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Kitchen Sink

Almost

March 4th, 2010

Since I’ve been thinking lately about boundaries, I thought I’d explore the serious side. As a woman who never learned to set personal boundaries, I’ve paid a price. Luckily, the cost hasn’t been too high – other than lack of self-respect – but I’ve been in some situations that could have turned out much worse.

 

In these cases, I either didn’t believe that I deserved to raise an alarm or I felt “bad” for saying “NO!” I often downplayed sexual harassment, for instance, because the term seemed so serious, so “surely that wasn’t what happened to me, he just got a little frisky,” and I didn’t want to make a problem by saying anything. After all, he just “kissed me on the cheek and grabbed my butt.” He’s just playing around. Never mind that he knows I’m married and we’re at a work function. Sad to say, I laughed that incident off and acted like it hadn’t happened. You know, because to do otherwise would make me one of “those girls” who make a big deal out of everything.

 

Even when I was stalked and my stalker BROKE MY DOOR DOWN IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT, I felt bad for bothering the police. Because at one time, I chose to date this person, so it must be MY FAULT that now he won’t leave me alone. A belief made more substantial after the male cop asked me what I had done to make my stalker so obsessed with me. After I discovered that police reports hadn’t even been filed (when I had been told otherwise) for each incident (including but not limited to crawling through my window and hiding under my bed), I thought for sure I didn’t “deserve” to be called a victim of a crime.

 

A few years after that melee, something just as frightening happened, something that could have turned out much worse.

 

About 10 years ago, The Rock and I were at a friend’s party several blocks away from where we lived. I drank too much and accused The Rock of flirting with a woman at the party. He’d become frustrated when I wouldn’t let it go and left the party, thinking I’d sleep it off at our friend’s house or at the very least, get a ride home. After he left, I decided I’d walk home and give him what-for some more. So I took off without telling anybody and began to stumble the half-mile to our house. After a few minutes, a white truck drove by, stopped, and then backed up to idle at the opposite curb from me. There were two men in the truck and the passenger rolled down his window and shouted a few things to me that I couldn’t hear. I ignored them and continued to walk. Although drunk, I knew this could get dangerous. I was alone without a cell phone on a dark street at midnight and I didn’t have all my faculties about me. Also, there were two of them.

 

Sure enough, one of the guys got out of the truck and crossed the street. I kept walking, mumbling to myself, hoping he’d think I was crazy. It didn’t work. He jogged over to me, put his hands up my mini skirt and began to pull my underwear to the side. His buddy stayed in the car, keeping an eye out I suppose. The fondling lasted about two or three minutes. I kept walking the whole time, looking straight ahead, saying, “I’m almost home, I’m almost home.”

 

I have no idea why, but he left. Got back in the truck and just left. THANK GOD. I ran the rest of the way home and told The Rock what had happened. I was very unsober, but he got the gist and insisted we call the police. No, I begged. No. I’m drunk. They won’t believe me. Nothing bad happened. I don’t want to bother the police. But God love him, The Rock picked up the phone anyway and within minutes, an officer arrived to hear my story.

 

Truthfully? I felt like an idiot. Question after question revealed that I had been drunk, walked home by myself, and wore a short skirt. I didn’t feel blamed per se, but rather somehow responsible. Still, the next day, a detective left me a message to investigate the incident further. Again, I felt silly. Like all this attention was being directed at me and I didn’t deserve it.

 

I know for a fact that if I hadn’t been with The Rock, I never would have called to report what happened to me. It seemed so minor, so unworthy of attention. Can you believe that? A stranger stuck his hand in my underwear and I thought I was the problem. I wonder now about women like me; women who don’t want to “make waves,” or discount themselves to such an extent that they truly believe somewhere inside, they’re not “important” enough to draw attention to the bad things that happen to them.

 

I write all this because I wonder about the unreported “incidents” that might have alerted authorities to suspicious behavior, that might have led police to investigate a person before he “strikes again.” What if those guys in the white truck went on to another girl after me? What if she hadn’t gotten off as “easy” as I did? If I hadn’t reported it, then someone else may have suffered. I’m grateful I did report it. But you know what? I had to have someone else tell me I was worth it.

 

I am on my way to stronger self-belief and confidence, to “I AM worth it.” It’s a long, long road. I’m not sure why it’s like that for me. But I tell you what, I’m making damn sure my girls don’t walk the same way I have.

 

On March 4th, 2010, 3kidsandabreakdown said:

I think a lot of women have these same feelings. Not only not being able to say “No” as often as they should, but blaming themselves for someone else’s behavior. Especially when it comes to things that are sexually related. A date going too far, a co-worker or boss being inappropriate, or a total stranger groping you. I know I have been there and truly believed that it was my fault. I must have given off some sort of signal that it was ok to talk to me like that or touch me like that. Why is that? Why are women made to feel this way? I really think it’s something innate within us. I know my parents raised me to be confident and in control and to say “NO!” And that anything anyone else did to me without my explicit permission was not okay and was not my fault. So why did I always feel like it was? I have 3 daughters and I hope I can figure this out in time to prevent them from having these same feelings.

On March 4th, 2010, Danielle said:

I can understand these feelings as well. I know how you feel.
But you ARE worth it. I’m glad you’re finally realizing it.

On March 4th, 2010, Cheri @ Blog This Mom! said:

Deb,

ILY.

On March 4th, 2010, amber said:

first off, i am so sorry this happened to you. how horrifying that would have been, it could have been so much worse, but thankfully not. thank you so much for sharing you trials. i love honest, real people. and you are one of them. keep fighting and thank you for standing up for the rest of us

On March 4th, 2010, Cheri @ Blog This Mom! said:

Also? Your particular brand of light makes the world a better place.

On March 4th, 2010, Katy said:

Deb, I can so relate to what you wrote. Unfortunately, this happens to many of us. I often wonder if it’s because we were raised to be “good girls” who don’t object to these kinds of things. Like you, I am raising my daughter to make waves, report innapropriate behavior, have a stronger sense of self worth, and to know that she has her parents’ backing. Thanks for telling your story.

On March 4th, 2010, blognut said:

Deb, I don’t even know where to start. Regardless of the cause, good or bad, I think the whole self-worth concept starts early and runs deep. So when you lack it on any level, it’s a long, hard climb to recovery. I don’t know much – in fact, hardly anything – but I do know you are worth the bother when it comes to reporting a crime against you.

On March 4th, 2010, MissM said:

I concur. Also? You are very lucky to have a husband that knows how worth it you are to push you to report it. Which you already know :) I’m sure many would have brushed it off as you did, but yours stood up for you!

On March 4th, 2010, kate said:

ILY.

You are brave. And smart. And shiny. And I love the Rock too. For the way he loves you.

On March 4th, 2010, Trish said:

Jeez. I hate hearing this story about you but I can totally relate to it. I have been harassed at work, threatened by boyfriends and husbands, mistreated and taken advantage of over and over, sexually and otherwise in my life and NOT had the strength or self confidence to put a stop to it. I have always been an “under-reporter” rather than being “an emotional hysteric” as men have accused me of being when I dare to complain. I am just now starting to speak up. I am on the same road. I will see you at the corner!
Also? ILY!!

On March 4th, 2010, Trish said:

…and the rock. ILY and the Rock!

On March 4th, 2010, Cascia @ Healthy Moms said:

Wow, this was really eye opening. I am sorry to hear that you got yourself into this situation. Thank God it didn’t go any further.

After what had happened to that poor girl down where you live I have been reading and hearing on the news a lot about the dangers of young women being alone at night. I think that there probably have been several unreported incidents just like you suggested.

Women also need to learn that this world really isn’t as safe as we would otherwise believe. If you are female you are risking your life and or dignity if you decide to go walking alone at night. It is scary and we need to teach our daughters about safety so this does not happen to them.

On March 4th, 2010, It’s Not You, It’s Me said:

[...] reading San Diego Momma’s blog this morning and her post really resonated with me and got me thinking. (Thank you, Deb for inspiring my post [...]

On March 4th, 2010, Stefanie said:

It is nice to hear that I am not alone. I have been working on this issue for years. I am much stronger now. It took a whole lot of therapy and persistence, but I have finally figured out that I am worth it and I can say NO any damn time I want and people better listen.

On March 4th, 2010, Mama Mary said:

It is so frightening how many women do think it’s “their fault”. I have been in similar situation a few times too, and totally blamed myself. One time I didn’t, and I did call the cops on the ex that was stalking me. I love you and your honesty Deb. I am so thankful that you were smart enough to act looney and to were able to make it home. I definitely think about this subject and how I want to broach it with my girls.
Two words: parallel lives.

On March 4th, 2010, Jenn @ Juggling Life said:

My husband had a long talk with our youngest daughter about trusting your instincts.

Did Chelsea see her attacker, get an odd vibe, and not want to offend him by running off? We’ll never know. But it’s happened to plenty of other women.

On March 4th, 2010, L.A. Stylist Mom said:

There is a reason that my husband chose you as his friend all those years ago. I firmly believe that it is because good people attract other good people, and he is one of the best people I know. I have a hunch that you are too. Thank you for making yourself vulnerable enough to share this with others, who although they might not know it yet, for whom you are their rock.

xxoo

On March 4th, 2010, becky (@lolagoetz) said:

Yeah, I had some guys follow me, too, one night. It was Halloween & I am just so glad that I was able to run back & find a group of people to walk with.

That phrase, “got yourself into that situation” raises my hackles though, because that makes it sound like it was your fault. No, you probably shouldn’t have taken off alone, but walking home did not put you in that situation. Those men did.

Of course, it also makes me angry (HULK SMASH!) that the police didn’t take you seriously and file the proper reports. This happens way too frequently!

Been having lots of discussions about this recently. Thank you for telling your story. Looks like it’s time to tell mine, too. Biggest hugs to you lady.

On March 4th, 2010, Melanie @ Mel, A Dramatic Mommy said:

Thank the heavens for whatever made the sickko leave you make it home to The Rock. Thanks for sharing.

On March 4th, 2010, Laura Lee said:

Holy god. Your honesty is humbling and admirable. You are so WORTHY; I understand what it feels like to not think so – to not own this truth. I read you and I continue to see we have much in common. Thank you so much for your honesty and for sharing this experience — for shedding a little light on the great adversary of many women (including myself) = Self Esteem/Self Worth/Self Love.

On March 5th, 2010, green girl in Wisconsin said:

How did we grow up internalizing that idea that we aren’t worth it? My college years were full of bad experiences…all due to my weak sense of boundaries.
Power to you for raising your daughters to “get it” and protect themselves better.

On March 5th, 2010, Vixen said:

Well said Momma. I am also letting the 18yo get a tazer. Just in case.

On March 6th, 2010, Me said:

Deb… Deb… Deb… beautiful Deb… Please learn to value yourself more and take care of you. We all love you.

On March 9th, 2010, Cactus Petunia said:

Repeat after me: “I AM worth it!”
And I agree with Vixen. A tazer wouldn’t hurt, either…

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