Everyone’s assaults stories are different, and even the ones that have a lot of similarities sometimes provoke different reactions.
So, not everyone’s assault story involves a charming, well-liked man. And of those who do, I think some women deal with it much more successfully than me – that they’re just able to reconcile that maybe perception is wrong about the guy. They’re able to just live in the truth of the situation, like, “Hey. This happened. He’s not all he’s cracked up to be.”
But I had a lot harder of a time reconciling it.
I do understand that people are very complex. Almost no one is just a live version of a cartoon villain. (I mean, they’re out there! Sheriff Joe Arpaio is giving cartoon villains a run for their money.)
But for the most part, everybody is human with wonderful, beautiful, amazing things about them and also with flaws and blindspots. Maybe they make too many mistakes, some even potentially hurtful. Maybe they’re lacking in certain departments of compassion or ethics or any of the many things we all try to work on to make us full and whole complete beautiful pictures…
But I feel like, for the most part, we kind of generally know who people are/what they’re capable of. And that may be an overstatement, because people are so complex. And they certainly can be surprising. But one of my problems with sexual assault guy is that I have a hard time nailing down who he is generally, like, at his core.
(Again, maybe that’s a futile exercise… Who is Lance Armstrong at his core? Someone who cares about athletics and inspiring people – a “good guy” who got in way too deep in an illegal disgusting situation; or a “bad guy” who purely cared about celebrity and winning at all costs, and cost many other athletes wins and endorsement deals and better lives?
Who is Anthony Weiner? A good politician who does so much work for his constituents, who’s really really smart on law and policy and will fight to the death for better conditions for citizens’ lives, who “just sexts, not even actually meets people, and maybe we can be forgiving”? Or is he some “creep” with a true sex problem, who does not respect women, his family, or himself as he squandered opportunities for second chances (when we were willing to stand up for him and give him another shot), and potentially used government money on an investigation into his twitter account for “hacking” that he knew wasn’t real, and who got so very careless that he stopped paying attention to the ages of girls and the law, and ended up becoming a registered sex offender, and in a weird string of events maybe kinda ruined Hillary Clinton’s chances at becoming President while becoming said sex offender?
Who is OJ Simpson? Who is Louis CK? Who is Joss Whedon? (I’m reasonably sure about my personal answers to these, but I see the arguments for these people – especially for the people we “knew” before. It makes it harder… Which I suppose is maybe where I’m going with this… It makes it harder to be able to see something in someone you “thought you knew.”)
I was talking with someone I really trust and value today about how one of the hardest things for me about sexual assault guy is that I feel like, as far as the people in my life, it kinda seems like they generally fall in the range of what I expect from them. And even if they do do something “bad,” it doesn’t usually change my entire opinion on them.
And I feel like often if someone does do something so heinous or so different that it does change our entire opinion of them (they have a secret family or something), then people react to that. It comes out. We all deal with the information, and you can choose to push them out of your life, if you feel whatever they’ve done is worth that.
But it’s the very secretive “bad guy” that’s tripping me up. This idea that sexual assault guy has not only sexual assaulted me, but someone else. (He’s the one who told me that, by the way. He frames it as her being crazy. But when he tells the story of her yelling and pushing him off, because he wasn’t listening, it doesn’t sound like she was being “dramatic” or “crazy” at all. It sounds like she was being assaulted and trying to make it stop.) So, even in the rose-colored-glasses of his telling of trying to make himself the at best hero, at least victim, and certainly not villain either way… it is clear in his own story(!) that he assaulted another woman.
He also talked about how an ex-longterm partner because exceptionally depressed after moving in with him. That it got to the point that she could barely get out of bed on many days. Again, he tries to tell it like he’s the hero – trying to be a patient person to someone suffering from depression. But again, if we really think about it logically, if (by his own account) she went from a happy-go-lucky fun person that people liked, who could barely get out of bed once she lived with him… Is it possible that all of his abusive tactics were making her feel crazy, and putting her in that state?
I know the abuse I suffered at the hands of him. (I was there.) And without even ever speaking to these other women, even getting his side of the story, we can be preeeeeetty darn sure about his past as an abuser.
And yet… That is not at all how people generally know him.
(And this is where I’ll pick up tomorrow.)