ENOUGH

Did NO ONE pay attention to the lessons of body basics in kindergarten? Keep your fucking hands to yourself. PERIOD.

Sexual harassment in the workplace isn’t new. Yet every time I hear another famous name added to the growing list of sexual harassers, it triggers me in a way due to my residual PTSD from Rapegate…and my own experiences with sexual advances in the workplace.

Sexual harassment has been around as long as …well, FOREVER. There isn’t one industry that a woman doesn’t deal with this issue from men in power (and not in power). But, this morning, I had to sit down with a heavy pit in my stomach after the announcement that Matt Lauer was fired from the “Today” show effective immediately. Why? Due to “inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace.”

While the specifics haven’t been disclosed, the incident reported to the network’s HR department included enough evidence to fire an anchor that had no prior complaints and 20 year tenure with NBC news. I have watched the “Today” show as long as I can remember, welcoming Matt and co-hosts into my home, strangely feeling like we were somehow friends. Savannah Guthrie summed up her shock and confusion extremely eloquently.

Obvious shock.

“How do you reconcile your love for someone with the revelation that they have behaved badly and I don’t know the answer to that,” she said. “But I do know that this reckoning, that so many organizations have been going through, is important, it’s long overdue and it must result in workplaces where all women — all people — feel safe and respected. We are heartbroken. I’m heartbroken for Matt — he is my dear, dear friend and my partner, and he has been loved by many, many people here. And I’m heartbroken for the brave colleague who came forward to tell her story, and any other women who have their own stories to tell.”

It’s just that – brave women and men coming forward – telling their awful experiences endured while working in environments where it can feel impossible to share incidents of abuse or harassment. I can’t applaud the decision to severe Lauer’s employment immediately enough.

Although I loved you Matt, boy BYE.

Of course, our always professional President of the United States, who has been accused of sexual harassment and assault by more than 12 women had his two cents to contribute via Twitter:

“Wow, Matt Lauer was just fired from NBC for ‘inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace.’ But when will the top executives at NBC & Comcast be fired for putting out so much Fake News. Check out Andy Lack’s past!”

You’re such a fucking ass clown Donald Trump.

New to the NBC network, Megyn Kelly had this to say, “I see anguish on my colleagues’ faces. But when this happens, what we don’t see is the pain on the faces of those who’ve found the courage to come forward. And that is a terrifying thing to do.”

Preach Megyn.

In light of yet another revelation of a man abusing his power, I’m sharing my own story of sexual harassment in the workplace again. Because I will beat this shit like a dead horse because it’s fucking ridiculous.

As chick in the career world, I’ve been told not to wear makeup and dress down working at a construction company home office because I was too “pretty” and the construction workers wouldn’t be able to control themselves from ogling when they came into the office. I abided by the request only to be let go about six months later for not looking “professional” enough. Is that harassment? Maybe just discrimination – but still. I said nothing. I felt disrespected, of course, and I lost my job because of my looks?

I’ve heard men at more than one company bitch about having to provide maternity leave (for women who are carrying YOUR FUCKING SPAWN and need to recover) when I’ve written handbooks with maternity – and paternity – leave included.

Most recently, I encountered sexual harassment at a job where I thought I would stay until retirement. It was in the music business and I started as an office manager. While the company worked with big and small artists alike, the core of its personnel was about 10 full-time employees (two of which were female, including myself, and were also the lowest two paid peeps there…even though we both had manager in our title).

As my comrade Slappy would say….

Going into any business environment eyes wide open, I worked with a vast array of people, which is why I loved the company so much. It was the most non-politically correct place – corporately speaking – and I was a contributor in every way. Lunch banter included topics of a dude asking me about Jesus when I was wearing only a leopard bra, an instance when I was sent a dick pic and I was once told I would be “punched in the tits” from an executive if I pinched him for not wearing green on St. Patrick’s Day. None of it bothered me because I dished it right back. It wasn’t unnatural to ask a fellow employee how their weekend was with the response, “I got laid,” to which I started responding, “me too.” Swapping dirty jokes, tales of road mayhem and being able to freely be ourselves didn’t create a hostile work environment because we all respected each other.

Typical office equipment.

If anyone fucked with me (say the dick pic sender), I knew I had an army of fellow friends/brothers who had my back no matter what. Once, a new sales person let it be known that he was going to “fuck” me (oh and he was married with a wife and kids). He was immediately terminated when upper management found out after another employee overheard me telling someone. I felt valued no matter what my sex. We were all working our asses off together and I absolutely loved the atmosphere.

Decor often left on my desk.

As the company grew, we opened a new division and naturally, more folks were hired. One of them, the COO of the division and I became friends. Hell, we were all friends – with more of a small business family feel, even as we became a larger company. This COO, who I will fondly refer to as Piss Ant from here on out, was the person who fired the dude who wanted to “fuck” me. Piss Ant gave me airline miles to go home to Iowa and see my ailing Gma one summer. Piss Ant ranted and raved and sat in my office for hours on end and asked my opinions on everything from work to personal matters. Piss Ant was my friend.

Thanks for the miles and memories.

Piss Ant also loved power. And as he was granted more of it through his ability to land deals and bring in the big bucks to the company.  His tiny head grew bigger. And bigger. And bigger. AND BIGGER.

One day, he’d gotten back from a rather rough week on the road. He came to my office and said he needed a drink.

So we got him one.

The actual day.

He proceeded to get shit faced during the afternoon and unload dirty laundry from years past, present and what was to be his future. I listened. I gave advice. I also grew increasingly aware that this situation was about to take a wrong turn.

Uh….u-turn! U-TURN!

While sipping on moonshine at three in the afternoon (almost every office had some sort of alcohol in it – and it was nothing for folks to have a drink around quitting time), his stories got more personal. More sordid. More wistful. Wistful as in telling me I had a nice ass. As in telling me he married the wrong woman…he should have married me (his wife was at home pregnant). As in telling me I would never get married because I was too good for anyone. And, as you are all well aware, I’m no shrinking violet.

Fuck the shrink.

I immediately shut the shit down. I told him to stop fucking talking. That he would regret this later that night and especially the next day. I was being ‘cool’ – level headed, and as I went to get him some water, he followed me out of the office and pulled me into one of our dark rooms where designers could come and rehearse. It was pitch black and he slammed the door shut. He kept saying he wanted to kiss me. I kept telling him to back the fuck off and that he was going to have regret.

Once I manhandled him out of my way, I opened the door and went into the bathroom. When I came out, the note below was on my desk, folded neatly. As he sat in a chair in my office and giggled drunkenly, I responded the most flippant way that I knew how and told him he needed to go home.

Oh, you want to kiss me? In your fucking dreams.

And he did. And he called to apologize. And I told him that we all make mistakes. But I kept the note. Because I knew what happened wasn’t in the slightest bit OK.

Our working relationship recovered because I think as a woman, (and anyone else who has put up with this shit before) I HAD to move past the situation professionally. But personally, I was enraged. And confused. And conflicted. Piss Ant was my superior. Piss Ant was my friend, right? (Obviously wrong). What was I to do? Who was I to tell? What would be believed? Piss Ant was the company cash cow. What would this do to my career? Would this give me a tattletale reputation in the still small music industry Nashville?

WHAT THE FUCK WAS I THINKING?

This is what goes through minds when sexually harassed, assaulted, abused.

I stayed silent.

Piss Ant was promoted to CEO. I was promoted to the executive team and I had no problem going toe-to-toe with him and his dictator style of micro-managing. He once called me to ask what my employees were doing. When I rebuffed with a ‘what are your employees doing’ it turned into a two-hour conversation about how he can run his division and I can run my department. He didn’t like that – but was always quick to apologize when he overstepped boundaries or knew conversations got heated for no reason due to himself.

He didn’t just bully me. He abused his power, he fucked with people for his own ego purposes and no one in the company was upset that he traveled 90% of the time. After I was promoted to his level as an executive, the work environment got extremely hostile and toxic for me. It felt like a personal witch hunt. Here was a man who used to show people a video I made while in an ‘80s cover band that showed a helluva lot of skin (you can’t see anything – trust me, my dad made sure of it) – to acting repulsed when he saw a photo of me modeling for a fellow employee’s jewelry line (who later became my direct report).

Said employee’s jewelry site was linked briefly (like 30 minutes) to our company Facebook when she was featured as the weekly team member. When Piss Ant clicked the link and found the above picture (that had been posted 10 months prior), he called and I immediately removed the link. You cannot tell it is me. My name is not mentioned. The company name is not mentioned but I completely understood why it needed to be unlinked. Problem solved, right?

Not so much. Three weeks later, I’m sitting in an office with Piss Ant, the president of the company, and an ultra conservative business consultant who knew (knows) nothing about the music industry and this photo is again brought to my attention. Piss Ant said an employee’s wife complained. When he told me who, I went to discuss the situation with him and he had no clue what I was fucking talking about. It was Piss Ant who had the “issue”.

One week later, the employee I had ‘modeled’ for – a member of my team – was terminated without my knowledge because they were ‘eliminating’ the position. A fucking social media position. Uh huh.

One month later, my position (which consisted of human resources, all administration, marketing, branding, production of new website, public relations, merchandising, company culture, company events, outside events, all things internal and external communication wise) was ‘eliminated’ and I was told by Piss Ant that I could now report to a new hire with 30 years of experience. The hired person was 29 years of age (who no longer is with the company – surprise – and has posted on their consulting website that they created everything I did at my tenure with the company. Classy fucking people, I tell ya). If I didn’t accept the new position offered to me (the social media position they eliminated just a month before), it would be considered a resignation on my behalf.

I was told that after almost four years with the company (who still had a former executive on a six month severance, which included healthcare and phone coverage) that they owed me nothing. As the conversation among us four executives got heated, we decided to take the night.

Well, you can imagine how that sat with me.

I was totally fine with it.

I came in the next day, knowing what was going to happen. I wasn’t going to be put into a corner, lay down and take it up the proverbial ass. When I brought the situation of sexual harassment with the note to a fellow executive, I was told to keep quiet, or I would receive no severance. The president had taken pictures of a box of wine I kept by my trashcan under my desk – again no secret that drinking took place at the office, as every single manager had either a mini fridge or a full bar in plain sight. I was told their lawyer was powerful, to take my severance, and they would send an email out to the company saying they eliminated my position and we would part ways (the email sent said I left of my own accord – again FUCK OFF).

Did you guys know I like to drink? Fucking secret’s out.

After I signed termination paperwork, tears were shed by Piss Ant as he walked me out the office front door and he said he didn’t agree with the way things went down. He didn’t agree with my leaving. He didn’t agree with the hire that was made in my place (FUCK OFF. He went to lunch with the replacement, gave the replacement the budget I had created, handed my department over, etfuckingcetera). He said he wanted to help me find another job. He said he would call. AS HE BAWLED.

I have yet to hear from him.

I can only hope that no one ever treats his daughter the way he treated me. The way he treats women. The way he treats other humans in general. But I sure as shit hope karma gets him.

Karma’s coming for you Piss Ant.

Sexual harassment isn’t new. Hostile work environments aren’t new. Men (and even women) abusing their status of power isn’t new. It’s also not going away anytime soon. But for me, this is about standing the fuck up for yourself. This is about standing up for those who can’t – or don’t – or feel unable (as I did). This is about awareness. This is about placing responsibility where it belongs. On the harassers. The predators. The abusers of power.

It’s not me. It’s YOU.

My takeaway from my horrible work experience(s), the career ruiner (what if I told? what would it do to my career in the music industry? would I be judged?), my anger (I still carry) is this –  it elevated me and gave me the gusto to tell when I was raped a month later.

I will never be silent. Ever again.

I will shout forever.

For you.

For me.

For them.

ME FUCKING TOO.

CBXB

A Face of Rape

This is my story of an act of rape that occurred to me in the early morning hours of January 29, 2016 in an affluent neighborhood of Nashville, TN. I have been unable to write about the details in hopes that the case would make it to trial, which unfortunately, like thousands of others, it did not. But now the muzzle is off of my mouth which rivals the size of a Tyrannosaurus Rex, so look the fuck out.

Please consider this a warning for any trigger it may cause, as well as an uncomfortable but important story to be told.

Mine.

Pre-rape: Captain of Confidence.

Four hundred and eighty days ago, I found myself without a career I had fostered for four years (the stab wounds in my back are still bleeding a year and a half later, which is most definitely a post for another day), a broken immediate family and received word that someone who was like a sister to me died suddenly in a car accident.

This life is living it up above us now.

In between this news and her funeral a few days later, I was raped by my best friend’s boyfriend of five weeks while I sought solace and comfort at her house.  I found myself not wanting to be alone an evening after finding out about my young friend. Always having her door wide open for me, I traipsed over in my mismatched pajamas to hang with my gal pal, her pit bull mix, her four-year old son and her boyfriend. Something I had done 1,197 times before (especially before the boyfriend was in the mix). I knew I was going to stay the night, sleeping on her couch with the pit bull who thinks she’s a lap dog.

Sleeping Beauties.

It was around 9pm when I arrived with a face swollen from bawling, hair looking as if I was hiding rats within it and a need for comfort so large, I would have stood on the side of the street with a sign that read “hug needed”. My bestie ushered me in, told me her adorable son was in bed already but poured me a glass of wine and we sat and talked, laughed, watched a movie and she just let me cry. Sweet pit bull and the boyfriend were also in the 600 square foot vicinity but us two gals carried on as usual, not paying much attention to anything other than the two of us (cause us self-centered bitches gravitate toward one another, ya dig?!).

The boyfriend refilled our wine glasses and after about three hours, we all decided to hit the hay. I took a sleeping pill, set my glasses and phone on the coffee table across the room and went to bed on the couch while watching my bestie and her boyfriend go into her bedroom together as I settled in on the couch I knew so well.

I mean, if this isn’t sex on a stick…

A few hours later, in darkness so deep it rivaled a haunted house, I groggily awoke on my back to something very heavy on my chest, with my arms down by my sides. Initially, getting my bearings and remembering where I was, I immediately thought it was the sweet pit bull who always slept on my chest with her ass to my face. But as the seconds ticked on, I realized there was a human head in the crease of the right side of my neck heavily breathing. It was my best friend’s boyfriend having sex with me. NON-CONSENSUAL SEX WITH ME.

In what felt like 10 minutes (but was more likely .000000004 seconds), I silently freaked out, put my hands up on his chest and hissed, “what the fuck are you doing?” Without uttering one word, he retreated from my body, stood up and walked back into the bedroom where his girlfriend was sleeping (sounds like someone who has a bit of experience in this, yes?) – into the fucking door that had been wide open the entire time.

Since this traumatic event, I’ve learned that you either fly, fight or freeze. I was frozen solid to the couch with my pink polka dot pants at my knees and all other parts of my pajamas in tact. Scared shitless at what could happen during a confrontation with a man I barely knew, my first thought was of the sleeping four-year old in the next room. While I wanted to get up and beat the living shit out of The Rapist, I couldn’t remove myself from that couch. Being blind as a motherfucking bat, my glasses and phone were across the room. I didn’t know if he was awake, passed out or going to come back out to finish “the job”.

So I laid there until it was light, which must have been at least two hours. At sunrise, I busted my ass across the room, grabbed my spectacles, phone and bounced the fuck out now trying to piece together what the fuck happened and how in the fuck I was going to tell my best friend. I wanted to do it while she was away from The Rapist and her kid was out of the house, so I texted her to call me when she got to work.

I also called two close friends who wanted to know why in the hell I was calling them before 7am (when I typically sleep until noon) for advice. I love a crime show – especially Forensic Files Friday night on the HLN network and knew not to shower or wash my clothes (which are still in my living room, waiting for the Nashville police to collect them). But did this really just happen? What do I do?

I know I’m a hot mess…but really?

The reality set in when my bestie called from work, I told her to sit down as I had something life changing to tell her that would have an impact on the both of us. Then I went on to say that I had awoke in the night with her boyfriend of five weeks – now known as The Rapist, having sex with me. Her initial response was, “did you finish?” Did we finish? HOLY FUCK.

This was my first encounter with victim blaming.

My friend and I hung up while she took time to process the information I had provided. Minutes later she called me back to tell me that The Rapist was sitting right beside her and she’s “not hearing the same story I’m telling.” Oh, no fuck.

  • I wouldn’t sleep with an ex-girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend – let alone my best friend’s current love interest. Girl code bitch.
  • Why is it OK if we did have consensual sex (which we did NOT). Kick that motherfucker out and cease being my pal.
  • WHY WOULD I LIE? We’ve been best friends for years. You’ve known this man for 50,400 minutes.

I believe the call ended with me tearfully trying to shout “fuck off” and two seconds later I receive this text from The Rapist:

Hmm…”wish I’d have told him no.” I WAS FUCKING DEAD ASLEEP. After taking a sleeping pill with three glasses of wine (which mind you, he poured) and being unbearably sad the entire day with endless tears coming from my eye holes, I was out cold. He had sex with what was basically a corpse instead of turning to his girlfriend he was next to in bed and tapping her on the shoulder for a piece of ass. He got up out of the bed and came to the couch. He knew exactly what he was doing. Oh and a side note, as soon as I was conscious enough I did say no. I said fuck no as I pushed him off.

Shattered into emotional fragments from shock, awe, disbelief and utter dumbfoundedness, I called my sister who immediately turned into a rescue responder. She called my dad, told me to call my doctor and told me to give zero fucks about a friend who didn’t believe what I was telling her.

A real face of rape.

My dad left work and arrived at my mini manse while I was still in my rape pajamas. We were like Tweedle Dee and Dumb, as neither one of us knew what to do. I had called both my gynecologist’s office and general practitioner. In lieu of knowing not to take a shower or wash my clothes, I had no clue where to go. Roll up into a walk-in clinic and casually ask to have a rape kit performed? The fuck? I finally got through to my gyno’s office and they told me to go to an emergency room.

We chose to go to the ER where both of my doctor’s practice. I was admitted, the police were called, and my blood was drawn only to be told after three hours that rape kits were only performed at one hospital in Metro Nashville. I encountered SIX medical professionals and was admitted to the hospital before being informed of this practice.

That’s cool. The worst day of my life needed to be drawn out three more hours by fucking professionals not knowing the ropes. Seriously a fucking shit show.

Of course, like a fucking comedy shit show, my dad couldn’t find his car in the massive hospital parking lot we’d started in, his battery on his key fob was dead and so the responding officer ended up taking me in the back of his patrol car (you can’t sit up front, ever) to the hospital that conducts all Nashville rape kits. So many firsts for one day – losing a best friend, being raped by her boyfriend of 35 days, sitting in the back of a cop car and getting a rape kit performed.

This cop car ride was waaaaaaay more fun – and only a few months prior to my rape.

With a dead phone, hoping my dad was finding his way to the correct hospital, and stripping down into a paper gown, the responding officer left me in the very competent hospital staff hands. When the Davidson County Metro Sex Crimes Detective arrived, I gave her my recorded statement to which my second encounter of victim blaming occurred when she said, “so you didn’t scream?” Oh no, I’m sorry I was too busy being in shock by a foreign object inserted into what the current President of the United States refers to as a pussy (that you can grab if you’re a star!), concerned that a four-year old would wake up and walk into an incident that would scar him for life.

While I sat and had pubic hairs plucked for my rape kit, The Rapist was very busy on social media, posting this photo on his Instagram account:

Please pay special attention to the fucking relaxing hashtag.

A rape counselor arrived. My rape kit was conducted. My dad waited six hours in a hospital waiting room with Barbie, the heavenly rape counselor. And when it was all over, she came in to the room with me and said, “there is going to be a before rape in your life and an after rape in your life.”

And she sure the fuck was right.

In minutes, The Rapist stole my joy and innocence of loving life.

Well, what innocence I had left.

In mere seconds, The Rapist stole my trust in almost everyone.

Seriously. Leave me the fuck alone.

The Rapist made me feel like I was responsible – ashamed, embarrassed and disgusted with myself. Insecurities I still fight to this day in the form of adjustment disorder, PTSD, chronic fatigue and severe stress.

How did I left his happen to me?

 In an instant, The Rapist turned me into a girl who could no longer withstand being in my own mind. I gave up my beloved yoga, my running, my reading, my TV watching…and cried in my closet.

At least it’s pretty in here.

The Rapist stole my pride. My confidence. My will. All in one act.

Cries for confidence I never knew I could lose.

My will to live never left me but I must admit most nights I wished I wouldn’t wake up in the next morning. What helped me take moment by moment and live to fight this ass hat of a rapist were my two little loves in Iowa. I would lay in bed and watch videos of them all day long.

Life savers one and two.

I also had fur babies and reason to put one foot in front of the other (even if it was just to feed their ungrateful asses).

Life savers three through seven.

The thing is, it takes a fucking village to overcome any type of trauma – and my village is as strong as an army. In instances such as the one I survived, it’s an experience I can hopefully convey to others and create awareness. Over 70% of all rapes occur between acquaintances. I never once thought I was putting myself in danger by going to my ex-best friend’s house (again, a story for another day) to grieve a loss of life.

Instead of gaining comfort, I became a statistic that is all too familiar. My treatment as a rape victim by the Nashville Davidson Metro Sex Crimes division is and was no less than abhorrent. I was re-victimized by the very people supposed to help, support and guide me (again, a story for another day). Also, the cost of being a rape victim has a tremendous impact for those who do – and don’t report it to authorities. Missed work, therapy visits, police follow-up, doctor visits, prescriptions (thank GOD I have health care), etc… is at an estimated $152,000 per victim according to a 2008 National Alliance to to End Sexual Violence report.

With all of this being said, I immediately went on defense mode with the help of my closest allies – and folks who have become my closest allies (and also dropped folks who I thought would be my closest allies – again, a post for another day). I dubbed my rape as “Rapegate” in order to having to avoid saying “that thing that happened to me…” Now we all just refer to it as Rapegate, as will I on this blog from here on out. It felt funny trying to post about fluffy matters of nail painting and weekend shenanigans the way I did before with something so heavy hanging over me that I couldn’t talk about outright.

I’m currently in survival mode, with the next step being thriving mode and I owe it to my support systems of thousands. You guys rock my world. Truly. You are my lifesavers eight through one million.

My new suit of armour compliments of college pals and happily married hotties HJ and CC.

With your help throughout this past year and a half, I’ve become one hell of a survivor through your letters, texts, phone calls, cards, gifts, flowers, financial assistance, sharing of your own stories – I know I’m not alone. You’re not alone. We’re not alone.

Aftermath face of rape – a Nasty Woman and proud of it.

So here we go, CBXB readers and supporters! I’m taking you on my Rapegate journey that won’t be hashed out in every post but when I do, humor will be tucked in here and there – like how to become a beached whale while eating your emotions. Or how to shit your car while talking to your pharmacist at the drive-thru because being raped has given you a severely nervous stomach. There’s nothing funny about rape. But finding a reason to laugh has been my saving grace.

And so have you. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Now let’s get to thriving!

CBXB

CBXB!