Saturday, September 22, 2018

#whyididntreport




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. 

3 comments:

Ms. Moon said...

I think the answer to this is so very simple. And yet at the same time, the hardest thing in the world.
We have to speak up. EVERY TIME. We have to report. EVERY TIME. We have to make sure that the guy knows without a shadow of a doubt that we do remember, even if we don't remember details, and that we will not just get on with life and forget about it.
I say "we."
We are older. These things do not happen to us now with such regularity. So we must tell our daughters, our young friends, our grandchildren the truth. The truths. We must bear witness and we must be the support, the backbone, the moral fiber, the granny witch, the voice of authority, the love made of steel to help them to say NO or to report and tell and not be afraid or ashamed if no is not an option.
That's what I think.
I am sorry these things happened to you.
I am sorry they happened to us all. Just because we have all been strong enough to bear it doesn't mean it's okay in any way.
Whatever we can do to stop it is what we have to do.

lily cedar said...

The boys will be boys is bullshit, rape is not about sex, it’s about power, power to do as you please and power to ignore the rights of others. Rape is not about young people experimenting with sex, it’s about doing as you please because you think you have that right.

37paddington said...

I wish every man alive could read this post. I wish those assholes in Congress could read this. Of course we remember. I am sorry this happened to you. To any of us. Thank you for writing this.