Posted by: Marie | February 1, 2009

(10) Was he going to kill me?

Post #10
[Journal entry written to my therapist on Saturday, March 15, 2008 – Part 2 of 2 – continued from previous post]

Here is what happened with my boss in 1995:

In the months around my 27th birthday, I started working on a software development project as part of a four-member team.  I really liked my boss, Jesse – he was good-looking, smart, fun . . . I was flattered when he took an interest in my personal life . . . until he started getting too personal.  He was married, so I first thought his interest was innocent and “safe” . . . I thought he was watching out for me like a big brother.  But then he started getting jealous when I went on a date or got dolled up to go dancing.

About the time I was scheduled to roll off his team onto another team, he and I went on a weeklong business trip together.  In the weeks before the trip, he started hitting on me . . . hinting that he wanted to get hotel rooms in the same hotel so that we could spend more private time together, etc.

I had no idea how to handle his advances.  Because he was a member of the management team (as opposed to my being part of the “worker bee” team), I was afraid to offend him – he could have greatly influenced my career path within our contracting company and within the government defense agency to which we were contracted.  He could actually cause me to lose my security clearance.

So, I tried to just ignore his advances – I just hoped he would get the hint and back off – but he didn’t.  I took steps to make sure we were scheduled to stay at different hotels.

On the flight from Washington, DC to Orlando, I was very sick with the flu.  The last thing I wanted to do was deal with him.  Yet, he sat next to me and kept his hand on my arm or on my thigh for most of the trip, and he gave me little shoulder massages.  I just tried to pretend nothing was happening.  When we landed, I hurried to my rental car and hurried to get away from him and to my hotel so I could sleep.

I had been in my hotel room for only about an hour when he called and said he was on his way over so we could lay out our strategy for the next day.  I told him I was too sick, but he insisted.  He asked me my room number – I felt obligated to tell him, so I did.  I kept telling myself that he would not be such a jerk as to try something – especially when he knew I was so sick.  But, as a safety precaution, I moved all of my luggage onto the bed so that the bed would be too occupied for any hanky-panky.

Now . . there is a little more background about Jesse that is key at this point in the story.  He had been in the Marines for many years.  He had special training for wilderness survival and hand-to-hand combat.  I was aware that he was trained to kill people with his bare hands and I suspected that he had actually done so, given what I knew about his service record.  And, he was still active in the reserves and was in excellent physical condition.  So, while he was a nice guy on the surface, I was very afraid of what would happen if he ever got very angry with me – I had thought a lot about that in the days before the trip as I was trying to figure out how to handle his advances.

When he arrived in my hotel room, we talked “shop” for a little while and then, all of the sudden, he turned and lunged at me, pinning me against the wall.  He tried to kiss me, but I was pushing and kicking – I started climbing backwards over a low dresser in an attempt to get away from him. (Strange thing, the detail I remember most is that his breath smelled like poop.)

In that moment, I knew for sure that he was going to rape me.  However, that was the least of my concerns.  My mind was racing ahead to the moments after the impending rape – when he realized that he had done something that could easily cost him his job with the contracting firm, his military career, his family, etc.  I knew that, when he had to choose between preserving all that was valuable to him and allowing me the opportunity to report his offense, I was going to lose.  I fully believed that he would choose to kill me.

Since I was a long way from home and since it would be a number of days before anyone would really miss me, I knew that he could easily kill me and dispose of my body.  So, like I said before, getting raped was the least of my worries.  I was busy trying to figure out how to stay alive, or at least how to leave clues so someone would be able to figure out what had happened to me.

I was fighting for my life . . . and then, all of the sudden, before he got very far along in the assault, Jesse let go of me, stood up, turned and walked out the door.  He didn’t say a single word, he just left.  I’m not sure what happened to cause him to change his mind.

I sat dazed for a moment, and then I raced over to deadbolt the door.  In hysterics, I called my sister in Colorado and asked her what I should do.  Of course, she was ready to chase him down and rip his guts out, but then she settled down and told me to contact hotel security and alert them to what had happened, to get moved to another room, to make sure the number of my new room was closely protected and to arrange for escorts to and from my car. She also told me to contact our corporate headquarters in the morning to see what could be done legally – if maybe I needed to file a report with the police.  So, I did all that.

The next day, Jesse was very cool towards me.  Fortunately, I didn’t have to work very closely with him, just pass him in the halls occasionally.  I was able to avoid him for most of the rest of the week.

The corporate office helped me file a case against Jesse – but, because I hadn’t told him “no” or “stop” in the weeks before the trip and during the flight, they felt that I needed to immediately establish a clear boundary line – if he crossed the new line, then I would have a solid case against him.  They had me file a case with the corporate legal office but had me leave off his name – if he did cross the new line, then I could attach his name to the case.  That way, he couldn’t say that I had filed a case without cause in an attempt to defame him.  I also gave his name to a family member so someone would have it in the event he did something to render me unable to declare his identity.

I did set a clear boundary and sent it to him in writing.  He left me alone for several months.  Then our division manager announced that he was placing us together on another project – with Jesse as my boss.  At that point, Jesse told me that I had to rescind my boundary and allow him to decide how closely we would work together.  He said that, if I didn’t rescind the boundary, he would get me fired and ruin my career.

That is when I told him about the paperwork I had filed with the corporate office and I dared him to try and get me fired.  He didn’t say anything, he just turned and walked away.  About a week later, he resigned from the company without warning – everyone but me was shocked at his sudden departure.  And, that was the end of that.

Because I didn’t want to make a big deal about nothing, I never told anyone how much the incident with Jesse affected me – how afraid I had been during the attack.  It has always felt to me that my reaction was greater than the situation called for . . . that I should not have felt/thought what I felt/thought.

So, in speaking about it others afterwards, I only presented outwardly obvious “facts”.  I have never told anyone what I was really thinking during the attack – that I thought he was going to kill me – I didn’t want people to think I was being over-reactive.

Maybe my reaction was also based upon experiences when I was younger . . . when I was in second grade, I remember a boy pinching my breast as he passed me in the hall at school – and hearing all the boys grouped around him laughing about it.

Then, in seventh grade, two boys cornered me as I was walking home from school and threatened to rape me.  I ran back to the school and a teacher called my parents and the parents of the boys.  The boys got in a lot of trouble – they swore that they were just joking with me, that they wouldn’t have really done anything – that they didn’t realize how traumatic it would be for me.

In ninth grade, the school bully cornered me in a basement hallway at school and pinned me up against the wall.  He told me that he was going to rape me.  I transformed into a wild banshee and came out kicking and hitting . . . I hit him on the side of the head so hard it broke his eardrum.  He tried to get me in trouble for hitting him, but it didn’t work – but he didn’t get in trouble either because I didn’t want to tell anyone what had really happened – I felt it was my fault because I had been letting other boys kiss and fondle me.

Maybe I reacted so strongly to Jesse’s attack because I’ve come to know too well that men do what men do – why would I expect anything different from him?

– Marie


Responses

  1. Hi Marie,

    What you are feeling and thinking during an assault is valid. It is not an over-reaction.

    I’m sorry for what you went through and how it continued to impact you. As well I am sorry for the incidents as a child. I’m glad that you were able to fight back in any way. That is very positive.

    I am especially hearted that you did all that you could legally against Jesse. Good for you for doing the best you could to protect yourself from him.

    Good and healing thoughts to you.

    Kate


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