With the confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh, I have to weigh in on the issues swirling around him. First and foremost, I do NOT back him in any way shape or form, that is not what this post is about tonight. What I am writing about is the fact that I am a sexual assault survivor. I applaud these women who have stepped forward and told their story, despite how they have been treated by the conservative media. They fought through disgusting doubt put upon their stories and memories of events, yet stayed strong through the entire process. They are so BRAVE to have kept moving forward through all of that shit. It’s far more than I could ever do.
The United States we currently live in is a waking nightmare. We have a President who brags about how horrible he treats women, we have a committee full of men who sit and decide women’s issues, and now we have a Supreme Court Justice who has been accused of assaulting multiple women. For someone who has lived through the trauma of sexual assault, it’s living every day in a world full of triggers, forcing me to relive that terrible night almost daily. Instead of it being a distant memory, tied up in a neat little box to protect my sanity, it is a constant shadow lurking in the back of my mind just waiting for the moment I let my guard down, for even a second, to strike.
This post isn’t just about me, though, this is about the millions of men and women who have gone through the same trauma and have to live with the feelings of fear, of shame, of doubt, of depression, of anxiety every single day of their lives. And then we all have to see our President, the person sworn to protect the American People proclaim that it is a scary time for men in our country. What about all of us women (and yes, men too) who have to watch what we wear, be on constant guard when we go grocery shopping, to not drink alcohol, to not “put ourselves in situations where men can hurt us?” Are we not supposed to be scared? Are we supposed to simply accept our lives as sexual toys to men who cannot control themselves? Bullshit. I’m fucking angry.
So here is the story of my assault. While I have already shared this story with a small group of people outside of my own family, this is the first time for me to throw it out there into the universe for the world to see. Yup! Very scared, but I’m pushing forward anyway. I have to. I’m sick and tired of hiding behind the veil of propriety and conservativism. I was traumatized by a guy I thought was my friend and who I could trust. And now, my fellow brothers and sisters in survival, I’m putting my voice out there to explain how one guy’s vile act changed my life forever.
My little sister and I are very close; so close that before either of us met our husbands and got married, we were roommates. We did everything together. We worked together, hung out together, partied together, drank together…we were, and still are, best friends. So us going out to celebrate a friend’s birthday at a nearby bar was totally normal. On our way there, we stopped to get gas and ended up running into an old coworker and friend of ours outside the gas station. I had always had a crush on him and wanted to get to know him better so when he gave me his phone number I was so excited! I thought that he might want to get to know me too. I told him that if my ex-boyfriend showed up to the party, I would give him a call so he could protect me. Silly me, believing that I needed protection from a guy, right?
I pocketed his number and went to the bar with my sister to meet up with our friends. At this point in my life, I was a heavy drinker. I couldn’t go out to a bar without getting rip-roaring drunk, which worked out well because my sister didn’t drink and was usually there to drive me home. That night was no different. I quickly ordered the bar’s signature drink, a literal fishbowl of alcohol. And I drank all of it. Then I saw that dreaded ex-boyfriend walk in so just as I promised, I went out and called that “friend” to come to protect me. He said he would be there soon and asked me to wait outside so he could see me. Thinking nothing of it, that’s what I did. I told my sister what I was doing and went outside.
The guy pulled up soon after and leaned over to open the passenger side door to get in. Okay, so here is where things get foggy. First of all, I didn’t call the guy for a hookup; I wanted him to join me at the bar so that way my ex would know to keep his distance. Second, when I actually got into his car, I have no idea what I was actually thinking because I was very drunk and I don’t know if I was thinking at all. Whatever my reasons for getting into that car were, they weren’t made coherently. Even now when I think about it and have that moment of doubt and shame, the same two questions come to mind, “why did you get into that car, Joni? What did you think was going to happen?”
Rational Answer – I was too drunk to think.
But when is a traumatized mind ever rational?
This “friend” drove off with me in his car, leaving my sister at the bar waiting for me to return, and took me around to some neighborhood that I didn’t know. He pulled over next to a house and I had no idea where I was. This was when I blacked out. I have no memory of what happened next until my phone buzzing over and over again woke me up. When I finally came to my senses, my head was in his lap and he was in my mouth with his hand on the back of my head. I lifted up to find my phone so I could answer it, but he took my phone away and threw it onto the dashboard. Then he said that he wouldn’t take me back to the bar or let me have my phone until I finished him off. I remember asking him where he was going to finish and then his answer…that answer is cemented into my brain for all time – “Do you expect me to bust a nut all over my car?”
Yeah. A real winner here y’all.
Drunk me didn’t see any other choice but to do what he wanted me to do. It was vile, but I wanted to get back to my sister and this was the only way. I can still feel his hand on my head pushing me down and feel him inside my mouth. And I can still taste him. But he did keep his word and gave me my phone back, letting me see that I had a lot of missed calls and frantic messages from my sister wondering where I was. Then he drove me back to the bar and dropped me off just as my sister was about to call the police. A big part of me wishes she would have, but it wouldn’t have done any good. I’ll get to that in a bit.
I was still extremely drunk and still tasted him so I remember eating as much birthday cake as I possibly could to cover it up. I don’t remember the ride home but my sister later told me that I was in a daze and told her that the “friend” made me suck him off. She didn’t put the pieces together until a few weeks later when we were both at work and the guy showed up, asking to sit in my section as I was a waitress at the time. When I saw him walking towards me with that big smile on his face, I immediately went into hysterics. I had a full blown panic attack and I had to rush back to the kitchen to hide. I literally hid by the beer cooler and that was where my sister figured it out.
My boss came back and saw me freaking out and he just rolled his eyes and told me to pull it together. After I told him what happened, he huffed and had someone else take the table but I had to finish my current tables before being able to leave. I had to work in that same room with that asshole for two hours, feeling his eyes upon me the entire time. Either my boss didn’t believe me, or he didn’t care because he shut me down when I tried to get a coworker to finish my tables for me so I could get away from the asshole. I was reliving that night, or what I could remember of it, the entire time. And then my brain tucked it away into a lockbox to save my sanity; otherwise, I would have completely lost my mind.
I went on with my life after that, remembering that something had happened but not able to really think about the details of it because it was buried so deep. It was ten years before something only mildly related triggered that memory and it all flooded back. I could taste him again. I could feel him pushing at the back of my throat. I could feel his hand on the back of my head, keeping me down where he wanted me. I could hear those words replaying over and over – “Do you expect me to bust a nut all over my car?”
My husband was a saint through the entire process. I lost the ability to function like a normal human being, so he urged me to go to counseling. It wasn’t the first time I had gone through counseling so I knew the value of it and went for it. I am so glad I did. She helped me through the physical and mental flashbacks so that I could learn to cope with them. I would like to say that I was able to heal, but you just can’t heal from that. Someone I trusted ripped away my feelings of safety and violated me like I was a sex toy for him to play with. Even after so much time, the memories still haunt me.
So here is where things get really fun. You know how I mentioned that calling the police wouldn’t do any good? At that time I lived in Oklahoma and there was a law on the books specifically stating that a drunk woman forced to perform oral sex on a man has no legal recourse and no charges can be filed. There was nothing I could have done to get justice for what was done to me simply because I was drunk at the time. Like it was my fault. Like I wanted it. It makes me physically ill to know that there are laws like that who take the protection away from the victims and place it directly upon the offender simply due to that one technicality.
Going back to the Kavanaugh thing – the conservatives and conservative media kept asking why the women were coming forward now. Why now? Why wait for so long to say anything? Here is why – because in order to preserve their sanity after suffering such a trauma, their brains buried the memories to protect them. This has been scientifically proven that your brain buries memories to protect itself. That’s Psychology, folks! So why did their brains unlock the memories now? Because seeing their offender flashed all over the television, being considered to sit on the Supreme Court for LIFE triggered the memories and they all came flooding back. Yup! Psychology!
So here we are, living in a country led by a man with multiple accusations of sexual assault and has actually been recorded bragging about assaulting women, with another man with multiple accusations of sexual assault being confirmed to the Supreme Court. I keep pinching myself, hoping that this is all just one long, one horrifying, bad dream. Unfortunately, this is the reality we all live in and the only way we can fix it is to go out and vote. Go vote to change the crash course we are currently on.