“Short of homicide, [rape] is the “ultimate violation of self.”” ~ Byron R White
In my line of work, I sometimes have the good? fortune to encounter some powerful families in this country. In my dealings with such families I often find myself providing a myriad of services to the different members of the family; setting up a company here, a trust there or even organising the purchase of a house. There is one key to business success with these families: the ability to keep a secret.
One of the younger family members, in her mid-twenties at the time, requested a meeting to discuss setting up her own company. It was my first solo meeting with a family member and I was both nervous and excited. My boss was finally taking the training wheels off my bike.
When the receptionist called to say she had arrived and was in the boardroom, I was more than ready. I walked in and said my hellos. She really was and still is the most beautiful girl with a 100W smile. An absolute stunner. I sat down and initiated proceedings. “So what would you like to discuss.”
She responded with “Something happened a few months ago. One of my friends raped me.”
I know I said that as I have grown older I have learnt to take encounters in my stride but I really was not psychologically prepared for this one. I often wonder whether people plan to tell me things or their revelations are as much of a surprise to them as they are to me.
I struggled for a words a little but it was ok because she had already started telling me what happened. While I regained my equilibrium, all I had to do was listen. It was a school friend. She lives alone. They were not particularly close. He wanted to hang out and discuss an assignment. They were sitting on the couch. He tried to kiss her. She said no. He became aggressive. Before she knew what was happening, he was forcing himself on her. He kept saying “you wanted it. That’s why you invited me here.” After he was done, he got up and left. She did not leave the house for a week. She was afraid that anyone who saw her would know. She didn’t think he was dangerous. He always looked so normal.
I expressed how sorry I was that such a thing had happened to her. It felt so inadequate. I asked if she sought medical attention as soon as it happened? Had she seen a psychologist? Had she told anyone else? Had she seen him since? Had he made contact since it happened? Most importantly, did she report the matter to the police? Did she understand that it was not her fault? Did she still see him at school?
She had told her mother. Her mother didn’t think it was a good idea to make such a matter public. She agreed with her mother. She had seen a doctor. Whatever needed to be sorted was sorted. She had not told anyone else aside from her mother and myself. She didn’t want her boyfriend to know.
We discussed the entire matter in great detail and she asked me not to take notes. I didn’t take any during the meeting. I still wrote it all down when I got back to my desk. The dates. The places. The times. The sequence of events. If ever she chooses to report him. I will have something for her arsenal.
Of the 3 hour meeting we had, her new company was only the subject for 20 minutes.