So you married a serial harasser...
A true story.
In 2012, I was reading an advice column about men who cross boundaries and make people uncomfortable and the relationship between those men and rapists. The thesis of the article was that men (and people in general but mostly men) who don't respect basic boundaries like "I don't want to hug you" are more likely to not respect big boundaries, like "I don't want to have sex with you."
As I was reading this column, I thought to myself "boy, that sounds just like my ex-husband Lucas, except he's never raped anyone--" and then I remembered.
I remembered that when I was 18 years old, we had a threesome where he did not take no for an answer from the other woman involved. I'd been blackout drunk, which is not an excuse for my involvement so much as one for why it took me 10 years to remember what happened. I only remember her saying no and him on top of her, but it's enough.
Lucas has a long history of crossing boundaries, going back to when I first met him in 2001. He used to say things to me -- while he had a girlfriend -- like "I'd like to hug you to feel your tits against me." Once we got together, it was honestly a whirlwind of women that he groped, propositioned, harassed, and otherwise in retrospect made feel uncomfortable. This includes him groping my own sister. And pursuing my intern while I was at DC, which was the final straw for me in our marriage. I enabled this behavior for a long time, which I have beat myself up for quite a bit. I thought he was harmless. I thought it was all in good fun. He used to tell me that because I jokingly flirted with my friends that he could flirt with whoever he wanted and I couldn't say anything about it. I feel awful that he treated my friends and acquaintances and even strangers in that way. I feel awful that I may have contributed to anyone feeling uncomfortable.
When I remembered the rape, I stopped talking to him, eventually emailing him about what I'd remembered in October 2012. His statement to me at the time was basically that he was ashamed of how he'd treated women but his new girlfriend (now wife) had taught him how to respect women and that he was a different person.
The women coming forward in recent days tell a different story. These incidents seem to have been well after he got together with his wife. I know through my network of friends in comics and geek culture (not to mention just general friends not in these communities) that there are many, many more who he's made feel uncomfortable. I'm sending you all love and support. I'm so sorry.
I'm not blameless in this. I feel that strongly. We were toxic together, and who I was with him was not a healthy person by any means. But he's continued this behavior and I hope will be held truly accountable for it. I've held myself accountable for my own behavior in our marriage and I'd like to think that I've made amends for my own part in his behavior. I'm not perfect and I'm the first to admit that. I've made mistakes. Lucas was one of my biggest mistakes, in fact.
The thing is that a lot of my passion for speaking up about sexual harassment stems from my experiences with Lucas. I witnessed so many things over the years that made me uncomfortable even not as the victim of his behavior. Once I remembered the rape, I began to have panic attacks just at the idea of interacting with him. Now it's to the point that if I'm confronted with an unexpected mention of him that I start to shake.
Still, when I saw the twitter posts I knew I had to speak up. This is not a harmless person who has been totally unaware of his behavior up to this point. He knows what he’s doing even though he should’ve learned to be better long ago. He’s not innocent. Sadly, neither am I.