Now seems as good a time as any to divulge the gory details of what happened.
Almost a year ago, I was assaulted at gun point by someone with whom I used to have a sexual relationship. It happened late at night, in the dark. I disarmed him. And after I disarmed him and kicked him out of my house, I had a panic attack. I wound up taking the wrong medication (overdosing on muscle relaxers instead of taking valium), and wound up in the hospital.
The story of the assault is one that I can summarize neatly and wrap my head around. It sucked, I was scared, and when I got home all I wanted was to feel safe again.
However, having a sense of safety within my community was taken away from me because my community turned its back on me.
When I got out of the hospital, my then roommate was very concerned about the situation. I found this to be surprising, mostly because he knew the man who assaulted me. I know that several people had called my roommate to check up on me after I passed out and before I wound up sleepwalking through my neighborhood, but he neglected to believe their concerns. When we talked within the first few days when I got out of the hospital, he imposed several ultimatums on me, including demanding that I quit drinking and quit my job (which was in the liquor industry). He blamed my assault and my overdose on my drinking. Typical. He also told me that I had overreacted to the assault, because it’s not like my abuser had been “beating me over time.”
My reaction to his assessment of the situation was to distance myself from my roommate. I had a lot of work to do to get myself back on track. I told him calmly that I didn’t want to talk to him anymore. He did not like that I was not emotionally dependent on him after a traumatic incident – we had, in the past, had a fairly codependent relationship. But not anymore.
Apparently, after I decided to take space from that relationship, my roommate went around and told several of my friends that I was crazy and violent. He made up all sorts of stories that are still to this day coming back to me, such as one story that I had tried to slash my own throat (false), and that I was threatening violence against his girlfriend (also false). He somehow convinced several mutual acquaintances that they should block me. Word of what had happened go around to people that I don’t even know (but who apparently know me). The story that everyone else heard was vastly different from what happened – I was recuperating at my mom’s house and didn’t have the time or the energy to wage a war over my narrative of the events that happened. Someone else took that away from me. My story and my voice were stolen.
Then Ghost Ship happened.
That was horrible. We all know what happened with Ghost Ship, but it’s intimately woven into this story. I wound up losing a friend to whom I had been very close since I was 18. She wasn’t one of the ones that everyone knew, and I didn’t scream about it on the Internet because that’s not my style. However, at the time I worked for a liquor company, and had reached out to a local bar owner about making liquor donations for a Ghost Ship benefit. It’s worth noting that this bar owner is the cousin of the roommate who was slandering me behind my back while I was out of town. Which is why the bar owner never returned my text messages or phone calls – a fact that worried me only days after several of our friends died. I was unable to contact the bar owner to make the donations.
Many of my friends had lost people in the fire, and we were all in mourning. One of my closest friends worked at the bar where I had tried to make the donations, and she put me on the list to the benefit. I went with her to the benefit, and when I got there, the bar owner (and cousin of the roommate who was talking shit about me) looked me in the face and told me to get out.
It was a hurtful experience, mostly because I was already in pain from losing my friend.
Several days after that, I was talking to another mutual acquaintance about what had happened at the bar. The mutual acquaintance informed me that the reason I had not been allowed into the benefit was because the man who had assaulted me at gun point was at the benefit, and the bar owner did not want there to be any conflict between me and the man who had assaulted me. So I was denied entrance.
Like the classy bitch I am, I took to the Internet to air my grievances. Specifically, I took to a private feminist group that was dedicated to healing from sexual trauma. I wrote a short post about the bar and the fact that they protected abusers.
This is the response that I got from the [female] bar manager
Well, suffice it to say: these are all lies.
What was most concerning about this two page essay about my life was: I don’t even know this girl! But apparently she knows me.
I’m not here to bash another woman, but, rather, to show you what happens when you speak out about abuse, even when in you’re in a safe feminist space, and even in supposedly progressive Oakland, California.
But I’m getting ahead of myself here. I forgot one very important detail about this entire story. Remember the bar owner who blocked my number, wouldn’t take my donations, and wouldn’t let me into the memorial? My roommate’s cousin?
That guy sexually assaulted me, too.
It had happened back in 2012, when I was 25 years old, and I don’t really want to go into the gory details, but suffice it to say that I woke up to him fucking me without a condom after a night of getting black out drunk. It didn’t last long, and it didn’t feel like much, but, ugh, it fucking sucked.
After that happened, I wound up walking home, and going into my roommate’s room to tell him that his cousin had sexually violated me. My roommate didn’t really care. At the time, I was drinking a lot and sleeping around, so, naturally, I had no credibility.
For years after that happened, my roommate would invite his cousin over to the house where we lived. Despite the fact that I paid rent there and was not comfortable with his cousin’s presence in my home, my roommate insisted that I had to deal with it because that’s family, and he wasn’t going to stop inviting his cousin over because of me.
I’d say we’ve gone full circle, but there’s more to this story. Over the years, I had learned to let go of it because I didn’t have a choice. Like I said, my relationship with my roommate was codependent and toxic. I developed some crazy coping mechanisms to deal with having my body and my boundaries violated by people I called friends.
A couple months before I wound up in the hospital after being assaulted at gun point, my roommate’s cousin got married. Before my roommate’s cousin got married, I remembered what had happened between me and my roommate’s cousin. And I talked to my roommate about it. Mostly, I wanted to talk to my roommate about how violated I had felt that he had done nothing when I told him his cousin had violated me. By that time, I was pretty over what had happened between me and the cousin, but I was still miffed by the lack of support and solidarity from my roommate. My roommate, however, took this to mean that he had to confront his cousin about being a rapist mere weeks before his cousin’s wedding. I had no part in the conversation between my roommate and his cousin, nor did I tell him it was necessary to have that conversation. But you can probably pick up on the fact that my roommate is messy and not too bright, and he tends to spread gossip just to fuck shit up.
So, now if we circle back to the bar manager’s post about me, you’ll see that there’s some confusion about the entire situation. I think that the bar manager thought that I was talking about the bar owner, and not the third party abuser who had pointed a gun in my face. In addition to the bar manager posting about me, a friend who knew both the bar manager and me texted me to tell me that the bar manager’s wife was going to make my life a living hell if I didn’t take the post down. Speaking up had gotten me to the point of legitimate threats and attacks against my reputation – by women who called themselves feminists but needed desperately to defend a man against me while I sat in my mom’s kitchen crying. I know, I know – this is all very complicated!
But, for the sake of simplification, let me state: me, too.
I’ve been assaulted multiple times by multiple people, and I dared to speak up about it, and look what the fuck happened.
So when I say I’m in a cynical mood today, now you know why. Because I have been running a sex blog for years, active in antigentrification circles, participated in feminist dialogue, vocal, outspoken, and present in this community – yet, when I dared to speak up about having been assaulted, on both occasions I was met with derision, inaction and shame.
Even writing this, I am afraid to speak the truth of what happened because I have, for the most part, been met with so much violence and threats and personal attacks and alienation that I’m fucking afraid.
But fuck my fear.
Me, too, but the worst part about being assaulted was the fact that so many people in my community wanted to use my pain as an excuse to levy some personal vendetta against me and ostracize me from the community. Fuck that.
I’m not perfect. I know that part of the reason why people turned their back on me was because I wasn’t the perfect victim. I drank too much, I fucked around. I ran my mouth, I liked to party. But that shouldn’t invalidate my pain, my experiences, or my place in the community.
What I want now more than ever is solidarity. I want this to be the worst that it has to be for any of us, and I’m okay with that. I don’t want you to have to fear that someone is going to come after you because you spoke up about your pain – they came after me, and I’m still here. I know what happens when people come after you for speaking out – I survived it, and I survived assault. I know how to bounce back. I know how to protect you. Let me protect you. Tell me how I can protect you.
Let’s end this here.