Bill Cosby is back in the news and I’m not at all surprised. The guy is clearly a predator and has been for what seems like most of his adult life. It makes me wonder when it started…and why. Is he sick or just an asshole? I guess we’ll have to wait to find out.
Those whom I feel sorry for are the women. At first, I thought what many people did – that they were fame-seekers looking for a payout and to extend or find their 15 minutes of fame. And then there were just too many women making the same claims to ignore anymore It’s really sad that these women were unable to come forward sooner, maybe before the statute of limitations ran out. How many might have been spared if people had found out about him sooner? How many years have they lived with the guilt and shame of being victimized by someone no one would ever believe could do wrong?
Sadly, this is something I understand all too well.
I have never made a secret of the fact that I grew up way too fast. I smoked and drank very early in my teens in an attempt to numb some of the insecurities and unhappiness I felt. Not long after that, I found that I felt really good when boys and men paid attention to me. I learned how to manipulate them for their affection and it worked for a while. But then I got trapped. It is not easy being a promiscuous teenager and its something that most adults, let alone teenagers, can’t begin to understand. So instead, they ostracize, bully, ridicule and harass. They call names. They make up stories and exaggerate the truth, to the point where no one knows what to believe anymore so they just believe the worst and call it a day. The truth is a so-called teen slut loses much more than her reputation, dignity and pride. She also loses the ability to say no.
That was the vicious cycle in which I was trapped by the time I was 16. At an age when I could not legally give my consent, I had lost the ability to revoke it. I was no longer in control and was victimized over and over again. By my friends. By strangers. It didn’t always end up with sex, but it sure wasn’t pachisi either. So I drank more, pretended everything was fine and tried to just get through it all.
Then came senior year and the day I truly gave up.
It was 1984, during my senior trip. A bunch of students, former students and “chaperones” (teachers mostly) chartered busses up to Sugarbush, Vermont for a few days of skiing. It should have been epic and in some ways it was. The chaperones didn’t care what we did. They got drunk and disappeared into their rooms (with each other) while we watched movies, drank and chilled in the lodge in between hitting the slopes. I discovered I liked kamikazes and backgammon that trip and won an “award” for spending the most time in the hot tub. Those are the fun memories I clung to and chose to retell over and over again for the next 30 years. Only a small handful of people know the rest of the story until right now.
At the beginning of the trip, I sort of had a boyfriend. He was a year younger than me and a really nice kid. I remember he really liked me and gave me a Garfield stuffed animal. It was such a cute gesture and I had it for years and years afterward. I don’t know if he ever knew how much that meant to me. Unfortunately, I didn’t like him quite as much as he liked me. I really did have a thing for the so-called “bad boys” and hung around with a mixed crowd of brainiacs, jocks and burn-outs. I didn’t really fit in with any of them, but considered them all my friends. So the relationship with the nice kid was doomed from the start, and I ended up breaking his heart when I fooled around with another kid on that trip. It hurt him to the point where I actually don’t believe he’s forgiven me to this day. I feel pretty badly about that and hope he reads this.
Now the other kid was already out of school and one of the “popular” guys. He paid attention to me and of course, that’s what I needed, so I ate it up with a spoon. We messed around one night, not sex, but close enough. Aaaand then of course, he promptly dropped me afterward. (Haha..you saw that one coming, right? Yeah, me too.) Naturally, it got back to the nice kid…and everyone else on the trip. Or at least it would by the time everything was said and done.
I had pretty much decided to just hang out in the hot tub for the rest of the trip, when another guy, someone I had dated in the past, invited me over to the boys’ lodge to drink some beer. I knew this kid so well. We were friends. Our families were friends. His brother and I were friends. We lived near one another and had pretty much grown up together. So, I really didn’t think anything of it and I went. I really didn’t even think anything of it when it was just the two of us in his room. We had a beer or two when he locked the door and said we were going to have sex. I didn’t want to and told him so, more than once. He didn’t take no for an answer.
We were still lying on the bed when some of the other guys came around and found the door locked. I pretended to be passed out so that it wouldn’t seem like anything had happened, but that was obviously lame. He got rid of them and then got rid of me. I was thankful and went back to my room and cried. Word got around and the first guy (not the nice kid) victimized me the second time by claiming he’d had sex with me too. Well, of course. That’s what sluts do, right?
By the time we went home, I was trying to block it all out. I sat on the bus with one of the few kids I knew I could trust. He was one of my closest friend’s boyfriend. He stuck me next to the window, covered me with a blanket and told me to sleep, which I did. He made me feel safe the whole way home and to this day I am grateful for that. We got home on Sunday and by Monday morning I had what was probably bronchitis. I ended up missing a week of school. I returned the following week and learned that I had apparently had sex with eleven boys in Vermont, including my friends’ boyfriend. Nothing he or I, or anyone else could say would end that rumor. Not even my girlfriend believed me.
With that, I gave up.
At first I was suicidal. I just wanted the pain to end. But I didn’t really want to die. So I did the only thing I knew how to do. I drank more and smoked more and found physical comfort wherever and whenever I could. And I lost what was left of my self respect. I put on a happy face, graduated high school and didn’t look back for 25 years. I met my first husband, got married, had two kids, got divorced and met my current husband.
But I couldn’t hide it forever and it was still haunting me.
Eventually, I told a couple of old friends I’d become reaquainted with on Facebook. I told my husband. I told my girlfriend the truth and we’re friends again. I went to my 25th class reunion and discovered that people weren’t thinking of me that way anymore. I started to heal.
Six years later and I can now say, I was RAPED in that cabin in Sugarbush, Vermont in 1984. And I was victimized over and over again by the people who perpetuated the story and didn’t stop to think that maybe it wasn’t true, who didn’t help me. All these years, I’ve blamed myself. I’m done now. It’s time to move on. I wish it was my only horror story, but sadly it’s not. I have a lot more.
But, the healing has begun. :)
By the way, I still love kamikazes, hot tubs, and backgammon. There are some things in life that are just simply worth hanging onto.