Alright, I’m about to dive head first into a shit storm, all the while ignoring the big, billboard-sized neon sign that reads “DON’T DO THIS.” But I do feel compelled as I’ve yet to see a male on my Facebook timeline, or otherwise, voice an opinion on the serious matter of sexual harassment and assault.
God, just saying that word freaks the fucking shit out of me.
For me, it invokes an image of a small group of dudes hanging out in a night club with their pockets lined with date rape, and I just want to smash that image to pieces. I think many guys think this is what sexual assault is – premeditated and the stuff of pure evil.
And of course it is that. But what I, and many more men, have come to realize is that it’s so much more than that too.
And this scares the shit out of men.
With everything that’s been going around on Facebook with regards to sexual assault, spurred on by this cum dumpster of a human being, Harvey Weinstein, I, as a man, feel like an asshole when I see many of my friends and other women I truly care about post that singular, powerful message on their Facebook timelines:
So why do I feel like an asshole? I’m not one of those men and I have never been one of those men. But I feel SHITTY just seeing all of those posts and reading about what has happened in Hollywood and what I’m sure has happened in workplaces and homes all over the world.
So as I sit in my cabin here in the Great Northern Forests of Saskatchewan, Canada, where the sexiest thing I’ve come across in a week is a monster fish I caught WITH MY OWN BARE HANDS, I’m going to try and figure out why I feel the way I do, so be patient with me here.
I want to begin with a personal story, because you all know me – that’s what I do.
My Experience with Sexual Assault
I’m going to come out and say this right off the bat – not everyone is going to agree with what I did here, but it was a bit of a “fly by the seat of my pants” situation and I acted on instinct. I’ve had good friends call me a fuckwit, others tell me that I did the right thing, but I can tell you right now that if this ever happened again I would certainly do things differently. I hope you’ll see that my heart was in the right place and, in the end, it turned out aces. For that I think I’m truly lucky.
I was having a friendly board game night with a few of my friends and I spent the night delivering an absolute ass-kicking on my opponents. We finished up, it was about 11:00PM and we decided to call it a night.
Myself and two of my buddies hop on the building’s elevator. We go down two floors and the door opens. A pretty girl wearing what I would call “clubbin’ attire” stumbles onto the elevator by herself, completely shitfaced and downright surly-looking. Before the elevator door closes, another woman in her bathrobe runs over to the elevator and tells us, as the door is closing, “to make sure she gets a cab.” We all look at each other and then at the drunk girl and are all thinking the same thing: “Yeah, no. She’s not our problem.”
We try and engage the girl, but she’s barely coherent. My one buddy thinks she’s a hooker, the other doesn’t really care, and I think she’s just drunk off her ass and needs to go home to her bed. We get off at the main floor, walk outside and see a cab waiting for her. Thinking all is fine, my buddy and I start walking in one direction toward our vehicles, and we stop on the corner to have a quick chat about how he’s never going to invite me over for board games ever again because I am LEGION and make everyone else look stupid. He goes off on his merry way, and I look back and see this drunk girl zig-zagging her way down the street towards me. The cab took off without her, and I see her fumbling around in her purse, mumbling something to herself. I start to get a little concerned.
I keep walking to my truck, and she’s still behind me, and then I get into my truck and, through my side-view mirror I see her standing outside an SUV, still wobbling around and rummaging through her purse. My first thought is:
Holy fuck, this girl is going to drive.
So I get out of my truck and walk over to her. Things suddenly take a huge turn.
She drops her purse, slides down the side of her SUV and closes her eyes, sitting upright against her front tire. I run back to my truck and grab my phone, a bottle of water and my jacket. I put the jacket over her and put the bottle of water in her hand. Thankfully, she opens her eyes and starts to drink.
She tells me her name is “Jenny”, and that she’s lost her keys and can’t get a hold of her friend– her best friend that she went out to the bar with that night. I ask her where her friend is, and she tells me she just left her at the bar, so she left after a few drinks and then tried to get into her friend’s place to sleep.
I’m thinking to myself . . . “A few drinks. Riiiight. You’re a fucking mess, and it’s a blessing you lost your keys.”
I tell Jenny to come warm up in my truck, since it was pretty cold outside and she didn’t have a jacket (and sure as fuck couldn’t have mine). She gets into my passenger seat, still wobbling, so I make her pound the bottle of water and then give her another one. I ask her who I can call to come pick her up, and she tells me, flatly, “no one”. A little annoyed, I ask for her address so I can drive her home, and she tells me she can’t even get into her house because, of course, she doesn’t have her keys. I ask her if she can stay with a friend, and once again she says “no”.
I don’t take no as an answer and ask for her phone. Surprisingly, she hands it over to me and I see a few people had messaged her over the course of our conversation. One text from a guy named Kevin reads: “hey where are you right now.”
I’m like, PERFECT. I immediately call this guy’s number, but the cocksucker doesn’t pick up. So I text him and say, “Hey your friend Jenny is really drunk and she needs a friend. I found her lying against her vehicle without her keys. Call me, my name is Dustin.”
I see the fucker typing through iMessage on the other end, and like the gent that he is, he stops writing his message and doesn’t respond. Great.
Jenny starts throwing up. She still had the smarts, fucked up as she was, to grab a half-full bag of Cheetos I had sitting on my truck floor, and throws up into the bag, getting most of it inside the bag and ruining Cheetos for me forever.
Not wanting vomit all over my vehicle, I put the truck into gear and drive ten blocks back to my condo where I tell her she can throw up in my bathroom and we’ll figure things out and get her home. She kind of agrees between fits of vomiting, and I honestly didn’t care at that point. I just knew two things:
1) Soupy, watery vomit doesn’t come out of upholstery like you would hope.
2) I wasn’t going to leave Jenny hammered by her vehicle in downtown Edmonton.
We get to my place, I park and she uses me for support as we head up to the sixteenth floor. She rushes to the bathroom with her shoes still on, and then locks herself in there and starts throwing up into the toilet. I immediately try the door, glass of water in hand, and she won’t open up. I call out to her, but she’s too busy throwing up to give a shit. Ten minutes go by and she finally stops, opens the door and says: “What the fuuuck do youuu waaaant, Braaaandon?”
“To keep you alive. Jesus Christ,” I reply, and put the glass of water in her hand. “Brandon?”
It was then that it hit me that I had made a terrible mistake. Not at the truck. Not when I was sober and carrying her up into my building while she was drunk. No, I figure this out as she’s on my bathroom floor giving me lip and calling me fucking Brandon.
I go into her purse and grab her phone. I immediately call her friend, the girl that was supposed to be with her that night but ditched her. She doesn’t pick up, so I leave a message with my name, address, phone number and all the details. I do the same with her parents and two other friends that she’d recently been in contact with. I am scared shitless.
All I can think is:
What if she thinks I’m some dude that picked her up at the bar and took advantage of her? What if I go to jail for trying to do the right thing? What if this chick is crazy and accuses me of something I didn’t do?
I hop on my phone and message my group of friends on Whatsapp group chat, and explain the entire situation. I call my buddy and his wife at the place I had just left, and I talk with them about what had happened since I left. They tell me that everything is okay, and to just make sure she gets water and some food in her stomach before I put her to bed. ‘Just make sure she’s OKAY, Dustin.’
At this point Jenny had gotten onto her feet and stumbled toward my couch, and all I could think is:
“I should have left you there.”
It’s terrible, but remember that thought.
She’s on my couch now. I can’t get a hold of ANYONE on her recent contacts, and so I decide to brave it, thinking I had all my bases covered.
Jenny starts taking off her shoes and I tell her: “Keep those on. It’s fine.”
When really all I’m thinking is: If you have your shoes on when you wake up, you won’t think I sexually assaulted you.
I grab a bag of rice cakes and two bottles of water, make her eat two rice cakes (sorry Jenny) and watch as she drinks another full bottle. I bring her a trash can, instruct her to preferably throw up inside of said trash can if she feels the need and she responds with:
“Who made you boss?”
In my panic, this is hilarious to me and I start laughing. She looks at me funny and tells me she’s going to sleep because she’s felt like sleeping since she left the bar and I’m boring. She puts her shoes up on my couch, fully clothed, and I bring her a pillow and my SUPER COOL hockey-themed blanket and turn out the lights.
I go back to my room and write a note. I don’t have it anymore, but I think it went something like this:
“Hello, Jenny. You’ve woken up in Dustin Bilyk’s apartment, and don’t worry: you’re safe. I found you lying down by your car last night. You got pretty drunk!
Tried to get a hold of your friends and parents last night, but no one picked up so I left a message on their phones. You’re going to be totally embarrassed when you wake up.
Feel free to leave or wake me up when you’re about to leave. If you would prefer to just leave, here is all of my information just in case you have any questions.”
I leave the note right by her purse so she’ll see it when she wakes up, retreat back to my bedroom and I
DON’T SLEEP A FUCKING WINK.
A full seven hours go by with me tossing and turning in bed, and twice during that period I get up and check on Jenny to make sure she’s still okay. Finally I hear her wake up, and I freeze in my bedroom, thinking my life is over. But I do the only thing I can do, and walk into the living room to explain.
Jenny doesn’t remember anything. Like zippo, nada. So she’s obviously shocked to be in some stranger’s apartment. She has already read the note so most of the shock had faded, and she asks me to tell her what happened, so I do.
She looks confused and worried as I finish the recounting the events of the night, and I come to the realization that this girl is actually REALLY nice and super intelligent, and that the mess of a human I saw the night before wasn’t even close to being who Jenny really was. Not even a drunk version. And then I realize what had happened.
My ex-wife, when she was 21, went to a bar with her girlfriends and was drugged with GHB. When she, thankfully, came home to me at around 9PM, she screamed at me for no reason, started bawling and was a completely different person. She was what I envision a female version of Satan to be, possibly worse. But as we came to conclude that she was drugged the next morning, all was forgiven and I worried about her going out from that point on.
But this experience came to mind, and I asked Jenny how many drinks she’d had at the bar. She said one, maybe two that she remembered, and then it clicks for both of us:
She was drugged with date rape.
The fear, the vulnerability and the emotion I saw on her face for the five seconds after that realization I will NEVER forget. She took a moment to process what had happened at the bar, what could have happened, and then what did happen, and she leaned over and gave me a big hug, making all of my previous worries disappear. She left shortly after that, but later she returned to my condo with a $100 Starbucks gift card, which I accepted with some reluctance, and she proceeded to call me her guardian angel. We haven’t spoken since.
End of story.
Now everyone is going to have an opinion about what I should have done in this situation. To me the answer is very clear now that I’m not simply reacting to the situation as it unfolded.
I should have contacted the police and had them take care of her. They likely would have sent an ambulance, it would have cost her north of $500, and she would have spent the night in the drunk tank instead of my couch.
This would have removed ALL risk from my plate, while putting Jenny in a less than desirable, but safe, position. If this ever happens again, God forbid, I will do exactly this. Not because it is what I would hope someone else would do for me (which is exactly what I did that night), but because it keeps ME safe, and I wouldn’t be taking any unnecessary risks.
But this could have turned out terribly. In my mind, I was trying to do the right thing. I wanted to be a man and help this woman the best I knew how. But in doing a good deed, I was still terrified (perhaps irrationally) about becoming labelled as a sex criminal. It was top of my mind, and to this day just telling this story scares the shit out of me.
Now let’s draw back to what this post is about: Sexual Harassment & Assault.
I want people to understand my stance VERY clearly here. I respect women. I love women. I love how women look. I love having sex with women. And I respect their boundaries and would never do anything to hurt a woman.
Now remember thet thought I had when I realized I’d made a mistake by bringing her up to the condo?
“I should have just left you there.”
This is obviously the wrong take-away from this experience. There is no way I should have left her there, and there is no way, morally, I could have done that. But I could have made better decisions, such as the one I illustrated above involving the police.
Yet I did what a lot of men do on a day to day basis, albeit, in different situations.
I took the initiative.
I wanted to fix the situation myself, make the right move and come out the “hero” like a fucking jackass. I acted purely on instinct.
Men do this all the time. We act on instinct and take the initiative, because this is something we grow up learning to do.
To this day, in the majority of cases, we are expected to make the first move, be the one to ask the girl to the dance, initiate the first kiss, send the first message on Tinder, and make the plans for the first date. The ball has always been in our court to progress to the next step in the physical relationship, whether that’s kissing, grabbing a handful of boob, giving head, or having sex. Right or wrong, this has been my experience.
Rarely do women initiate the physical side of the relationship. I can also only remember three times in which a woman I have been intimate with said “no, I would like to wait.” In all of these instances I backed off, dipped my wiener in a bucket of ice and moved on with my life. It wasn’t a big deal.
But then I think, with everything floating around out there regarding sexual assault victims:
Has anyone ever slept with me that didn’t want to?
And that thought makes me sick.
So sick that I’m not sure if I should be taking the initiative anymore. So sick that being a forward, assertive male and making decisions instinctually when things “feel right” in an intimate setting now actually feels like it might be perverted and wrong.
But does this make me less of a man? Is that attractive? Do women want me to act first? Do some women want me to act first? How do I tell? Should I just cut my dick off?
What I’m attempting to say here is this:
While the primary victim of sexual assault are and always will be women, the attention it has received does affect men too.
I think a lot of men feel lumped into that group, and a lot of us, like myself, are questioning our sexual past and whether we ever took things too far. And now, as some of us look forward, it leaves us with a lot of questions about what is okay and what isn’t okay. This isn’t a bad thing by any means. I actually think it’s a very important discussion to have and even more important to personally reflect upon.
However, it’s still not black and white to me, because not all women are the same. Some women want full control over intimacy. Some want the man to take charge and show that passion and desire that you read about in all of those shitty Danielle Steele novels.
Here are a few questions to consider and think hard about:
Do I ask a woman before I kiss her? Before I put my arm around her on the couch? Before I take her shirt off? Does every step along the way require verbal consent?
If a man likes a woman in the workplace, how does he approach that conversation without being labelled as a sexual predator? Is it good enough to just be polite about it, or is this completely off limits?
If both a man and a woman are drunk but consent to have sex, is the man still going in with the potential of being charged with sexual assault? Can the woman be charged with sexual assault? Should dating partners just never have sex while under the influence?
Should women take charge and move relationships forward physically? Would women even want that responsibility? Does that responsibility scare some women the same way it might scare some men?
Does sexual assault BEGIN at the point in which the man is told “no” but persists anyway? Is that the definition of sexual assault, or is it more complicated than that?
These are LOADED questions I have, and every time I try to answer them I just get more confused. The fear can be paralyzing for many men, and I fear that many of us with a decent head on our shoulders are going to turn into something that women are no longer attracted to.
This in no way is suggesting that the polar opposite is right either. Men shouldn’t be running around cat-calling women, slapping waitresses on the ass and making sexual advances in the workplace. These things ARE fucked up, and sexual consent and respect for women is paramount if we’re ever to make any progress.
But it IS confusing and difficult for even the most well-intentioned of men, and just saying that it’s not difficult is completely ignorant.
So should I have taken the initiative and went with my instinct to help Jenny? If I fast-forward to today, would I have even taken that risk?
Honestly, I don’t know that I would have.
In closing, readers, I know this was a long post and not my usual gab. But the serious issue of sexual assault is a complicated one, and while the attitudes of men (and some women) are hopefully changing for the better, we need to decide what a man should and shouldn’t be in our modern society. We also need to decide what a woman's responsibility is.
So if you have anything to add or some helpful material to read or watch that is practical for the single men and women of the world, then please do share below. It’s important not just to me, but to everyone else reading this post.
Finally, to all of those people affected by sexual assault, be it friends, family, loved ones or even the people I’ve never met:
I believe you.
Men believe you.
This isn’t a single-gender issue. This affects all of us, and we’re here for you.
Note: This post was from the perspective of a man (Hi! That’s me!), and I am aware that it does not touch on female sexual assault or the LGBTQ community. However, I fully acknowledge that this is not a single gender issue. Thanks for reading!