#MeToo Survivors Can’t Depend on ‘Women’s Intuition’

Gillian Sisley

It’s possible for no alarms to go off, even when you’re looking for every little red flag.

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Photo by Ty Feague on Unsplash

Recently, I recorded a podcast episode with Maggie Lupin & Jessica Lovejoy for our Fearless She Spoke podcast detailing our most horrible dating experiences.

We narrated this episode with a humor nature that many women (and really anyone who has ever dated at any point in time) could resonate with.

In that recording, I jump-start the episode with the story of how I went on a date with a guy who ended up being an attempted mass shooter, who was thankfully caught by police before he opened fire on my university.

I go into depth about how utterly boring the date was, how this guy was incredibly uninteresting, and that though I thought he was “the nicest guy in the world”, we had absolutely nothing in common so it wasn’t a good match.

I declined a second date.

When I found out he was arrested months later, I remember being so disturbed by just how wrong I could be about a person.

It is true to say that you never really know anyone.

Since our podcast episode went live, I’ve been reflecting more on just how damn wrong my instincts were in this situation, and how scary it was that absolutely zero alarms went off in my brain or body telling me to get the f*ck out of there.

We always tell women to listen to their female intuition — but the truth is, it doesn’t always work.

When I went on this date with the attempted mass shooter, I had already been sexually assaulted the year before.

My attacker had also been my emotional abuser, and I was still pretty jaded from being in that relationship two years before.

Because of my past experience, I was already walking around as a sexual assault survivor on high alert, feeling especially careful around men.

I vetted every date for about a week through instant messaging back and forth, getting a sense of the kind of man they were.

I vividly remember dropping the “waiting till marriage” bomb on attempted mass shooter guy (who I’ll refer to as S), and he wasn’t even phased. His answer was the biggest reason I ultimately chose to go on a date with him:

“That’s fine with me. Relationships are about more than just intimate stuff for me.”

His answer both impressed me, and warmed my heart. My admission was rarely received so well.

I felt like he was the kind of guy who truly respected consent.

As a sexual assault survivor, this is the kind of thing I am 100% on high-alert for.

But man, was I ever wrong.

Following the episode, I went searching for any updates.

Long story short, S was arrested the same day he admitted to his therapist that he wanted to stab his medical program’s director, her daughter who was also his classmate, and potentially shoot 20 of his other classmates, and then shoot himself.

His therapist immediately reported him to the police.

Almost 2,000 pieces of ammunition were found in his apartment when a search was conducted, and he was brought into custody.

I learned this from an article one day, and it took me a few moments to piece together why this guy’s name was so familiar to me.

That’s when it dawned on me that I’d gone on a date with him 6 months before.

For years, this has been my “dating nightmare” story that I tell over cocktails and at parties. It’s just one of those “what the f*ck” stories that really captivates people.

The thing is, I thought the attempted mass shooting was where the craziness ended. But I was wrong about that, too.

Once the episode went live, I decided to look into whether there were any updates on his case.

It was during this search that I immediately learned something that made my blood run cold…

He was also reported for sexual assault against a fellow survivor.

There I had been during that date, thinking this was a good guy who respected consent… and I literally couldn’t have been more off the mark.

There are sheep in wolves ’ clothing everywhere.

And we may not even know it.

We may not even realize it.

We could be a person who actively looks for wolves masquerading as sheep — we can share a meal with them, engage in conversation with them, and even hug them… without ever realizing they’re a wolf.

That was my experience. This was one of the most dangerous men I’ve ever encountered in my life, and my instincts didn’t raise a SINGLE red flag.

In fact, I felt oddly certain in my belief that he was a “super nice guy” who was just “a really boring person who would never do anything exciting in his life” directly after our date.

As

Maggie pointed out to me, he was also a medical student who was getting ready to take an oath to never cause harm, and yet he was simultaneously planning a mass murder and was allegedly sexually assaulting women in the midst of all of this.

And I, a survivor on high alert looking for EVERY excuse to peace out and run for the hills, didn’t pick up on a single danger sign or red flag.

Were my female instincts just malfunctioning at that time?

Final word.

It’s nice and comforting to think that we as women can depend on our magical intuition to give us a heads up when something is wrong.

In a world that is already not safe for women, it would be only just for us to have a biological safety feature that we could depend on.

But I’m sorry to say that things aren’t so black and white, and life is not fair.

My female intuition, which everyone told me should have my back, along with my heightened sense of caution as a survivor, never kicked in.

The only reason we didn’t go on a second date was that we just weren’t romantically compatible in any way.

Not because I got the sense that he was capable of brutal and heinous acts.

I was in the company of a monster, and nothing about my instincts or self-preservation indicated it to me.

And that, friends, is a horrifying realization.

We tell women to always trust their instincts, but the truth of the matter is that female intuition is not flawless. We cannot afford to depend exclusively on it.

It’s also not reasonable for the public to shame a woman whose female intuition didn’t activate or indicate danger.

As women operating in a world that is not safe for us, we must depend on more than our own intuition. We must also use our logical thinking, and often be cautious and on guard even when we feel safe in the company of a new acquaintance or strangers.

We can do all we can to stay safe, but even then we can still be fooled if someone’s mask is disguising enough.

But at the end of the day, it’s not our responsibility as women to premeditate an attack — we are victims of misogyny, toxic masculinity and egotistical monsters.

For them, it’s not about pleasure… it’s about power.

It’s just… exhausting.

We deserve to be safe in the world we live in. Period.

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