Collusion: secret agreement or cooperation especially for an illegal or deceitful purpose

(Yes, this is a repost from October, but the subject matter has come up in recent conversations and it made me want to post this again because it reminds me to be always aware of what’s going on and it still makes me wonder about them)

For much of my life, I’ve had male friends. For some reason, I tend to gravitate towards guys; I connect with them and feel very comfortable just ‘hanging out’.  I think I’ve mentioned in a previous post that most of my friends are guys but my closest friends (except for Scott) are women.  For the most part, I’ve always felt safe with a group of guys – never threatened except for on one occasion.

I want to write about that experience, not because of any need for catharsis or to invite any kind of pity – but more because I’m curious about the sequence of events and what they meant and if they are even thought about by any of the people involved except myself.

During my senior year, I developed a crush on a guy that I’d met at a club – he went to another high school in my town as did several of his friends.  I used to go to this guy’s house (I’ll call him “Jon”) and hang out – typically there were other people there; sometimes not. Jon’s parents both worked so there was never any adult supervision – but we were 17, and it wasn’t a big deal.  Unfortunately, he was not interested in me in the same manner so we just remained friends (to my frustration).

One day I went over to Jon’s after school. Along with me, there were two other guys there – I knew them casually – we all hung out at the same club on the weekends but that’s about the extent of it. I didn’t know them well enough to initiate conversation if they weren’t hanging around the same people I was hanging around with, if you know what I mean.  They seemed like they were OK, they were not the macho type at all. They listened to The Cure & The Smiths, for god’s sake – they seemed so harmless.   It’s amazing how 30 seconds can change your whole life sometimes.

So for some reason or another, me and the other two guys (I’ll call them “Bill” – they both had the same first name) were sitting on the floor in Jon’s room and Jon was elsewhere in the house.  There was nothing outstanding about the conversation, I wasn’t flirting with either of them, there was no sexual innuendo going on, I felt no sexual tension, no one was drinking – nothing like that.  I went to get up to get some water and all of a sudden, the next thing I know is that the Bills have given each other  a “look” and one Bill has pushed me to the floor with one hand and is starting to pull on his belt with his other hand. Simultaneously, the other Bill is closing and locking Jon’s bedroom door.  It took me two seconds to realize what was happening before I started to scream. Jon came running to the room and started pound on the door.  Door-closing-Bill opened it for Jon and the other Bill continued pulling at his belt and trying to keep me down and force my knees apart.  Jon started yelling at him to get off me and I think it took a second for the Bills to realize that Jon was not going to allow this to happen.  The Bill on me quickly lets me go and stands up and at that point I got myself up, ran out of the room, grabbed my bag and got out of that house.  I never went back – Jon never said another word about it at the club when I saw him and I avoided the Bills.

Obviously, that experience shook me up- I completely lost control of the situation in mere seconds in a place where I thought I would have been safe. For a while afterwards, I felt shame and confusion.  But what I find to be completely baffling are sequence of events.  For years I thought it was just spontaneous, until I really thought about it. In retrospect, it seemed so ‘planned’.  It happened so fast, and the look they exchanged so ‘knowing’, and it was so well-timed. So what did this mean? Is this something they thought up together in the past? Is it something they were thinking they could do to any girl in that kind of situation? Had they done it before? Is it something they were going to do specifically to me?  But how could they know we’d be in a room together? Or was it just ‘well-timed’ group behavior?  All those scenarios are disturbing on so many levels.  The most disturbing scenario to me is the idea of a general kind of gang rape if the circumstances are right – happening to any unsuspecting girl.

So here’s the kicker. A couple years later I hear that belt-pulling-Bill has given away all his music and gotten religion. From what I heard, he started off as spiritual/new-age then a few years later he became ‘born again’. I can’t help but wonder if his foray into attempted rape had anything to do with that conversion.

During his spiritual/new age ‘awakening’ I was working as a baker in a trendy breakfast restaurant and one of the other bakers happened to know both Bills. She would talk about how great they both were – and especially how ‘spiritual’ belt-pulling-Bill was; it was obvious she admired him.  I can’t even describe my utter contempt for both of those guys and to listen to her go on and on about how ‘in touch’ belt-pulling- Bill was more than I could stomach. Anyway, I eventually reached my tipping point with hearing about them and the whole story just spewed out of my mouth – in front of all the people working in bakery and prep area.  That’s not so surprising – restaurant people tend to disclose a lot of personal information. But I was shocked at all the anger, hurt, and fear I had locked up inside that just literally flew out of my mouth.  I think I rendered her dumbstruck.

So I wonder if the Bills ever think of that incident. Is it just a bleep in their memory banks? Did it affect their lives? How they saw themselves? What kind of people they were? I have to say it affected my life. Not as tragically as if the whole scene had played itself out – but enough to make me feel vulnerable and combined with some other scary experiences, I insulated myself with ‘fat’ for years and felt that any guy that liked me must have something wrong with them.  I’m not that same person anymore. But I just want to know – do they realize that 25 years later it is still a memory I can’t quite shake?

About Rutabaga the Mercenary Researcher

I'm a research librarian for Public Television, story teller, bike commuter, baker, music fiend, lover of reading & books, mother, wife, friend - and many more descriptive adjectives and nouns.
This entry was posted in Aversions, Childhood, Eating, Injury, Mental Health, Random Thoughts, Relationships, Story and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

90 Responses to Collusion

  1. The Hook says:

    What is wrong with people?
    Sometimes we simply surrender control of our senses to dark forces, and situations like this are the result.
    Thank God everything transpired as it did. Without going into detail, I know exactly how you must have felt at that moment.
    Be well, my friend.

  2. "HE WHO" says:

    The attack might have been spontaneous, but it seems well-practiced. Like, not the first time? Very scary that stuff like this goes on. Very sad that it probably has been going on for centuries.

  3. Smaktakula says:

    Wow, this is a powerful piece. I’m glad you reposted it. I’m really sorry this happened to you, because it’s ugly and cruel and something that’s easy enough to carry around.

    I think I can speak to one of your questions, and to the others, while I can’t speak to them directly, can perhaps offer some insights from my experience. I wrote a post that deals with some of these issues, albeit from a different point of view. It’s longish, but it might help to put in perspective what I discuss in the next paragraph. Here’s the post if you’re interested: Given your experiences, it might not put me in the best light, but I present it anyway.

    I think the attack was PROBABLY spontaneous. Admittedly, this is colored by my own experiences, but I’ve seen how fast something really awful can go down. That in no way excuses them–it’s vile, illegal behavior, and teenage hormones are no excuse for such heinous behavior (particularly in ostensibly harmless Sweet & Tender Hooligans). Although I do think this was most likely a spontaneous action, there is some possibility that it was premeditated. In that instance these guys aren’t just louts, they’re evil. Bad people.

    Regarding the “spirituality” of one of your attackers and the question of whether that is in any way based on what happened to you, the only thing I have to offer is that it certainly COULD be. I tend to be skeptical of most “better man” changes. When it truly DOES happen, it’s a beautiful thing–I love stories of redemption. To some extent I carry the scars of the people I’ve hurt.

    But I know a guy who COULD be one of those thugs (you didn’t grow up in the LV area, did you?). I won’t go into the details, but he too is now very religious. It’s sincere, but he’s a monster.

    • I would actually not call either of them ‘thugs’ – they were definitely not like that on the outside. I think you might be close to what happened (spontaneous to some extent)… I wonder if it was something they ‘fantasized’ about and then the opportunity arose and they acted on it. I just don’t know. I think I could have been easier in my contempt of them if they had just confronted me later with an explanation or apology. And from what I knew of belt-pulling Bill – I don’t think his conversion was honest – because he ‘changed’ and judged everyone around him that did not ‘see the light’ –

      I still wonder if they had done this before or would do it again afterwards…and if they were affected by it. For some reason I want to know if they realized how much their actions shaped me? And did it shape them. I would be crushed to think that for all that my brain dealt with – they just moved on like nothing happened. I don’t know –

      I did not grow up in LV – but in AZ.

  4. diannegray says:

    I ‘liked’ this post, but it’s an awful experience. I had a similar thing happen to me when I was about 13 by a much older boy and the shocking thing about it was 35 years later the ‘Bill’ in my story became my boss. I don’t know if he recognised me, but I left the job and moved to another a week after he arrived. I often wondered how many others he had treated like this and how he had managed to get through life ruining other people’s lives. I disclosed the story to a close female colleague before I left and I’m glad I did because he asked her to go out with him a few weeks later and she gave him a flat “no”.

    • That – is awful to not only have that experience but then to have come across him later on in your life and as your boss, no less. It’s fortunate that you were able to leave your job for another to keep yourself safe and the colleague that you shared your experience with. Thank you for sharing.

      • diannegray says:

        After I commented here I went into the bathroom and my face was red! Good grief, it’s been years but I still feel the effects from it. I don’t think people realise that it’s something you never really ‘get over’. This is why posts like this are wonderful because they show how acts such as this can profoundly effect lives.

  5. MissFourEyes says:

    Whoa. That is horrible. I’m sorry this happened, but I’m so glad it stopped when it did.
    The part that scares (and angers) me the most is when you said “Is it something they were thinking they could do to any girl in that kind of situation?” If that’s true, I just don’t know what to say to that. All those women. All those people assuming the same thing.
    It takes a lot to share something like this, you are an amazing person.

  6. Pingback: Rohan’s 7 Things Post Of The Week #4 “Collusion” | rohan7things

  7. Rohan 7 Things says:

    Whoa…And not surprised about the Born Again bit. Lot’s of rapist/psycho types go into cults, nursing and other professions that will put them close to vulnerable and suggestible people. Another trait of the rapist/psycho is their ability to charm people, sounds like he had the whole town convinced.

    Really sorry you went through that. I just can’t understand how anyone could take pleasure in such a violent and destructive act.

    I can’t remember if I’ve already recommended Waking The Tiger by Peter Levine to you. It’s very useful for healing any kind of traumatic event.

    Thanks for sharing, getting these stories out helps those who’ve experienced similar to know they are not alone!

    All the best 🙂


    • Hi Rohan,
      Thank you for the insight and the book recommendation – I’ll check out Peter Levine (his name sounds familiar).

      I know what you mean about charming psychos – I am definitely much more cautious about making sure I’m in a safe environment and/or seeking someone out to walk with me if I feel like that should happen.

      I don’t understand so much of cruel human behavior either.

      Thank you, as well, for the POW – I’m so honored. I love your blog and am glad I found your person and your site. And congrats on the new technology!

      • Rohan 7 Things says:

        Hey no probs! I really think this post deserves highlighting, gives us a lot to ponder.

        You too, very happy to have connected in this way 🙂

        Keep well, and have a great weekend!


  8. Kim says:

    How awful! I am so glad it didn’t go any further. Yet another reminder that women are *still* vulnerable. It’s sad. At least now, since he’s become a “born-again” Christian, we know “belt-pulling Bill” will rot in Hell. Bastards, both of them.

  9. After reading your story, I am about as convinced of “belt-pulling Bill’s” religious conversion as I am that he and his buddy acted spontaneously.

    You raised a very good question at the end – “Did the incident affect their lives?” I wonder.

  10. calahan says:

    Belt-pulling Bill can be as “saved” as he wants, but I sure hope he spends the rest of his spiritual days with a bad case of the Clap.

  11. stephrogers says:

    Wow. That’s horrific. Good on you for having the strength to move past it. Not everyone would be so strong

  12. Aimee says:

    How terrifying for you. I’ve often wondered, in these gang rape situations, what would possess not just one but more than one man to think this was an acceptable thing to do. The “knowing look” the Bill’s exchanged is just chilling to me. I’ve been in your place…listening to someone tell me “what a great guy” my rapist was. My inlaws met him by chance and spent several minutes telling me how wonderful he seemed and what a great “family man” he was. I was too shaken to speak up like you did.

    • That’s so scary – and awful to know the truth is under all the posturing and lies that a person like that is putting up for everyone.

      I think neither of them would have done that alone but together – people do things that they’d never do.

  13. Wow….what a horrible experience and even worse memory to carry around. It’s amazing how we carry our past like heavy luggage. I, too, have felt more comfortable hanging out with the guys (I still think you and I were separated at birth), but have never had such a senseless experience. I’m so glad it ended where it did. xo

  14. Reblogged this on The Mercenary Researcher and commented:

    I’m doing a test on republishing vs re-posting and email notifications…but still read the post if you are inclined ~

  15. Pingback: I Keep a Scrapbook of Our Life Together and if I Can’t Have You – No One Will | The Mercenary Researcher

  16. Jillian says:

    Wow, I don’t know what to comment that hasn’t already been said. It’s so awful that this happened, and I hate people that feel they have any right to do things like that (be it men terrorizing women, adults terrorizing children, etc.). I’m so glad that Jon stepped in, and I’m really glad that you spoke up about it later! I know you said that you were surprised by the anger and other feelings that poured out, but I hope it was a bit cathartic to get it out?

  17. Ugh – it’s a terrible situation and one that I can relate to in many ways. I don’t know if the “men” involved ever look back on those times at all…I don’t think of people who can pull that type of stunt as being the same kind of human as us.

  18. RFL says:

    It takes a lot of guts to share a story like this. And it’s shocking how many women I have come across who can tell their own version of this story. The group mentality is a really scary thing. But like so many commenters above, I’ll say that this was not your fault. If there is anything redeeming about the “Bills” as adults, I’m sure they do remember the incident, whether it is locked away in the shameful secret part of their minds or if it was just the beginning of a life long pattern.
    I’m so sorry.

    • Rutabaga the Mercenary Researcher says:

      I’m always completely shocked that I know only a handful of women that have not shared a similar story.

      It’s funny, I typically will post a link to my posts to here on Facebook – but didn’t for this one. It’s easier to share in this venue b/c it’s somewhat anonymous…

      Why we are so cruel as a group is such a sad question to have to contemplate.

      Thanks for reading and your kind words.

  19. runningonsober says:

    I “liked” this post because I applaud you sharing your story. The fact you’re putting it out there shows you aren’t giving that experience the power to control you anymore. You are shining light on it and your sharing will I’m sure help others as well as yourself.

    Sometimes there’s no rhyme or reason to assault, and yes, you were assaulted. I am glad you were not physically harmed, but the psychological harm can be just as traumatic.

    I’m so sorry that happened to you. You didn’t cause it and you didn’t deserve it.

    Group and pack mentality can be truly horrifying. Are you a Stephen King fan? Did you read Under The Dome by chance?

    • Rutabaga the Mercenary Researcher says:

      Thank you – your words are always uplifting, insightful and written from the heart.

      I think I shared it to help me understand it – to put it on paper makes one examine all the bits and pieces that are running around one’s head.

      I did not read that book – I was a voracious Stephen King fan for his early work and read him in my teens/20s. I’ll check out that story.

      • runningonsober says:

        I love the concept of transferring thoughts and ideas and trauma and heartache and more, from head to paper. Making something abstract into the tangible. Along those same lines, something you can try one day is to write a letter to each of the three boys- just get it out of your head and onto paper, hold it, look at it, then just let it go… Burn the letter, shred it, rip it into tiny little pieces of confetti, bury it in the backyard… It can be very freeing.

  20. leesa jackson says:

    did i know those dimwits or was that after i was gone? i don’ t remember anything like that coming out of your mouth when i was there. what creeps! been in a similar situation and so know how you wonder what was going on, what you missed, how could you be so stupid, etc….

    • Rutabaga the Mercenary Researcher says:

      You didn’t know the guys – they were from my high school years, but you did know the third baker and it wasn’t the other Lisa nor Dave. It was the baker that was also not taller than me ~

      I still wonder –

  21. RCW says:

    They planned it. It wasn’t the first time they had done this, nor the last. My opinion, for what it’s worth. Unfortunately, we live in a culture of rape. Violence toward women is common and we somehow make the woman feel guilty for it. I’m so glad Jon intervened.

    • Me too (about Jon intervening) – I’d be even more devastated to find out he was part of the plan. To think I could have ‘liked’ someone that would do that to another person.
      Your opinion is worth a lot – RWC.
      I can’t imagine that either of those guys doing what they did on their own – but who knows.
      Yes – society (Not just ours) has a lot to answer for when it comes to violence and women.

  22. TAE says:

    It’s amazing how fast certain men can go from “harmless” to “predator”, some just go from harmless to depraved… The latter is disgusting, the former is just scary.
    I will “like” that you shared this.

  23. Brigitte says:

    Wow, Ruta. That’s just horrible. I’ve always had guy friends too. One of my closest friends was a guy — he was MY best man at my wedding so I understand your feelings there about being comfortable around guys.

    A guy who would do this to a woman obviously has some serious character issues and major flaws. I’m just glad nothing happened to you physically. I hope there was some kind of conversion for these guys. I’d hate to think it may have happened again. You certainly have nothing to feel ashamed about and your anger is justified and understandable. Some memories hurt for a very long time.

    • Rutabaga the Mercenary Researcher says:

      I wish I knew what happened afterwards!

      At our wedding- we had 4 guys and 2 girls in the ‘party’ b/c like you, my friends were/are guys!

    • Rutabaga the Mercenary Researcher says:

      thank you for your kind words, Brigitte!

      • I didn’t have time to really comment before, Brigitte – so I will comment more now. It’s always hard not to feel shame in these situations b/c you wonder what you might have done to bring it on or if you deserved it b/c of something else you did in your past – all that crap goes thru you mind. But this isn’t something that I think about often and I don’t wake up at night with cold sweats from it – so in that respect, I feel I’ve dealt with a lot of the emotions that are wrapped up in that whole experience. It has made me more aware of people around me and I want to always be available to walk someone someplace if they feel vulnerable. I think feeling vulnerable was the worst part –

  24. lolabees says:

    You know I can’t actually “like” this post. How very sad and scary.

  25. What’s fortunate, Ruty, is that you gave other men a chance in light of this betrayal. You know, you are pretty awesome. I am impressed by you. Wow, that sounded condescending. But it’s true.

    • Aw shucks – it’s hard for me not to trust people by my very nature…

      • It’s hard for me TO trust people by my nature. I hold it just this side of self-fulfilling prophesy.

        • Rutabaga the Mercenary Researcher says:

          It takes too much energy to be mistrustful – I’m not a pollyanna – but I try to think that most people are doing the best they can with what they have. I’m more leery of certain situations and I’ve become more skittish as I’ve gotten older in bigger crowds – but it’s mostly group behavior that makes me paranoid.

          If I let my fears control me – I would never leave the house!

        • I look at it as using a little bit of energy now to avoid needing a sudden and unexpected amount of energy later. You might be really good at choosing trustworthy people, though. And I agree that groups can bring out the worst in people.

        • Group behavior is where much cruelty happens

        • Part of my difficulty trusting people is that very thing. People who are fine one-on-one can be hideous in a group.

        • I guess I would say, I don’t necessarily ‘trust’ everyone – but I try to keep myself in a position where I don’t temp the fates – so I lock my doors, I walk with another person, I try to be aware of my surroundings etc…
          Yes – people can be hideous in groups –

        • Often, the most good and holy groups are the worst. But I’ve gotten off track. You are brave and strong and you could beat me in arm wrestling and chess.

        • Rutabaga the Mercenary Researcher says:

          Arm wrestling maybe…not chess! But I play a mean game of Scrabble!!

          Thank you – same back attcha ~

  26. It’s truly sad that you, or any woman, has to be on guard for this sort of thing constantly. It’s also sad that there is almost always a conspiracy of silence that follows an event like this. I’m not sure Jon wasn’t originally in on it, and changed his mind. Why else would Bill have kept going? No wonder he didn’t say anything about it.

    I’m sorry, Ruty.

    • I have wondered if Jon wasn’t somehow involved – but I think because I ‘liked’ him – I never allowed myself the thought that he could have been involved as well. It is sad that most women have some sort of experience what rendered them at the mercy of someone they trusted. I also wonder if what they saw as “a bit of fun” always remained that way in their minds.
      I’m fortunate that I’m met so many more men in my 42 years that I would trust my life with in a heartbeat.

  27. becca3416 says:

    This is terrifying.

    • And unfortunately, all too common – which is the sucky part. I know of so few women that have not had some sort of experience that never leaves their memory banks –

      • becca3416 says:

        Incredibly sad. I work in a very male dominated workplace and I can tell you I feel uncomfortable everyday because of the looks alone… so I can only imagine the horror of something actually happening.

        • Rutabaga the Mercenary Researcher says:

          See and that SUCKS – I’ve always been around groups of guys and never had an issue. I’ve found that in certain circumstances, guys are very protective and I’ve felt very safe. It’s not right that anyone should not feel safe in their day to day envrionment. Living in fear is not living.

        • becca3416 says:

          You are absolutely right.

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