I’m telling you now
“As someone who has had their pussy grabbed…” These were the first words that came to mind when I wanted to write this. But even there, I see myself skittering away, formalizing, putting a distance between myself and the event.
I was assaulted. A man reached through a crowd and grabbed my pussy. Through my dress, through my underwear, he grabbed me and he grinned. This was almost 15 years ago and I can still see the moment frozen in my mind, the crush of the crowd making it impossible for anyone to see his hand or my horror, my friends holding my hands and laughing, pulling me through the New Year’s Eve crowd at the Champs-Élysées.
I like a lot of memories of that night. I like to recount how, in the hours approaching midnight, my friends and I kept straggling out of our hostel to buy a single bottle of the cheapest champagne from the man at the corner market, getting ready for our night on the town. How after our third such trip, again only buying a single bottle he laughed at us, kindly, and gave us a fourth free. I like the dress I was wearing and the haircut I had at the time. I like the people I was with and the goofy photos we took, drinking our bubbles in our dorm bunks and laughing. Those are picture I’ve shared on social media and stories I’ve shared countless times, of my New Year’s in Paris.
I don’t share that a man violated me. I don’t share the lighting shock, the stiffness that shot through me, as though someone had just reached inside me and touched the base of my spine. I don’t share the shame I carried with me for years because my reaction was nothing, nothing, I did nothing, I allowed my friends to keep pulling me through the throng, I let him get lost in the crowd, I let him grin and disappear into the night. It’s been nearly 15 years and I’m sure he’s never thought about it since. He got away with it. I said something to my friends. Not much. I’m telling you now.
If you read this and you’re sorry it happened to me, please don’t tell me about it. Hearing that you’re sorry this happened is useless to me. This is not a story of uniqueness, this is a story of ubiquity.
Trump’s latest comments on women were not the final straw for me. For me, he was never in the running. But he is in the running. And we can’t let him get away with it.