Me Too: On Being A Victim Of An Abusive Activist

Trigger Warning: Sexual Assault & Abuse
girl walking, shadow, me too, sexual abuse
Martino Pietropoli

“I’m sorry. But I have to do this.” He said. I heard the covers shift.

“What are you doing?” I turned over in bed to face him, half asleep. It had been a long night. I had taken my (newly) ex-boyfriend with me to a show about three hours away from my apartment. It was an impulsive decision, the kind he loved. He was visiting me for a few days while we made a final choice about the fate of our relationship. I had paid for his ticket, knowing it would be something fun for us to do together and that the band meant a lot to him.

When we got back to my apartment, I was exhausted. He drove the last hour of the trip home and I fought to stay awake in the passenger seat. It was 4am by the time we had gotten back and I had work at 9am in the morning. He asked me to have sex, and I said no.

I heard the covers continue to shift rhythmically.

“I’m just so horny.”

He was masturbating next to me. I suddenly became wide awake. The same person who insisted on us being just friends, wouldn’t hold my hand at the show, and had protested my request for a kiss earlier in the evening was masturbating next to me.

“Oh my god. What? Do you think you’re going to just finish in my bed?”

I got up and grabbed some toilet paper from the bathroom and got back into bed, obviously very uncomfortable. I turned my back to him. A few minutes later, his voice cut through that god awful rhythmic sound.

“Can you help me?”
“No.”
“Can you just talk dirty to me?”
“No. I said no.”

I was scared. I had not yet realized the very unhealthy nature of our past sex life. I squeezed my eyes shut until he started to get up from the bed and walk to the bathroom. He flushed the toilet paper and came back to bed. As he situated himself next to me, he sighed.

“Wow. That was embarrassing. I can’t believe I had to do that.”

I made a sound of agreement and fell asleep.

Me too.

Harvey Weinstein. A rapist, a sexual menace, and until very recently- a success. He was financially and morally supportive of liberal politicians whose platforms often included relatively progressive stances when it came to women’s issues, all while being a personal perpetuator of violence against women in his own life.

It is sad, disgusting, and horribly wrong.

As women, especially young women, we know this narrative all too well. The quasi-inclusive persona of men in music/art/activist communities is real and it is dangerous. Before the allegations against Weinstein, I had no idea that this trend existed so commonly and that my own personal life intertwined so perilously with the very same archetypes I reject.

Last spring, I began dating a progressive musician with the premonition that his inclusive aura extended to his behaviors. I was in attendance of all the shows, even the ones in which he did not perform. While I grew closer to the members of our scene, our relationship got worse and worse. I was cheated on, blown off for anything related to music, and ultimately emotionally abused. My mental health was trivialized, only a priority when convenient, and I was often left sitting alone at home when I felt too depressed to go out while my boyfriend attended whatever show was going on that night, despite my pleas for his presence and comfort.

Meanwhile, he spoke up about his leftist views and disgraced abusers in the community. He played in a band that wrote music tarnishing rapists. He disowned PWR BTTM without a second thought. His inclusive demeanor fooled everyone around him, including me. His rhetoric was convincing, and now that I am on the other side of my relationship I recognize that it was chilling.

The scariest thing that my boyfriend did was something I never envisioned would happen—he raped me. The person I loved, the person I supported with every fiber of my being, penetrated me despite my requests to not engage in sex.

We have all heard that rape can happen in relationships, that it is common and complicated. Personally, there was nothing complicated about my rape, only the aftermath. I told him I did not want to have sex again. He climbed on top of me anyway and took at least a full 30 seconds of me telling him no for him to stop. At the time, I rationalized this behavior. I called him from my college after that weekend and told him he needed to respect my boundaries. He apologized and agreed. I repressed the memory, and did not tell even my closest friends at the time.

The incident I described at the very beginning of this article happened months after the rape. While not every time we engaged in some kind of sexual activity was nonconsensual, there were sometimes that it was.

After I realized what he put me through was sexual abuse, I became very distressed. I could not bring myself to eat. I had a hard time sleeping. Showering was a struggle. I cared about this person, how could they have done these things to me?

Following my realization, I have sought treatment. I have grown stronger and become a better person. I have also had to fight, tooth and nail, for people to believe me.

To this day, he says he does not remember sexually assaulting me. He remembers my phone call, but he thought I was referring to our sex life in general. He told me last time we spoke that he thought I made up the story to get his attention after we broke up. He claimed he never abused me, in fact he thinks he was a pretty good boyfriend. He stressed to me that whenever I said no he always respected my boundaries. He said that me calling him a rapist has ruined his life, caused him to have trust issues, and made him contemplate suicide.

He ultimately coerced me into making me doubt my own memory and go back and forth with my judgements. Not anymore.

I am not writing this piece for myself. I am writing this piece for my best friend, who was also sexually assaulted by a ring leader in their own community. I am writing this piece for the many brave women who put their careers on the line by outing Weinstein. I am writing this piece for the women across the country and the MANY women in my own community who have been subject to the same façade. For the people who must cope with the success and acceptance of their abusers, despite going public.

In the 21st century, rape and abuse are seldom perpetrated in such ways that leave bruises or cuts. They cause victims to be outcasts and lepers of their own social circles. Women and victims disappear from the venues/studios/offices they frequented for months on end and it goes unnoticed far too often.

I never realized that my rapist would be an activist, someone who shared the same beliefs as I do about social issues. I never realized my rapist would be someone I loved, trusted, and continue to care about as a person.

I believe you. We believe you. Me too. TC mark

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