She had a crush on the perfect guy.
He was tall and strong, with cool blue eyes. He didn't just serve his country; he was a former Navy Seal. He made the cut for Time's 100 Most Influential People.
But she was married. He was married. And she was his hairstylist. So for about a year, in 2013, it was just a crush. Innocent.
But a crush doesn't mean you're asking for it. Seven out of 10 rapes are committed by an acquaintance.
Yet people are questioning her credibility. In the #MeToo era, folks are still confused about consent.
She wanted a big fish, they say. She's making it up to get her ex back, they accuse. She kept up the "affair," so it can't be rape, they claim.
The words of her testimony tell a different story.
After cutting his hair regularly in 2013, she didn't see him at all the next year. When he sat in her chair again for a cut, it would be 2015. This time he was campaigning for governor — a political Ken doll. And she and her husband were separated.
So as she shampooed his hair, he ran his hand all the way up her thigh to her panties. Uninvited. She was shocked and confused. But she was still charmed by him. Her crush.
Two weeks later, he invited her to his home to talk. She asked to meet at a coffee shop. He insisted she come over. She wanted to know why he did what he did at the salon and if he had feelings for her. A talk like that could change everything.
Had Greitens actually listened to her feelings, they could have had a conversation. Had he treated her with humanity, maybe she could have been a partner in what happened next. She never had the chance to say yes.
Melanie Austin, director of education at Metropolitan Organization to Counter Sexual Assault (MOCSA), says consent is not something you give in duress.
"Consent should always be freely given at all times," she says. "It doesn't matter how long you have been in a relationship. It doesn't matter if the relationship is ongoing. Everyone should have bodily autonomy at all times. Consent should be free of coercion."
Instead, he confiscated her keys and phone and patted her down like the police. He checked outside to be sure she had no one with her. He interrupted her efforts to have a conversation and convinced her a workout in his basement would make her feel good. He even had clothes for her to change into. He wanted to show her how to do the perfect pull-up. The Ken doll made her his Barbie.
She was nervous. But this was her perfect guy, and her marriage was falling apart. She followed his lead down the basement stairs. He taped her hands to pull-up rings. He blindfolded her. And then he spit water into her mouth — for hydration, he said. He forced a kiss. She didn't want to be there, but she was bound, in the basement of a man running for governor.
He left a trail of kisses down her neck and on her chest. And then he tore her shirt open. He didn't ask for permission. He yanked her pants down to her ankles. She heard him step back. She heard the click of a camera phone, and a flash of light seeped through her blindfold.
"You're not going to mention my name," he told her. "Don't even mention my name to anybody at all, because if you do, I'm going to take these pictures, and I'm going to put them everywhere I can. They are going to be everywhere, and then everyone will know what a little whore you are."
Revenge porn. It is not just a picture. It is not simply blackmail. It's a sexual violation, and it's illegal. He shamed her. And after she assured him she'd be a good girl, he kissed her stomach again. She told him she didn't want to do it. She tried to free her hands. And he helped. She tried to leave, but he bear-hugged her. She burst into tears, her fear and confusion overwhelming. He told her it would be OK.
Comfort, finally. Except when he laid her down on the basement floor, it was to whip out his penis and place it near her tear-stained face. So she gave him the oral sex he wanted, hoping she would be allowed to make it back up those stairs.
Does that sound like a fun first date to you? This is not consent. Consent is given freely. Consent isn't given out of fear or force.
She didn't give consent to Eric Greitens. She didn't give consent to her ex-husband who shared the ordeal with the media and forced her into the position of testifying.
What happened to this woman is wrong. Period. Just because she met up with Greitens again does not negate the criminal nature of his actions.
File it under "forcible compulsion" — the legal term for forcing a person to comply with a sexual offense.
In Missouri forcible compulsion applies only to fear of death, serious physical injury or kidnapping. It includes the use of date rape drugs. But forcible compulsion should also cover revenge porn being used as a weapon of control.
The woman may have gone back to him out of fear of that porn being released. She may have been in denial. Perhaps she didn't want to believe what happened.
There are a lot of reasons victims go back. Violence often escalates when victims try to leave. The woman says Greitens slapped her when he found out she had slept with her estranged husband. "You're mine," he told her. He allegedly slapped and shoved her to the ground the last time she saw him.
Experts say it takes domestic violence victims about seven times to successfully leave their abusers.
Remember Elizabeth Smart? The Utah teen was kidnapped in 2002 and then raped and assaulted for the next nine months. She had opportunities to leave. Why did she stay?
"It's not because any one of us enjoys being hurt. It's not because any one of us enjoys being raped or kidnapped," she told NBC's "Today" show. "We do everything we can to survive, and there's reasons why we make those decisions."
Now in Missouri in 2018, stop saying the woman in the Greitens scandal was asking for what happened. Stop calling her a mistress. She's a victim and a survivor. And stop calling him governor. Impeach him and call him what he really is: a sexual predator.
Do you or someone you know need help? Make the call:
▪ Metropolitan Organization to Counter Sexual Assault: 816-531-0233 or 913-642-0233
▪ Kansas City Anti-Violence Project: 816-561-0550 (help line for people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender)
▪ Rose Brooks Center: 816-861-6100
▪ SafeHaven Shelter: 816-321-7050
▪ Friends of Yates: 913-321-0951
▪ Safehome: 913-262-2868
▪ Hope House: 816-461-4673
▪ Newhouse: 816-471-5800
▪ National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-7233