My Rapist Had An Accomplice (and so did yours)
There’s nothing new about my story. If I didn’t know that before, if a NYPD detective hadn’t told me just how redundant my rape story was, I would know now. #MeToo would have shown me.
What the detective said was this: Because you were too intoxicated to remember exactly what happened, we had to close the case. I breathed into the phone, waiting. There had to be more. He filled the space with this: We just see so many of these cases.
These cases. What he meant was: Women are being raped constantly.
People get tired of hearing about rape. People are scared when you bring it up, and not necessarily because it’s scary. The face is more the face people take on when they realize they’ve “heard this one before.” The way you read “cancer” on a paperback novel and decide to go for something more uplifting, something fresh and new.
In so many words the detective, faced awkwardly with silence aside from me holding back tears, tried comforting me by explaining if my story was a movie, he wouldn’t watch it. Without a twist — maybe a weapon, a bloodier scene, or someone famous — my story isn’t worth hearing let alone pressing charges against.
I’ve spent the last four years wondering how I could have changed the way I presented my story to the detective. Was it more narrative drive he was looking for? Something a little more cinematic? Maybe I shouldn’t have cried on the phone. He’d definitely seen it end that way before.
I was drugged, beaten, and raped by someone that I considered to be one of my best friends. He scarred me and bruised me.
A friend — an ally, a warrior for justice — convinced me over the phone not to take the shower I so desperately wanted to take. I will be there soon she said, and I ran my fingers over the body that felt like someone else’s home until she arrived.
We took the bus. It was raining. Or was it? Maybe it just felt like it should be. She held my hand. I arrived at the hospital a shell. I vomited the tequila my rapist had handed me until I blacked out into the waiting room toilet. The gentle swabbing of the doctor’s Q-tip felt like peroxide on a burn.
Even though I had a rape kit done in time to gather DNA, even though I was willing to press charges, even though there was video tape of him taking me, nearly catatonic into the apartment building where it happened, even though the doorman felt sick enough for letting us upstairs that he called the apartment over and over again after we’d disappeared up the stairs, even though he wanted to testify, even though I missed days of work so that I didn’t have to show up with scratches and bruises, the detectives dropped my case.
They didn’t even call to give me the bad news. I had to call them, which I did with the therapist I couldn’t afford because I was so afraid of the answer I unfortunately got. She had me bring in the detective’s card. We sat in her office, and I dialed. The call lasted less than two minutes.
This detective was someone I might have described as a “nice man.” He sounded sorry on the phone, like justice was something he once wished he could provide, but still he is one of the many guilty parties involved in my rape story.
Yes, the man who assaulted me is certainly at fault, but he was backed by a throng of accomplices. The police department, the bartenders, the health care system, mutual friends of my rapist and mine who “just couldn’t see him doing that.”
Today, I have seen people responding to #MeToo posts with hopes that the perpetrator is in jail, but I know that for most of us this is not the case. If you are curious to know what justice for rape looks like in America, imagine a file containing photos of my bruised body, a pair of my underwear, and the results of a rape kit sitting in a government filing cabinet. Imagine letters from my health care provider informing me my therapy bills would not be covered. Imagine fear buried so deep inside, that even the gentle touch of my own husband can sometimes unearth it.
I know many men who have suffered from unwanted advances, and I’m not sure I know a single woman who has not been sexually assaulted or harassed. #Metoo has put this fact right there in our social media feeds so we cannot ignore it.
They tell us to be brave. They tell us to speak out. And so we do. And so we have. In our own little ways and in big ways, too. We march, we cry, we tell a trusted friend our story and listen closely while they tell us theirs. And today we hashtag. We hit the copy paste commands, maybe sadly, maybe angrily, or maybe with enough distance for some other emotion, and we send #MeToo out into our chamber of the web.
A friend and I recently wondered what real justice would look like for us. For me it starts with accountability. The rapist is not the only perpetrator. Who were the accomplices in your sexual assault? Was it a detective? Was it a parent? Was it a friend? Maybe you’ve been an accomplice yourself. Let’s stop helping people commit sexual crimes.