Trigger Warning: Sexual Assault discussed frankly
Today’s guest post comes from the awesome Beth – “a recovering scenster 30something stay at home wife and mom. I listen to the Descendents from the comfort of my suburban home while cooking barefoot and pregnant to Bikini Kills Rebel Girl. I may not have it all figured out but im constsntly searching for a balance.”
According to sexual assault statistics, “One in four college-age women report surviving rape or attempted rape since their fourteenth birthday.” This is a pretty well known fact and probably won’t come to any surprise as I’m sure you, a girlfriend/boyfriend, ex, sibling, parent, child, teacher, babysitter, or neighbor in your life has been a victim. What might surprise you is how sexual assault can really inconvenience other people. No, seriously. I mean, what a total bummer to have to know that a friend of yours was manhandled by someone else – it just makes you feel bad, ya know? Or what a total drag to be friends with that certain someone who has been accused of this, I mean… jeez. Give you a break right? It’s not like they did it to you. You weren’t even there and I could totally be lying.
Wait. What? Let me go back…
I totally bum people out because I happened to have been sexually assaulted by the singer of a band they like. Like REALLY like. I know, I know. I should have tried harder for a band just begging to be rejected and ridiculed so it wouldn’t ruin your iPod rotation but hey, then again, it really wasn’t my choice. But man, what a total inconvenience to poor you to know something bad about a band you love. Just ignore the facts, I mean it WAS a long time ago. It’s not like I can still remember I was wearing cargo camo shorts and a v-neck white Hanes t-shirt… an outfit TOTALLY putting off do-me vibes with my freshly shaved head and not shaved legs and…wait. Hmmm.
Did you know I also make people feel awkward because I will openly post about my assault on Instagram or Facebook wherever I see mention of this band by “friends?” I mean…that must be really uncomfortable for them…me invading their personal space like that. Like the kind of invasion if someone were to pin them against a wall by shoving their hands down their pants from both the front and the back while pressing their entire body weight against 16-year-old, 90 lb. them as they cry and try to fight them off. No, no wait, it’s probably not like that but still. What a buzzkill. I mean, I should just learn to keep my mouth shut. I didn’t press charges so like…what right do I have STILL bringing it up? I’m sure he’s changed and moved on in life. I hear he’s a GREAT guy.
You know, it’s funny because…well, no it’s not. It’s not funny. It’s sad. It’s sad because there was a time in my life when I felt completely comfortable to confront a complete stranger, in person, wearing THIS BAND’s shirt or patch. I would tap them on the shoulder, look them in the eye and say “Hi, my name is Beth and the singer of THAT SHITTY NY PUNK BAND WITH SHITTY LARGE HAIR AND BONDAGE PANTS sexually assaulted me when I was 16. You may have heard rumors of him doing that before but from here on out you can never say you didn’t meet a victim and have the chance to hear their story.” Sometimes they’d want the details, sometimes they even admitted they had heard it about him before. The one amazing thing all of these complete strangers had in common was that they BELIEVED ME. They felt compelled to talk, cry, relate, or brainstorm. Like this was a totally fucked up thing that happened and we were not gonna sit by and take it anymore. In the end, 100% of the people I talked to removed the shirt/ patch/ pin/ etc of the band. One boy even took his shirt off and heaved it into a fire. All really small gestures to you, but to me it felt really empowering to tell my story. To have someone, through actions, say, “Yeah man. I’m on YOUR side.” “You can only be a victim if you admit defeat,” were words I lived by. These random faces gave me strength by standing behind me and… Yes, yes, true, we were younger then. Young, naive, full of energy, and allowances, so much more passionate about rights and wrongs and doing good. Plus, we totally weren’t in the middle of a beer with our friends and you know, I wasn’t “killing the vibe.” Or the shirt wasn’t “vintage,” and patches weren’t reaaally hard to come by. I mean that could totally be from their first tour – that’s worth SOMETHING. Barf.
So, ya know… now it’s been roughly 16 years since I was assaulted and that past will never change. I’m now a wife, a mother, a homeowner, a business owner, and yes still… I’m all of those things PLUS the girl that J___CoolBandLastName assaulted. In the many, many years that have passed, my need to speak about that night has never changed. Where once I traveled to fests far and wide and stood proud in my Bikini Kill shirts and screamed “Here I am, this happened.” I am now just a stay-at-home mom who finds time to look at Instagram between diaper changes and feels the need to leave a comment, “Oh, hey, that guy in that picture took away all sexual desires for 10 years by assaulting me, underage, at a friend’s house. He’s the reason I didn’t have healthy sexual relationships til my mid-20s. Oh and you look great, btw! xoxo bff ttyl. Cute kids! #hashtag #hashtag.” I dont have the time or sitter money to go out and yell anymore, but I still feel my own self-satisfaction because I won’t sit down and I won’t shut up.
In this time where the internet has made opinions widely available to the masses, I still feel like that one comment could reach 1,000 stranger eyes all from the comfort of my couch. While that’s a pretty far stretch of activism from the former life of ACTUALLY meeting people, where things REALLY changed were not my story/approach but the reactions. As we get older and nostalgia sets in, we reminisce about those old bands that got us here. We want to sing along and get sitters for weeknight shows because, dammit, we’re still young! And maybe some of us are still touring and we wouldn’t want to burn any bridges with bands we might get to play with… or maybe we are bar buddies with certain bands at far away fests and ya know.. might need a favor from them one day. Or book them to headline local friends’ fests in RVA because… I mean…they DO still draw a crowd. Yeah, sure, I get it. You’re lazy too. I expect a big reaction from you by only putting out a tiny tidbit of absolutely torturous information about my vulnerability and underage sexual experiences. But no, no, no. You’re right. Maybe if I marched in a parade, you’d at least “like” my photo but asking you to confront a friend or possibly not put other women in danger by bringing him around or NOT BUYING HIM BEERS AS IF HIS PRESENCE IN THIS TOWN WARRANTS CELEBRATION. I…ugh. I’m tired too. Maybe we’re just too old to give a shit anymore. If only there were a way to repost meaningless online articles for masses to see by clicking one button that in turn puts an unheard story out for millions of new eyes to read from the comfort of a computer chair. Then and only then might I get a little support but… wait no, no. It’s still just he said-she said. And really… what if it got back to him? It might make a situation awkward. Awkward like having someone shove the back of your head at their crotch while trying to explain, “It’s just a little 1,2,3 you can do it,” while you put all your strength in your arms to steady your weight and almost bite through your tongue trying to ensure your mouth is locked… Oh no. No, wait….
Well, guess what everyone. Here I sit during nap time, comfortable in bed, laptop open, protesting in my own half-assed way as your friend. Or maybe I WAS your friend before I moved out of the city to start a family. Maybe I was only ever just your bartender, waitress, checkout girl, seamstress, childcare provider, ex-girlfriend, show promoter, charity worker, show goer, or even just the girl in the bar seat next to you. But here’s who else I am: I am the survivor of a sexual assault at the age of 16 by a man more than 10 years older than me. This man cornered me in a room and tried to force me to perform sexual acts on him, stating he would tell everyone in the van I did it anyway so I might as well. When I fled the room, he chased me down the hall, pinning me against a wall and shoving his hands down every orifice he could find while shoving his mouth over mine to prevent my muffled screams and tears from being heard. When I eventually broke free, I locked myself in an abandoned room until friends came to me. I slept in that room only to be disturbed once by a band member who simply knocked on the door and said, “You don’t have to open the door, just listen. You don’t even have to tell me what happened because I already know and I’m really sorry.” And I’m not sorry if YOU CAN’T HANDLE THAT.
When I came out that next morning, 16 years ago, the band was gone, my wallet was stolen, and I was left a shirt by the band as if it were some sort of consolation prize. The irony of the band’s name, and me being a CASUALTY in my own right, was not lost on me. All these years later and every time I write those words, speak them, re-live them, I choke back vomit. I remember how The Singer smelled, tasted, his jagged rotten teeth, his worn leather skin, how the band argued about not cutting their hair because it was their statement, and mostly how utterly fucking helpless I felt. How scared, dirty, ashamed, used, rejected, confused, alone, and ruined I felt. I feel all those emotions when my friends play shows and fests with this man. When they put their arms around him at bars, when they defend him. Hell, I feel all this just because he simply still breathes. Through my travels, I met other girls and heard their stories and know that no justice has ever been served. Not legally, not musically, not even a small road bump in his band or his shitty pathetic life. And now… now I’m at fault for telling my story again I’m sure because man…you already bought those show tickets and they WERE $30.00 and you don’t want that going to waste. Yeah, I get it. I told. I’m the bad guy.
Well, fuck you Jorge. Fuck you and your shitty band. I don’t want to be your victim or storyteller. I want to be the wife of my husband and mother of my son without ever wearing your memory. But I can’t. What I can do is raise a man who respects women and their boundaries, but even then your shitty legacy will live on behind the reasons and examples I lay out for my son. I’m not your victim, asshole. I’m your survivor. And this is my story and if it makes you, friend, uncomfortable, well then at least we share some common feelings for once. Ya know…”I’m so sorry if I’m alienating some of you, your whole fucking culture alienates me.”
MOD NOTE: Thanks for all the support!! We’re happy we could give Beth a space to share her story. We love how quickly this story has spread, and hope it’s making an impact.
That being said, this is a tiny blog run by a group of friends in our spare time. We’re not really equipped to handle all of this activity. I’m trying to monitor and approve comments as they come in, but I have to sleep and work, so some may take awhile. Please please please keep things civil, no threats of violence, that sort of thing, I want to let everyone (except for obvious trolls) say their piece.
And, as we hear from more people on other sites, please keep things cool elsewhere. It’s amazing to hear some of the actions people are taking – from simply sharing this to being inspired to admit their own assault. But, again, please don’t threaten violence or any sort of criminal act. We’re better than that, unlike the abusers and assaulters of this world, we can actually use our minds to make a difference.
Thank you again!!
-The Damn Pants Team