There is a huge portion of shame associated with being assaulted which is often compounded by a sense of guilt for letting it happen and for putting ourselves in a position to be vulnerable. And then, sometimes women make foolish choices about trust issues.
You may not guess it to look at me now but I was once a number. In fact, that was a bit of a problem everywhere I ever worked. For example, that boss at a Fortune 500 company that invited me to join him for dinner. He was on temporary assignment from South Africa and didn't know anybody in town. He explained, "You have to eat something. So do I. Why don't we have a meal together?" He'd been kind enough to let me use the Watts line - a free long distance service before cell phones - to phone my boyfriend in another state. We talked on the phone for an hour nearly every night after the other office workers went home.
That night, as we headed out to our first meal together, my boss said he needed to drop by his motel to pick up his jacket. It was a frightfully cold night and he said, "Come on up. Don't sit out here in the car, freezing your you know what off." So I did. That's when he pounced against my protests of "NO!" and threw me on the bed. I told him clearly it would NOT be consensual if he continued.The next day at work he let me know that I would advance no further in my role at the workplace unless I went out with him again. I quit my job. Try explaining your "reasons for leaving the last job" at your next job interview. Not happening.
Another time, I was on a date with a pilot whom I'd met through a mutual friend while I was working as a flight attendant. We went out on a pleasant adventure to the brand new Playboy Club in town where he paid me a lot of attention and showed me off to his friends. We had fun and said goodnight as he dropped me at my apartment door. The next time he called, he invited me over to his apartment for steaks and a home cooked meal. After we spent our post dinner time at the community pool and hot tub we returned to his apartment to change into dry clothes. That's when he decided to throw me down on the carpet and jump on top of me. My protests were ignored. Besides, who was I going to tell? I had willingly set myself up for this, or so I thought.
Perhaps the most significant breach of protocol happened when I was still in high school and my teacher decided to give me some after school tutoring and unsolicited attention. I was only sixteen at the time, vulnerable to the angst of teenage depression. We skipped school one day, met at a local university parking lot and drove ninety minutes to another town.There, he took me to the woods and taught me to shoot a rifle after which we went to a local eatery where he ordered me a whiskey sour, my first taste of liquor. On a blanket at the beach afterward, I thwarted his advances and luckily, he respected my wishes. The next week I dropped his class and signed up for Advanced Home Economics instead. Still, he stalked me in the halls and I wasn't the only one.
I could go on and on. After all, I lived and worked through the seventies, where innuendos, groping and butt slapping in the workplace were common events. No play, no pay. What astounds me now is the vast number of other women (and men) coming forward to admit the same things have happened to them. Why didn't I tell someone? Who would have believed me?