I don’t remember the name of the colleague who almost strangled me. Not his first name. Not his last. I remember he had a wrestler’s body and that he could vault over the couch on the set of the play we were in like a gymnast. I remember that he had me pinned to the front seat of my car before I knew what hit me.
I don’t remember the name of the person who had the cast party. Or the name of the street that it was on. Only that the house was severed from the street and the street from its neighborhood by the Hollywood Freeway. It was a no-man’s land. Dead-ended. A cluster of marooned houses reachable only by a dark broken-up path.
I don’t remember what year it was. 1975, or 76, or 77. I don’t remember the name of the play. I can tell you the name of the theatre though, and so with some investigation these other details could be found out. What I remember is how terrifying it was to feel his thumbs pressing hard into my windpipe. Come with me to my place. You have to come with me to my place now, he said. I couldn’t muster enough breath to dissent.
I don’t remember what I was wearing exactly. Maybe a skirt. But probably pants—jeans, I think. What I remember is my black silk shirt, soaked with sweat and fear. I remember knowing that if I could manage to scream, no one would hear me over the freeway’s roar.
I don’t remember how I drove myself home when I was able to talk him out of his plan. But I remember that my boyfriend at the time dissuaded me from taking any action. The police probably won’t do anything, he said. And it would be your word against his. Why don’t you just avoid him?
I remember my rapist’s first name. It was Jerry. We’d just met. He was the Pepsi bottler sponsoring the show I was in. He was supposed to take me out to dinner, but he was late. Very late. I waited for him at the hotel bar. The drinks were strong. He and the bartender seemed to know one another. But I can’t prove anything.
I remember this was in Indiana. 1979. Maybe South Bend. Maybe Indianapolis. I don’t remember the name of the hotel. I’ll walk you to your room, Jerry said. With a shove, he was inside. Another shove, and he was on top of me. You know you want it he said. You know you want it--until he was through.
I didn’t want it. But I wanted my job. I wanted the money I was making. I wanted my success. I remember what I wanted and what I didn’t want.
I didn’t tell my boyfriend. I already knew what he would say. Your word against his. And weren’t you drunk?
Some things are easy to remember. Some are easy to forget. Some things must be pushed to memory’s deep dark places if you want to survive. People question what you don't remember and confuse it with what you want to forget.
Boys will be boys, people say. You must be mistaken, they say. Pillar of the community. Rising star. Don’t ruin his career. Don’t ruin his family. So we are the ones who are ruined. Senators tearing off our clothes. Orrin Hatch holding us down. Chuck Grassely’s thumbs pressing into our windpipes. But somehow we must fight until we are heard.