Sunday, April 13, 2014

Affected

I see stories all the time, about women who are assaulted or abused, in all kinds of ways, because some man can't control himself.  I've gone through my share of that.

When I lived in the shack in Corvallis, I used to go into a local hardware store there, to buy stamps, because they had a post office outlet and because the employees were friendly.  I joked with them and felt it was a friendly safe store.  Until one day.....

They knew I helped cats.  That's about all they knew about me I think, other than that I was poor and pretty much alone.  I stood in line that day to get stamps.  The employee working the post office looked furtive.  He had straight longish hair that sometimes looked greasy and a mustache and was skinny.

When it was my turn, he didn't want to sell stamps.  He said he needed a favor and needed to talk to me about it right now out behind the store.  His eyes were red, like he was hungover or something and he was nervous.  I figured it must be a cat issue, because I didn't know him other than chatting with him at the store every now and then.

He left his post office station and we went behind the store.  It was there I got the shock of my life.  He claimed he had some military reunion coming up and he wanted me to go out to some godforsaken lake with him, that night, and take photos of him in the nude or in his underwear, as a bet, that he could get some woman to do that, for his reunion.  I was shocked.  He claimed he couldn't do it at his mothers' house, where he lived, because she wouldn't approve.

I realized very quickly this wasn't about taking photos of him in his undies, that his furtiveness and nervousness meant he was probably either going to rape me or hand me over to someone he owed something to, to be raped or worse, way out there, at that Kings Valley lake in the dark.

A horrible sinking wave overwhelmed me.  I had thought these employees were friendly, nice people, but instead, he saw me as someone to take advantage of, someone without anybody who cared about her, so a target.

Betrayal.  Not just by this employee, but by all those who worked there.

Rage then overcame me.  I stormed inside and around the store, demanded to see the manager, and told him what had happened.  He was trying to keep me quiet so other customers wouldn't hear me.  He claimed he would take care of it.

I got home and called the police.  Later on, the store manager called me.  He was the son or son in law, can't remember which, of a local county politician, who owned the store.  The manager told me he had talked to the chief of police, whom he knew, and he made sure I knew that the police chief and he were tight, and that she had told him I was a mental patient and not to worry about it.  He told me any fear I had of that employee or of what had gone on, was just a mental issue.  I went ballistic.

The employee wasn't fired, though he admitted to everything.  I realized my mistake was not to file a complaint with the post office, since he was working in the post office outlet in the store, when he did that.

I went into the store to buy stamps and the employee working the post office station, pulls me out of line, leaving other customers standing there, to urgently take me behind the store to ask me to take photos of him, in his undies out at some remote lake in the dark?   Really?  Any store manager or owner with any ethics at all immediately fires a guy who does that.  Instead, the fact I was in the mental system was used to shove me under the mat, with the help of the chief of police.  What a bunch of hypocritical dickheads.

I finally called the CARDV helpline over it.  CARDV is the Center Against Rape and Domestic Violence.  I told them the whole story.  The woman on the line said she wasn't really surprised, that an exchange student had been raped or something close to it by a local high level well known and got no justice and instead was sent back to her home country quickly.

But a while later, the hardware store went under and closed and I couldn't have been happier.  At least a little Karma got them.

I was badly affected by the experience.  To this day, it haunts me at times.  Not only the betrayal of trust, or the knowledge of what would have become of me, had I been talked into obliging this freak, but that nobody cared there, and that the store owner, the democratic politician, apparently held beliefs only in word, and his actions were a different story completely.

Stories about women in the news bring back this memory like it happened yesterday. 



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