This post deals with abuse and sexual assault and might be triggering for some readers.
My abuser was someone I once considered a friend. We started our friendship at work where he glowed as a colleague with his funny and easy-going personality. We laughed a lot while we worked together; he really did a fantastic job of getting me to "let my hair down" around him.
After a few months of working at this firm, the entire office decided to go out drinking together after hours. It was here at the bar across the street from our office where my friend’s playful tendencies crossed a line.
When he and I went to the bar to order another round, he said something to me about the way my body looked, and how I’d look better if I worked out.
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"No offence, I just think your dress would fit you better if you gained some muscle."
I was humiliated. I stared at him, speechless.
This was my closest friend at work. I knew he would never say anything to hurt me. Maybe I was just being too sensitive, I wondered.
My face got hot, and I excused myself to the bathroom. I made sure not to sit next to him when I returned to the group. I said nothing, and neither did he.
At the end of the night, he offered to walk me to my car. I hoped he would apologise for saying something so insensitive, but all he said was, "I’m sorry if you were upset about my comment. I was only trying to help you. I think you’re so pretty. I won’t try to motivate you again."
I shrugged and said it was okay. All I wanted was to get in my car and cry.
But after that night, he made comments about my appearance regularly.
"I don’t think that’s appropriate Harry," I told him the next time he mentioned that my ass wasn’t as perky as the other girls’ butts in the office.
"But I’m not trying to hurt your feelings. I’m only trying to help a gorgeous girl look even better."
And because he was my friend, I believed him.
He manipulated me into thinking that the rest of his derogatory comments were harmless or playful because he was my friend. He’d say them in a joking way, or he’d explain after blatantly insulting me that he was just trying to help me "feel and look better". And when I felt like crying, I reminded myself that I was probably just being too sensitive.