An elevator speech for sexual assault
The best way to handle the moment when you feel threatened – or have just been attacked – is to have your reaction prepared in advance, says Jennie Saia.
Originally posted on Tip of My Tongue:
A few weekends ago, I was out with a group of friends. We were chatting in a circle, in a busy public place, when one of them got a funny look. Creasing his brow, he announced, “I think that man tried to touch my asshole.” We all stared after the couple that had just walked by, a middle-aged man and woman holding hands. My friend said again, “Yeah, no way that was accidental. He just tried his damned best to stick his finger in my butt.”
This was new to me. I have never been present when a man was sexually assaulted. None of us knew how to respond. My friend was justly stunned, and the rest of us weren’t sure if we should chase the stranger down, or yell after him, or just move on. In the end – no surprises here – we made some weak jokes amongst ourselves and the night rolled on. In the split-second decision between causing a scene or not, most people stay quiet. We were no exception.
But that experience left me thinking about the night I was out on a city street, holding my partner’s hand. As we stood on a sidewalk corner, laughing over some private joke, I felt a cruel force ram itself between my legs. It was so aggressive that it drove my loose skirt and my underwear up inside me – in a second, a finger was within me, actually penetrating my body, and then a dark shadow darted away down the street. In the time it took me to vocalize what had happened, he was long gone.