My head

Facing a demon

June 12, 2015
violence against women

Spotless oven

Three years ago, in an underground carpark I was sexually assaulted by an old man. I was eight months pregnant and walking with my toddler in a trolley.

If you want to read about that it’s here.

I went to the police and made a statement and one year after the incident I was called to identify the offender in a line up. I was shown pictures of 12 old men and I needed to recollect the man who had grabbed my vagina and intimidated me 12 months prior.

In that 12 months, I’d had a baby and had about 5 minutes sleep but still I pointed to the man who touched me up because I recognised his face immediately.

About 6 months after that, the detective handling the case told me that he’d been to see the man and he didn’t speak English. There was a big family powwow with his son and his wife, and the police explained that the man was in trouble for indecently assaulting a woman.

Over the next few months they went to the their family doctor and got a letter stating that the man had dementia and he didn’t know what he was doing.

Nearly two years after the offence, the detective called me to tell me that all charges were dropped. He also said the man didn’t appear confused or addled when the family were all talking but alas, his hands were tied.

The case was finished, as was my trust in the legal system for dealing with incidences such as this one.

Today, I saw that man who assaulted me standing outside my local supermarket. I did a double take. Could it be?

I never really imagined bumping into him although obviously we live in the same locality but suddenly there he was. Standing nonchalantly (waiting for someone?) wearing a jaunty hat with a feather in it. Just hangin’.

I pegged him by the same underbite that I recognised in the police line up.

Do you think I walked up to him and punched him in his stupid Muttley jaw and told my kids to never live in fear of someone who tries to intimidate you, or do you think I freaked out, got teary and went home and angry scrubbed my oven until it sparkled?

I couldn’t move for minute and I was just staring at him and he was staring at me. My heart was racing like a rabbit in my chest and I feared it would burst from my throat and shoot across the shopping centre and hide under the pop-up handbag stand.

He looked calmly back. He didn’t look away.

The sound of my kids bickering pulled me out of my vortex and we entered the supermarket.

This man is not a scary looking dude. He is a 78 year old man who is shorter than me by a head. He is stocky, but I am strong, however any perceived physical strength I have was taken away from me by a man who intimidated me.

I’ve been thinking a lot about domestic violence and violence against women recently. I’ve been trying to think of a way to pen something that will make a difference, but I have no words for this feeling of powerlessness I feel women have in our society when it comes to violence and intimidation from men.

My mum always tells me not to walk alone after dark, but its such a shame that I cannot walk without fear. I could hold my chin high and say I will not be terrorised and live in fear, but who is the fool after they have been attacked or worse when I could have just caught a cab?

This is not the post I’m trying to brew about violence against women, but it’s just reminded me that by simply being a woman I am at risk, and even a little old man can intimidate me sheerly through the fact that he is a man.

I cried when I got in the car and I don’t even know why. I’m putting it down to the adrenalin burst needing to disperse.

I did clean that oven. I cleaned it good and proved to it that I am in control of my life and my Ilve six-burner can never take that away from me.

 

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18 Comments

  • Reply jenni from styling curvy June 12, 2015 at 8:23 pm

    Geez. That’s awful and fucked up and…just fucked! I’m sorry that happened to you and that the legal system let you down. Sexual assault is paralyzing…in the moment and even decades later. I hope he hasn’t put anyone else through what he put you through…hugs to you. I hope that sick feeling leaves you soon, he doesn’t deserve to have that kind of power xxx

    • Reply Danielle June 13, 2015 at 11:14 am

      New day. Sun is shining and I’m off to a picnic. Life is grand x

  • Reply [email protected] June 12, 2015 at 9:09 pm

    I am simultaneously devastated for you but so super proud. A massive high five for you sister! You’ve shown courage & pride not to mention a clean oven! xx

    • Reply Danielle June 13, 2015 at 11:14 am

      Really? I felt a little pathetic actually but I’ll take a high five all day long!

  • Reply Megan June 12, 2015 at 9:11 pm

    Oh my heart goes out to you. That’s just horrible.

    • Reply Danielle June 13, 2015 at 11:13 am

      Thanks, man. I’m cool though. Today is a new day xxx

  • Reply Tamzen Temple June 12, 2015 at 9:32 pm

    Far out!! I think my whole house, not just the oven would be shining if that happened to me. I’m so angry for you and at the whole system. You done so well to get through it….

    • Reply Danielle June 13, 2015 at 11:13 am

      Oh no, I cracked the wine once the oven was done and that was the end of that.

  • Reply raphaela99 June 13, 2015 at 10:10 am

    Oh my friend, I am so sorry this happened to you. I was abducted and thrown off a building at fifteen. Several months in hospital and many surgeries later, I saw him. He was just hanging about the shops, and he glared at me and I at him. I had the same reaction. I burst into tears, I shook and all the energy and strength left my body.It is a normal reaction to an horrendous experience. Go gently on yourself. By writing, you are making a difference, more than you know.xxx

    • Reply Danielle June 13, 2015 at 11:12 am

      What the WHAT???? That’s insane.

      PS I just realised that you and Ms Angelou are the same person. I’m soooo slow.

      • Reply Raphaela June 15, 2015 at 7:21 am

        Bless! Yep we are the same person. It has taken me twenty years to come to terms with what happened. I come undone regularly and retreat then come back with a renewed defiance.

  • Reply Nicole - Champagne and Chips June 13, 2015 at 10:22 am

    I clicked through to your first mention of this incident before I read today’s post. It is really interesting how your experience of it has changed – from not thinking you needed to go to the police, to anger about the lack of justice in your case. I guess the world keeps showing us what a poor predicament women are in and it has hit home that this man is just one creepy example of a much bigger issue.
    The worst thing is that, while you aren’t overtly traumatised, his next victim could be a young woman for whom this might be a first sexual experience. Thereby affecting her for the rest of her life. Horrible.
    It has made me rethink an experience I had a while ago. I was walking my dog (in shapeless trackies- and you know, it disturbs me that I feel the need to point that out) and an old fella offered me a bag of chips (unopened) in broken English. I said thank you but no thank you. He insisted that he didn’t like them and that I should take them and proceeded to give me a hug. I was a little stunned, but having worked in healthcare, have been hugged by many an old confused person so didn’t think anything of it… Until he reached around and groped my boob.
    I said GOODBYE in a particularly affronted 1900s-English-woman fashion and stalked up the street, defiantly throwing the bag of chips (which were somehow in my hand) into a wheely bin. Later, when I told some friends, we christened him ‘Chips and tits’ and had a laugh. I still see him all the time but avoid getting close.
    Again, I am not traumatised, but what might his next chip offering do to someone young and vulnerable?

    • Reply Danielle June 13, 2015 at 11:11 am

      You’re so right. I think the fact that it turned into a ‘thing’. The line up, the to and fro with the family, the conversations with police.
      More than anything, yesterday I was just caught by surprise. I agree with you about this and Chips and Tits, what if it was someone less resilient??

  • Reply Michele June 13, 2015 at 2:12 pm

    My thoughts, love, hugs and kisses are with you!!!!! Shitty thing to happen to you – I am so glad that it did not affect you too badly.

    I was sexually abused as a child (5/6 yrs old). Being so young, I did not seem to realise what it meant until I was a teenager. By that time it was just something that happened a long time ago. I seem to have just gotten over it.

    Life goes on and for some of us it is just another life experience.

    • Reply Danielle June 15, 2015 at 7:19 pm

      Yeah, I hear you. I had a one off experience at 9, with a grown up male babysitter, and to be honest I reckon it made me very sexually curious.
      It affects everyone differently, and I’m pleased you and I managed to get away (mostly) unscathed.

  • Reply Sonia from Sonia Styling June 15, 2015 at 4:05 pm

    I’m continually blown away by your strength.
    There’s no way I’d have cleaned the oven afterwards. Downed a bottle of wine, yes. Cleaned? No way. Much love. x

  • Reply Zanni Arnot June 17, 2015 at 1:04 pm

    I can’t stop thinking about this post Dan. I read it a few days ago, but couldn’t comment on my phone. Geezus. What an experience. The whole thing. I hate that you had to go through that – or that any woman (or man) goes through any intimidation like this. xx

    • Reply Danielle June 18, 2015 at 9:27 pm

      Thanks Zan. I’m cool though, but I completely agree that it’s totally pants.

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