The smell of fall weather in the midwest is something that I can never grow sick of. I love going home to the smell of the crisp country air, the leaves changing colors, the baggy sweaters, pumpkin spice lattes and lets not forget that its football season. What a wonderful time to be alive. Yet, there is something about football season and the weather change that brings past memories that aren’t so great, in fact they are more bitter than anything.
I came back to Ohio recently to escape Hurricane Irma, and was invited to a football game with a good friend of mine. Let me remind you that I was raped by an OSU football player and so going to the games and being supportive of the team has always been a struggle. I am a proud buckeye, but the Columbus Division Police did not serve me well and just as I remembered almost 3 years ago how terrible they are they proved to be the same just a few weeks ago.
I am out back of my friends, coworkers house party, I have had one beer and barely drank half of it at this point and I’m all alone. Anyways, I am out back because I have to change my shoes before walking the 20 minute hike to the football field, when a strange man walks past my car holding a few beers and he looks me in the eyes and keeps walking. I didn’t think much of it, because its campus and there are people everywhere just trying to have a good time. Next thing I know, this same man walks back towards my car and ask me what I am doing. I tell him that I was changing my shoes and headed back up front with all of my friends. He proceeds to grab my foot and asked if he could help me. I informed him that I was okay, and at this point I am terrified and kind of frozen because I am really unsure what could happen next. He bends over kisses my foot sets his beers down and begins to massage my leg, even after I attempted to kick him.
He proceeds to climb into my car and uses both of his hands to caress my body… like I was his property, something made for him to put his hands all over. He attempted to kiss me on my lips, my neck and when I told him I was uncomfortable and this is not how he should treat people, he said he knew “I wanted it.” He continued to sit on me, until I told him that I was going to call the cops, he actually got angry with me because I clearly did not want him on top of me. I was able to shove him off of me, and reach for my phone. He punches a car next to mine twice and then walks off and yells, “stupid bitch” as if I had done something wrong.
I am not sure where to start, my mind, my body, everything went through shock in these few moments. He put his hands on me, and I couldn’t even protect myself. I grabbed my friend and attempted to run after this man that did this to me all while on the phone with police. After losing sight of him, the police told me,
well ma’am there is not anything we can do at this point, he’s gone. Do you still want an officer to come out and do a report, but even if he did there isn’t anything we can do.
No safety check, nothing. Just a simple, do you still want an officer to come out. Not what I as a rape survivor want to hear. I want to hear that the police are on my side and want to get this report in case something happens again and they have this mans description already they can bust him, or maybe even wishful thinking they alert officers in the area of this man and his erratic behaviors towards women.
I have been down this road before with Columbus Police. I have been here before, and I was let down. So no, fuck you Columbus police I do not want you to come out, I don’t need your stupid safety check. Selfishly I let them not come. Afterwards and all night, I just kept thinking, what if this man put his hands on another woman, what if he raped a woman. I could have been the one report that put other police on the prowl if they had seen him. Then there are parts of me that are saying, nope the Columbus police don’t care that much because, I have been here before.
On top of these feelings of regret, I had to live with past memories coming up. My hands held above my head, police interview after police interview, my insecurities resurfaced, I had to be this strong woman amongst a crowd of people I didn’t care to be around. How do you cope with your fears, settle your anxiety all while trying to stay composed and have fun? I have come to master the act of disassociation. There are times I face situations of discomfort with pure disassociation. I blank out, to protect myself from anything and everything. Sometimes I go back to a place I never want to be and it makes it worse and then there are other times I can take myself to a blank room and imagine I am by myself. I missed a lot of the game I was at because my body was physically there, but mentally I couldn’t be there.
Since then, I have replayed this situation in my head allowing myself the time to cry, cuss and scream about what happened. Why do these things happen? Why, when I talk about it openly people ask me if I was drunk? Why I was alone.. WHY does it matter if I was drunk or alone!! People just simply should not put their hands on other people. Being drunk for him is not an excuse to assault and harass people. Whomever taught him that it was ever okay to just touch women without their permission failed him. He is out there still along with my rapist living a happy life free from the consequences of assaulting someone while I have to deal with these things head on.
It will never be fair. But it is what it is. From there, the only way to go is to grow. So, I took the time I needed before writing my blog, and did what I needed to do to be okay with the situation. I can’t tell you how many times I have had to tell myself, I am worthy of genuine connection and not intrusive harassment. I am capable of defending myself in any situation. I am capable of protecting myself.
As women, we face so many demons inside of us, from not being good enough, to the constant let down in intimate relationships, not having the body we want etc. and the one thing we should never have to worry about is if whether or not we are going to get assaulted when we walk out of our doors.
To live a life of fear, we only put ourselves in a cage. Open those doors by executing a plan for yourself, especially if you have been through trauma. Wake up with affirmations, and practice these in your head daily. When situations arise you will have already believed you could conquer your worst fear because you have engrained it into your mind. You are a wonderfully made, badass woman who is capable of protecting yourself.
This starts with believing in yourself.