Rita Chatterton became a licensed NY wrestling referee in 1984 and went on to become the first female referee in the WWE. That's when Chatterton caught the attention of Vince McMahon.
McMahon, whose father started WWF, had called Chatterton to tell her he was “impressed” with her work and wanted her to go “full-time” but had a warning for her, she told New York Magazine. McMahon told her to stay away from the wrestlers and keep it professional. According to the NY Post, " The wrestling mogul also told Chatterton she’d be on the cover of glossies like Women’s Day, Better Homes and Gardens and Time, so she quit her job as a delivery driver with Frito-Lay and began to pursue wrestling full-time. But the relationship soured when the young ref tried to follow up – and McMahon allegedly raped her in July 1986."
Chatterton told the outlet the attack happened after she asked McMahon to discuss her career and he told her to meet her at a diner after the show. Later, while sitting at a “big round table” with about a dozen others, Chatterton brought up her career but McMahon told her to keep quiet, she told the outlet. After Chatteron leaves the table to go to the restroom, McMahon asks her to accompany him to another diner but then tells her he is tired and asks her to accompany him in his limo, at which point he makes an aggressive sexual advance and rapes her in the limo.
While she did contact a lawyer in hopes of holding McMahon accountable, she ultimately decided against it.
“It came down that it was my word against McMahon’s, because I took a shower and didn’t go to the hospital,” she said.
“I was scared … He was powerful. It was gonna be him over me.”
Rita Chatterton's reaction is typical for adult survivors of abuse. Sexual abuse is more about power and control than sex. Most survivors are left in the dark and afraid. They fear their attackers and are hesitant to come forward. A powerful, wealthy man like McMahon has many resources and no doubt try to destroy his accusers. The same thing happened with Harvey Weinstein and Jeffrey Epstein.
However, there is a tipping point. When more survivors find their voice and come forward, the perpetrator's power is greatly diminished. One allegation can go unnoticed. However, when more and more people come forward and tell a similarly horrific tale, there is real power in that.