It’s Not Okay! What Happened When I Was Intimately Assaulted on an Airplane

I waited in a small room for two FBI agents to finally show up and ask me typical questions such as, “What were you wearing?”

In light of the election and talk of “grabbing pussies,” I thought I’d go ahead and tell my tale of such atrocities. Many people have made light of the subject, writing it off as “locker room talk,” and saying things like “that’s just how men speak.” I don’t know what men these people are associating with, but this is not the way the men I know speak. Men of varying orientations, backgrounds, ages, etc., all across the country and world are saying, “Um, no, we would never just grab pussies, in a locker room or elsewhere.”

There are, however, men who do feel this behavior is okay. Let me just say for the record, it’s SUPER NOT OKAY. Grabbing a woman, on any part of her body, let alone right in her pussy, without consent, wouldn’t even cross the mind of most of the men in my life. It wouldn’t cross my mind either, and I love pussies! So to brush “talk” off like it’s nothing is extremely irresponsible, especially when influential people in the media are the ones speaking these harmful words. I’m not just talking about the candidate who I don’t respect enough to even mention the name of. He wasn’t the only person in that conversation. And that conversation unfortunately does happen in certain locker rooms. But that still doesn’t make it okay, or harmless, or something to brush under the rug. Because guess what?! It happens. Words become actions. Many men feel that they can just grab you right in the pussy. And they get away with it.

I was on a 15 hour American Airlines flight home to Chicago from India. The man sitting next to me was wearing way to much cologne, donned a big bushy mustache, and a cell phone clipped to his belt. These offenses would unfortunately not to be his worst. He was asking me questions about Chicago and what he should do there on his layover. At one point, he asked if I wanted to show him around and I politely declined stating that I was excited to see my boyfriend who was picking me up at the airport. I then decided to drape a blanket over myself and try to get some sleep. About an hour and a half into the flight, in my sleepy state, I began feeling a hand all over my body. I mean ALL OVER my body. It was invasive, and heavy, and under my blanket. I could feel the pressure from it all over my breasts, and then it snaked down to my legs and in between my thighs. I was in that mid-way point between sleep and awake so I didn’t react right away. I finally woke right the eff up when I felt his hand grab me, guess where?! That’s correct, right in my pussy. The hand under my blanket belonged to Mr. Too Much Cologne.

I jumped up immediately. He moved his hand away and stared at the screen on the seat in front of him. I looked at him and asked, “What were you doing?!” He sat completely still and silent, apparently unable to take his eyes off the Sandra Bullock/Ryan Reynolds blockbuster, “The Proposal” playing in front of him (who can blame ‘im?!). I sat for a second wondering if he’d even realized what he had done, or if maybe I was mistaken. Was I going crazy? Was I still asleep and dreamed the whole thing, or rather, nightmared it? Then I looked down and saw his erection. This was not imagined. I yelled, “Do you think what you did was okay?!” Still, the movie was far too engrossing for him to reply. I finally exclaimed, “Get UP!” At which point I finally received a response from him, which was to stand up and move into the aisle.

I left my window seat and not knowing what else to do, ran. I ran first toward the back of the plane, losing a contact lens in the process (for which I have yet to be reimbursed by the man or American Airlines). Failing to find a flight attendant in the back of the plane, I ran toward the front. Finally I came upon a male flight attendant near the bathrooms and frantically told him what had just happened, to which he replied, “Oh…so…do you wanna move seats?” No, I just wanted to tell you how happy I was that I finally found the one! “YES! Move me!”

I was moved to business class where the female flight attendants made sure I was okay, as the male attendant brought my things to me and said, “geeze, you have a lot of stuff.” I don’t check luggage when I travel abroad, which is not the point, asshole, but thanks for the unsolicited opinion! They let me know that the pilots had been informed and the man would be apprehended upon landing, but there wasn’t much else they could do at that time because there was no marshal on the plane. I tried as hard as I could to sleep for the next thirteen hours, but it was pointless. I just imagined him coming up to me in my new fancy seat and doing it again, or something even worse. Did he know he was going to be apprehended? Was he going to come after me and try to get me to shut up or change my story? Was there an in-flight Lifetime movie relating to this exact experience that could keep me occupied for the next several hours?! Luckily there were no further incidents and the plane landed safely in Chicago.

As promised, Chicago PD was waiting for us to get off the plane. They were all set to take both of us to customs when one of the female flight attendants chimed in, “Maybe you should take her first, so she doesn’t have to see him again.” A male police officer scoffed, “She’s already seen him, what’s the big deal?” This is yet another great example of the training offered to those meant to protect and serve us. The men that I dealt with on this exhausting day had zero sensitivity for the issue, while the women seemed to completely understand. This baffles me, but I have to think it has something to do with the fact that women are trained from birth on how to deal with and/or try to avoid these situations and men, well, I don’t know what most men are trained for, but it’s clearly not sensitivity.

I waited in a small room for two FBI agents to finally show up and ask me typical questions such as, “What were you wearing?” and “What did you say to him?” As though my yoga pants and light conversation about fun things to do in Chicago were to blame for my sexual assault. They made sure to laugh a lot and make real light of the situation. One of them asked if I wanted to press charges, and while doing so suggested that it wouldn’t really do much, because, “this has already happened thirteen times this year.” Did I mention it was February? I absolutely wanted to press charges and made sure that everyone knew that. They said they spoke to the man, who apparently was “very sorry” and crying, which was another reason I shouldn’t press charges. I insisted once again on pressing charges. They said they would send him home, and “he’s here on business, so he’ll probably get fired. Plus, he’s married, so his wife will be pissed.” To which I replied, “That’s not enough, please press charges.” I was told to go home and they would continue talking to him. I would receive a call when they were finished.

I was met by my boyfriend, and had to explain why I didn’t want to be touched even though we’d been apart for ten days. I got back to my apartment where I finally laid down to get the sleep I desperately needed when I was awoken by a phone call with a laughing, literally laughing FBI agent who said, “Yeah, we didn’t press charges. He said that he’s done this with other Middle Eastern women before who liked it. I think he just thought you liked him cause you were being so nice. He’s already on a plane back to India, so, he’s really gonna get it from his wife. He wrote you an apology note. It’s kinda cute, want me to read it to you?” I received the note in the mail a couple weeks later. The officer and I have differing opinions on what we consider to be “cute.”

To this day, when I travel, I have a very difficult time sitting next to strangers. All I can think of is this disgusting man who’s face and shitty mustache are embedded in my brain forever, and the fact that he knows it’s okay to do this. After all, who’s going to stop him?Not American Airlines who, in response to my letter asking that they ban him from further flights said they can’t deny his business. Not the FBI. Not anyone in the US government.

So I ask you this, if this is already a huge issue in this country, if this exact situation had already happened 13 times in just two months, why would it be okay to elect someone into office who chalks things like this up to “typical male behavior” and “locker room talk?” Anyone who so clearly disrespects women, and has such low opinions of them, or any gender of human, doesn’t even deserve to be on a plane, let alone lead a country. Don’t we as a country need to move forward, rather than slip back into archaic, misogynist mindsets?

I have to say, I’m grateful that a dialogue has started, and I’m hopeful that it continues. Because people need to know this is not something that should be laughed away, or scoffed at, or disregarded as women being oversensitive. It’s an invasion on someone else’s body, which, often times in this world is literally the only thing we have that’s truly ours. Don’t let it be taken away from you. And when it is, fight back. I was too scared, tired, and weak when it happened to really fight back. But I fight now. And, at the risk of sounding cliché, one of the best ways to fight is to vote. So vote, dammit, and keep creeps away from our pussies!

I Always Meet In Public First…Now

My relationship is such that if I want to have a little somethin’ somethin’ on the side, I’m free to do so, and vice versa.

My partner and I are both pansexual, so our needs can’t always be fully met by one another, and we also have quite insatiable sexual appetites, so this arrangement works out great for us. Quite often, we like to invite others into our bedroom because as we see it, the more the merrier! I felt the urge to invite someone to join us one Friday night after a set at a show. Because many LA comedy shows are overbooked, they tend to go a little long, and this show was no exception. My attention span can be quite short, especially after having just performed, so, as in many similar situations, I started to play my favorite phone game: Tinder!

I quickly matched with a guy who had some pictures of him playing soccer. He appeared athletic, which, when all I’m in the mood for is sex, is really about all I look for in a guy, at least at first. Now, I will say that I, like everyone reading this, have heard all the reasons to be terrified of meeting up with strangers. In many people’s minds Tinder and other dating apps are filled with nothing but murderers, rapists, and other crazy types. There are a lot of warnings, especially for ladies out there, to be careful before inviting someone into their lives in general, so I tend to be careful about who I invite into my home and whose homes I go into.

One way that I exercise precaution is to meet people in public first. However, after you’ve dated, say, a hundred or so different people, you tend to get sick of the whole meet-up-for-coffee-see-if-there’s-a-vibe routine. Every time I’ve ever done it, it’s been a formality, a fairly unnecessary step toward the inevitable goal of fucking each other’s brains out. It also wastes precious time that could’ve been spent in between, on top of, or underneath the sheets. Because I’d had such good luck up until this point, I decided to throw caution to the wind and just invite the guy right over. Part of my boldness and desire to get right to it was because my partner was going to be home, and this guy seemed to be into the idea of both of us. Pairing that with the fact that he mentioned Tantric massage, and said that was actually something he did professionally, made my decision a no-brainer. So I invited him to come over and give my partner a tantric massage training session of sorts. I felt like this was a pretty safe bet, as my partner is over six feet tall, and works with his hands for a living. He’s a very strong guy, what could be the threat?! WHAT COULD GO WRONG?!

Dating Deal Breaker: Animal Abuse

I found myself analyzing how my ex-partners had treated their pets.

Deal breakers. Most of us can think of at least one or two things that could immediately change the way we feel about our partners. Cheating, for me, is a deal breaker. Physical violence is also a deal breaker. Robbing a daycare is definitely a deal breaker for me, but that’s a story for another day. Point is – most of us have them. But some deal breakers may not be immediately clear, or even what you’d think to look out for.

Here’s one red flag you should consider: How does your partner treat their pets?

Michael* was a dreamy dude. He had all the qualities I thought I wanted at the time: good looks, a great job, big dreams, and a stellar sense of adventure. He was the kind of man I imagined would help an old woman cross the street, or return a lost wallet. It felt right to imagine him saving kittens from trees. He was just that kind of guy!

I was in for a nasty surprise.

After a few formal dates, Michael invited me over for a casual evening of movies and food – two out of three of my favorite things! Imagine how excited I was when I found that he also had my third favorite thing…a tiny little dog named Dino.

After my first introduction with Dino, Michael promptly put him in his crate. It was late at night, so I figured that yes, Dino slept in his crate. But less than five minutes into Netflix and Chill, Dino started to whimper. Then Michael began to yell.

“Shut UP!” he screamed at the trembling dog. This was no exaggeration – he truly screamed as if the house were on fire. But there was no fire, only a tiny, fearful dog. Dino obeyed his commands for a few moments…during which Michael told me (with a smile) that “Dino does this all the time.”

I was already uncomfortable, but tried to shrug it off. Perhaps Michael was having a bad day? I tried hard just to stare at the movie, to get through this evening, until…

“I’m gonna kill him, I swear,” Michael growled. He paused the movie and stood up. At that point, Dino looked like he was having a panic attack. A tiny, trembling panic attack. Michael walked over and kicked Dino’s crate so hard that it moved. The dog’s face bounced backward from the impact on metal.

“Michael!” I gasped. “Why did you do that?” He shrugged and resumed watching the movie. I sat as far away from him on the couch as I could. I couldn’t concentrate on the drama onscreen when there was clearly too much in the room. It wasn’t long before Dino was crying again, and I winced at every whine.

I watched Michael walk over again, open the crate, and grab the dog’s face with clenched fingers.

“I’d smack you to the moon, if the lady wasn’t here,” he threatened, with a disturbingly flirty side-eye toward me. There went my fantasy of Michael as an old lady helper and kitten-saver. This guy was a monster.

From across the room, I stared into Dino’s watery eyes and saw a future in them. A future I’d do anything to avoid.

According to the Domestic Violence Roundtable and the Animal Defense Fund, there is a strong link between animal abuse and domestic violence. Upon entering shelters, many victims of domestic abuse report that their abuser has brought physical harm to family pets as well as their partners and children. A third of victims also report that their children have harmed animals too, as a way to win approval from the abuser and/or avoid violence toward themselves. Animal cruelty investigations often lead to (and go hand in hand with) long-term domestic violence.

Animal abusers harm animals as a way to impose control over others. Perhaps Dino was Michael’s way of expressing his need to dominate at all costs, and the impact of seeing his actions on me led to feelings of fear, isolation and responsibility. After less than an hour at Michael’s house, I feared that the dog would suffer more if I broke up with him.

To say Michael’s animal abuse was a “dealbreaker” might be an understatement. That incident unraveled everything I thought about the people I dated. I found myself analyzing how my ex-partners had treated their pets. At the beginning of every first date from then on, I made sure to bring pets into the conversation. I would never again date someone who mistreated animals.

Animal abuse is abuse, end of story. And if you find yourself in this situation, there are things you can do.

  1. Put your own safety first. If you fear violence from a partner or family member, call your local or national domestic abuse help line immediately (find your local help line here). This first part is important. You won’t be able to help the animal(s) if your life and well-being are at risk. Once you’re certain that you’re safe, move on to number 2:
  2. If you suspect an animal is in danger, call your local shelter, veterinarian or law enforcement. Animal cruelty is a crime. The end.
  3. If you are able to remove the animal from the situation, arrange a temporary living arrangement with a friend, family member or animal rescue. You’re not alone in wanting to help.

Animal abuse is one of those major red flags that you might not find until well after the first date. Luckily, there’s some new legislation (gaining buzz across the United States) aiming to legalize Animal Abuse Registries. In the way that you might find convicted US sex offenders on your local database, animal abusers may soon join the list. According to, “Tennessee is the only state [so far] to have an animal offenders registry, but other cities like New York and Cook County, Illinois have them at a local level.” (Link) If you’d like similar laws passed in your area, contact your elected officials and let them know!

What do you think about animal abuse as a deal breaker? Share your thoughts with us, below. 

*Certain names have been changed for anonymity and legal purposes.