By Shelly Cooper, PFLAG Tacoma
This is to every man who loves a woman.
Reality is calling. Your wife/girlfriend/partner/friend/daughter, just came home from work, girls’ night out, a work party or an event (like school, as an example). She’s acting all weird. Her make-up looks a little wrong, not all lipstick smeared or blush smudged off, but maybe some mascara runs that she missed with the quick wipe-down in the car.
You’re puzzled, but you’re parked on the couch watching the game with the kids or a beer. No offense to people who have a beer after work and watch the game. Guilty as charged, right along with you.
And we’re back! You’re attentive and happy to see her, but she’s acting weird, like she doesn’t want you to touch her or be kissed and you wonder if she went to the gym and didn’t shower, or what, because she doesn’t even smell right…You try to hug her and she wraps her arms around herself instead of around you. You just hold her. If she’s your daughter, you just hold her. No sniffing, that kind of thing. Do not Donald her. She’s your daughter.
Don’t hold her too tight, just enough to let her know you’re feeling that she’s not okay. You ask, over and over if she’s okay and she insists she is, but you know, she’s not. Now you have some choices. Do you A. Go back to the game, she’s boring you now. B. Gently hold on until she stops shaking and fighting tears or crying and is willing to talk to you. C. Yell at her “What’s wrong with you?” D. Keep telling her to be quiet and it will be okay.
I sure hope you picked the right answer because I don’t want to man ‘splain it to you right now…
Now, she has stopped shaking and fighting tears, or not, three hours later. You have decided something bad happened with a co-worker/girlfriend/her boss/or the football team. I mean if your daughter is acting like this, well, she’s a slut who would do the entire team without blinking, am I right, fellas? Oh yeah, we got her good, Dude! Woo-hoo! We got no more virgins on our team!
And wait, what? What’s that you said, dad? Not your little girl! Oh, bless me, no, but guess what? Every one of us was some dad’s little girl once and never once did we dream; “Ooh. I hope I get fucked multiple times in one night by seven different guys while I’m so trashed on the Quaalude spiked grain alcohol punch at the party I went to, so that I have no memory other than the spots of blood in my panties in the morning.”
Sorry, back to the scenario where it’s an adult woman that you love…
You are right. It was the guy that taught gym class to the 3rd graders who waited for her in the parking lot when it was dark and she was headed home. It was the guy who approached her at the bar, the big guy full of smiles who just “wouldn’t take no for an answer” when it came to drinks and who “wouldn’t take no for an answer” when he caught up with her on her way to the ladies’ room, shoved her into the men’s room and locked the door while his buddy stood guard outside.
“Then what happened, honey?”
“Some huge guy, I mean he was 6 feet tall and weighed 220 pounds at least! He grabbed me and pulled up my skirt and grabbed my crotch and my boobs and he smashed my mouth with this disgusting kiss!”
Or it could be something like, “I can’t believe that guy at work (insert name here) won’t fucking let me be! My friend was getting her award and he actually grabbed my vagina from behind! I jumped about a foot in the air, but I didn’t want to screw up the work event!”
Or your daughter went to a “no adults” booze party instead of to a friend’s house and some guys were there.
Again, you have choices in your response. Do you A. Go back to the game, you’re way bored now. B. Gently put your arms around her again and assure her you’re on her side. C. Ask her if she’s sure that’s what happened. D. Say “What no high five? Some other dude got same action and no one cares!” E. Yell at her about lying about the friend’s house thing and point out that it’s “DANGEROUS FOR GIRLS TO GO TO PARTIES LIKE THAT!”
At this point there might be another twist that includes her trying to calm you down. Now she feels worse than she did if you haven’t made the correct behavioral choices in response to her awful revelation.
Given that, no matter what happened, she has been duly, irrevocably traumatized and she needs something from you. What if you say “We’re calling the cops, right now!” and her response is “Oh, honey, I just can’t deal with this right now. I want to shower and go to bed. I feel gross.” She has just relived what happened once again with you.
How do you convince her that if she doesn’t call the police now, they might not believe her after the fact, even within 24 hours?
How do you convince her that reliving her horror will be good for her in the end?
Please tell me how you make her tell another living soul this degrading thing happened to her.
What do you do with your daughter when this happens? Will you be paying enough attention to notice? Will you make the right choices in order to support her and help her through an event that will cause her mental stress for the rest of her life? We can only hope.
Are you raising the son who would do the right thing for his wife?
Are you raising the son that won’t cause the trauma in the first place?
Dude, I’m asking you what kind of son you’re raising today so this won’t be as likely to happen tomorrow. A woman is being traumatized by a man in our world as I write, guaranteed.