I WAS RAPED My post-assault experiences with Enloe ER, the Chico PD, the Rape Crisis Intervention and Prevention Center of Chico and Life in the Woods

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?”
“Last December.”
“What happened?”
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 dregisbilar@live.com or voicemail, 530.624.0559.

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Our Lizard Brains

Hangin’ with my beautiful reptilian relations…

Dedicated to Shannon Rooney

19 May 2015, Tuesday — 7:30 A.M.

“Don’t build a nest there, please,” were the first words I spoke aloud, quietly, this morning. The small bird I was speaking to was darting in and out of a blanket I had hung over a line, all beeps, chirps and trills as it was scouting for a place to nest.
It’s happened before that I shook out a sleeping bag or a jacket that I was airing and out fell the twigs and grass of a nest. It seemed akin to bulldozing human homes in warfare, but I am not at war with my animal friends.
It’s a matter of being aware that if I’m not observant, someone will bed down in fabric I have about: spiders, caterpillars and tics.
There are, I think, two monarch butterfly cocoons attached to Tibetan prayer flags. Cool. If the timing’s right, I’ll be able to see them emerge from their chrysalises.

Hands down, my most constant companions at camp are my lizard friends. Some are hanging out while I write this. They range three to six inches in length, tail to nose and have a variety of colorings: some more solid in camouflaged tones and some coated with scaled iridescence.
They react to my making clucking sounds with my tongue and, particularly, when I make flatulent sounds with my lips. They cock their heads, do their push-ups and puff up.

I don’t know why they do push-ups, sometimes on their front legs and others on all four. Up and down, up and down. Dominance behavior? Mating ritual?
I call the larger ones ‘Dudes’ and the smaller ones ‘Sweetheart’.
At the risk of coming off as a reptilian bigot, they all sort of look alike to me.

I’ve never been much for push-ups, but occasionally, when I’m laying out on my blanket, I’ll roll over and do 10 just to show them I can but they always win the competition.

My observations are empirical, I’m not a scientist, but this being my third season in the woods, I would agree with being labelled a ‘naturalist’.

In an article published in ‘Psychology Today’ (Your Lizard Brain, The Limbic System and Brain Functioning, April 22, 2014), Joseph Troncale, M.D. of Lancaster, Pennsylvania writes:

In 1954, the limbic cortex was described by neuroanatomists. Since that time, the limbic system of the brain has been implicated as the seat of emotion, addiction, mood, and lots of other mental and emotional processes. It is the part of the brain that is phylogenetic ally very primitive. Many people call it “The Lizard Brain” because the limbic system is about all a lizard has for brain function. It is in charge of fight, flight, feeding, fear, freezing-up, and fornication.

I sensed we had a lot in common.

Midday Sunday, I noticed that one of the six-inchers was on the rock that has a shallow depression which I fill with water for the lizards and our bird friends. Also on the rock is a red toy pick-up truck I found which the Dude often lays across, too big for the bed, like a low-tech effect in a 1950s Japanese horror flick.
Instead, he was standing next to it doing four-legged push-ups at a frantic speed. He appeared agitated – not in the way he gets when the shadow of a large bird passes – something was different.
I stopped, listened and smelled. The birds were engaged in their boisterousness. As a self-absorbed human, I didn’t detect the silence which precedes an earthquake. There was no hint of smoke or footfalls in the brush which could signal a predator, other humans being the ones we fear most.
He kept on: up and down, up and down on all four legs at a frenzied speed.

And, I swear the following happened:
“What’s up, Dude?” Is something wrong?”
He stopped, cocked his head, popped off the rock and made a four-legged dart to buckets I had set out to catch rain water. He positioned himself next to the purple bucket and resumed his alarmed behavior.
I stood up to full height and he scampered off. Walking over to the buckets and looking down, I inwardly gasped.
A smaller lizard was trapped inside.
“Ah, Sweetheart, I’m so sorry,” I apologized tipping the bucket, sacrificing the water and off she went scurrying out of sight. I consolidated all of the water into one bucket, covered it and turned the others upside down.

Back on my blanket, I put a bud in my ear and continued reading, doing a sit-down bop to rock music.
Three lizards appeared an unusual number and positioned themselves on assorted rocks and limbs. The biggest lay across the pick-up truck.
Circling me, six more appeared, none of the nine doing push-ups.
I looked at each one of them, all of us cocking our heads and on impulse in a subconscious lizard brain moment; I said to each one of them, one at a time, nine times, “You’re welcome.”
At which point, all nine started doing their push-ups, moving side-to-side and flicking their tongues while I made gaseous sounds with my lips.
They don’t have a lot of moves, but, then, neither do I.
I could have cried, but just kept on dancing.


Writing hint: Don’t be concerned about using cliches. You can always go back and edit them if you aren’t satisfied. For example, write, “It’s a beautiful day.” Let it rest and then on revisiting, think of changing it to, “It was a day that made me feel beautiful.”


PS: I’m still having trouble with this blog stuff. The Alex light piece I mentioned earlier this week will have to wait until next week. My apology.

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Apology to Readers, Melissa Daugherty and What’s to Come

Firstly, in my first blog posted last Wednesday, there were many errors. I was so focused on figuring out how to blog to begin with (with the great assistance of the E-R’s Ryan Olson (a very patient young man who also hosts NSPR’s Jazz show on Friday nights, 9:00 PM)) that I didn’t proof read my copy well enough.
I misspelled the CN&R’s editor, Melissa Daughtery’s first name which was unintentional.
There were other typos and towards the end I left out the word ‘not’ in a sentence about the healing powers of nature which made it sound as if I felt nature was killing me. It’s quite the opposite.
Then, there was a blog post titled ‘Spontaneous Blog Post Number 1’ without copy because it disappeared. I’ve looked everywhere and if I had a bed, I’d look under it.
I’m asking your patience and apologize for any confusion.
I’m 61 and my aptitude for all this new-fangled technology doesn’t come easily.
I grew up on corded phones with rotary dials, a b&w television set with three channels and I miss my blue Olivetti manual typewriter like a long lost mechanical love.
I don’t miss first auto, a ’67 MGB-GT at all.

I’m going to be posting a couple of more blogs this week, one being on my relationships with my good lizard friends out at camp and a lunch I had today with Alex Light, the best writer I know in Chico.
He wrote brilliantly for the weekly ‘Synthesis’ which, sadly folded recently. I miss it terribly.

Take care of yourself and remember to breathe.


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Breathing In, Breathing Out

Lunch with David Little, the Process of Writing and Life in the Woods

13 May 2015, Wednesday – 6:00 A.M.

            Last night and this morning at camp, I had my usual fluctuating level of anxiety (excitement, fear) about doing something new: after many fits and false starts, launching this blog.

I had encountered a rattle snake the day before and was lucky its strike missed. Smallish and young it only rattled while slithering away into tall grass.

After regaining composure — rethinking what to do if bitten by a venomous snake — I saw the happenstance play out as a wilderness metaphor for the responsibility of writing: watch your footing.

“Breathing In, Breathing Out” was initially conceived in early 2014, a singularly tortuous public blog launch party was held on March 9, my 60th birthday at Has Bean’s downtown location and then I disappeared, failing any commitment I had made to David Little, the Enterprise-Record’s editor.

I have apologized.

In writing, in journalism there are specific stylistic rules on how to address individuals, but for the sake of this post, of how I know him, I’ll call David Little ‘David’. He is a professional friend, an editor I trust and plays no small part in my…getting better than how I was when I first arrived in Chico November 2012.

As I wrote in my current North State Voices column (May 14, 2015), it was a letter to the editor which prompted a series of brief emails between us beginning in November 2013. David invited me to lunch and though I had my suspicions, my biases of why a smallish town daily newspaper editor would want to meet me, he sealed the deal by offering to pay for lunch from Pinolero’s (which is a colloquial term for a Nicaraguan).

Once we had settled onto a green grassy area (now drought brown) at Tower Market across from Tacos El Pinolero’s taco truck on East Park Avenue, we were off talking semantics, words, writing, our backgrounds and it was an easy conversation. He is old-school polite, funny in an often clever, self-deprecating way which comes through sometimes in his columns and, considering his immense work load, a very good editor.

“You’ve never had these burritos before?” David asked.

“Dude, I’m a bum. I rarely eat out.”

“Why do you call yourself a ‘bum’?”

“To embrace a word that is often used with derision,” I responded. “And then there’s the whole romantic notion of roughing it in a Jack Kerouac sense, of the Kerouac’s ‘Dharma Bums’.

He asks straight-forward questions seeking knowledge and I could not detect any disingenuousness in his character.

I had an uneven foray into the journalistic politics of Chico – first a great experience with then editor of the Chico News and Review, Robert Speer when he published a feature story of mine, “Searching for Snipes” (March, 21, 2013) with my mug on the cover, describing my adventure into homelessness.

The CN&R’s news editor, Tom Gascoyne befriended me and was encouraging about my continuing to submit articles, but then the current editor, Mellissa Daugherty came on to the scene.

She rejected a follow-up article I authored about the grittier aspects of bumdom critical of many of the non-profits who serve us, but Daugherty rejected it writing that she feels I am “…too close to homelessness…”.

Gascoyne unfriended me.

Hmmm? Instead, the CN&R continues to perpetuate the worst sort of stereotypes in articles written by people who are white, have never been homeless or go so far as to pretend to be homeless and compare treatment of us homeless in Chico to South African Apartheid.

The best thing I can say about her journalistic ethics and the CN&R’s slump into bourgeois entertainment (and a noticeable lack of diversity in color, as in people of color being represented), is that she’s relatively new at her job.

Not so, David Little. He told me in that first lunch that he was just a “middle class white guy” who had a “writer’s curiosity” and that I represented, through my writing and lifestyle, a diversity he was seeking for the E-R.

            My five monthly North State Voices columns have been a test. Beginning in 2005, I stopped writing professionally beginning a 10 year period of darkness which lead me to the light at the end of the tunnel of Chico.

            So the columns were to determine if I could generate 750 publishable words and how readers would react. To my surprise and delight, I’ve received a considerable amount of positive communication through email, letters to the editor, telephone calls and kind, supportive words from passersby on the street.

            David had caught my attention in how he edits my submissions, never changing the content, but for clarity. Admittedly, my stuff is edgy, controversial and often emotionally raw, and it was important for me to come to trust David with my words.

            And, I do.

A few weeks ago I asked him to meet for lunch again, over a year since our first meeting. Tacitly, he offered to pay. We met at La Cucina Economica, 905 Wall Street at 9th.

A sign taped to the cash register read “card machine still down”.

Taking out his wallet, David said, “Let me see if I have any money. My wife doesn’t let me keep cash.”


“No.” he chuckled in a way that cannot be faked.

He always using the word ‘we’ in an unassuming sense of his role at the newspaper.

When I point that out, he said “There are a lot of good people who work there. Thank you for noticing.”

             Although he has excellent eye contact, his eyes occasionally wander to ether as if he’s picturing words on the page, as if he’s doing a good editor’s quick analysis as we talk.

            I wanted to discuss the blog project, its launching and the aprehensions I had. He seemed surprised that writing doesn’t come easily to me. Not always.

            But writing is like breathing for me, a skill that was born out of a childhood need to escape reality, to capture words on paper, to exorcise the darkness and feebly stop the pain and buffer what becomes of memory.

            I became a writer. Writers write.

            I still write mostly by hand, coming into town to transcribe the legal pads of notes into a computer. Writing, like camping in the woods, is a trial of endurance. Will I make it out of my own thoughts?

            A journalist’s job is to bear witness, to analyze experiences and transform them into readable words, sentences and paragraphs.

            I’ve called the blog ‘Breathing In, Breathing Out’  because it’s a common factor in all of our lives. Something we all do to survive, often unconsciously.

            I am not cavalier about the criminality of my life, my being a trespasser with all the possible legal violations and attendant consequences. But my third season has begun and, thus far no one could convince me that the healing powers of nature, of solitude and contemplation, have kept me alive.

            Future posts will include journal entries and expansions on life in the woods, observations of homeless subculture, straight-forward reporting and profiles of people whose lives matter.

            All life matters is a philosophy I’ve come to embrace and with your kind readership, I will continue to explore the absurd realities of this thing we call life.

            As I write, I am well-aware that there are, around the globe, writers right this moment being tortured and murdered for exactly what I am doing. It is a privilege I do not take for granted.


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