One year ago I was supposed to go out with a bunch of friends from work to a holiday themed pop-up bar. I was on antibiotics for a bad infection and I was feeling pretty lousy, so instead I asked my friend Stephen H to drive me home. I was a wreck, and before it was time to go things took a turn for the worse. I started sweating heavily and I threw up and I was so dizzy. I don’t know why I got so sick but it was so bad that I passed out and was unconscious on the office floor. Later he told me that I turned gray and was barely breathing. My Fitbit showed that my heart rate dropped down to 42 bpm. I don’t understand why I wasn’t taken to a hospital. Instead I was taken home. I don’t remember much, just flashes here and there. I remember sitting on my bed trying to take my shoes off and he asked me if I wanted to cuddle. It sounds so creepy now, I should have known something was wrong. I don’t know if I responded at all, I remember slumping over on my side. After that I have two more flashes of memory. In one he is kissing me. In the other he is getting up off the bed, I am naked, and by his posture I can tell that he is holding onto the condom – you know how you’ve got to hold onto it so it doesn’t fall off inside? Like that. I remember thinking “Oh. that happened” and then nothing else until I really woke up the next day.
The few days after that were very confusing. My therapist says that I was trying to normalize the event by turning it into a good thing. I’m embarrassed now to say that I tried really hard to make it a funny story about how we finally got together after knowing each other for almost ten years. I was in denial. A few days later he admitted to me that he had “done a bad thing” and it was “a mistake.” Those words really don’t carry the gravity of the situation or paint a clear picture of what he stole from me. I had no opportunity to advocate for myself. To say no. To even question what was happening. He was my friend, supposedly a nice guy who I completely trusted to take care of me when I was unwell. Instead he took advantage of my altered state.
I’ve been suffering PTSD ever since. Nightmares, flashbacks, panic attacks. I wanted to wait to do anything until I sorted out my feelings and could understand better what happened. I may have missed the opportunity to press charges or lodge an official complain. I don’t know. It’s especially complicated because he is the son of one of the owners of the companies we worked for, so he has white privilege on his side and I while I knew that was bad I didn’t feel how scary that really is until now.
So it’s been a year. I avoided him at work for a long time and eventually left my job. I’m still healing and everyday is different.
Tomorrow I’m supposed to go to a holiday party and apparently he is going to be there with a date. I don’t know if I will go. To see him with another potential victim will be hard. Do I warn her? Do I give him space to be a better person? I still Don’t know the right thing to do.
— Eleanor, age 37