Life Lessons

Why Dr. Ford’s Testimony Affected Me

Girl with help signMy mom stated it perfectly last night in a conversation she and I were having while I was out walking the dogs in the dark, “Listening to Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony is making all of us who’ve been sexually assaulted relive it all over again.”

Yes, Dr. Ford’s testimony is making those of us who’ve been traumatized by rape, molestation, sexual assault, sexual harassment and any other unwanted attention relive it with each word that she utters.

But I don’t blame her for ripping off the Band-aid.  I’m grateful to Dr. Ford and believe she is a very brave woman for coming forward.  I also believe her.

I previously detailed a time when a boss of mine was fired for his unwanted attention but I never told you about all the other times I’ve had various forms of trauma at the hands of men, including the time when I was nearly molested by a pedophile wanna be.

I’m bringing all this unpleasantness up now because of Dr. Ford.  I’ve never mentioned many of the events because there were no witnesses, or the witnesses were not people I could have called into court because I didn’t know them, never met them, and I’d probably never see them again.

The first time I was assaulted was on a SEPTA bus on the Main Line of Philadelphia.  I was sitting up near the front of the bus with the driver in one of the single seats that faces the door.  A man sat down next to me despite having his choice of seats on the fairly empty bus, and started stroking my leg.  All I remember was that I was in my uniform for work so I must have been heading to my job.  I sat there like a stone waiting for it to stop.

Even though there were people on that bus witnessing what was going on between a teenager and a grown man, nobody stepped up to help me.

The second time was very traumatic, and in fact was one of the worst because it was my friend’s father who apparently was very much into young girls.  I think I was just about 15.  Like Dr. Ford, I cannot remember the exact date of the incident.  I can’t remember what I was wearing, what he was wearing, nor much about anything outside of that day.  I can only remember various facts surrounding what happened prior to the incident.

Background

I had run away from home.  My mom was a single mom and I had incredible responsibilities that included babysitting my younger sister a lot.  I think I was sick of having so much on my shoulders.  I just wanted to be young, have fun, and enjoy myself for once.  I didn’t want to have to make dinner and make sure my sister got to bed on time.

I decided to run away to my friend, D’s house.  D was sympathetic to my plight and she had a spare bed in her bedroom.  For some reason, her parents, who already had three kids of their own, were willing to take in another.  Maybe it was because I was a good, quiet kid who wouldn’t cause any trouble.  I was willing to do chores around the house as a new member of their family.  In exchange, I got food, shelter, clean clothes, a pool, and a ride to school.  I was no longer responsible for my younger sister.

When I look back, I am not proud of this time in my life.  If I were to have this time to do things differently, I would have done the mature thing and talked to my mom about needing a break from care giving.  I would have laid out some kind of agreement where I got to go out one night on the weekend and she could go out on the other.  I never communicated my wishes, or at least I don’t think I did.  All I remember is that I wanted to have fun and sitting home on a Saturday night watching The Muppets on HBO with my younger sister wasn’t my idea of having a fun teen life.  Meanwhile, it appeared to me that all my other friends were having the times of their lives.

I also had incredible pressure from my dad to do well in high school.  It was so ridiculous.  Nobody told me to get good grades in order to get into college, it apparently was simply about making sure I was a good reflection on him, and had nothing to do with my future.

Anyway, I lived with D and her family for a while.  I don’t remember how long.  I remember certain events like hearing the Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy on the TV after I had been in the pool, and I remember D’s mom, M, watching Dallas in the evenings.  But that’s about it.

D’s family home had three stories and D’s room was on the top floor with her sister.  They had separate rooms, so the top floor of the house consisted of two bedrooms and a bath.  Like Dr. Ford, I remember fairly well the layout of the home where an attempted sexual assault was made on me.

Each day when we left for school, and each night we went up to bed, D and I had to pass by the master bedroom which was on the second floor.  Mr. B was always in his bedroom on his bed after work watching TV.  I never knew what he was watching but I guess I assumed it was sports.

He was always pleasant as we passed and called out hellos and tried to engage in conversation like all good dads, but we blew him off because we were teenagers looking for the escape only the upper floor could provide.

The Grooming Begins

Mr. B called to me one evening as I passed by his room alone and asked me to come over to him.  He handed me a piece of paper with sports teams names on it.  Apparently it was his gambling sheet.  He told me to pick the winners of future games and he was going to place bets based on my recommendations.

I looked at the paper and tried to summon my psychic powers I thought I had.  In the end, I believe I picked teams that had strong sounding names or their jerseys were my favorite colors.  I’m fairly certain I only had limited knowledge of which teams were the best at the time.

Little did I know that I was being groomed as pedophiles are known to do.  You can learn about grooming here.

After I picked a couple teams, the games were played, and then there were winners and losers.  I never paid any attention and I couldn’t remember who I told Mr. B to pick as the winner.  I don’t think it mattered–he probably would have lied anyway.

Mr. B called me into his bedroom another time, and I went.  Why?  Because in my mind, men his age were safe.  They didn’t want girls like me.  Men his age were dads.  I didn’t know how wrong I was.  I didn’t even know what a pedophile was, let alone understanding that I was one’s prey.

I didn’t know I was being groomed in order to potentially have sex with my friend’s father.  The idea never even occurred to me until a few years ago.  I pushed the disgusting and traumatic memory to the very dark recesses of my memory, and thought it was left there covered in cobwebs, never to see the light of day again.

Mr. B told me that I had picked so many winners for him that he had won a lot of money.  He asked me to guess the amount.  It was a new game we would play a couple times in the future.  I thought of the most money I could imagine winning from gambling.  I’m sure he thought my low number was cute.  I was poor so $1,000 was a lot.

Mr. B said that I deserved a tip for helping making him a winner.  I remember him pulling out a giant round roll of cash, peeling off a couple bills, and handing me money but I don’t remember if it was $20 or $50.  Either way, he gave me a gift.

B Comes from Behind

One day, I was in the kitchen making scrambled eggs.  I had stayed home from school because I claimed I was sick.  I wasn’t sick at all–I’m sure I just didn’t want to deal with school on that day.  School was becoming one giant clique that I wasn’t a part of.

I remember the pan I used for the eggs and I remember standing at the stove.  The next thing I knew, Mr. B was behind me, pressing himself into my backside and rubbing himself into me.  His hands were going up and down my body.

And that’s all I remember of the incident.  My brain has not let everything out into the daylight, only the bare minimum.

The Threat

I know I got away but I don’t know how.  I don’t know where I went or how I acted after that.  I kept it quiet for a few days until D and I were talking about her dad.  She was complaining about him and I decided that then was a good time to throw in my experience.  I thought I was supporting her in her view that he was a shitty person.  I asked her not to tell her mother.

Well, she didn’t keep her promise–what normal kid would?  She told her mother what I had said about Mr. B and what he had done.

I remember that I was kicked out of the house within hours of the revelation.  Everyone thought I was lying.  I couldn’t believe what was happening.  I went back home but not before Mr. B threatened me with what ‘Tiny’ could do to me.

Tiny, as you can imagine, was nothing like what his name suggested.  He should have been nicknamed Huge instead.  At some point during my stay at Mr. & Mrs. B’s house, I was led to believe that Mr. B was in the Mob, despite the fact that he wasn’t Italian (I thought one must be Italian to be in the Mob, but didn’t know how all that worked).  But this was what I thought to be true.  I took his threat on its face value–harm would come to me and/or my family if I ever told anyone about the incident.

I believe he even threatened my mother.  And for that, I am ashamed again.

I shoved the memory out of my mind and only told my husband about the incident a few years ago.  I never thought about what happened to me all the way through–because even though I had been a child at the time, I felt like an adult because I was constantly placed in the role of an adult.  It never occurred to me that I was a child who was the object of desire for a man 20 years older than me, and everything he had done to me was wrong.

Why Didn’t I Report the Assault?

Why didn’t I report it?  Obviously I was worried about the Mob knocking on my door and killing me.

Why didn’t I report it?  My family had no money for lawyers.

Why didn’t I report it?  I was embarrassed that I had run away and caused my mom so much anguish.

Why didn’t I report it?  I wouldn’t have been believed.  Mr. B, a man with a successful business, would have been viewed as more credible.  Who was I?  A silly, manipulative run-away.  He said he didn’t do it, his wife said he didn’t, and his kids also said he hadn’t done anything wrong except provide me with a roof, clothes, and food.  I should be grateful instead of making up stories about their father.

Why didn’t I report it?  Because my own father taught me throughout my childhood to keep my mouth shut.  As a girl, I was to do as I was told.  I was to be seen but not heard.

Dr. Ford’s Testimony is Bringing Other Women Forward

Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony about Brett Kavanaugh is ripping the scab off of so many women’s memories.  I’ve heard from numerous friends and family members about their own tales of sexual assault and harassment.

The #MeToo movement is important, if only to continuing a conversation about how to learn to believe women no matter how much time has passed.  Most assaults have no witnesses for obvious reasons.  Why would a man assault a woman in front of witnesses?? Most women don’t report their assailants for various reasons.

How do we, as a nation, begin to hear women?  I don’t know the answer but I do know that it may even be harder now in this current political climate where Dr. Ford is getting death threats and being labeled a whore. The conspiracy theories as to why she waited until now to come forward abound.

People who were scared to come forward before witnessing what Dr. Ford has gone through might be even less likely to come forward now.  And to me, that is a damn shame.

 

 

3 thoughts on “Why Dr. Ford’s Testimony Affected Me

    1. I’d feel braver if I did what Dr Ford did, and tell someone now instead of allowing him to hide behind his initial!

      But thank you for saying so. ☺️

      1. You’re brave for putting it on this platform too. I hope you’ll get to the place where you can tell someone about him though, and that something can be done about his sorry ass.

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