The last 7 days have been the most difficult, emotionally taut and surreal week of my Life. I tried contacting one of the guys who tried to take advantage of me and violate me when I was inebriated and wasn't in a position to consent when I was an undergrad at my alma mater. One of the guys partially apologized, but the other guy - Steve - didn't respond and ignored me altogether even though I tried to reach him at least six or seven times out of a sense of frustration, shock and a need for resolution. I vacillated a lot about whether or not disclose my abuser's name, but after his lack of response, I decided to disclose his first name at least so that you're aware of who he is.
He went to Korea in 2006 and has been working there. As with many guys (English teachers, military officers, Korea-philes and ex-pats), he met a Korean wife and has been in Seoul the last 10 years. He was recently featured in an article by the KoreaTimes on December 29, 2020 (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/tech/2021/01/133_301648.html) as a recipient of the Seoul Global Start-up Center's (SGSC) Award as he is the head of ApolloEdu Tech, an educational start-up that aims to teach HTML and coding to elementary school and school-age students in Korea. SGSC, founded in 2019, is funded by the Seoul Metropolitan Government in an effort to promote foreign start-ups on Korean soil.
On the website for ApolloTech Edu, it states:
It (Apollo Tech Edu) started in a small café by two programmers and a father passionate about education (Steve), we've since visited Technology Academies, Kindergartens and an International School testing and refining our product.
Prior to this, Steve worked as the CEO of Cummins Korea distribution and Cummins-DKSH Mekong Region. On his website, he states: "Steve led organizations with over 200 people to dramatically increase women leadership representation, enhance core values, and transform career development culture. Throughout his +15 year diverse career journey, Steve has been led by the principle to Inspire, Connect, and positively Impact others. Steve is a noted guest speaker and has been invited to speak at the Singapore Productivity Forum and Women Leadership Conferences in Australia and the Philippines and also serves as an advisor to Everest Education, a leading education center Vietnam."
This is ironic given that Steve also committed sexual assault and a crime against me, but touts his "commitment to education" and working with children and students and women and organizing women's conferences and giving keynote speeches when I don't feel safe around him anymore. Do these women know that Steve assaulted me? Do the women know he took advantage of me and body when I was a naive 20 year old and innocent and looking up at him? Do they know that he violated my trust about my sensitivity to gender-based violence given the high rate of domestic violence in the Korean community and in the immigrant community? Do they know that he hurt me with his actions? I built the last 20 years of my Life around this identity I had shared with his Steve - that's how much I looked up to him. But the moment the realization sank that he violated me and body, I started to feel a sense of shifting I hadn't anticipated before. I still value and see the good sides to him, even after everything. But I also see a layer of something I was too young and naive to notice before.
It seems like there is a private-public divide in regards to how Steve represents himself in public and how he was and is with me - silent, callous, rough and almost seemingly wanting to walk away from a crime as if he did nothing wrong, with impugnity. Steve went to business school at Northwestern and is outwardly very successful. But he almost seems like a serial dater and he doesn't know how to treat or even break up with women properly. Everyone has their faults, but when a line is crossed, then there has to be accountability and a reckoning.
How am I, as a living, breathing being with a soul, conscience, and a sentient heart supposed to "accept" or digest this? Absolutely no - I can't. I did nothing wrong and people keep telling me that me "having drank" that night does NOT excuse what happened or what he did. But in my mind, I'm the one who feels ashamed and stigmatized - as if I did something wrong somehow, even though the rational part of me KNOWS I DID NOTHING WRONG. I am the one who is suffering.
I asked a woman this past week why something like this could happen. And she replied that a lot of men feel a sense of entitlement towards women - if things don't go their way, then the men may feel a sense of ownership towards the women that borders on possession and control. In this case, I can certainly see this dynamic playing out - I had talked with and "flirted" with one of his friends, which led to this incident happening. But does mere flirtation justify violence and assault and violation of a woman's human rights and bodily rights? Does flirtation justify me feeling traumatized over what happened and being in this numb state where the sense of time (also compounded by the Coronovirus) stretches and slips and magnifies in a surreal way? I feel like Alice in the rabbit-hole, trying my hardest and best to climb out of this tunnel, but sometimes, the darkness is too much - it threatens to swallow me up. But at the end of the day, I must muster up the courage and resilence and strength to get through this day because to do that is to be a woman.