Authors Advisory: the following piece contains matter which some readers may find disturbing or objectionable. Mature people who have influence over younger readers, please be advised.
Also, I mentioned last week that I was issuing a piece, “Lunch with Alex Light”. I’ll post it soon. My apologies.
I was Raped
Dedicated to Kristin McNelis
26 May 2015, Tuesday – 6:27 P.M. @ Camp
The sky is blue and the leaves are green. It becomes quieter as the sun starts its descent. Distant motor sounds (above and on ground) become fewer. Birds, who can reach a cacophonous decibel level mid-day, are pretty much just chattering, winding down.
I swat and slap at mosquitoes, sometimes their tiny corpses splayed against my skin with a miniscule amount of blood splatter.
I told my lizard friends I have to go into town tomorrow. They are pouting, withholding affection.
I also told a deer friend and she intoned, “Don’t buy cigarettes!”
Life in the woods has its charm and challenges.
Earlier, I had read aloud the following blog to my first filters, the lizards. They appeared attentive, cocking their heads and doing push-ups at the parts which agitated them.
After I finished, there was a long pause – not a dry eye on the rocks. I read aloud to hear how it sounds, how the transitions flow and to solicit my reptilian relations’ opinion.
One of them finally spoke up, “I’m sorry that happened to you. We understand predators.”
Only since living in Chico have I publicly written — both boldly as well as with conscious timidity – about being sexually assaulted from my earliest memories until the age of 14. I don’t like the word ‘molestation’. It implies ‘rape-lite’ – groping and fondling which, of course is part of the whole power play – but euphemistically avoids the hideousness of what rapists do.
One must conjure the image of an adult body sexually attacking a child who has no context of what is happening. Then in adulthood, last year within Chico’s city limits, I was raped again.
“There’s something I need to tell you,” I said to the E-R’s editor, David Little. I was fidgeting in my seat in his office.
“Okay,” he said in his engaged listening manner.
We were discussing subjects I would cover in this blog and how I would make it different from my North State Voices column.
I reminded him that at first meeting when he was attempting to entice me to write for him, he used the word ‘diversity’ as a selling point.
“Dude, if you want diversity, I’ll show you diversity,” I laughed then.
He brought up my second submission for my entry in the North State Voices contest. It was called “The Deer Pens”.
It concerned my meeting a man who bragged that he had unprotected sex with other males in lower Bidwell Park in an area near the E. 8th Street border known as The Deer Pens.
In the piece, I explained why I believed he could possibly being living with HIV-disease.
“You could never print this,” Little explained a judge on the North State Voices selection panel said in discussions.
“I know that,” Little told me he responded. “Yes, I have some concerns about whether this could run, but that’s why we have editors. I’d work with him so that it wouldn’t be libelous, or we wouldn’t run it.”
Libel is a tremendous issue and as the piece stood, although I did not identify the individual, he would know it was him. It was a contest entry, not for publication. Because of the potential all-around legal consequences, I’m still not going to identify him.
In a round about way of getting to the point, I told Little of a recent psychiatric session.
“I can see you have two problems,” the shrink said. “You don’t appear to be homeless and because you’re self-aware and bright, you don’t seem mentally ill.”
“Should I drool?” I asked.
“No,” he shot me a look of feeling insulted.
“When was the last time you were hospitalized for mental illness?”
I told him the story, as I later related it to Little:
I walked into Enloe ER, told them my name and stated in a detached, calm manner, “I feel acutely suicidal, I’m having strong impulsive thoughts about traffic and high places and rushing water and (I hate this part, the need to use clinical language in a clinical situation, but having to in order to make a point), I’m an adult survivor of childhood incest, I was recently sexually assaulted by a man, I don’t want to die, but I don’t know what to do and I know you’ll help me.”
And they did. Quickly.The police were called as is protocol which was gently explained to me.
I was fully aware of the implications, learning from women through history, in speeches I gave on sexual assault, from friends and lovers and my own mother who was, funnily enough, my age now when she was raped by a neighbor – a kid a few years younger than me who was a friend when I lived at home.
I’ve witnessed again and again, examples of women who are raped, the violent act justified by the rapists because of what women wear whether it is a burka or bikini.
I’ve learned from war around the world where rape is used as a weapon.
And, of course, boys and men are societally expected to protect themselves no matter how we are restrained metaphorically and in reality or drugged into unconsciousness.
I was maintaining irregular eye contact with Little as I spoke, grasping the arms of the chair, looking around in his office at the huge monitor behind him, at his graying, otherwise fullish head of hair and setting on filing cabinets, an apology gift I had crafted awhile ago.
He was David Little doing what he does, listening.
“I’m not sure how I’m going to handle this publicly,” I continued. “I’ll figure it out. I know I’m going to write about it.”
And then we were on to other subjects.
CPD Officer Caldwell who took the report in the ER back in December was professional and instructional, telling me what he needed to know to qualify the case.
I told him pointed details, unemotionally except for the blankness of relating trauma.
“Is that enough?”
“That will do.”
Caldwell told me what would happen next. He gave me my case number, said that he would write a report to give to detectives.
Further he explained that there were just four detectives in the department and he had no idea when they’d get to my case.
I called the PD a couple of months later, the detective’s bureau, but haven’t received a call back. I understand. I do.
I met with the Rape Crisis Intervention and Prevention women many times. They were spectacular. I remember a scene where I was sitting on the floor in one of their offices surrounded by stuffed toys like I was a guest on Sesame Street, openly weeping.
These well-trained, knowledgeable and compassionate women got me through the first phase telling me over and over what I knew somewhere remotely in my mind, “It wasn’t your fault. You didn’t do anything wrong. You trusted and you were betrayed.”
Like many victimized human beings I questioned myself again and again: how could have this happened? I’ve made peace with that now more or less. Frankly, less.
I had met a very sharp P.I., Kristin McNelis when I was a witness in a case she was investigating. She left a lasting impression on me. I asked her advice. She emailed me a name of an assistant D.A. in the Butte County District Attorney’s Office who might take interest in the case because of the perp’s profession and my belief that he may be living with AIDS and consciously having unprotected sex with males in a city public park, possibly on occasion with confused minors.
I haven’t contacted the DA’s office yet. I’m unsure of what to do.
But there’s something you can do. The Rape Crisis Intervention and Program women, who help many, many women and girls, men and boys have had their funding cut by the City of Chico. They need money. Any donation, any amount will help. Please mail to or drop off your contribution at 2889 Cohasset Road, Suite 2, Chico, CA 95973. Or, as it is often said, if you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted call the Center at 530.891.1331. They’ll listen, they’ll counsel and give advice.
They won’t force you to do anything you don’t want to do. They’ve more than got that one down.
Love and Peace,
You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or voicemail, 530.624.0559.