It all started with a glass of merlot…
I was actually looking forward to tonight. My first date in four years since my husband of 25 years had died unexpectedly from a heart attack while at work. I was a little nervous as it was our first meeting, but then, we had been communicating via text and email and then phone for the past month so I felt I knew him pretty well already. Yes, we met on one of those dating apps which I’m a little embarrassed to admit. Having married my high school sweetheart and had a wonderful marriage for 25 years, I never thought I’d be out there dating again, let alone looking online to meet my potential next great love. To say I was apprehensive about online dating would be an understatement but in today’s electronic age and with the new COVID pandemic guidelines in place, how else are you supposed to meet somebody? So, despite my apprehensive, my loneliness took me out of my comfort zone and I decided to give it a shot.
Initially, I was surprised and somewhat flattered by the amount of responses I had received. I would say that I’m attractive but certainly not as beautiful as some of the other ladies’ pictures I had seen and I thought that my limited dating experience would certainly be a turnoff to a lot of men. But I received dozens of responses the first week. Of course, I soon came to realize the horrors of online dating with all the scammers and fakers and men just looking for sex without having to expand the energy of a real relationship. I didn’t want that. I’m too old for a fling. I was looking for something real.
After weeding out what felt like hundreds of scammers and fakers and being on the verge of just giving up, one particular response caught my attention. His name was Jonathan.
Jonathan’s responses weren’t the typical “Hi, how’s it going?” responses nor did he ask me to send him pics of myself. His responses were thoughtful and respectful. They were attentive as if he actually read my end of the conversation. And his questions to me were appropriate as though he actually wanted to get to know me better. We started a relationship first via the dating site’s portal and soon exchanged personal email addresses. He was smart, thoughtful, and funny. He made me laugh again. I hadn’t laughed in such a long time. It felt like we were courting as in real old-fashioned courting from before there was a thing as the Internet. I pretended his emails were letters that a suitor would send to the lady he’s courting who were separated by thousands of miles. It was so much fun. I anxiously looked forward to awaking each day and logging onto my computer to see Jonathan’s next correspondence to me. I felt like a giddy schoolgirl dating for the first time. It was a wonderful high.
After about a month of online courting, I felt like I knew him enough to move to telephone contact. Our first conversation we talked for over six hours well into the wee hours of daybreak. I just felt so comfortable talking to him. It was as if I had known him for years. He was very attentive and made me feel like he really wanted to get to know me. He texted me good morning every day and at the end of the day, I’d settle myself down with a glass of my favorite merlot in anticipation of his nightly phone call. He would call me every night like clockwork and we’d talk for at least an hour. He’d ask me about my day and it actually felt like he were listening to me. I hadn’t had someone ask me about my day in so long and it felt so nice to have someone to share that information with. I found myself looking forward to his calls every night so I could share with him what happened that. It got to the point where whenever something happened in the course of the day, whether good or bad, I found myself wanting to tell him about it. If my day were bad, I knew he’d made me feel better. And if I had a good day, I know he’d help me celebrate.
After a couple of weeks of phone conversations he finally asked me out on an actual date which, of course, I accepted emphatically.
I was so excited to finally be meeting this man that had made me laugh again over the past few weeks. We had already exchanged photos—nothing too risqué of course—so I knew he was attractive and he told me he thought I was beautiful. I bought a new dress—short, black, a little sexy but not too revealing—I thought it was perfect for a first date, got a new hair do, and got my nails done in anticipation for a memorable night. And I will say that the night was memorable indeed.
Jonathan showed up to my door on time, well, five minute early which was good cuz I was ready. He brought me a big bouquet for mixed flowers which I thought was a sweet gesture. He was such a gentleman. He held my arm down my stairs, let me go first, opened the car door for me and let me decide what we’d listen to on the radio. We went to a very nice seafood restaurant because I had mentioned in one of our conversations how much I loved seafood. It was a nice night so we sat outside near the beach watching the waves crash along the shore. The conversation flowed perfectly with none of the awkward silence I was nervously expecting. After dinner, we took a walk on the beach and that what when he kissed me for the first time. It was absolutely amazing. I was beginning to feel that I had really found my second chapter, as I’ve heard it be called, or my next great love.
When we got back to his car, he told me that he wasn’t quite ready to say goodnight and wanted to know if I wanted to go hear some live music from a bar not too far away. Always being one to support local talent and me, too, not being ready to say goodnight, I agreed.
The bar was pretty crowded. It was a Saturday night after all. But Jonathan stayed close to me with his hand on my back and guided me to a table in the corner. He asked me to dance and held me close as we swayed to the music. I rested my head on his shoulder and wrapped my arms around his neck. Is it possible to fall in love so quickly, I wondered? Because this sure felt like love to me. After the dance, we went back to our table and he ordered us two glasses of merlot. This was my third of the night but I wasn’t feeling any affect from the wine, just the affect that he was having on me.
That was the last thing I remembered that night…
The next morning, I woke up in my bed with an uneasy feeling and obviously knew I wasn’t alone. Jonathan was snoring softly next to me and we were both naked. I don’t know we got that way but something just felt very wrong. I nudged him awake and it slowly opened his eyes and smiled at me.
“Morning, sexy. How are you this morning”
“Confused.” I said. “What happened last night?” I asked him.
The smile slowly slid from his face and his expression hardened. “Are you kidding?”
I asked him again. “What happened last night?”
“Come on. You can’t tell me you don’t remember? I know I’m better than that.”
“Did we…?” I couldn’t even bring myself to say ‘make love’ because it didn’t feel like love at that moment.
“Have sex?” He grinned. “You were amazing. I couldn’t keep you off of me.”
“I don’t remember. I don’t remember anything after the bar.”
“What are you saying?”
“I think you should go.” I needed to pull myself together and try to remember exactly what happened last night.
He got angry. That nice, sweet guy from last night was gone. “Fine. But don’t try saying that I raped your or anything. You wanted it. You started it. You invited me into your home and into your bedroom.” He got out of bed and dressed quickly, stuffed his feet into his boots, then turned back, “If this is some kind of game you like to play with me, I don’t want any part of it.” Then he was gone.
Tear rolled down my cheeks. I couldn’t stop them. What the hell happened here last night? I just couldn’t remember. I called my best friend, Janie, and asked her to come over. She knew I sounded upset and came right over. We talked. I told her about Jonathan and how I met him. I told her how sweet he was over the internet and over the phone. I told him what a perfect gentleman he was all night. But then I just couldn’t remember what happened after the bar. Janie cried with me and was convinced that he had slipped me something to take away my inhibitions. I didn’t want to believe that I could fall for something like that. I felt so stupid. She finally convinced me to go to the police and report that I thought I might’ve been raped. Rape. That is such an ugly word. I didn’t want to believe that something that ugly could ever happen to me, but I also know that I would never have gone to bed with someone on the first date and, again, something just didn’t feel right.
But before we went to the police, Janie told me I needed to go to the hospital to get a rape kit done and to get tested for any kind of date rape drugs in my system. She works as an adolescent counselor specializing in sex crimes so she’s pretty well-versed in this area. I didn’t want to know the truth but I knew if I was dosed, I had to have proof. So she took me to the hospital. Of course, at the hospital, as soon as I mentioned that I might’ve been raped, the cops were called and I went through all the rape protocol. It was so humiliating. They took urine, blood, and even hair samples from me. The rape kit didn’t show anything. I guess he was smart enough to use a condom and left no fluids behind; however, he wasn’t that smart because my tests came back showing a moderately high level of Rohypnol in my system.
I never thought this could happen to me. I was embarrassed and ashamed. But then I realized that it was not my fault. No matter what happened, I didn’t ask for this to happen and I didn’t do anything to encourage it.
IT WAS NOT MY FAULT.
Turns out that Jonathan was a very busy boy and, after I came forward, three other women also came forward and said that they were also assaulted by this man who I thought was near perfect.
IT WASN’T THEIR FAULT EITHER.
I decided to make my being a victim into something to help other woman and so I started a support group for date rape survivors to help them get back the power they felt they lost when this awful thing happened to them. I tell them the same thing I tell myself every single day…IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT. Every day, I’m taking back my power a little at a time.
And to think it all started with a glass of merlot.