By: Janét Aizenstros
In Spring 2015, I was attacked by a man in a public setting while creating a business partnership together. I interacted with him exactly as I would with anyone else I would meet in a business situation. We had met a few times in public places through 2014 to discuss the details of our venture. During that time, we established a great rapport. He owned a studio that was suitable for the business but said he was only available in the evenings to show it to me, since the location was out of town for him.
Normally, I would have declined meeting in the evening but I already felt comfortable with the man after a few months of working together on other projects. I agreed to meet with him in the evening. When I arrived at the address he gave me I noticed it was at a bar. He was already waiting for me outside. He approached my car. I turned down the window to speak to him. Once he popped his head through the window I could tell that he was drunk. Laughingly, (but with reluctance) I said hi and asked, "Where's the studio?" He chuckled with a cunning smile, "Studio?! There's no studio?! Why don't you come in and have a drink."
I persistently told him no, that I don't drink and maybe we should just reschedule for another time. As we continued this light banter through the window; him trying to convince me to come in for just one drink, and me saying no, I told him goodbye and began rolling up the window. At that moment, as I thought he was walking away from my car, I looked down at my cell phone for a split second and before I knew it he opened the door and sat in the passenger seat. I didn't feel threatened yet, because of our friendly relationship.
Once in the car he began telling me how much he liked me and how I should leave my life-partner to be with him. I was completely caught off guard. Now, I had to uncomfortably tell him that as flattering as it was he liked me, I was happily involved with someone else. That made him angry and he demanded to know why I was rejecting him. I calmly responded that I had already explained my reasons. He put his hand on my leg and as he leaned in trying to kiss me, he said oh, well, even if you don't like me it doesn't mean that I am not attracted to you. I blocked him from kissing me and tried pulling his hand off of my leg.
That made him even angrier. He became verbally abusive and began squeezing my thigh tighter while moving his hands further up between my legs. I asked him calmly to get out of the car. He started violently screaming at me.
With his hands on my thigh forcing me to stay in the vehicle, I considered my options. He was 6'3 and I was 5'4. The probability of safely making it out of this situation unharmed was highly unlikely. I had to revert to my years of crisis training to remain calm and not make eye contact with him. I kept my head down and channeled my focus on how to keep him from hitting me. I knew the slightest move would escalate this situation. Once he was done screaming at me he walked out of the car, like nothing happened. I quickly locked the doors and drove to my partner's place. I immediately went into his bed and curled up in a ball. I didn't tell my partner at that time what happened even though he knew something was wrong.
Over the next week, my attacker was continuously calling, texting and stalking me on social media. I blocked him. Then he began emailing my company. I called the police. The female officer I spoke to advised me not to file a report. She feared it would escalate the situation more.
Discouraged by the first officer's advice, I decided not to file a report. A few weeks went by and I spoke to a friend that worked for the local womens' crisis centre. She supported me in going to the police again, this time speaking with an officer who specialized with women who've been assaulted. After meeting with the officer, I felt reassured that filing the report was the right thing to do, especially after learning my attacker had prior domestic assault charges. The officer told me he would warn my attacker to never contact me again.
But after a couple of days, the officer turned from supportive to accusatory. He called me and said my attacker told him that I was the one attacking and stalking him, and he had proof on email. I was outraged. I felt even angrier than when the attack actually happened. And in that moment understood why so many women don't report. This officer was quick to side with my attacker, making me feel that because I wasn't actually raped, I was making "more" out of this attack. He made me feel like I should just brush it off as "some drunk guy", and that it wasn't a big deal that this man forcefully shoved his hand between my thighs.
I felt glad that I reported him, because I thought at least it will help solidify the case of the next woman he assaults.
But just three months later, when he started harassing me again, I didn't go back to the police.
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