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I Wasn’t Raped, But I Was Still Violated

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  • http://www.diannaeanderson.net/ Dianna

    Oh honey. I’m so sorry that happened. I know the freezing up feeling, the wondering “what should I do what CAN i do?” thoughts all too well. And I know how hard it is to even just tell the story, because of the inevitable justifications and defenses of a guy people don’t even know – “he was just make conversation, feminism makes you paranoid, blah blah blah.” But what matters here is that YOU felt unsafe, and there is no one in the world who can tell you that your gut instinct in that moment was wrong. Because no matter a dude’s intention (and this guy’s pointed ignorance of your discomfort tells me his intention wasn’t good), he has no right to make you feel uncomfortable and unsafe, especially when you’re trapped in the window seat on an airplane.

    Massive jedi hugs to you, Caris. I’m so sorry. :(

    • http://www.carisadel.com/ Caris Adel

      Thanks, Dianna. I think it was worse because I was so unprepared for it. Talking about it has definitely helped though.

  • http://www.leighkramer.com/ HopefulLeigh

    My heart was racing while reading this, Caris. I’m so sorry this happened. He had no right to do any of that, no matter what.

    • http://www.carisadel.com/ Caris Adel

      well good. At least it was written well, haha. I feel bad for his wife.

  • John

    No, no, no. Don’t put headphones on and just tune him out. Speak up. Loudly! As often and as loudly as necessary until the situation changes.
    Now I have no argument with the fact that you described him as a creeper. I wasn’t there, and I’m happy to take your word for it. And how you described his actions – particularly the rubbing while you were asleep – settles any doubts I may have.
    However…..I have known a few people who are simply “socially challenged.” I bet you have as well. People who somehow ignore or simply don’t see all social cues and all body language. And they try to make friends whether it’s wanted or not. It’s not really “sexually” oriented. It’s mostly just about getting attention.
    Basically, I’m thinking of Dakota, my autistic younger brother. who is 18. He acts this way very often, but it really isn’t sexual or predatory behaviour. He simply doesn’t “get it.”
    So what we have to do – those of us who are his caretakers – is we have to speak directly to him, make him look us in the eye, and tell him loudly and clearly what we want him to do or stop doing.
    Anyway – I would encourage you to speak up. Until you try it, you really can’t know what the response of the creep or the stewardess or whoever will be.

    • http://www.diannaeanderson.net/ Dianna

      I *strongly* suggest you read this post: http://captainawkward.com/2012/08/11/the-c-word/ There is zero reason for you to assume that this man is socially challenged, and zero place for you to place the burden for stopping the creepiness upon her. That’s not her job. His job is to NOT BE CREEPY.

  • http://www.inamirrordimly.com/ Ed_Cyzewski

    So sorry you had to deal with this creeping, but i appreciate your sharing this. It really helps to hear your thought process and the expectations placed on women by society. I sort of know what they are, but seeing them in action is something completely different.

    • http://www.carisadel.com/ Caris Adel

      Thanks Ed. Right after I hit publish I thought that was the dumbest thing to do. This revealed an uncomfortable bias I had, too. I knew stuff like this – and worse – happens to people, but I thought it would never happen to me. It was uncomfortable and scary to realize I really am just as vulnerable as anyone else.

  • Marvia Davidson

    Caris, I don’t even know what to say. I am so sorry this happened to you. Prayin for you! I’m both flabbergasted and disgusted. You are a precious treasure. Thank you for bravely sharing this story so that more of us will speak when our space and person are in danger. God bring justice to this situation and peace to your heart and mind!

    • http://www.carisadel.com/ Caris Adel

      Thank you Marvia!!

  • http://www.kelleynikondeha.com/ Kelley Nikondeha

    Caris, so sorry this happened. How miserable to be trapped and feel so out of control. I confess, I’ve used the earphones more than once as a shield from unwanted attention, also a scarf to cover up from uninvited looks. But I know this is about more than airplane logistics and strategies. It’s about that sense of invasion and what it provokes in us. And sometimes it is hard to ‘be polite’ and stand up for yourself. I’m just so sorry this was the end of your west coast weekend. Sending my love, friend.

    • http://www.carisadel.com/ Caris Adel

      A lot of my reaction goes back to things I was raised with and my reactions to them. I thought I’d made a lot of progress, but apparently I still have a ways to go in standing up for myself!!

  • Anna

    This is beautifully written! I felt like I was there. Thanks for sharing this brave story.

    • http://www.carisadel.com/ Caris Adel

      Thanks Anna.

  • http://KatieAxelson.com/ Katie Axelson

    Oh, Caris, I’m so sorry you had to go through this! I fly alone once every few months and I make a point to have my book out before my seat buddy sits down, just in case. Only once in awhile do I talk to my seat buddy and the closest I’ve come to anything like this was the woman in the aisle seat breastfeeding her baby (but she did ask… and I didn’t think to offer to switch seats). I’m so sorry… but thanks for ranting about it publicly We’ve all had moments like this where we feel violated and helpless, even in public.

    • http://www.carisadel.com/ Caris Adel

      Oh yes, if I ever have to do anything like that again, I will definitely be prepared.

  • http://somuchshoutingsomuchlaughter.com/ suzannah | the smitten word

    ugh, i am so sorry that you went through this, that you were trapped, feeling panicky, invaded, and unsafe. none of this is okay. so much love and peace to you.

    • http://www.carisadel.com/ Caris Adel

      Thanks Suzannah! I am glad that at least I know enough now to realize that it was ok for me to be so uncomfortable and feel invaded. Growing up, I just felt guilty for feeling that way, but now i know that it’s a healthy response to an unhealthy action.

  • elizabethesther

    Caris, this was just heartbreaking and I *so* feel for you. I replied on Twitter–in like a long-winded series of tweets! :) Blah. Sorry if those were disjointed. Here are my thoughts:

    1. The onus was definitely on the creeper to stop being creepy. What a sicko! Also: how clueless and lame!

    2. I would suggest, however, that there is a more empowering way to handle this than turning away or hunching against the window. Speak up. Speak loudly. On an airplane, you are NOT alone. :) If you say: “You are making me uncomfortable!” you will win the support of those around you.

    3. No one will ask you to defend yourself. You can just repeat it or say: “Please stop talking to me!” loudly.

    4. If he doesn’t stop, others will join in to help you and the dude will stop.

    5. Understand: I’m not saying it’s YOUR responsibility to control HIS behavior–clearly, he is responsible for being a boorish, predatory brute–but you CAN do something stronger and more proactive to take care of yourself. :)

    6. I have faced this SO much. It is SO icky! But I always feel BETTER when I handle it from a place of strength and FIGHTING BACK than just wishing it would go away. My go-to trick? An ICY stare followed by: EXCUSE ME???????? That usually stops it right there. :)

    Loved your honesty in sharing this experience. Thank you so much! We’re all in this together! Keep up the fight, ladies!

  • http://twitter.com/NatalieTrust Natalie Trust

    Thank you for sharing this experience. I feel awful that this happened to you.

  • http://twitter.com/greg_hahn Greg Hahn

    Ugh. That was really upsetting to read. Why are some guys like that? But at the risk of being “the guy trying to fix it”– I agree with Elizabeth Esther. When people can’t take a hint- it’s time to speak up. I know that feels so wrong, but the whole plane ride felt wrong…. to you but not to him. Next time he does that to a woman, I hope she makes it feel wrong for him.

  • Emily_Maynard

    Caris, I’m so sorry this happened. It was wrong and you’re not crazy. I’m thinking of you as you process this.

  • http://lovingfromtheinsideout.blogspot.com Connie

    Oh hun. :-( So sorry you experienced that. Thank you for bravely sharing this. Peace and blessings.

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  • http://twitter.com/WayofCats WayofCats

    What a terrible ordeal, I agree. But you must not be afraid to Unleash the Dragon, as I call it. I’ve dealt with such by looking right in their eyes, letting my own shoot fire, and getting all my pent up rage to come out in my voice as I tell them to BACK OFF.

    It’s the same technique Charles Grodin used on casting directors to get villain parts in Westerns when he was starting out in Hollywood :)

    But seriously, none of us should be afraid to stand up for our rights. That is how they get trampled. Practice on friends. Psych yourself up. Wish for the next jerk to just try it if they ignore polite requests… and then Unleash the Dragon!

    We all have one. We just need to use it for Good.

  • Cat

    I’ve never been to this blog before and I can’t even remember the chain I followed to get here, but I am so sorry that this happened. And angry. And I know the feeling well. Headphones didn’t help me; that time it turned into ALL body language, with him pressing tighter and tighter against me until I had to square my shoulders to keep from being squished against the wall of the streetcar.

    The only thing I found–eventually–that made any difference at all was creeping right back: smiling big, taking a deep draught from that well of rage from all those other times, and enthusiastically telling the offender what I do and all my thoughts about it in the most technical detail possible, being bubbly and overbearing and pedantic and scary all at once. It goes against how I’ve been socialized, how I think most women are socialized, and it hasn’t worked exactly the way I thought it would every single time, but I can do it more readily than I can ask for help, and it does feel nastily good to use their own weapons against them.

    On socially awkward people: I’ve dealt with them, too, and the vibe is different, different enough that I feel perfectly comfortable gently asking them to stop and giving them reasons. But I think creepers know exactly what they’re doing, they might even use someone’s body language as a kind of score card, and they get off on being able to exert that kind of power over another person.

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