This sounds distant for a reason... I was writing it to be modified for the character in my NaNoWriMo, when I was trying to get to catharsis. I cannot get too close to the actual feelings. I cannot turn off the intellectual distance, because to do so is to shatter.
This is what happened that night. It is behind a cut tag because lots of things that may seem totally random to you or even to me can be very triggering for rape survivors.
It isn't pretty and it isn't well-written, but it's real, and it's something that has colored my life since it happened, and maybe it will help you understand.
(note: Layne broke my glasses in a fight the day before this.)
I’d been writing, and had been seized by a sudden strong impulse to go for a walk… harder to do so than usual, due to my glasses being broken, but the instinct was that strong.
Vegas, at night, was strong and beautiful… one of those cities that seemed to have its own life, its own soul. It felt like Home, it truly did. And my mental map of the city was impeccable – I got to Cafe Copioh with no problems. Things seemed to be winding down there, unfortunately, so I decided to see if Layne was at Jackson’s house.
Taking the shortcut behind Copioh, I saw people…. Damn, I hated being without my glasses. As they walked past, though, one said, “Hey” – Chris. A Copioh regular. Okay.
Dad would be in town in two days, and I’d get new glasses then. Couldn’t afford them on my own, but Dad would fix everything, just like he always did…
No one home at Jackson’s. I checked Morgan’s apartment and Don’s… both empty. Obviously something going on that I’d not been made aware of… but hey, Layne and I were at odds, I couldn’t expect to be kept impeccably informed.
Shrugging, I turned onto Hialeah to head back home. Walking towards Maryland… there was a car pulled over on Hialeah, a white muscle car with patches of primer gray. A guy was leaning against the car. As I passed, he said, “Hi”. I smiled and said “Hi” back, thinking, okay, another Copioh regular; I’m bad at voices, and couldn’t see his face.
And he grabbed me from behind.
And he threw me in the car.
And I said, “What are you doing?” and he said, “We’re going for a ride.”
And I was in shock already, but still… when he had grabbed me, my shoe had fallen off. And I said, “Can you get my shoe?”
And he stared at me, incredulous, and said, “What?”
And I said, “My shoe fell off. Can you get it?”
“You don’t need your shoe.”
“Please. If… if you let me go… later… I need to walk home. I need my shoe.”
He studied me. And he opened his car door, keeping an arm over me to keep me from running… and he picked up my shoe.
Later, I saw this as how I knew that there was a way out of this. He picked up my shoe. If he really planned to kill me, he would not have picked up my shoe.
He drove me to his apartment, just two blocks away. Four Corners apartment complex. I’d looked there when I was apartment-shopping – it’s essentially studio apartments with a kitchen shared by four apartments. My mind was cataloging this. Snapshots.
We got there. He pulled me out of the car, out the driver’s side, and brought me to his door.
Into his apartment.
Snapshots: Black sheets. A towel by the door. Dirty laundry at the bedside. A cheaply-framed picture near the kitchen door. Hanging shelf over the bed, with a radio on it.
He threw me on the bed.
He pulled off my jeans.
I said No. I said No a lot, in so many different ways; “Why are you doing this?” and “Please don’t,” the whole litany, and it did not matter to him; he pulled off my jeans and my shirt and my panties and my bra.
Snapshots: I was not “asking for it”, in terms of dress. I was wearing jeans, and not tight stretch jeans, just jeans. And a coppery plain cotton t-shirt. And little black slip-on shoes with bows on them. Just a regular girl. Just me.
He flipped me onto my stomach and straddled me as he tied my wrists together with a dirty tube sock.
He flipped me back over onto my back and made to blindfold me with the sock’s mate, and I begged: “Please, no – my glasses are broken. I can’t see anyway. Please.”
“You can’t see me?”
“I can’t, I swear, I can’t. I thought you were someone I knew, on the street. I can’t see you.”
He used the sock as a gag instead.
Snapshot: He was average height, average weight. He had short brown hair and a thin brown mustache. He was wearing a gray t-shirt and loose gray sweatpantish shorts with an inch or two of black material on the bottom. He was wearing tennis shoes. Until he took off everything but the shirt.
He pulled me all the way onto the bed. And I went limp, totally limp, as he pawed my breasts. As he stuck his finger in me and found that I was dry. As he actually went down on me… I don’t know why. I don’t know if he thought he could turn me on, or if he just wanted saliva there so he wouldn’t hurt his dick. I don’t know. But I felt his teeth on me as he did it, and I turned my head as far to the side as I could, trying to hide maybe, trying to not have to see.
Almost wishing I was blindfolded after all.
And I swear I left my body… I swear I watched this from somewhere near the ceiling. Because this could not be happening to me. Because nothing like this can really happen to a person… the person would break inside. It’s too much.
This cannot be real. I wanted this to not be real. And I watched from outside my body as he flipped me back over onto my stomach and readied himself to penetrate me… and got the wrong hole by mistake. This brought me back to myself, and I twisted, desperately trying to get his dick away from my ass, and he punched the back of my head and said, “You don’t have a choice,” and I lay there.
As he raped me.
He kept up a litany of bad B-movie dialogue as he did it, all of the “I know you wanted this,” “This apartment’s not even going to be here tomorrow,” et cetera, but the only thing that really got me was this: “You’re good. I think I’m gonna keep you here for a few days.”
And that… that scared me.
Because my dad was going to be here in two days.
And he was going to look for me and not find me. Because I was going to be tied to the bed of a rapist. Or I was going to be dead.
And my dad wouldn’t even know. I was going to die, and my dad wouldn’t even know what h appened to me.
This started me crying. Silently, of course, being gagged. I stayed limp, though… and it is really difficult to fuck someone who’s completely limp. So maybe he finished sooner than he otherwise would have. I don’t know. He tried me in a few different positions, finally finishing with me on my back.
Put his shorts on.
Took my gag off. I felt the chafing around my mouth… the skin of my face feeling stretched.
And he pulled a gun from his nightstand.
And he held the gun and looked at me.
And he said, “I’m sorry I have to kill you. I know I’m going to hell for this.”
And I said, “Why do you think you’re going to hell?”
And…he lowered the gun. Confused. “What?”
“Why do you think you’re going to hell? What is hell, to you?”
I apparently have a shock-induced mental autopilot. And it evidently enjoys theological discussions. Okay.
He said, “Well… I raped you. I did a horrible thing. I did an evil thing.”
“I don’t believe in evil.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well… I believe in good. I believe in an omnipresent force of good, underlying everything. I feel that, I feel the good in the world… but I don’t feel any evil.”
“I just raped you. That’s not evil?”
“Well, yes. Hear me out. There is good. The default state of everything is good. Evil… well, we do that to ourselves. There is no ‘devil made me do it’. It’s a human thing. The evil is the stuff we do to ourselves, the thought patterns we fall into. It is more natural for us to be good than to be evil. Evil is what happens when we ignore what we are, ignore the fact that we’re connected to everything. When we get trapped in our heads, when we get greedy and violent and start thinking we’re better – or worse – than the rest of the world.”
He stared at me, dumbfounded.
“My name is Elizabeth, by the way,” I offered. Well, of course I wasn’t giving him my real name.
“I’m Jason,” he replied.
“So okay. You say you’re going to hell… but you haven’t made all of your choices yet, Jason. Yes, you did a horrible thing. But you don’t have to do any more horrible things. You can always make a U-turn here.”
“It doesn’t feel that way.”
“Well, it is that way. You don’t have to be a murderer.”
He was quiet. “I just… had a feeling. That I should go out there, to the corner. I didn’t know what would happen. I was sleeping, and I just woke up with this instinct, so I did it. And then you walked by and…” He sighed. “I just broke up with my girlfriend yesterday. She dumped me.”
“What happened there?”
“I dunno. We’d been fighting a lot.”
“Did you do anything... like this…”
“No! No. I’ve never done anything like this.”
“Don’t do it again, okay?”
“Yeah. I… I’m so sorry. Um. Would you like anything to drink?”
“Umm. Yeah. Coke?”
“Okay.” And he went into the kitchen and got me a Coke, and then he untied my hands so I could drink it.
And then… for three hours… we talked. About his girlfriend. About his life – he was in Narcotics Anonymous. His drug of choice had been cocaine. He used to run a club in Seattle… did a lot of coke in those days, but he was a year clean now. I congratulated him.
He let me get dressed.
And… I talked to him about Elizabeth. Not me. Elizabeth. Who moved here from New York, and had a younger brother who had a potassium deficiency. Layer upon layer of detail. Building a new person, a girl to like and sympathize with.
A girl to not want to kill.
We talked about spirituality, and the Vegas club scene, and relationships. At one point:
“I just didn’t think a girl like you would ever talk to me.”
“Of course I would have.”
“No, you wouldn’t…”
“No, really, I would. If you’d approached me in Copioh and struck up a conversation, I would have talked to you.”
“I've seen you there, you looked familiar…”
“I usually wear glasses…?”
“Yeah! Yeah. I’ve definitely seen you. Lot of times. Never talked to you, but I've watched you.”
Which is kind of worse.
We talked. All night. And, all night, I chose my words so carefully… not “if I went to the police,” but “*even* if I went to the police.” And projecting my harmlessness as hard as I could.
And three hours later… he let me go.
He untied me. He walked me to the door. And he had tears in his eyes, and said, “I’m so sorry. You’re so wonderful… I’ve violated you, this amazing person.”
“You’re going to get help, right?”
“Yeah. I am. Umm – can I drive you home?”
“Can I drive you home? I’m just afraid that someone else is going to grab you.”
“No… No, I’ll be okay.”
He sighed. “You just don’t want me to know where you live.”
Honesty is the best policy… “Well, yeah, that’s part of it.”
And… he let me go. And I walked, silently. Got to the 7-11. Borrowed a pen and a napkin. Wrote down everything I’d been holding in my brain. All of the snapshots. And continued walking.
Got to Donald’s building.
Climbed the stairs.
Let myself in.
Sat on the couch.
Did not move.
Half an hour later, Donald got home… he walked in, nodded at me, and set a pot on the stove. Looked at me again. Said, “… what happened?”
And for the first time, I said, “I was raped.”
Snapshots: Donald grabbing my knife, my Gil Hibben Double Shadow. Telling me we had to go to the hospital.
Walking. Taking the bridge over Maryland. Not talking. Arriving at the hospital. Writing on the ER sign-in sheet. Name: _____________. Reason for visit: Was just raped.
They apparently do not handle rapes at this hospital. You have to go to County General. But they pay for the taxi to get you there. Which is thoughtful, considering. And we get in the taxi, and we still do not talk.
The other hospital. Donald fetches me a Coke as we wait for the police and for the woman with the rape kit. And at this point, I star t really having to pee. But you can’t pee when you’ve just been raped. They need samples of his semen for DNA matching. I know this and, knowing it, do not pee. I hold his semen inside me, waiting. Not speaking. The police arrive and interrogate me, and I answer, using as few words as possible. The woman with the rape kit arrives, and I go in a little room and carefully undress, and she scrapes my insides out. She collects every particle that her tools are capable of collecting from my vagina. She swabs my anus, the corners of my mouth, my gums, even, with cotton swabs. Evidence. Everything is evidence: my fluids and his. In neat little packages, little Ziploc bags, the evidence of what has been done to me. She combs out my pubic hair with a very small comb, and takes every hair that isn’t mine.
He has even left evidence of himself in my hair. My wrists are chafed bloody. Likewise the corners of my mouth. And I feel like this isn’t all, that I’ll be finding evidence my whole life, in every dark corner. Like his violation of me will never really end. And the woman with the rape kit is delighted, she’s crowing, “Oh, honey, another hair! Oh, we’ve got him!” but I don’t want him. I want this not to be.
And it will never not be, now.
I reach for my shirt, and the woman with the rape kit forbids this: My clothing is now evidence, as well, to be folded into plastic bags, in case the pants have sperm on the leg of something. She has brought me clothes. Secondhand. Donated for this purpose. And she dresses me in yellow sweatpants and a green tank top. No bra. And no panties. The seam of the sweatpants hurts, because I hurt there; his saliva was not enough. And I thank any god that may be listening that I never got wet during this. And curse them for not giving me underwear.
The police ask if I want to press charges. I say, “I want to talk to my father.” They persist. I say, “I want to talk to my father. He’ll be here in two days. I need to talk to him first.”
And they look at Donald, and he must have nodded because they nod back and they let me go, and Donald and I ride the bus back to his place in the very early morning. Me pantiless. Both of us quiet. And he opens the door and we go in and we both go to sleep.
I wake up later that afternoon to the sight of Frank… he’s sitting on the chair across from me, staring at me intently, and he says, “What the hell is this?” as he shoves papers across the table at me. They’re my discharge papers from the hospital, the “What To Do When You’ve Been Raped” papers. And I close my eyes. And I tell him what happened.
He rages. He demands the guy’s address, and I won’t give it to him. And I tell him that I will only tell Layne. And he storms out of the apartment to find Layne.
I didn't write the rest, but I will now, in summation. I gave Layne the info. He took Frank and Hal out. I do not know what they did.
The next day, I took Hal's gun from the closet and brought it into the bathroom. Layne realized what I was doing and, instead of talking me down, he played his guitar outside the bathroom door for hours, while I sat, numb, nerveless, staring at the gun. So I would know that he was there. I finally came out of the bathroom and put the gun away. We never talked about that again.
I had sex with Layne again a week later, figuring that I needed to go ahead and Do It, or it would become an Insurmountable Thing.
We told the Copioh regulars and our friends. I didn't go anywhere unaccompanied.
On July 1, 1994, I took a pregnancy test (one week late). I watched the second little line appear. I woke Layne up and showed him. He called his mother. His stepfather drove up from Kingman, AZ that day to pick us up. I didn't get to say goodbye to any people, to any places. We were junkies. We knew that I had to get out of town, get someplace where I'd have no connections, no temptations. My last month in Vegas was a half-life, and then I was gone.
I left Kingman on November 2, 1994.
I last spoke to Layne on March 15, 1999.
I am remarkably healthy, all things considered. But yes, I have PTSD. Yes, to this day, I'm afraid of going places alone. This "I'm watching you" shit exacerbates that.
I have lived lifetimes in the shadow of the words "I'm going to keep you here". And "I know I'm going to hell for this." And as fine as I am sexually... this violation was not primarily sexual, it was a violation of the mind, of my safety, of the illusion that it is safe to walk down the street by myself. It was a theft of the expectation that I can go for a walk, go to the store, whatever, without being abducted and raped.
It is the fear of being watched, the fear that he's checking you out not to ask you out for coffee, but to knock you unconscious in the parking lot and do whatever the hell he wants to you.
That's life after rape.
EDIT: In June of 2004, almost ten years later to the day, I returned to Vegas. I walked around to my old haunts... and I retraced my steps. Where he grabbed me. Where he took me.
If you're reading this - I recommend that you read the epilogue.