Earlier this month, 67-year-old Don Palmerine came forward about a rape he witnessed and participated in 1969, almost five decades prior. His reason for coming forward decades later is rooted in the #MeToo movement.
In a penned essay for The Washington Post, Palmerine recalls the fuzzy night, admitting that though he fails to remember the trivial details of the night, he does remember the distinct “before and after” of the disturbing event.
On Sunday (Oct. 21), Palmerine spoke to Michel Martin of NPR’s “All Things Considered,” to speak further on his decision to come forward. Published soon after the heartbreaking testimony of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford in the Brett Kavanaugh hearings, Palmerine confirms that Ford was the motivation for the piece, finding resolution in her “genuine” testimony. Not only did he feel that Ford “was really telling the truth,” but he was also able to relate to Ford, having also experienced trivial gaps in his memory from the dark night.
Having attended an all-boys uppity Catholic high school in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, an invitation to attend the party was extended to Palmerine by a football player from a nearby all-boys Catholic school. In an attempt to impress the jocks, Palmerine accepted the invitation only to find that “there were far more boys than girls at this party” and that “other than the girls,” no one was drinking.
“At one point, a boy told several of us to go outside and look through a window into the basement because another boy, a football player, had taken a girl there. When we peered through, we saw the girl passed out on a sofa, her feet facing us. As the boy approached her, he waved to us, smiling. He proceeded to remove her jeans and then her underwear. It was the first time I had seen a girl naked. He climbed on top of her and penetrated her. She immediately woke up and tried to fight him off. At this point, we all scattered in the yard. No one said anything. There was just nervous laughter.”
Unfortunately, this was only the first incident of the night.
Going on to detail the disturbing moments of a later occurrence, Palmerine also confesses to participating in a “game” in which he and a group of boys would place their hands on a passed-out, drunken girl when the lights were off in an upstairs bedroom, but would remove them immediately when the lights flickered back on. “This happened four times, and then we all left the room. I’m glad it didn’t go further” he writes.
In holding onto the guilt for numerous decades, the guilt transitioned to a shame so strong that Palmerine was finally driven to resolve his wrongdoings in the way the girls never got the chance to.
“In 1969, there was nobody to turn to,” he writes in a proper acknowledgment. “They [the girls] certainly wouldn’t have gone to the police — at the time, a subtle notion persisted that an assault was always the girl’s fault, that she shouldn’t have gotten herself into that position in the first place. They wouldn’t have told their parents, who would probably have scolded them. They are about my age now, 67, and I wonder if they had families. If they remember this night. If they told their daughters.”
Having finally assumed the responsibility for his actions, Palmerine tells this story with a strong hope that men will begin “to tell the truth about the ways they’ve abused women and what our role has been in creating a culture that tolerates this.”
Ultimately, Palmerine believes that men should be apart of the #MeToo movement and begin come forward and talk about what they’ve seen and done in order to motivate others to become true heroes to women.
“The only thing I could say is I’m sorry I didn’t help” regrets Palmerine. “A few women had called me a hero, but, no, I wasn’t. I would’ve been a hero if I had helped these women then, but I didn’t do it.”
Founded by Tarana Burke, the #MeToo movement has taken several turns while building layers around what it means in the music industry as well as other victims outside of the entertainment business.
Reactions have been mixed for his essay. While some believe he is an ally in the movement, others feel he should face consequences for participating in the second assault.
See reactions below.
#This is what needs to happen now: men need to face their past with the courage and honesty that Don Palmerine did, and accept the judgement of the women involved and in their lives.https://t.co/UAW9ASUAiG#metoo
— Kathryn Culbertson (@KgCulby) October 21, 2018
I thank Don Palmerine for writing this. As I've seem men (and women) cynically refusing to believe women who have spoken out about being assaulted (myself included), I've been thinking – there are men out there, perpetrators and others, who know we are telling the truth.
— Stuffed Like Nobody's Ever Seen 'Em Stuffed Before (@deb_eggles) October 5, 2018
Nothing triggers me more than coward men like Don Palmerine, hiding behind stories of “oh hey all, it’s horrible what men do…” dude, YOU ARE PART OF THE FUCKING PROBLEM! You’re not exonerated by writing a story. https://t.co/mLF26fuP5k
— Лёня (Ph.D) (@ethics13) October 7, 2018
— mj ("the gf") (@loopy_girl) October 22, 2018