they think about it, I’d bet that they can think of a “nice” guy that betrayed them once or twice, too.