It was a coworker. I was 23. It started almost a year ago. We were both in relationships, there was flirting but what I felt to be harmless. It became a friendship, an odd bond with an odd guy, something was off but I assumed it was his rough child hood and I related to him on this. I’m friends with lots of guys with whom I joke with and tease constantly and vice Versa. It’s how I learned to interact with them. I thought this was the same, I felt safe because he was in a relationship too and we had so much in common. In therapy later on, I’d learn that he was a sociopath. He never cared for our friendship, and likely a lot of his stories were not true, they were used to gain my trust. My story is unlike all the others I read online. I wish I knew of someone that had a similar one because maybe I wouldn’t feel so stupid, and so alone.
It happened multiple times. Not once, but literally on repeat. It is hard to explain how someone can manipulate and isolate you from the world. Unless you have tangled with a sociopath please don’t judge my story and why it took me so long to become angry at him and know I was right in my feelings and what he was doing was wrong.
It started with him joking about wanting to be with me, wanting to kiss me. I felt uncomfortable and tried to play it off. He would smoothly recover the situation in some way, backtracking until he saw my guard come back down. Then, one day he assaulted me at work, out of the blue, with a coworker sitting in the other room, just paces away. I went silent, terrified this other co-worker would see us and think I wanted this. I tried to fight away, his hands digging at my body. After that it became an almost daily thing, he would use any opportunity to find me when no one was looking or I was alone and use force to touch me and I would try to avoid him and his touch. I became a numb robotic version of what I thought might be me. Finally one day he said he wanted to apologize. Why I ever believed him, I don’t know, and please do not judge me for that. The apology was yet another lie, he would assault me in every way possible other than sex that day in my car (some BS about needing a ride, not taking no for an answer, ended up with the two of us in my car).
I shut down. Weeks go by and I made myself scarce around him as much as I could. It stops for awhile. I think it’s over. He tells me one day a coworker “saw us kissing” (him forcing my lips onto his) that one day in my car. I automatically think “no one will ever believe I don’t want this, that this is not an affair”. I start to believe maybe I am having an affair. It’s my biggest fear.
Weeks carry on, we flutter past all of that like it never happened, slowly regaining a friendship like before. I don’t know why my mind would ever want to pretend it wasn’t real. But I did. And he knew just what to say and do to put my mind at ease or to blame myself for the issues.
Then, it’s spring. He attacks me again, this time all the way. I remember the feeling that I was stuck in a situation and couldn’t get out of it, he was having me one way or the other. I remember the fear as he pointed his camera phone at me videotaping or taking photos of me saying later “you have to because I’ll use this and no one will believe you were just sitting here talking to me”. The panic rises in me as I recognize he will not let me leave without what he wants and thinks he deserves. He goes for me. I fight, but give up quickly after he states “if you stop fighting I’ll be more gentle”.
Then a week later, he does it again. This time though, it happens so fast I didn’t have a chance to fight. He renders me unable to fight pinning me and choking me until I’m scared I can’t breathe. He lets go and leaves just as quickly as he started.
Then he tries again, a few days later, picking me up from behind when I am walking alone on break and running me into the woods away from work and safety. I fight and get away this time. The last time when he tries a few days later I fight with everything I have. He tries pinning me, I’m screaming at him, fighting with my all my strength. I tell him “I’ll punch you in the face” he looks me right in the eyes and says “do it” a big grin creeping across his face. I’ll never forget that. Never. He doesn’t get me this time either since I fight too hard and make it impossible for him, but he does other things, almost getting what he wants multiple times before I’m able to squirm away. No matter what I say or how loud I am, he only stops when I yell “aren’t you afraid of going to jail for this, you can go to jail for this”. Then he gets off me, tries to emotionally manipulate me to bring me down out of my chaotic angry and hysteric al mindset and leaves. He quits the next day never to be heard from again.
I’m an emotional wreck. I can’t even begin to explain it. I’m broken mentally, my mind is at war with itself. The immense guilt, shame, and depression are overwhelming, even though I’m in therapy to try and help it all. I feel like I’m drowning alive, and no one around me knows it. I wish someone would understand how I feel inside. I guess that’s why I am sharing this. I want myself to read this and see him for the monster he is, and the innocent person I know I am, the person who was caught in a cycle of constant anxiety and trauma and just didn’t know how to make it stop.
— Survivor, age 23