*Content Warning: This piece contain a reference to sexual assault, which may be triggering to some.*
He yells in my face as he pushes my arms down. I told him to stop, he held me down. I was stunned by what just happened. Terrified, I got dressed went in the living room and sat on his couch. Just as I was about to call it a night, he turns to me and says, “Time to go home, I got a early day tomorrow.”
Lies I told myself for years: that I wasn’t violated or assaulted by this man. That I got exactly what I was asking for. My reasoning was it wasn’t assault because I wanted to be there, I just didn’t want him to finish in me and he didn’t listen. He scared me, held me down hard and pushed me, but I wasn’t assaulted. I created the narrative about this dating experience for years that glossed over all the shitty and terrifying behavior in the name of fun.
It was my junior year in college, and I needed excitement — an escape. I was willing to get it at any cost. His dirty blonde hair and sky blue eyes offered exactly what I wanted. I was self medicating. I became addicted to the attention.
I still look at your Facebook after all these years, relieved to see you’re still not married. I still Google your name and think about that night. I found you on another dating app a few years ago. You texted me a few years after I graduated, followed by another text: “wrong text.”
I am completely erased from your memory. I wish you could be erased from mine.
“We talk like every second of everyday!” he told me over the phone. “I meant it when I said I’m one of the good ones.” I took a deep breath. I had no business going out with someone this much older than me, never mind a lawyer.
For our first date, he showed up in a sharp suit with a Rolex on his wrist, paired with the most perfect Ferragamo leather loafers. I thought I’d won at the game of Tinder.
After four-or-so dates I asked, “When did you decide you wanted to see me again?”
“When you smiled your way out of the car,” he told me. “You have such a beautiful smile.”
He told me if there was anything I wanted in life, all I would have to do is smile. I’m not a fan of using my beauty to get ahead.
His words made me smile even more.
He was good at formal dates. He was perfect on paper. But when it came to his day job as a Brooklyn photography studio owner, his ego as a lawyer on Wall Street — he was a different guy.
I visited his studio one day. I glanced at the walls, filled with his photographs of nude women on rocks and caves near Spanish beaches. I felt like I was in the “Twilight Zone” looking at all these nude photos after he lured me into visiting with a promise of shooting my artwork.
Then his true colors appeared. He told me he wanted to shoot … me. And give me a makeover. Was this guy for real? He wanted to transform me into one of his models. That was the same night he assaulted me.
He thought I would look great, if I could just loose 12-or-so pounds. I found it odd he had an exact number formulated, like this was something he had been thinking about since we met and started seeing each other.
The last straw was when he asked me if he could pick out what nail polish I should wear — just because.
“Don’t worry, we can Photoshop you too” he said. “It’ll be great!”
I walked out that night and never looked back. I just couldn’t be his Barbie doll.