An old college classmate smacked my ass in a diner a few years ago. I didn’t know this was considered sexual assault until recently.
His name was Brad Jackson. He was one of the first people I met at Southern Connecticut State University after transferring from Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University. He was friendly to me when I didn’t know many people at my new school. He always said hello and made me laugh when I saw him on campus. We even chatted on AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) sometimes.
One night on AIM, Brad asked me who I was interested in dating on campus. I told him I liked a guy in a student group, we were both a part of. His name was Rob. Brad said it was unlikely that Rob would be interested in dating me because he had just gotten out of a 5-year relationship with someone else at the school. Rob probably needed some time to himself, Brad said.
While I appreciated Brad’s insight, he was wrong. Rob was interested in me. I interviewed him for one of my journalism assignments and that was a wrap. Rob and I hit it off and started dating. Rob graduated that year. Brad and I were still in the organization together and stayed friendly until I graduated the following year in 2006.
Rob and I continued to date for another year after I graduated. But, over that year I started getting bored with the relationship. I would tell Rob that we needed to break up, but then we would hang out later that day. None of my attempts to break up were sticking.
During this time, I went to Los Angeles to visit my cousin and his roommate, who was also my prom date in high school. We tried to date twice, but it didn’t work out. By the way, it’s never a good idea to visit someone you used to date while you’re in a relationship with someone else.
The best friend convinced me that I needed to break up with Rob immediately and with more boldness if I wasn’t happy. I shouldn’t continue to string him along, he said. He was right. So that’s what I did. When Rob came to pick me up from the airport, I told him that we hadto break up. It was time.
Shortly thereafter, I started dating the best friend in Los Angeles, and I married him two years later. We got divorced four years after that. Perhaps you could say my failed marriage was karma for the scummy way I ended things with Rob, if you believe in that sort of thing. Though at that I time, I felt justified because I had been telling Rob I was unhappy all along.
So, back to Brad…
After Rob and I broke up, Brad made it his personal business to tell our mutual friends how triflin’ he thought I was for the way I broke up with Rob. I’ll admit that I did not break up with him properly, but Brad had such a vested interest in our break up, and I wasn’t sure why.
Brad, who I once viewed as a leader, a reasonable and respectful man had now turned into a messy, gossipy lil’ bitch.
Years later…let’s say 2014… I saw Brad at the diner. I was there with my friends. I got up to use the bathroom. I saw Brad. We said hello to each other. I walked past him.
‘”SMACK.” He slapped my butt. I stood there for a second. Frozen. I was so shocked that I didn’t know what to say or do.
I can’t remember if I was going to or coming from the bathroom. I don’t remember what I was wearing. I don’t know if he was drunk. I know that none of these things are supposed to matter. I try not to victim-shame myself, but I also want to know how I got myself into that situation.
At some point I made it back to the table with my friends. I couldn’t even fix my lips to tell them what happened. I was embarrassed that he hit me. I was more embarrassed that I didn’t do anything about it. I just went on with my meal and went on with my life. “I took an “L” that day. I chalked the experience up as something that should not have happened. I tucked that experience away in the junk drawer section of my mind.
However, the recent exposure of sexual assault allegations made me revisit my experience with Brad. I did some research, and to my surprise it turned out that Brad sexually assaulted me – not just sexually harassed me or put me in a sexually awkward situation.
So now the question is what do I do?
Do I contact the police? Do I now disrupt Brad’s life four years later for an incident I learned to live with? Should I just punch him in the face the next time I see him? Do I have a responsibility to tell other women to watch out for Brad, a school disciplinarian by day and a woman violator by night? Or do I just continue living my life, like I’ve been doing all along?
I don’t want to claim #MeToo. I also don’t want to take away the spotlight from women that have really been violated – like raped or bloodied.
But there is one thing I know for sure. I will do everything in my power to make sure that my son never gives anyone a reason to write a story like this.
(Names have been changed.)