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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Was That Sexual Harrassment?

I am not ashamed to say that I am a loyal subscriber to Cosmo! I love that magazine! It truly is the woman's bible! This latest issue had an article titled "The Sex Crime No One Talks About". I tried to find a link online with the whole article but I haven't found one yet so next time you're at the store, grab a copy and flip to page 180. It talks about being touched in public.

Ladies, I know that this has probably happened to us all at least once...when you're walking down the street, out with friends at a club or bar, on a bus, train or something...that moment when you feel a hand on your backside or someone gets a little too close and rubs up against you (either front to front or your side or your back). When the latter happens we tend to just brush it off like the person was just trying to get by and it's really crowded but is that really why it just happened.

While reading this article I had a small flash back to when I was 19 or 20 and still in my first year of living in New Orleans. I was out at a club (the name of which I still remember but I am not going to post it) with some of the guys that I worked with. I was no stranger to my single guy friends getting drunk and grabbing my butt. I actually prefer it to happen by someone I know and trust than by a stranger that I have never seen before and will probably never see again.

Regardless, I remember feeling someone grab my ass and I turned around and there was this guy standing there with a beer in hand, swaying a little, obviously drunk, and I told him that I did not like him touching me and would appreciate it if he kept his hands to himself. To a drunk person that is apparently an INVITATION to do it again, right? He followed me as I walked away and he did it again. I turned around, looked him right in the face and told him that if he touched me one more time, not only would I scream but I would knock his beer to the ground and kick him in the nuts. Not more than a second after I turned around and went to walk away he grabbed me again.

At that moment, flames shot up in front of my eyes. I hadn't even realized that one of my male friends was right there and had heard my last warning to this dirt bag. I was turning around with my arm pulled back and just as I faced the guy and started to bring my fist towards his face, I was picked up and pulled away. I was kicking and yelling at him to let me go and kick some ass and he just carried me away.

It was the one time I ever almost punched someone in the face. It is not, however, the first time I had someone touch me. I scoured my oldest posts...searching to see if I've already talked about this but I didn't see anything so if I've mentioned this before...oh well...I'm doing it again.

I was 18 years old. I was fresh into the Coast Guard. I think it was after Thanksgiving but not quite Christmas yet. I had only been in San Francisco at my unit for about a month. I had only been in the Coast Guard for about three months. When you first enter into the Coast Guard (I'm not sure if it extends to all the other military branches) you are kind of in a probationary period. Pretty much if you step out of line and screw up within the first 180 days you are gone! The biggest one is usually getting caught drinking underage.

When I went to boot camp, I did not cuss, drink or smoke. After eight weeks in boot camp, I was cussing like a sailor and dropping the "f" bomb...which is something I never said...the occassional swear word would get muttered but the "f" bomb...NEVER! I did not even last a month on my boat before I was smoking and then the infamous night happened!

I had tried drinking when I was in Mexico for my Senior Trip but I weighed about 105 lbs soaking wet and had never really drank before. When my friends poured me a shot of Bacardi Superior and told me to shoot it, I did. I figured one wouldn't hurt right? Well they poured another and another and had me shoot one each minute for three minutes. It wasn't until much later that I found out that I had taken double shots...

Let's do the math...a female...non drinker...105 lbs...six shots of rum in three minutes...I was feeling pretty good about ten minutes later. I was enjoying life for about an hour before I went to the bathroom...then my body decided that it didn't like the liquor in my system and I proceeded to vomit. Knowing that they screwed up, my friends put me on the couch, covered me with a blanket, left a trash can next to me in case I needed to puke more and left me alone.

Later that night when everyone was passed out, I started to stir and slowly wake up. I realized that there was a hand inside of my pants...yet I did a mental count of my hands and they were both accounted for and neither were in my pants. I ripped the hand out and buttoned and zipped my pants up and noticed my friend's roommate standing above me leaning over the back side of the couch. The guy that I was dating was passed out on the other end of the couch but I had thrown up so hard that I couldn't scream, yell, or kick at him to wake him up.

I spent what felt like the rest of the night with the blanket wrapped around me tightly and on my stomach fighting this asshole from getting his hands under the blanket and into my pants again. I finally woke up in the morning being pelted in the face by McDonald's french fries. I didn't have the typical hangover...I had the "I've been violated" hangover. I was shaking and took my boyfriend outside and told him what had happened. He flipped out naturally. Next thing I know, I told my ex boyfriend what happened and he actually punched a hole in the shed at my friend's house. Before the half hour is over there are about ten of my guy friends there and they know what happened to me and they are all ready to KILL this guy.

The guy that became like my big brother on my boat, and the one who introduced me to all of my guy friends, was the voice of reason. While everyone else wanted to take the dude out back and have a blanket party, my brother said they were going to sit him down and hear him out. Well naturally when he was surrounded by almost 15 guys at this point he was trying to cover his own ass. He claimed that he had been up all night playing video games on his laptop and would periodically check on me to make sure that I was still breathing by putting his hand in front of my mouth to feel for my breath. Now I'm not genius or doctor but I'm pretty sure that I don't breathe in and exhale from inside of my pants...just sayin!

They didn't buy into his story and told him that he was not allowed to be within 100 feet of me. If I was at his house, he was to stay in his room or leave and was to NEVER be alone anywhere near me or they would kick his ass. He didn't like that he had restrictions of where he could go in his own house but I think they scared him. I didn't see him again for about seven or eight months when my friends got back from their trip around the world. I was talking to a few people in front of someone's house when I looked over and saw him. I instantly started shaking and when my guys realized why, they surrounded me and a couple of them walked over to the guy and told him that he was not welcome there and needed to leave. It wasn't until after arguing for a few minutes that he realized they were protecting me and then he left fast!

I did not report this because I was in the 180 day window and it would have gotten back that there had been underage drinking and I could have been kicked out...even though what he did was way worse, I would have been left with a black mark on my record and would have had a horrible time trying to get a job in the civilian world.

A few months after this incident, it was my week to be the Mess Cook. Pretty much that means I was a glorified dish washer for a week. I was taking a break between meals and went out to the back of the boat and one of the guys from my department was on Quarterdeck watch and he grabbed my butt as I walked by. I told him that was not okay and avoided him the rest of the day. I told my rack mate (and she had also been my rack mate in boot camp) a week or so later and she told our BM3 who told our BM2 who told our BM1. Our BM1 pulled us into Aft Laundry and the guy tried to tell our supervisor that he knee'd me in the thigh. I'm pretty sure that I can tell the difference between being knee'd in the thigh and having someone sitting on their butt and they grab mine as I walk by.

In my last full week on the boat I was the Mess Cook again. I had become pretty close to one of the cooks but not in that way because he was married. That last week though he would come in when no one else was around and touch me. He would be talking to me and then come up behind me kind of pinning me to the sink and reach his hand between my legs. I couldn't believe what was happening. Then he tried to kiss me in the parking lot my last night working in the kitchen. I told him that I couldn't do that because he was married. He played me a song that he said made him think of me and I told him that he needed to go home to his wife and forget about me.

While I think back at it now...I should have spoken up but I didn't. I kept it all inside. That last incident has NEVER been revealed until now. It's no wonder I'm broken. I have dealt with all sorts of abuse and never really dealt with it. Right now, I don't have the funds to seek counciling so this...blogging...will be my therapy!

Until Next Time!