Almost every woman has a story about him.
Because he is always there.
That guy at the party. That guy in the club. That guy in the office. That guy on the street. That pervy weirdo who acts like a creep.
His words, his actions.
The one who grabs her ass as she walks through a crowded bar. The one who says dirty things when he leans in with a wink. The one who doesn’t stop leaning in, even when she gently pushes him away. The one who looks her over, sideways, up and down.
Almost every woman has been there, with that guy. The guy who runs his hand down her arm slowly and rubs her waist as he pulls her in for the group photo.
The one she has to appease. The one she has to let down gently. The one whose feelings she can’t hurt. The one she can’t call out because it will embarrass everyone. The one who has the power to fire her. The one with whom she must pretend that it was all just a joke.
He was “kidding” around. Can’t she take a joke?
The one who got away with them. His words, his actions. The coach who got too close, the one who tried to be her “special” friend.
The orthodontist who put his hand on her breast, as he adjusted her bib and she felt weird like maybe it was an accident, but it didn’t feel like an accident. No, it didn’t, but he can claim it was even though they both know what really went down.
Almost every woman has a story like this. Most of us have way more than one. Some of our stories are horribly violent. Some of our stories are inconceivable.
Like, “behind a dumpster” inconceivable. Like, “I was drugged” inconceivable. Like, “I was assaulted while someone else guarded the door” inconceivable. Like, “first he raped me, and then he called me an Uber” inconceivable.
And some of our stories are “not that bad.”
The guidance counselor who always looked down my blouse. Or, the science teacher who told me I was “filling out beautifully” while making a squeezing gesture with his hands and fingers, indicating that my breasts were big. Certainly big enough for him to notice and comment and approve of them with his lustful, wide, creepy eyeballs and wiggling eyebrows.
And some of the stories are from when we were just little girls. Like the time in second grade when I was pinned against a rock and kissed on the mouth. And some are from when we were older.
Like the time when I was a teenager, and the dad of the kids I babysat for drove me home and put his hand on my leg in the car, and asked me to blow him. Just once. Please. He was so lonely so he asked me, the 14-year-old babysitter to blow him, while he clutched my knee.
Or the time when I was 15 and had my first job as a waitress and the owner liked to swat my ass and tell me to “keep it moving, honey.”
Or the time when I was in college and had to push a drunk boy-man off my body with all my might.
Almost every woman has a story. And if she ever tells you, know that you will be required to believe her. Because they are very difficult to tell, her stories. Some are uncomfortable. Others can only be described as excruciating and life-altering. If she tells you her story, please just do the whole world a f*cking favor, and believe her.
Because, she is the proof.
He will downplay his words, his actions. Or he will deny them. He will say that it “didn’t really happen.” Or, it certainly “didn’t happen that way.” “It was consensual.” “She was totally into it.” “She was flirting.” Or, “that woman is nuts” and just “count up all the men she has slept with.” “Look at what she was wearing that night.” “Just look at her history.” “Just look at her.”
Yes, just look at her. Look into her eyes. Look at her face.
She is the proof!
Most of the stories you might hear, if a woman ever tells you, will require you to listen. She has the details. She knows what time it was. She knows exactly what he said. She remembers exactly where she was. She remembers what happened. She remembers how many times it happened.
She knows how he made her feel.
Violent, subtle—her stories remain. They do not fade away.
If she tells you, you will be required to understand that his harassment, his lecherous behavior was not always obvious. It wasn’t always out in the open. Maybe you didn’t see it. There might be a swirling buzz of doubt. You will want her to prove it, but she can’t. It’s usually her word against his. It might be difficult for you to reconcile that the man in her story is the same man you think you know.
Because what he did was whispered. It was covert, under cover, under the radar, out of ear shot, behind a closed door, in an alley, in an office, at a party, in a stairwell, at a hotel, in the background, stealthy, concealed, hidden. Yes, there were times when it was loud and there was drinking and there was laughter and lines were blurred, and there were excuses. But most of the time, what he did was quiet. Most of the time, it just lurked in the darkness.
Because he is always there, that guy. That guy who gets away with it. That guy who can claim it never happened. He simply blends in. His words, his actions—they mix right in to the air we all breathe.
If she bravely tells you, she needs you to believe that her “story” is the truth. You must not dismiss her.
Because she is the proof!
Author: Kimberly Valzania
Editor: Lieselle Davidson
Copy Editor: Khara-Jade Warren