In the wake of the recently aired history of Weinsteins’ predatory habits I was triggered. The testimonials of the survivors clicked with my experience, the trauma, the guilt, the silence and the recovery process.

I had promised myself I wouldn’t put me at risk again. The last letter I sent to one of my predators was an attempt to understand his background, to connect with him and tell him I saw the human behind the social pressures. Yet, he was unwilling to understand me and listen to me. He took personal offence and blamed me for trying to burden him with unfair accusations. He said I was just thinking of myself, but didn’t realise it was HIM instead who was not considering others. I even went to meet him to apologise and offer my support when I was about to jump from the bridge. The more I think about it, the more it disgusts me. From the first time that he grabbed my bum without my consent I should have known I couldn’t trust him. It seems so stupid, but these little things are indications we mustn’t ignore.

For the first six months that we were together I was unable to properly sleep. I was always half awake. Now I recognise that was the result of my history of sexual abuse and continued assault before I met him. But somehow, in spite of his kind words and overall clean behaviour, I still couldn’t trust him. As our relationship progressed I thought I knew him well. More than three years later, the morning after he assaulted me I was in disbelief. I couldn’t process that he had taken advantage of me. I blamed myself. I denied what had happened. Eventually I couldn’t go any further without admitting that he did me wrong. I tried to reach out to him and talk things out. He dismissed me repeatedly, downplaying it and belittling and denying.

I wanted to fix things with him. I wanted to be heard. I valued what we had, and would have still considered being friends, thinking how well we matched and the good times we had. But while he had the chance to find me, that just didn’t happen. I no longer think we could fix anything. So I do not want to be friends with someone who doesn’t acknowledge when he’s caused me pain and is unwilling to repair the damage or even offer an apology.

It sickens me how those who have assaulted/harassed/abused women pretend it is okay to be friendly. We don’t need any of that pretence and fake politeness.

There are a number of reasons why women don’t pursue legal action. Sometimes it is because we trust that the predator can understand what he did to hurt us, that it might be hurting others should they continue this way. Sometimes it is because we buy into the guilt and don’t see that only the predators themselves are the ones that can choose not to attack. Sometimes it’s because there seems to be no way out. Let’s talk about that for a moment. Yes, Weinstein’s lecherous behaviour was his own, but the success of his systematic abuse was precisely the existence of a system: a support network that either actively enabled him to pursue his business or looked the other way still enabling him to go on. This is not only true for people in obvious positions of power like him and other moguls in different areas. It also happens at all levels of society. Just to give you an example, this man I talked about earlier once told me that one of his close friends had sent unwanted dick-picks to a female friend of theirs, nothing happened. Another of his close friends broke up with his partner because he hit her, the pair of men remained friends. His housemate was also known for domestic abuse, yes, they’re still friends. I suppose here I should’ve taken the hint. If this man was ‘horrified/surprised/disgusted’ by his friends’ behaviour, but did nothing to support the women at the receiving end of the violence, what could I expect for me? Right? Wrong!

We need to start calling out these behaviours as a society. Equally, if not more important, there has to be a way to make these people accountable by showing support to the survivor. We have to stop seeing the talented and intelligent artist/musician/photographer/entrepreneur/etc. who will lose his position because of a petty incident. Let’s not fool ourselves: it was not the survivors’ choice. It was the predator himself who put his sorry arse in that difficult situation and needs to take responsibility. Yes, I know it’s not going to be easy, but it has to be done.

As I see it now, predators don’t care about others. Those in privileged positions won’t concede an inch of their status in favour of people around them. They’d step on top of anyone to get what they want. The reason I’m writing this is just to let you know that I’m not afraid of people like that any more. So they better watch themselves and treat us with respect. I, for one, won’t let my sisters down and I’ll make sure they’re not alone at the mercy of predators.

#Issue10 #DianaBarbara #Article

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