27 Years Later

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Trigger Warning: Details and discussion about sexual assault 

Junior year of high school, a friend set me up with a boy from a different school. He was a senior, a football player, and quite popular. We spent hours on the phone, did a few group dates to the movies, were at a few of the same parties but never had a solo date. He called me up one Saturday and asked if I was free that evening. He came over to my house with a pizza and a movie. My parents upstairs letting us have some privacy for our date, he popped in the tape. The movie was Caligula.

I was extremely uncomfortable but didn’t want to look uncool and ask him to turn it off. We started kissing, and soon he was on top of me. He tried to put his hands down my pants but my high waisted guess jeans made it difficult. I asked him to stop. He unzipped my jeans and began to pull them down. I said it more forcefully, but I still said please because I was a good girl and that's what good girls did. Please STOP. Please NO. He took the palm of his large hand and pressed it down between my breasts, showing his strength as he pinned me to the couch. He looked me in the eye and smiled. “What are you going to do, scream?” He didn’t know me well enough to know that I had a close and trusting relationship with my parents.  I told him I would scream and my dad would come down and take care of him. “I’m not scared to scream,” I said, hyperventilating but trying to sound confident. What if my parents didn’t hear me? What if he covered my mouth? But he didn’t.

He got up, grabbed his movie, called me a frigid bitch and left.

He told his friends he slept with me. Friends who didn’t go to my school, who didn’t know me. Friends who believed him and when I went to a party they were at snickered and pointed and coughed while saying “slut” when I walked by. Friends who were just a couple months from graduating and I’d never have to see again.

I was so very lucky. It could have gone a different way so very easily.  So often it does.

I haven’t forgotten that football player from the other school. We have mutual friends on Facebook. He has a wife and kids, went to good schools, and now has an impressive job. Scroll through his account, and he looks like an upstanding individual. He is a coach for his kid’s team, goes to church, hosts barbecues in his backyard. But I see in his photos that same person who smashed his hand down on my chest with all his might and looked at me with such a devilish grin it looked ripped off a Disney villain. He may have only been 17 but he knew exactly what he was doing.

I never told my friend who set us up what happened. I didn’t tell my parents. I didn’t tell my friends. Nothing happened, right? He didn't actually do anything to me, maybe I was being overdramatic. Maybe I was a frigid bitch and other girls wouldn't have been upset with the situation. I just wanted to put it behind me. But clearly, 27 years later still occasionally looking him up on Facebook I haven’t put it behind me. And with what is going on in the news I can’t stop thinking about it.

When I went to college the biggest shock to me was how many strong, smart, fantastic women I befriended were raped or sexually assaulted. Women who came from all sorts of families, economic levels, cultures, religions, communities, prep schools and public schools. Women who were hurt by friends, family, and leaders in their community. Women who attended the same exact frat party I did wearing that same J. Crew rollneck sweater but their night took a different turn.  Women who told no one because they were scared. Scared of not being believed, scared of being blamed, scared of being shunned, scared of being kicked out of their school or their family, scared of far more than some exiting seniors calling them “slut” under their breath.

If someone at age 17 is found to be torturing cats in the neighborhood, would you just give them a slap on the wrists or would you put them in jail? What if that 17-year-old broke into a home, tied up the owners and stole their jewelry? Would you want a person who did either of these acts to be in a position of power? Why are women respected less than cats and jewelry?

That football player was popular, a good student, well-liked. He volunteered for charities, went to church, was the kind of kid you’d think you’d want your daughter to date. Ask a hundred people who knew him then, they’d say he was never the type to do such a thing. But he did.

A woman with curly hair wearing a plaid blazer holds a green fur coat over her shoulder on a city street.

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  1. something similar to this happened to me when I was in my 20s, I never told anyone and blocked it out so sucessfully, I didn’t talk about it until in therapy last year. I’m 68. So over 40 years ago. Yes, we don’t always tell anyone at the time, and some of us never. You are brave to tell about it now!

  2. something similar to this happened to me when I was in my 20s, I never told anyone and blocked it out so sucessfully, I didn’t talk about it until in therapy last year. I’m 68. So over 40 years ago. Yes, we don’t always tell anyone at the time, and some of us never. You are brave to tell about it now!

  3. Even thought time passes, those things continue to live with you.
    Just to think the huge effect this had on your life.
    Seeing the news is just baffling.

  4. Thank you for your honesty. I’m so sorry this happened to you, and so many others, myself included. Please don’t let anyone shame you into silence. I’m not just saying this to you but to all of us who have endured this very common experience. The victim blaming and shaming that occur when people speak out against their abuser is infuriating.

  5. Alison- thank you for sharing this. I was sexually assaulted in high school and college- then sexually harassed at 2 jobs! I still don’t have the guts to detail any of this- and, 10+ years later I fear that I will be called into court for
    Harassment allegations against my boss- some 10+ years ago which is still “active in the court system! I believe the victims- this is all too painful to make it up!

  6. Allie, I believe you. Thanks for writing this. It seems like every woman I know has one of these stories in her past, and it’s only by letting that skeleton army out of the closet and confronting it that we’re going to grow as a society, but that makes it no less hard to shine a light into your own dark history. It’s a brave thing, and I’m sorry you got the ridiculous, awful reaction you did.

  7. I sent you an IG message of support before even actually reading this because whatever you wrote I was sure was a story like mine or my friends or countless other women and I wanted you to know that other women believe you and are grateful you are willing to tell your story. I wish I could say that our stories would make people change the way we teach our boys about how to treat these kinds of encounters but when there are women (who may be mothers to boys!) who attack other women for speaking out, how can we expect them to teach their sons? Incredibly disheartening. I had an encounter in college when a friend of mine came into my room while I was sleeping and trying to drunkenly rape me. He passed out on top of me before he could get past the fondling, kissing part. His words as he tried to get my pjs off were “I know other men come in your bedroom, why not me?” He felt entitled to my body simply because other men had access to it. Women are not a commodity for men. And many still need to learn that.

  8. Thank you for sharing. I believe you and the others. The ones complaining about what you wrote are obviously on the opposite side. I’m so sick of the “holier than thou” critics who are hypocrites. People just won’t “get it” until it happens to them. Rock on Allie – you’re terrific !!

  9. I can’t even read some of the comments. This is your blog and I read it for your content- all of it. I’m sorry this happened but I am thankful you shared it. I have a similar story, a story I never told anyone until last week. If this debate leads to more people speaking up then there is value but no one gets to decide your story. I will read no matter what you write about because I value your voice, unless you write about Brussels sprouts. I hate those little things.

    1. LOL I’ll do a whole fashion advice series on how to wear Brussels sprouts 🙂 But in all seriousness, thank you. I am sorry we share this in common, but I do agree that sharing our stores has value and can hopefully create positive change at least for future generations.

  10. Allie,

    I’m really sorry this happened to you. I’m also really sorry that people feel the need to shame you for it on your own blog. Calling this a sexual exploit is so narrow minded – it obviously wasn’t what you wanted to happen that night. Continue being your awesome self!

  11. I, and many of the women in my life, have a story (or multiple stories) very much like the one you shared. The only way we will ever see a true culture change is by talking about it. Thank you for being brave and starting a conversation here.

  12. You are so inspirational- in your fashion, but more importantly your courage and strength! Thank you for sharing your story so that others maybe be inspired by you!

  13. Allie,

    I wish I could say that your experience is extremely rare. Unfortunately, it is so commonplace. I haven’t met a single female over the age of 7, and sometimes younger, who has not experienced some variation of your experience. And how often the perpetrator is a family member or an “upstanding citizen” in the community..
    It’s disgusting and very sad.

    Thanks for speaking up. It took me years to be able to do so. In my case, the
    perpetrator lived under the same roof and the abuse started when I was 9.

    To be fair, sometimes the abused are young males.

    Decades later I am still dealing with guilt over something that never was
    my fault.

    Hugs and healing energy to us all.

  14. I’ve never read your blog, but I’ve followed you on the gram for a few years and have had such a great deal of respect for you and your experiences. Oftentimes people only understand violence against women when it happens in a dark alley, or behind bushes by some unknown attacker. Even then that experience is up for interpretation. People don’t realize what some people would call “small” experiences of being victimized can color a woman’s world, and oftentimes be a gateway to other experiences. I’m not going to tell you “I believe you” because the idea that I would even have to say that is insulting. I’ve never felt the need to validate your words concerning clothing so why would I then break from my value of you on one of the most important things.

  15. Women who don’t support other women and question their motives are without a doubt the worst types of people. It goes without saying that I’m sorry this happened to you. something similar happened to me….a family member …and no I have never told anyone about it. The people commenting negative things here are truly disgusting. I wish there was away to “unfollow” them in womanhood!

  16. I am so sorry this happened to you. I thank God that he did not force you further. What a loser! Bless you and your family.

  17. I just saw your instastories and was appalled. APPALLED. I came straight here. I’m shocked and dismayed at how so many people refuse to be confronted with truths. It’s all around us – yet, they are comfortable turning a blind eye with fingers in their ears – with the gall to tell you how much they disapprove! I applaud your courage in putting this out there. I believe you because I’ve been there. No one WANTS to hear these stories, but that doesn’t make them any less real. They shouldn’t be swept under the rug to prevent someone from being uncomfortable. It’s not political – it’s reality and it’s wrong. I believe you and I #believesurvivors. <3

  18. I don’t think I have ever commented on your blog before even though I am a regular reader. This has been such a hard time to be a survivor; for the past year I feel exposed and nervous and threatened all over again. And every time some person doubts a story or calls a woman a liar, I feel called a liar and doubted. Thank you for being an honest, up front blogger who bravely shared a story about the ways that women are vulnerable. I am so sorry you are getting a few negative comments. Those people make me sick to my stomach. I believe you. I believe women.

  19. I want to voice my support, thanks, and pure appreciation for your sharing this – it is a powerful message. It is not an easy thing to put something so personal and traumatic out there – you are brave and I thank you.When I saw some of the comments on IG stories I was shocked and wanted to add my voice thanking you for sharing your life, thoughts and family with, your readers.

  20. I will add to the chorus of support because it’s so important that women be empowered to speak up not just at the time but afterwards as well, and feel heard and supported rather than isolated and doubted.

  21. Thank you for sharing, Alison. Please don’t listen to anyone who says this story doesn’t belong here. This is your place to share and I love that you are real and vulnerable and also wear cute clothes.

  22. Alison, I am so sorry this happened. You are brave and strong, and this was a terrifying experience. I am a mom to two teenage boys and we have spent a lot of time talking about consent and consensual decisions to the point where every time I start to talk about it, they say “I know, Mom, I know.” But I’d rather be “annoying” in bringing it up and going over scenarios and talking about it honestly than to have them not be cognizant of the importance of making good decisions. Thank you for sharing your story.

  23. I believe you. Thank you for your bravery and for standing up for all of us who have had similar situations happen, but have been too ashamed to put them into words.

  24. I want to give you a hug and to shake your hand. The hug is for the pain in you from this horrible experience. The handshake for being brave,writing it down, and telling us about it. You were brave that night in the past and brave now.

  25. When I was about ten years old, a man said there was something I would want to see and led me across fields away from the houses. He put my hand on top of his penis and pressed my hand down, using it to massage his penis. I was lucky that he didn’t do more.

    He was the mayor and I never told a soul. I am now 76 years old. I have never forgotten.

    I live in a different country than yours and had never heard of the woman until reading what you had to say and then looking her up on the internet. It seems to me that as long as we women don’t tell, certain men will keep on doing these things “because they can” and because they get away with it. I don’t.know what it will take to change. Possibly the brave women who speak up will be a start…..but only a start. Did I read that only 4% of reported rapes are successfully prosecuted?

    Well done Alyson. The number of comments speak for themselves.

  26. I’m so sorry this happened to you. You are courageous to share, and I’m exceptionally disappointed that readers would respond with anything other than compassion and support. Peace.

  27. I am so sorry this happened to you. Good for you for making it clear at the time that you were willing to scream if you had to. Remember, what people project on FB is only part of what’s real, so maybe not all is so rosy for your attacker.

  28. Alison: Thank you for this post. I believe you and am sorry it happened. Regarding whether it is appropriate for a fashion oriented blog: I believe it is especially appropriate. Often women are blamed for being sexually assaulted because of the way they look and dress. Let’s keep reminding ourselves that rape is never the victim’s fault. It is a violent crime of domination and destruction. It is not about sex or sexiness or sexual desire. We dress up for many, many reasons and I’m afraid it is often used against us. So, Alison, thank you for your courage and generosity in sharing your story and giving us an opportunity to remind ourselves about the pervasiveness of rape culture.

  29. Thank you for your honesty and bravery. Like you, like most women, this is me too and I believe you and I suppport your decision to say something and support you for the things you can’t or won’t say.

  30. I am sorry for you pain, I was also sexuayl assulted. More then once.
    Regarding what happens in the news. You and I know nothing. Very arogant of you to assume you know who is the victim in this story.

    1. Where in this piece did I mention that specific news and what side I am on? But since you mentioned it… I do believe Christine Blasey Ford. I don’t want to get into a debate here, I support you and all who are victims of sexual assault. I’ve read many pieces on the subject from both sides, this is one of the more powerful pieces I’ve read about Ford https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/christine-blasey-ford-wanted-to-flee-the-us-to-avoid-brett-kavanaugh-now-she-may-testify-against-him/2018/09/22/db942340-bdb1-11e8-8792-78719177250f_story.html?utm_term=.784326556113 thank you for sharing do not think I am attacking you, I am just sharing my thoughts.

  31. Thank you for sharing your story. Every time, in the last week, that I’ve heard someone say, “why didn’t she come forward then” I wanted to scream! That is the response of a person (mostly men) who have no idea what Kristine was going through. And is still going through.

  32. Thank you for having the courage to share this in such a public way. This is so important and way too common of an occurrence in our society

  33. Contributing my sympathy about your experience and my admiration for telling it now on your blog, so very honestly and well. I cannot believe (well, yes I can) the two early commenters who didn’t believe you or think you are just trying to generate traffic. They are only to be pitied for not knowing truth when they see it. Thank you, Alison, for this post.

  34. I am so angry that this happened to you, to me and to so many others. My perpetrator was my boss, one of the most powerful men in the state and one who had been a mentor to me. We went to dinner, he got drunk and forced himself on me in the car while the driver ignored us both. When I told a colleague, she told me it was my fault for not realizing that could happen. I thought I had healed, but the current reaction to the SCOTUS nomination has opened old wounds. I can’t believes o many men are still so uncaring.

    1. Lynn, thank you for sharing your story. I just want to re-state – what happened was not your fault. This man betrayed your trust. I’m sure you have heard this before, but it cannot be said enough for any woman who has been through this.

  35. I’m sorry that this happened to you and I wish you peace. What’s happening today only reinforces the audacity and entitlement of that young man.

  36. I BELIEVE YOU! Things just like this have happened to so many of us at some point in our lives, and it’s time for all of us to tell our stories and make everyone understand this behavior is not acceptable and must stop.

  37. That was a sexual assault. There was violence, threat, and social violence. You are working through recovered memory. Trauma does not resolve itself after being addressed once.
    No you have new knowledge of what it was. Educate your daughter about sexual assault and how to work through trauma.

  38. Thank you for sharing your story. Unlike some commenters, I feel it’s your blog so you can write about whatever you want. I believe your story and I am sorry that you had that happen to you.

    When I was 12 or 13 I was in front of the family car parked in our driveway when the boy from around the corner startled me (he was a year older than me). He said we should go in the back seat of the car and pretend were married. I yelled NO and told him to go away. So then he jumped me. I wrestled with him and managed to get him off me. Ran to my front door as he ran after me. I struggled with the screen door then the front door which I managed to get closed and locked. God knows where my mother was in this struggle but as far as anyone hearing what went on it didn’t look like anyone had. I too never told a soul. But this is something that stays with you forever. It’s been over 40 years now and I will remember this until I die. Like your attacker, mine is on facebook. He’s divorced now but has 2 boys. I hope they don’t turn out like their father but they seem to be following his footsteps with sports (football of course). He’s a “christian” now and a dedicated coach who receives praises from the football parents and community. He’s as creepy looking now (actually worse) than he was back then.

    How disheartening to know that so many of us have similar stories, and some unfortunately, worse. And that we feel the need to be silent about these attacks. And should we say something there’s a good chance we won’t be believed. It is maddening and gets me beyond angry.

    1. And you would know that how? People keep things to themselves that they consider shameful for years. I would ask that if you don’t be Allie why are you reading her blog?

  39. How convenient you share this now. Are you trying to go viral? Is your traffic down? I thought this was a fashion blog. Unfollowing.

    1. Women can be about more than one thing. Most of us are. This blog has always been about more than one thing (fashion).

  40. Thank you for sharing this. I wish your story wasn’t so common. I wish I & all my female friends didn’t have similar ones. I wish more men in our lives — & men in power — understood & believed our stories & didn’t think that boys will be boys & that he was just 17 & it’s no big deal. It IS a big deal, it’s wrong, & no 17-year-old or anyone of any age should get away with it.

  41. So well written. Your comment that a similar crime might have derailed his nomination is so true. Crimes against women are considered less than serious. I don’t think this will change the nomination unless more women come forward. (Harming one woman isn’t enough.) . I also despise the fact that a large number of women signed a letter in support of him, I guess because he didn’t hurt them.

  42. What you describe isn’t exactly like what I experienced as a high school/college student, but it’s close. This kind of aggression was, and probably still is, commonplace. Don’t think that I am excusing it, I’m just saying that a lot of people experienced it including myself.

    I wasn’t in favor of this current nominee before this came out, and it goes without saying that this incident hasn’t changed my opinion of him.

  43. I’m not surprised how prevalent this behavior is. I’ve been through several iterations of this. I don’t know how to tell my story and have people understand that I would be horrified if the men/boys involved were THIS CLOSE to being on the highest court. Thank you for sharing.

  44. Thank you for this. It must have been so hard for you to write, but imagine if everyone who was assaulted felt able to tell someone. What a fundamental shift that would cause.

  45. Thank you for sharing this Alison. The sesnse of entitlement on his part is sickening, and so common. I have someone like that in my past and I can imagine how horror-stricken I’d be if he was nominated like Kavanaugh.

  46. I am so sorry that this happened to you… more than sorry—-angry. This is unacceptable and far more prevalent than we realize. As the mother of two daughters and a son I hope I’ve raised them to be the difference.

  47. Thank you! There’s so much more I want to say…but thank you for being brave, being a voice for so many, and encouraging others in so many ways.

  48. Thank you for being courageous and speaking up, telling your story and being vulnerable. It’s SO hard to do that. Know that your courage will inspire others to deal with the injustices of their experiences.
    I’m with you.
    I reported mine to the company I work for (it was work related), and while they made good noises, the person appeared to be reprimanded (punished doesn’t seem to the right word) due to my complaint being substantiated, but …yes…that person, the leader/manager I reported is still…”leading”/working there like nothing every happened. It’s scary to even type this…like I’m going to have people recognize me and hunt me down for daring to go against the boys club at work, especially when I am not perfect myself per the respectability politics game that people like to play against the victims.
    Random but related to the blog: I will tell you its changed my fashion and sense of what I can do – lots of dark colors and coverage from neck to knees at least – no heels, no v necks or anything too ‘sexy’. Blend in and do not stand out. The protections are strangling but yet I can’t let go of them.
    What you said is what I’ve been feeling these past one or two weeks “And with what is going on in the news I can’t stop thinking about it.” Preach it Allie. Thank you for telling your story, so I can take that vibe, the courageous, vulnerable force of inspiration you just sent out to the world and be a little braver myself.
    I believe you. I believe Christine Ford. I believe the men and women that have stepped foward during and beyond #metoo. Terrible things have been done to people and there is an ongoing need for people to speak out about their stories. I hope that together the voices of the victims and the call for justice and change can bring down the predators from their high protective towers of privilege, denial, authority, and dysfunction (religious or not).

  49. Thank you for sharing this. I have been reading every article that comes my way about such incidents since the outcry of Dr. Ford. The high school times we lived through weren’t so stellar. I have no one in my conservative community to really process this with and had hoped you would bring it up. I am sorry you have a story that fits the narrative and is more than fitting to the discussion. Though I don’t have a rape or attempted rape story, just remembering the treatment of girls of the time repulses me. I am 51. The continuation of the treatment of women and how wide spread it REALLY STILL IS confuses me. Thanks for your brave story.

  50. Very powerfully written, and I agree, should go viral. I’m one who has not experienced something like this, and my heart is heavy when I hear and read these accounts. You are brave and strong.

  51. I think it’s very courageous of you to share this. When I was 14, I was held back by 2 boys while 3 others threw my friend to the floor and tore off her blouse. She screamed and fought back hard. They let her go and we escaped. Even now I can’t give a rational explanation of why we did’t tell our parents or another adult. The closest I get was the shame that we were somehow to blame for what happened. Let’s teach our daughters that there is no shame.

  52. I too had this same experience as a freshman in college. He was a boy from my hometown and from a very affluent family. He did rape me. I never told. My husband is the only person to this day that knows. THis was 38 years ago for me. I haven’t forgotten. I don’t remember every detail, but I remember enough to know it happened to me.

  53. I’m just a handful of years older than you, but same high school story with different details. I imagine it happened to a lot of us. When I started crying, he stopped. The effect on everyone is unique and each of one of us deserves to be believed.

  54. I’m so sorry that happened to you. I feel furious and heartbroken, all at the same time. Isn’t it so typical that he got away with this, maybe even did it to other girls, and went on to a successful life? He’s probably considered a pillar of the community and of his church (& I feel that so many churches unfairly put all responsibility and blame about sexual matters on girls).

    Boys get a pass; girls get stuck dealing with the confusion and emotional fallout for the rest of their lives. As a mom of a white male, I am trying to take opportunities when they come our way to point out to him that he cannot act this way. Of course we’d all like to think our own kids would never do x, y, or z. But if our culture let’s them think that they can, we need to change it.

  55. How very brave of you to talk about this. I too, am a survivor of sexual assault from high school. I’m almost 69 and I have never forgotten the incidents and never forgotten the names. And, like you, I told no one. Back in the 60’s, it just wasn’t discussed and I would have been told it was my fault. I am so proud of women who are speaking out now. And I have taught my daughter, now 33 with her own daughter, to be strong and if anything happens to speak up. Maybe someday, when my 3 hear old granddaughter is in highschool, women will be a valuable as jewelry or cats.

  56. Thank you for sharing this. It took a lot of courage. I am so sorry this happened to you. Part of me hopes that sorry excuse of a human realized his actions were wrong and damaging and has gotten help for it but I doubt it. Huge hugs to you and to all of us who have been in that situation. May we find healing and peace.

  57. What a sad and horrid story. I know there are many worse, but this is your story. And the fact that similar and worse happened to so many of your friends. I’m not sure which is worse – the pushing you or the boasting afterwards. He sounds like a hideous, hypocritical ‘pillar of the community’. Yuk. I wonder if he even remembers. I hope that putting it out here makes you feel less damaged by it. Because I think the worst of all is leaving you feeling somehow at fault.

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