It didn’t seem like a special day. I had just been relaxing in my apartment before getting ready to go to a dance party in Brooklyn. I took the same walk I take every day of my life to the subway, only this time the 1 train was uncharacteristically delayed. Nothing good comes from a transit delay. Nothing.
My best friend called me. There were two big pieces of news. One was that her parents finally got Showtime, allowing her to catch up on “Masters of Sex.”
The second was that she had just gotten hit on while riding the subway to Queens. It was the result of another transit delay -- a far more eventful delay than the one I was experiencing. She’s in a relationship, so nothing was going to happen. We agreed that the self-esteem boost is always nice though.
She started giving me all of the guy’s stats -- it seems there’s a lot of ground you can cover when a train is stuck. He was short but reasonably cute. Lawyer. Works on Wall Street. Originally from the Boston area. Name was Francisco. As my brain processed all this information, the hair on my arms started to stand straight up.
“Did he get off at the Broadway stop?” I asked urgently.
But as soon as I asked the all-important question, the call dropped. Of course. I started cursing under my breath and frantically texted her the same question as soon as I got service back. Her answer was blessedly quick, but it wasn’t the one I wanted to see.
She confirmed what the hair on my arms already knew: My best friend just got hit on by my attacker. There was no doubt in my mind.
I felt frozen with fear, as if he had been standing before me and not my best friend. I contemplated going home instead of hanging out with my friends, but ultimately decided being alone would make it worse. I endured the long subway ride to Brooklyn, trying to hold back tears. I guess that’s the good thing about New York: crying on public transit will never be the weirdest thing happening.
The situation took me back to my own experience with the scumbag. I was dancing at a bar for my friend’s birthday party. This guy approached me and chatted me up, same way he did with my friend, and eventually asked for my number.
A week later we went on a date. He was mostly a perfect gentleman at the bar. He talked himself up as a “nice guy” and said he was intimidated by the New York dating scene. He invited me back to his place for a drink, and given the evidence I had at the time, it seemed like a good idea.
But behind closed doors, he became a different person. He started asking me if I was a “party girl,” telling me that was the impression he had when he approached me at the bar. He got aggressive, and all the no’s in the world didn’t stop him from forcing me to give him a blow job and have sex.
When the whole ordeal was done and I left his apartment, I started crying. I knew I had said no -- I knew I had not wanted to have sex with him -- but I couldn’t figure out how it still ended up happening. This was a self-proclaimed “nice guy,” so assault didn’t seem like an option. That wouldn’t happen to me. I must have been the one to make the poor life choice.
I called a couple of my friends to talk it out, but it was late and everyone was asleep. Thus began the self-shaming binge I went on for the next day or so. One friend finally really spelled it out for me, and I realized I had been raped. By the time I accepted that I had been assaulted, I had erased all evidence of the crime from my body.
And Francisco was a lawyer -- afraid to go up against that, I decided not to report the incident. It’s one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made, and there have been thousands of times that I’ve regretted it.
I did do something else, though. At the urging of a counselor I met at Planned Parenthood, I wrote my attacker a letter. In no uncertain terms, I called him out on assaulting me. I told him exactly how much what he did screwed me up, and I told him the reason I was writing the letter was so he didn’t assault anyone else. My three friends went with me when I dropped the letter off at his apartment -- the only way I could think to get it to him since I didn’t have the address. Going back was one of the toughest things I had ever done, but it was worth it for partial peace of mind.
I’m a smart girl and usually a good judge of character, but I was completely tricked by him. And after two years of convincing myself that it is possible to trust someone again, I now have proof that this guy is still out there, passing himself off as a good guy. I briefly considered reporting him now, but that didn’t seem like an option since there’s really no evidence at all. I was devastated. All I could think of was how many other girls there may have been. That and the pain of my own experience.
My friends have reminded me that I’ve come a long way since that happened. I’m in a healthy relationship after getting back into the dating game. I’ve gone through counseling. And it’s true. I’ve gotten myself past the incident.
But this situation reminded me that I might be past the incident, but the scar of the assault will always be there. It will always hurt just a little -- some days more than others. Two years ago, I wouldn’t have wanted someone to tell me that a part of me would always feel this way, but it’s the truth. All I can do is live my life and pay as little attention to the pain as possible.
And hope that that Francisco’s life never intersects with mine again -- or anyone else’s.