Has a respected man in your community or workplace sexually harassed or maybe even assaulted you? Congrats! You’ve had the good fortune of garnering the attention of a charming and well-liked man, and your negative perception of his behavior is probably way off base. Are you sure he said or did those things? Oh, you have screenshots of the texts? Maybe you were misinterpreting his tone! Oh, they’re really graphic? Okay, sure, he can take things a little too far, but that’s just his sense of humor! Here’s how to walk back your claims and see the charming side of him that other people see. He can’t be that bad! Other people like this guy!
Think about how nice he is.
Okay, so you claim he continuously pressured you to perform sexual acts, despite your constant refusal, and then tried to leverage his power over you, before finally saying, “This is why no one likes you. I was just trying to be nice.” If what you say is true, he’d be a pretty big asshole, huh? But he brought in doughnuts once! And other people have had good experiences with him where he was really funny and pleasant to be around! So maybe you’ve got him all wrong? Try to think about how nice he is to everyone else except you, cause there’s no way he is a multi-layered human who behaves differently in different situations with people he values differently due to his deeply ingrained beliefs about gender and who merits respect in society. That seems unlikely. It’s probably just that you’re being oversensitive and should chill out and marvel at what a cool guy he is.
Be considerate of others.
Talking about how uncomfortable he made you feel, how fearful you were of the repercussions of reporting these experiences to others, and how all of that inhibited your ability to participate in daily activities, can really bum people out. And it could make them suuuuper uncomfortable if they have to confront the idea that a dear friend of theirs would sexually harass someone. I mean, can you imagine if he was really like that to someone? It would be horrible. So don’t bring it up. You’re being a downer.
Remember: he’s probably really fun once you get to know him.
If something like this did happen, people would probably believe it, because they’d know from the way he normally acted that it were true. But, unfortunately, this probably didn’t happen, because this guy is “nice” by all accounts, except yours. Wait, he did this to someone else, too? Whatever, try to be considerate of other people’s feelings and leave this in the past, even if you still have to see him around a lot. Instead of telling people that his continual presence and the lack of consequences he’s suffered makes you uncomfortable, try giving him a chance. He’s really fun once you get to know him.
Seriously, just let it go.
How bad could it be, really? Five girls in the past six months bad? Okay, that’s bad. But let’s just play devil’s advocate and imagine a universe where he was exactly as bad as you say and you’re not just doing this for attention or whatever—would it really be so bad for you to be getting sexual attention from such a cool guy? I mean, he donated his motorcycle to disabled kids. Wouldn’t it actually be a kind of a compliment to get his attention? I mean, it’s not like it would be maddening for everyone to accept his story over yours due to his position of influence, right? Or if it were that upsetting, wouldn’t you want to forget about it and move on with your life and stop making such a thing about it and let everyone else live in their own happy ignorance? Couldn’t you prioritize the minor discomfort of a bunch of other people over your own intense psychological trauma and desire for justice? Wait, there was a sixth girl? What?
Sometimes the hardest part of being sexually harassed is finding enough good in him to realize he didn’t really harass you or those six other women at all.