I read a thread in a forum which churned me back up again.
A thread about flashers.
Last spring a man tried to force me off the road I was walking along, he used his Vespa as a threat and in word, tone and deed made it quite clear he intended to have sex with me whatever my opinion on the subject.
Yes I am avoiding calling it what it is.
That's how I sleep.
At just twenty years old he was highly practiced in his technique. There was nothing "first time" or "thinking on his feet" about the sequence of events. That day was the fruit of experience gained over a good long while.
I got away unharmed. Untouched. Thanks to three factors.
1) I'm 42 nearly. Been round the block in several countries. Know how to recognize the smell of trouble and have the self confidence to put myself before the fear of causing a fuss.
2) I'm bolshie and aggressive.
3) A car past just when I needed a car to pass the most. It didn't stop to help mind, just swerved as I jumped in front of it flapping like mad, but it nearly hit him and scared him off.
He was found by the police and arrested because he was so confident he wouldn't be reported that he stayed where he first spotted me. That speaks to his experience of such matters. He looked utterly shocked that I had returned with the police, in a state of total disbelief. That part at least had never happened before.
I didn't expect much to come from what I went through, (which was NOTHING compared to what a sexual assault/rape victim has to bear), during his capture, arrest and the interview process. He'll be out of the country before the court case comes up and the charge does not reflect the gravity of his actions.
Because I got away. Which on some strange level adds a whiff of guilt in my head, like sheer luck and force of will meant I let him "get away with it" to do it again with more success to some other woman. I feel in an odd way responsible for making her the next victim by getting away, so there was nothng substantial to charge him with. I'm horrified that next time he might target a younger, less self-confident woman because the older, self assured ones are too risky. Which could make her outcome utterly incomparable to mine, and not in a good way.
My only comfort is when he goes on to hurt another woman, in a way that I only have to suffer in my sleep, plagued by "could have beens", she won't stand in a courtroom or a police station with her word being doubted, because my word is on record to support her statement.
I could have done with that. He probably started by getting his power/sex kicks in less aggressive or strident terms. Escalation is hardly unknown in men like this, they often start small with "peeping Tom" activities, flashing and inappropriate sexual comments to passersby. Yet we tend to let the "Mr. Inadequate" stuff go and there is no record of it when they progress which can be pointed to as a history. Plus their confidence at "getting away with it" can aid the upping of the ante.
I stood there alone in the police station, I will stand in court alone, have my word against his all by itself. No doubt with my high heeled boots used as evidence against me.
If you see or experience a minor sexual misdemeanor, please report it. People might accuse you of making a fuss about nothing, believe me I know what that feels like. Maybe it won't result in a conviction or adequate punishment. Maybe you will fume and feel awful with having achieved nothing, despite so much costly effort emotionally, given the somewhat off-hand attitude that is so prevalent when it comes to such behaviors
You won't have achieved nothing. You will have flexed the muscle of our collective power. The only one we have.
The power to leave a paper trail that follows a man so he can't diminish a woman twice by saying it was mutual, or invited or didn't even happen. The woman that came before and stood up to be counted by placing a black mark against his name will count for a lot in the police station for the woman who comes after her, particularly if he does escalate.
It will be a hand slipped in hers making her feel less alone and fearful of not only having been violated emotionally or physically, but about to feel the same again because she has nothing but her account of events to back up what many refer to as "her story".
Help give a woman the chance to feel like what she says is regarded as fact not "maybe fiction".
Help stop the salt in the wound that come with successful apprehension of an assailant.
Report it. Albeit "minor" or sucessfully resisted. Give him a paper trail that, one sheet at a time, turns into a ball and chain constantly dragging down his denials, shining a spotlight on his persistence and escalation.
I know it costs time, energy, emotion and dignity. But please...
Take one for the team.
So the victims of rape or sexual assult don't get left to carry all the weight of "doing the responsible thing" on our behalf, all by themselves.