Suddenly the room closed in on me and my head was spinning. There it was on my computer screen. His name. I froze, glad his profile picture was not his face. 13 years passed and I hate him more today then I did back then. The fact that he would even send a friend request was shocking. I chose to ignore it until I better knew how to handle what I was feeling.
TRIGGER WARNING! Before you read any further, please know I will be talking about a sensitive issue involving sexual abuse. While I will not discuss anything graphic or in detail, the subject matter may not be suitable for all readers. I want all of my readers to feel comfortable on this site. Thanks.
I was barely 18, and I worked as a banquet server at a nice Midwestern country club which was owned by a tight-knit Italian family. I loved my job and I made a lot of friends there. Many of us would hang out after work on the weekend and have parties. The social groups were somewhat segregated by whichever position you worked. For instance, the servers were not heavily associated with the chefs or the dishwashers. Which brings me to the beginning of my nightmare.
I thought it was odd that one of the chefs- we’ll call him C- took interest in me. I immediately thought he was disgusting. He was 10+ years older than me, he smelled nasty, had teeth resembling toilet scum, and had a very aggressive demeanor. At first I just played it off like whatever. I was a very outgoing and wild young person, so my attention was everywhere else and I thought nothing of it. Until the day I needed a ride home from work. Due to circumstance, I had no car or reliable transportation this particular night. C offered to give me a lift. I thought this was generous of him and I did appreciate it. I climbed into his pickup and we began the 20 minute drive to where I lived. As we were approaching my neighborhood, C pulled into a nearby parking lot. And locked the doors. He proceeded to unbuckle his seat belt and inch his way into the passenger side, where I was sitting. I remember asking him what he was doing. He said he knew this was more than just a ride home. At this point his body was crushing me. I asked him repeatedly to just take me home. Amazingly, he released me and drove me home. What happened next? I went into my room and I got incredibly angry. At myself.
Clearly I had provoked him somehow. How could I be such an idiot? Such a whore? What was wrong with me?
I made a vow to walk home before I ever let this sleaze give me a ride again. I know most would think I was crazy for blaming myself. But you need to realize I was already a teenager suffering from a mental illness. I was also already a survivor of sexual assault when I was victimized at age 16.
Then it Got Dark
He left me alone for awhile after the truck incident. I didn’t tell anyone about it. I changed how I did things at work. I tried to avoid him when I was in the kitchen. That worked. For a few weeks. Then came my education of just how physically strong C was as he lifted my 5’1″ self and carried me into the walk-in cooler. It was so dark in there. And sound proof. He pinned me up against shelves of ranch dressing, and shoved his toilet bowl mouth on mine. His hands grazed, as if checking out the merchandise he might consider stealing at a later date. What was probably 5 minutes, but felt like an hour, finally aborted when he had to return to his post.
I was dizzy. I was nauseous. And I knew everything had just changed. He wasn’t done with me. And I knew it.
To complicate things further, C’s mother was a manager at this country club. Being that the club was family owned, and considerably prestigious, C was highly regarded by the traditional elderly Italian man that ran the place. I was a teenage banquet server. There were 20 more just like me. The head-honchos didn’t know my name. And I wore a name tag. I was not highly regarded.
The next antic C pulled was, again, physically carrying me to a vacant space. This time it was the laundry room. I remember pushing with all of my might, against his huge arms, to try to get free and make my way for the door. He over-powered me and even though he was only restraining me at this point, I now realize that he was grooming me. Breaking me down. Showing me that he has power over me. Conditioning me for what I didn’t even know was to come next.
The first time C forced me to have sex with him, he was very strategic and made sure nobody was in this particular part of the building. Like usual, he hauled me over his shoulder and scooted off with me. His ragdoll. At first, I’d try to fight. I’d kick and push his arms. He was never phased by my resistance. I found myself in a vacant banquet room. He jammed the double doors and held me down on a round table. I tried to get up, he pushed me down. I tried to roll off the table, he pinned my shoulders down. I knew I could scream, but no one would hear. I could kick him in the balls, I could scratch his eyes out. But honestly, I was terrified. C was very strong and had a boiling temper. I’ve witnessed the dents he put in various doors in the kitchen. So I jumped into the only survival mode I knew, and I just let go.
I quickly adopted the mentality of “the quicker I just let it happen, the quicker it’ll all be over”. And he raped me.
This pattern had been going on for a little while when people started to talk. Friends and other co-workers were noticing us emerging from desolate areas, clothes a mess. The gossip train had come a chugging, and suddenly we were a hot topic. I was so sick inside. I wanted to tell people what was really happening. Surely someone would believe me, right? I see him attempt to flirt with other girls, and smack their butts, and do other piggish, unwarranted gestures. But I was scared. I didn’t think saying anything would get anywhere due to his status in the company. Also, I had a reputation for being wild, which some managers knew about. As far as I was concerned, I was doomed. And I had brought it upon myself. I felt I probably deserved it. My mental health was already in varying lows, with low self-esteem, so this abuse was only making me worse off.
On top of being afraid to say something, I was embarrassed. It was very humiliating to be over-powered and used. I was trying to hold onto every ounce of pride and dignity I could muster. And I revisited my survival mode many more times while he had his way with me. Forget dating. I tried to date, but every time he put his hands on me, I felt like I was getting filth on me, and thus my love interest shouldn’t touch me. I pushed people away.
New Year’s Eve 2001. The country club held an annual gala. Hundreds of fancy people eating fancy food, drinking fancy drinks, dancing to fancy music, wearing fancy attire. Also a mandatory work night for all staff. The event was taking place in the center of the building, in the Grand Ballroom, the largest of the rooms. All managers on duty, with walkie talkies. Every person in that building was in the Grand Ballroom, leaving all other areas of the building dark and vacant. Something that most wouldn’t even care about, but caused severe anxiety for me. I knew I would end up in one of these dark corners at some point that night.
I remember feeling particularly depressed this New Year’s. My bipolar was spiraling and I occasionally self-harmed. I was a student at the community college, and I had made some new friends there. These friends were giving me a new light, and were actually making me feel better. We had fun together. And we had plans to bring the new year in together that night, once I was off work.
C was more aggressive than usual that night. He caught me the second I was released from my shift. The liquor stench radiated from his nasty mouth. At this point, I knew it was close to 11:00, and I had to meet my friends. He took his time. He was loud and cocky. I wanted to scream so badly, but I knew all bodies were in the Grand Ballroom with fancy champagne and fancy mini-cakes. I just remember feeling so weak and exhausted. I attempted to get in touch with my inner self and make a New Year’s resolution. But I couldn’t even do that.
At this point, I just shut down mentally. I heard the muffled sound of a countdown and the “Happy New Year!” I was too numb to be disappointed that I’d missed my plans.
That night I dragged my body into my bedroom. And into the drawer where I kept my medications. And I took them all. Every last pill.
I curled up in bed beside my mother and just cried. My body was shaking. I wanted nothing more than to just disappear. This is the suicide attempt that landed me in the psychiatric hospital. That was also, by some miracle, the last time C touched me. I never told anybody about this. Until recently.
Demons Came a Knockin
A few days ago I logged into my Facebook to feed my social media addiction and post some new photos of the cutest baby ever. My mood somewhat chipper, and nowhere deep. Until I hit my notifications and there he was. The monster who used to drag me to dark rooms and press his super strong manhood onto my teenage body. That fucking asshole had the audacity to request permission into my life. My sacred, blessing-filled life! There was no way in hell I would ever allow him to smear his filth anywhere near my world again. I left it alone for a minute until I was collected enough to write him a private message:
You have some nerve sending me a friend request. After the shit you used to pull on me when I was barely 18 years old. I hate you and I think you are a disgusting piece of shit. You forced yourself on me. More than once. Of course you knew I couldn’t say anything because your mommy was a manager & you were a hot shot cook. I was just a dumb little banquet server with a wild reputation. Nobody would ever believe me. I’d lose my job before you would ever get in trouble. And you knew it. Do you know the last time you forced me to have sex with you- on New Year’s, in an empty banquet room- I went home and tried to kill myself. I overdosed because of you. I ended up in the hospital. And still- I couldn’t say anything. I just had to go along with whatever everyone else said about us. In reality I hated you. You made me feel like shit. I thought it was my fault. You knew you could prey on me & you did. I know you did this shit to others too. You tried to make it out like it was consensual, but it never was. I just had to shut up & take it because you were stronger than me. I would never touch you voluntarily. You are a pathetic waste of flesh. I hope I never have to see you again. My life is amazing now. I’m doing great & I’m happy. So help me god, if we ever cross paths, you will regret ever laying a hand on me.
I know this was a long and harrowing story. But I felt I needed to share my experience. I am so much stronger in many ways than I used to be. It’s oddly cathartic to have sent that message to him. He has not written back. I don’t even care if he does. He can’t hurt me anymore than he already has. There are too many precious things in my life now. I truly hate him.
Also, if you are EVER in a position where somebody is forcing them self on you, or making you uncomfortable, please tell somebody. I was very sick mentally, and became lost. Don’t lose yourself. Speak up about sexual assault.
Thanks for listening.