It Happened Again
It happened again. I should’ve been prepared. We always think we are because the last time it happened is never the last time. But months go by, possibly years, and you think you’re safe; you think maybe it won’t happen again. Then it does. It always does.
I wake up with Lady Gaga’s ‘Til It Happens to You’ song in my head. And I’m ashamed. Ashamed because what happened to me (this time) was nothing compared to the stories she is telling in that song; the story she is telling about herself. It wasn’t even on the same level. But I still feel dirty and weak and tearful.
And I hate myself for it. I l hate myself because I should’ve been prepared, I should’ve been on guard. I stupidly thought I was safe. Yet, we’re never safe. And it’s stupid to think that we ever will be. Such a sad, inevitable truth about our society, that we just live with.
I smelt like the fire pit, so I showered when I got home. But I know that wasn’t the only reason. I showered because I wanted to get him off me. My boyfriend wonders why I’m showering so late – I tell him a partial truth.
I want to tell him. I do. But he’s not well and has his own shit going on. So, I do what I do best and satisfy his needs – it’s best to stick to your talents. Besides, I can’t bear his accusation. He’ll think it’s my fault, just like last time. Did you encourage him? What did you say? Did he know you’ve got a boyfriend? What were you wearing? How drunk were you?
No, I didn’t. The guy was creeping me out. Staring at me when we’re alone in the kitchen and constantly hovering in my vicinity. I was polite when he asked why I was in Australia. He said he wanted to hear the story, just like everyone else had all day. So, I told him. I told him about my boyfriend. I told him that my boyfriend is the love of my life. Then I asked about his children. And his wife. They’d been at the party earlier in the day, you see. But they’d gone home. He’s Asian and I remember his kids as I wondered what our kids may look like one day. And he answered my questions. I thought bringing them up was enough. I was wrong.
It was quick and unexpected, like usual. He was stood to my right. We were in a half circle with two other people; one being my sister. And, for whatever reason, he reached up and put his arm around my waist. By the time I registered its alien presence, he slid his arm down over my ass and copped a feel with his cold, bony fingers.
I should’ve said something. I should’ve yelled or pushed him or stormed off. I was in shock – just like I was at that backpacker bar in Noosa at the beginning of the year. He went inside. My sister asked what was wrong, so I told her. And I told other people. He kept coming back and hanging round. I wasn’t sure what was happening. No one seemed bothered. They’re all old friends and I’m the stranger; I’m the one rocking the boat. My sister said something to him. She even made sure she was between us when he kept coming back to me, but it didn’t make any difference.
At one point I sat on a bench – the seat where I’d spent most of the day – and I was talking to one of the friends. He’s a sport journalist and has travelled all over Europe. He knows the area I’m from and loves football and we got on. I’d met his girlfriend earlier in the day. My sister was sat with us as my protection, but then disappeared. Suddenly, he was there again. Hovering. He reached his arm out and placed in on the table, so he was leaning towards my face. I moved sideways, continuing my conversation. He then sat next to me and once again put his arm around my waist. This time, I jumped up immediately and moved away.
I tell the sports journalist how sick I am of guys’ behaviour. I tell him numerous stories of sexual assaults I’ve experienced. He seems sympathetic but I don’t trust him. I don’t trust anyone. I thought these people were awesome and fun – they love metal and are friendly and make each other laugh. But I feel betrayed by them. Everyone is drunk and nobody cares.
I stand by the fire pit. I don’t wanna be here anymore. My stomach is in knots. Then my sister asks if it really happened. If my own bloody sister doesn’t believe me… Why would I make this up?! She’s incensed because he has a wife and kids. Everyone here has a partner. And so do I but my partner isn’t here. Maybe this makes me fair game, at least in this guy’s eyes. Oh, and he’s really drunk so probably doesn’t know what he’s doing. Maybe his wife doesn’t put out and he needs a release.
These are the excuses coming out of my mouth. And I hate myself for it. I’m not defending his behaviour, but I don’t know how else to react. I just downplay the situation because no one cares. It’s not a big deal anyway though, right? It’s only a quick feel of my ass. So why do I feel so shitty? I see the other guys go up to him, laughing, nudging his shoulder, at one point he has his head in their lap – he’s so very drunk.
I count the minutes until my sister’s Uber arrives so I can leave with her – it’s too late and dark to walk home alone. Her fiancé is drunk. So, very drunk. He scoffs when she tells him. Again, what’s the big deal?
This guy has a daughter. She was wearing a cute, pink hat with two pom poms that looked like ears. They named her after the doctor that delivered her. He wants to tell her, but she’s moved hospitals. His son loved opening and closing the screen door and cried when he hit his head.
He’s a family man. And he’s a dickhead. And I’m giving him too much power. I’ve given them all too much power.
But I’m not sure how to get it back. All I know is that I feel so shit right now that I’ve cried, and I will cry again. I literally feel like a piece of meat and no one cares what I say if I look good in a pair of skinny jeans; I should be flattered someone wants to have a grope.
For the moment I will continue to feel like shit. Then I’ll get over it. As usual.
Until the next time…