This is going to sound so bizarre, but I kind of want to say it just to put it out there. But maybe it isn’t as bizarre as I think it is.
As a sexual assault survivor, even an assault from almost twenty years ago, it’s so hard for me to trust men or to believe them when they say they won’t hurt me. So many of the men I’ve dated since then have abused my trust, hurt me, pushed for sex when I wasn’t ready, guilted me into it. It is a struggle every day to believe that there is someone out there who won’t do those things to me.
So believe me when I say that the sexiest thing I have ever heard a man say is when Rafael Barba turns around, looks at the rapist’s defense attorney, and says, “Whether you’re a John in the South Bronx or a three million dollar a year talk show host, NO MEANS NO.”
Because he gets it. It doesn’t matter who you are, how much money you have, what your job is, how famous you are, whether she started to have sex with you. None of that matters. The word no MEANS no.
I know it sounds really strange to feel that way about a fictional character, but someone had to write him, right? And I have to believe that the guy playing him believes it, too. And if there’s one, there have to be more, right?
Fictional characters, actors… sometimes you can tell yourself that it’s not okay to feel changed, to BE changed, by them. But I think it is. I think if you are positively changed by something an actor, a singer, a character does… then that’s totally fine. If you need to hold onto something while you work through a problem, then I think that that’s perfectly acceptable.
Last year, Tom Hiddleston helped me work through a lot of emotionally devastating issues - he gave me something to look to, reminded me in so many ways that I needed to go on. He didn’t save me, but he helped me save myself. So much so that I got the quote that I clung to tattooed on my wrist. To remind me to always keep that hope.
Right now, especially writing this little novel of mine, Rafael Barba (and maybe Raul Esparza too) is helping me. Helping me work through the still-lingering trauma of what happened to me all those years ago. Helping remind me that there are men out there who are good, who don’t want to hurt you, who are capable of honor and love and kindness. And helping remind me that maybe someday, I’ll meet one of those guys in the real world, and he won’t need to save me, because he’ll never give me a reason to need saved.