Originally written February 17, 2018
All of the news about sexual assault lately has stirred up some increasingly uncomfortable memories of an incident in my life that I had successfully buried in my mind and managed to literally never think of, because at the time it happened I made a conscious disassociated decision not to deal with it. I didn't know how to deal with it. I didn't know who to talk to. I didn't want to deal with it, so I buried it. On the rare occasion that I speak of this person, I always refer to him as the asshole who it turned out was lying to me about being married. Never once have I referred to him, even to myself, as the asshole who raped me.
My friends and family might be upset that I am sharing this story for the first time on Facebook. That's part of the reason I didn't want to do this, and resisted doing it for so many weeks even as other, braver women (and men) shared their stories. For weeks now, I've been avidly reading stories of sexual assault victims speaking out and sexual abusers being outed, shamed and punished in hopes that that would do the trick and calm me down, but all it did was make my own incident more prominent in my mind as I read about similar situations. Now it's like a demon I can't exorcise. Now that it has awoken, I can't put it to rest and I think the only way to get it out of my head is to finally release it. I was pushed over the edge this morning by this website in particular: http://whenwomenrefuse.tumblr.com/ and the specific story of the Italian actress Asia Argento who admitted in tears that she kept dating Harvey Weinstein after he raped her.
Because so did I.
I was dating a Jamaican guy. I met him at the Martini Ranch in San Diego. I was partying with some friends from my church. I was freshly 21. It was late 2003 or early 2004, and I was back in San Diego because I'd had a nervous breakdown at Cornell and spiraled into a suicidal depression and had to move back home after I couldn't financially sustain myself in Ithaca living at the frat house, so broke and desperate that I was reduced to committing reprehensible acts like stealing other people's food and eating it. (I'm confessing everything, so might as well confess that too.) I was a total mess and I hated myself for so many reasons, but especially for being a huge failure. I wasn't getting along well with my mom, who also couldn't handle my failure well, and I was clashing with my brother, who wasn't that eager to have me home, especially given my mood swings. I was put on Prozac by the Kaiser psychiatrist who barely talked to me about what was really wrong before stuffing me with pills, and that night I just wanted to party and drink and forget my pain and the shame of being "one of those people on Prozac" for awhile. (That's how I saw myself.) So when a handsome navy guy grabbed me on the dance floor and yanked me towards him and started dancing with me, I didn't think "Red flag! Potential abuser!" the way I might have if I'd been in my right mind at the time. I was actually flattered.
I gave him my number, he took me to a movie. We didn't make it through the movie. I was too inexperienced at the time to realize that this wasn't a real relationship from the very beginning, but rather that he was just using me for sex. I wanted the attention and I wanted to feel wanted by someone because I was so isolated, with very few (usually none) of my Cornell friends keeping in touch with me or checking on me and my increasing distance from my family. So I ignored the continued red flags like how he never took me anywhere public or how I never met his friends.
One day a few months into the relationship however, he did agree to pick my family up from the airport. I don't remember where we were returning from. It doesn't matter. He drove us all back to my mom's condo in Eastlake and my mom and brother went into the house. I stayed behind to talk to this guy and he immediately made it clear that he wanted to have sex with me, right then and there in the back of his SUV. I said no to the sex because I didn't feel right having sex in a parking lot where anyone could walk by, with my mom right there in the house a few yards away. Regardless of how poorly we were getting along, it felt disrespectful and I was not comfortable. He kept badgering me, and I finally agreed to at least go into the back of the car with him. Big mistake. Once there, things only got worse. It was clear that my repeatedly saying no meant nothing to him. He held me down and got my pants down, and at some point I stopped saying no, and I didn't fight, and he had sex with me. I don't really remember what happened after that in terms of getting dressed again and getting out of his car or what he said or what I said. I just remember going back into the house, walking slowly and opening the door. I didn't say anything to my mom or my brother about what happened. If I spoke at all, it was something neutral. I didn't know what to say. I wondered if they'd be able to tell that something was wrong, but they couldn't. I guess I was practiced in acting normal by then, or else my weird mood swings were so commonplace that there was nothing out of the ordinary in my post-rape mannerisms. So I went to the bathroom and closed the door and looked at myself in the mirror. I stared at myself for a long, long time. The thoughts in my head were, basically: "You were just raped. You said no. He raped you. You were raped and he's a rapist. It's just like those date rape stories you read about. It's true. You know him and you've been dating him and he raped you." I looked at my face and I thought, "I'm a rape victim now. That's now my identity." I rejected it. I didn't want to be a rape victim. I didn't want to have been raped. I didn't know how to be that person. I didn't want to tell people that that's who I was. I told myself that it was my fault, because I must have consented because I stopped saying no. If I didn't want to have sex with him, I could have just kicked him, hit him, bitten him, screamed, done SOMETHING. The fact that I didn't meant I was some how complicit in what happened, and therefore I was not a rape victim. It was the only way I could compartmentalize the incident and get out of that bathroom and not break down again.
So I kept dating my rapist. Or rather, I kept letting him use me for sex when he wanted to and called it a relationship because I was willfully blind to pretty much everything where he was concerned. We never talked about what happened. We kept seeing each other until I went back to school that fall. Then one day I called him and his wife answered the phone. She said they'd been separated but now they were back together. He refused to come to the phone at all. He let her talk for him. He was a rapist AND a coward. And his wife concluded things by saying I sounded white, and turning away from the phone to scream at her husband for "fucking some white bitch." I threw my cell phone as far away from me as I could. I was somewhere near Uris library at the time. I started dry heaving into the bushes. A black guy came by and asked me what was wrong. I told him what had just happened. I didn't mention the rape part. He laughed and said he thought I had a real problem, and that I should just forget about that guy. I took his advice. Until now.
The rapist's name is Kingsley McDermott. He was a US naval recruit originally from Jamaica. If I had any photos of him, I would post them here too. I said no. I refused. Yet a violent sexual encounter took place anyway. It was date rape, which is rape. I didn't report my rape and I kept dating my rapist. I don't know how to end this long story except to say that if you are also a victim of sexual assault, I am with you and I believe you, and I will always be with you, and I will always believe you.