Friday, August 15, 2014

Sexual Assault, Mental Health, and Robin Williams

"The less whole we feel on the inside, the more we need things outside ourselves to make us happy." --Dr Joe Dispenza

This week as been difficult for me. Stressed about going back to the city of the crime in 2 weeks, starting a new program, furnishing an apartment, then a flare up of my chronic pain and PTSD ... it's been a lot.

But, there's another reason why my chest has been a little tigher this week, why I've been a little more emotional than normal, why I've been thinking more about a few specific dates over the past few years of my life.

As I heard of the news of Robin Williams' death on Monday, I felt a part of my soul turn dark. My chest tightened up, and my heart rate increased every time it was mentioned or we talked about it. Maybe it was because of that day in 1996, when I was just 6 years old, that I heard my uncle had died and a gun was involved (only years later would I learn it was because of suicide). Maybe it was because of that day in May 2012 when I got the news that another one of my uncles had killed himself by hanging. Or maybe, it was because of the beautiful girl that I played soccer with, who, at only 15 years old, jumped off the Aurora Bridge in Seattle in May 2006, and sparked an outrage in the community to do something, finally. The public nature of her suicide, the hundreds of people who gathered with flowers and candles where it happened the day after, the community coverage ... this weeks outpouring from the world was reminscent of that week in 2006, a week I will never forget for the rest of my life.

Or maybe it was because of me, and my own struggles that I've dealt with. And how on December 24, 2010, i had my own attempt.

Depression and suicidal ideations are issues that sit in the dark, barely untouched, right alongside other mental health issues, eating disorders, and sexual assault. And myriad conditions can cause them, ranging from purely clinical depression to PTSD/trauma to eating disorders and everything in between. These are issues that need to be talked about.

And I talk about this from the perspective of not only losing people that i cared about to suicide, but because of my own struggles. I had one suicide attempt at the height of my eating disorder, in 2010. Or, how i made a pact with myself that if my chronic pain wasn't better by the time I graduated college, I would end it all because I couldn't bear to keep fighting. And how, in the aftermath of my sexual assault, I truly wanted to die when I got diagnosed with the STD, as well as when my entire world collapsed in November with the SVU/NYPD/friend issues. For a moment, i never thought it would get better.

But it can always get better.

Robin Williams death has sparked a conversation much like my friend Maren did when she killed herself in 2006. It brings a chilling realization into the forefront of everyones mind -- that no matter what 's going on on the outside of that person, we have no idea what's going on in the inside, what silent battles we each are fighting day in and day out.

Maren was an incredibly smart, brilliant, talented student and athlete who had her whole life in front of her. The week that we found out about her death, one of my soccer teammates embraced me and said, "It could've been any one of us."

And she's absolutely right.

A smile, an "I'm ok," a bright future, or four decades of genius comedy and making the world laugh and having the world at your finger tips ... they don't indicate what's going on on the inside. They never do. And the more broken we are on the inside, the more we need on the outside to make us happy and keep convincing our selves and the world that we are ok, because that'll work ... won't it?

But it doesn't. Not all the time. It didn't for Maren. It didn't for Robin Williams. And it almost wasn't enough for me.

I was lucky. I somehow found it in me to keep fighting in the midst of my chronic pain. I grossly missed the mark of my first attempt (or else I wouldn't be here today). My sexual assault nearly killed me and I never thought I would get better. But I was able to slowly pull myself out of the hole i had been left in, the blackness of my soul that encompassed me so strongly in the aftermath.

my uncle Nick and my Uncle Mike couldn't. Neither could Maren. And now, neither could Robin Williams.

But the people who end their lives this way ... they aren't weak. The fought a battle for the longest that they possibly could. And it's heartbreaking that they couldn't push on longer to find the reason to stay. But it's not their fault.

Just like sexual assault isn't the victims fault, the way that depression affects people isn't their fault either. They didn't fail; their brains did, society did.

Suicide is a world I've been living in since 2006, a cause that I worked hard to support ever since Maren died. And if one thing can be gained from Mr. Williams death (which Im sure he would've wanted) is that suicide needs to be talked about and more prevention is needed. And, especially, the underlying causes need to be addressed. Better mental health resources. Better treatment for eating disorders. Better support for sexual assault and trauma victims. But, most importantly, removal of the stigma.

Depression -- whatever the cause -- is a silent killer. There are a million facades a person can hide behind to give the illusion they are whole, free, and happy. But no one knows what goes on behind those masks. Even our most beloved people in society -- Robin Williams -- had demons that no one knew the extent of, even despite his openness with his struggles.

One of my favorite things that my chiropractor says is, "The greatest gift you can give someone is your attention." And that IS the greatest gift we can take from the loss of Robin Williams -- to turn our attention to suicide prevention and mental health issues. It's a stigma that goes right alongside sexual assault and is something that cannot stay in the closet anymore. And not only that -- but to truly listen to people. Everyone fights some sort of battle that we know nothing about. The greatest gift we can give as a fellow human being is our attention, our love, and our support.

My uncles were two troubled people, but kind, compassionate and fun. Maren was a spark of color that stood out amidst everyone else. And Robin Williams was a kindhearted, generous, genius of a man who treated me very kindly and nicely when I met him and made the world laugh for 40 years.

These people shouldn't have died. They will never be forgotten. And now it's our turn to do something. It's time that the shame in asking for help is lifted, the shame in being suicidal disappears, so that people can ask for help without being stigmatized, and that people can talk openly about their struggles without being made to feel weak, ashamed, or different. Because these people are no different from you or me. It could've been any one of us.

So as this week has unfolded, that heartwrenching pain and sadness I felt in 2006 slowly crept up and reminded me of the profound impact suicide has on people ... especially when it is someone as beloved as Robin Williams was.

And to Robin Williams -- thank you for being you, and blessing millions of people with your talent and laughter for so many years. And despite your traumatic death and the hole it's left in your family -- and the world's -- hearts, thank you for bringing this issue into the forefront of society.

It's time to talk.






Friday, May 30, 2014

A Letter to Mariska Hargitay

I have many posts that have been floating around in my head lately, but this is one that I feel like I want to get out.

Knowing that the JHF gala was last night stirred up an incredible range of feelings for me. Knowing the work that Mariska has done to put the issue of sexual violence in the spotlight is profound; watching MSNBC the other day speak about the rape kit backlog was incredible, knowing that Mariska was has been a huge force behind this movement.

But knowing that the gala was last night brought up a rage and heart break I can hardly put into words.

The other day, I came home from dinner with my boyfriend, the JHF on my mind. Mulling over what they did to me. How betrayed I felt. And I walked in from dinner, and my boyfriend put his hands on my shoulders, looked me in the eye, and said to me, "I see what you're doing to yourself. These people failed you. I can see how you're blaming yourself for this, when it wasn't you. It was them. They failed you." And then I broke down.

So this leads me to this post. A letter i wrote to Mariska weeks ago, while still in NYC. I hope she reads it some day.

TO MARISKA

Dear Mariska,

It's Rachel. You know, the weightlifter from 2010. So many emotions when I think about you it's hard to sort them out.

First, I never meant to hurt you or anyone else or make anyone else mad. I've had nothing but love and admiration in my heart for you since the day I first met you back in 2010, the epic "SVU Summer" I call it. Any of my friends could say how much my face lights up when I used to talk about you, the dinner I got to share with you in 2011, and the help that you gave to me in the aftermath of my rape. So much love for you in my heart.

Yet now, I'm incredibly heartbroken on how all of this with JHF has unfolded. I see now how my actions could've been perceived negatively, yet there was never a moment in my mind where that was the case. The truth is, with the way that all of this was handled by Danny and JHF -- I have never felt more ashamed in my entire life. Ashamed to have shared my story, ashamed to be a survivor, ashamed that JHF was questioning whether this really happened to me or if I was just saying all of this to get attention. Heartbroken doesn't even accurately describe how I felt, when I've been nothing but a loyal supporter and advocate for JHF since I first learned of them in 2009. The way Danny threw my story back in my face, and what Sherisa said to me later, how Monica lied to me when I called her number (she said she wasnt there, when I actually had her on the phone), how Sherisa's words indicated she questioned the validity of my story ... it is the worst I have felt since Dan assaulted me, and the subsequent horrific treatment of the NYPD.

I see everything you continue to do for survivors, and in the back of my heart I swell with pride and love at the fight that you have taken on. But now, i also feel an enormous amount of heartbreak. And mostly because I have no idea what your involvement was. Maybe you don't know what I'm talking about at all. Maybe you were the one who said I couldn't be a part of any JHF events anymore. If that's the case, then this is my apology. If that's not the case, then I'm just writing to you as a scared and heartbroken girl who was let down by JHF. A girl that has shared a few special moments with you, that has some of the same friends that you do, that has attempted to show only love and support for all that you do, the purest love for you that any survivor could ever have for their hero. And that is still there. But behind that is the fear and the heartbreak, the heartbreak of fearing the worst, of questioning, of wondering if you really believe I was making this up for attention. And that scares me the most, out of everything.

So dear Mariska, I still love you. From the first time I met you with Carlos and my boyfriend and awkwardly shouted "I LOVE YOU!" To the dinner conversation we had in 2011 to the gala in 2013 ... I have had nothing but love and admiration for you, even despite the anger and heartbreak and betrayal I feel now. I just hope that one day, I can maybe tell you this, and understand the love I feel for you despite the heartbreak. and that one day, you can forgive me.

Your fellow fighter always,
Rachel

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

When Heroes Fail, Part 2: The SVU Version

So I wasn't gonna do a blogpost on this but I decided I wanted to because of the feelings I have if I run into the Svu set (intense panic and fear and total PTSD reaction). I've been afraid of backlash, but I also know that my experiences are important and valid and I don't like keeping silent or harboring anger alone.

I'm structuring this post in 2 parts -- first the exact events that happened with JHF and the feelings I felt immediately; and then my thoughts/analysis on what happened (because I don't want the analysis to cloud the actual events).

This isn't bashing anyone or anything. This isn't embellished. This is only my true, 100% honest experience with what happened, the feelings I had, the way I felt.

I know a lot of you know my background and history with the awesome experiences I've had on SVU, so I'll be brief with those, but will need to go into detail about everything that happened from the gala onward.

Here it goes.

As most of you know, I had been in contact pretty regularly with JHF since last year. Ever since Mariska emailed me and put me in contact with Maile, I had been in contact with the clinical director of JHF. She was wonderful and id have periodic checkins with her throughout the year (about once a month). At one point I emailed Mariska again to give her an update that I had been diagnosed with another STD. JHF called me immediately and tried to talk me through it.

In the months that followed, I would have periodic check-ins with JHF. I obviously went to the gala in May, and had posted a video of the gala on YouTube. I got a call soon after that I needed to take the video down (Mariska had a glass of wine in her hand). I didn't even know how they knew my YouTube account, and it unnerved me a bit because I felt like I was being watched almost. But I didn't think anything of it at the time.

Because of the gala, I decided to report my rape.

Throughout the reporting process, JHF was sorta involved. I'd talk to my go-to person (the clinical director) and she was always super supportive. If i had a question about anything I'd call her and she'd always talk with me for however long I needed.

In October, (after all the drama with the NYPD had happened) I had to come back to NYC to do the controlled call. It was the last attempt to nail the guy. I was staying on the upper east side in NYC with a friend, and the day I had to do the controlled call, SVU happened to be filming literally right around the corner from where I was staying. My friends and I were gonna go do stuff in the city, but we decided to hang around and talk with the teamsters (I knew a couple of them). They were all super cool, and we became friends with Mariska's driver. I was having a good time trying to distract myself (the NYPD were picking me up in an hour) but when my legal advocate called me from Seattle, I lost it. The teamsters kinda didn't know what to do, but Mariska's driver tried to be supportive (and he was). I was in a ball sobbing on the ground, when all of a sudden Mariska came out of her trailer. A bunch of fangirls (young) kinda swarmed her and I didn't wanna bother her but my friends wanted me to say hi. So I was bawling and she saw me and made eye contact and got concerned (went all Olivia-Benson). She had to go tho, so I didn't really talk to her. I told her quickly what was going on but she started to leave. Gave me a quick hug and that was it. That was the last time I saw her.

We were walking down the street (me sobbing) when all of a sudden Danny Pino came out of his trailer. A bunch of girls swarmed him too and he was taking pictures with them. He saw me and got really concerned and then came over. We had an incredible moment -- he was so incredibly supportive and said words to me that lifted me up and guided me through the process that I needed to do. We talked for about 10 minutes and he was just incredible. It was seriously meant to be and I was eternally grateful for that, especially because it gave me the strength to do what I needed to do. The next day I went back to the set and gave him a thank you note. He saw me from across the street and actually started to cross the street, but I went to meet him, and he yelled at me to be careful. He was wonderful again. He said he hoped everything went well and that he wished he could stay longer to talk but that they had more filming to do. So he wished me safe travels back to Seattle.


I left New York worn out, exhausted, sick -- but feeling so hopeful and grateful at all the kindness I had experienced.

Now, fast forward to the hard stuff.

In November, I was back in NYC for a college interview for grad school. Danny had been so supportive that I was inspired to write down my entire story (which  I had never done before). I communicated to him how amazing it was to have men like him in the world fighting for this cause, because we needed more of that. And how i found salvation in his character, because of the failure of my own detective and the subsequent trauma that resulted. It was a truly heart-felt letter, and I opened up my soul on that paper.

The day I flew in, they were filming in the Bronx. I had promised a younger survivor that I would go with her, but I was so exhausted from traveling all day I almost canceled. But she was waiting for me there so I went, begrudgingly. We got there, and it was freezing but I knew a couple of people on set, so we hung out with them (teamsters and Mariska's driver). Mariska's driver was so funny and gave us water, and gave us NO MORE magnets. It was fun. It was emotional for me to be back in NYC after the failure of the legal case, but it was comforting to see the people that I knew and to re-ignite the positive memories I had of the SVU set from 2010. I had an awesome moment with Dann Florek (who recognized me and my silly Facebook name) and it was just great fun.

They were about to go film, so Mariska's driver told me to go give my letter to Danny, that this was gonna be my chance. The other girl I was with wanted to go see Mariska so I told her to go. I waited for Danny, and he came out.

It was horrible.

He was extremely rude cold and abrasive, the complete polar opposite of what I had seen in October. I identified myself, and He said, "Yeah I know who you are," really pissed off. I told him I had been inspired to write my story down for him to read, and gave him my letter, and he said, "Well it's a busy shoot, I can't promise I'll read it." I asked him if he could try, and he said, "Yeah whatever," took my letter and stuffed it in his pocket. I felt so extremely small at that point, I didn't even know what to do or say. He then just walked away.

I was upset but didn't want to go into it, and just chalked it up to a bad day for Danny. After that Mariska's driver was worried about our safety in the Bronx, so he gave us a ride in her car to the train station. It was risky because he could getting huge trouble for that but he told us to get in and he'd make sure we were safe. So he dropped us off at the train station and sent us home.


Later that night he emailed me and said that security had been watching me the whole time and saw that he had given us a ride in her car (for some reason they were only noticing me and not the other girl that I was with) and that he had gotten in trouble. I was freaked out because I didn't want to make any trouble for anybody, it was the last thing I wanted. I felt pretty crappy that night and didn't sleep well, thinking I had gotten people in trouble and that I was in trouble too. I talked to my teamster friend about Danny etc and he said not to worry about it, that I don't know what's going on in his life etc. But it still really upset and unnerved me.

The next day I was with my dad, and I tried to forget about Danny. everything was fine until the evening. That night we were at dinner and I received a call from Joyful Heart, a woman named Sherisa. When we were at the gala and had a meltdown she was the one Mariska called to talk to us so I remembered her. She called me and said that they had gotten the letter that I had given Danny (not sure how they got it -- that unnerved me from the start) and that I was having "too much communication" with the actors. She then told me that I was to have no contact with the SVU actors anymore because my communication was "misplaced," that it was "too much" (wtf does that mean?). That I was banned from the set and all JHF functions, that she was confused why I was still writing the actors even though I had a therapist since they had given me resources, and that there is too much communication with them. I explained that i was telling them how much their cause meant to me and that I wanted to be heard. She said she didn't get it because JHF had listened to me and that it wasn't right for me to talk to them because I was distracting them (when other girls have gone to the set repeatedly to give letters and get pics -- I inow a few who have gone REPEATEDLY over the past year and I'd gone only 3 or 4 times -- why me?). I was really confused as to what that meant especially because I hadn't been to the set all that much considering some other girls that i know (especially bc I don't even live in New York), but she said that they had been given EVERY single thing that I ever wrote to them (they had a folder of the letters/emails I'd sent Mariska). And they had everything filed away in a little folder. That unnerved me even more and confirmed the fact I felt like I was being watched.  I was very upset, because I thought Mariska knew about me and knew me at least a little bit and that she cared a little bit to see how I was doing with the case etc. since i had met her in a different setting than most fans. So I would send her updates, I told her about the NYPD and how I thank her for the work that she does on the TV screen etc. but Joyful Heart didn't like that, even though I had never sent anything that illustrated I wanted THEM to help me (which is what Sherisa said) -- it was an appreciation, but JHF didnt get that. So they banned me not only from the SVU set and contact with the actors, but they banned me from all Joyful Heart events, things that are supposed to be incredibly healing.

And not only that, but Sherisa said something that implied I was doing all of this for attention. That maybe this hadn't really happened to me (my assault). When she said that, I completely lost it. It was awful. To say that I was low is the understatement of the century. I was heartbroken. I had been nothing but supportive of JHF over the years, and only appreciative of the actors and so much love for Mariska and all work that they do. And then this happens.

But it got worse.

when I got home I started receiving anonymous hate texts from a texas number who wouldn't ID herself. She claimed she was part of JHF and knew details of my story that only my best friends knew and JHF and Mariska knew. Anyways, long story short my friends and I did some detective work and discovered it was some random girl from Texas who my ex -best friend  (ThePaigeEverett on twitter) had told my DETAILED story to behind my back and she was pretending to be some important person in order to put me down and tell me how awful I had fucked up etc. It was horrible, especially on top of the betrayal of JHF.

A few days later, after I collected myself a little bit, I called my contact at JHF (the clinical director), on her direct number that she had given me 9 months earlier (sometimes she didn't answer the phone but 90% of the time she did). She answered the phone but I asked to speak with her (her name is Monica), just in case she wasn't there. She said that Monica wasn't in -- but I knew it was her because I knew her voice. I identified myself and she said that she couldn't talk to me, that I'd have to talk to Sherisa. So even the person who I had been sharing intimate details with for the past 10 months, who was there for me during the case when I needed someone to talk to ... she LIED to me and said she couldn't talk to me.

To top it all off -- the guy who assaulted me found out that I had reported him somehow and emailed me and intimidated me, called me a liar etc.

ALL of this happened within the span of the week.

November was officially my bottom. I went home could hardly get out of bed for a week. Because my heroes had literally failed me. To have someone you look up to -- someone you admire so much and appreciate more than words can comprehend -- turn around and throw your story back in your face (Danny) ... It's one of the worse feelings I have ever felt as a survivor (tied with the betrayal of my survivor friends).

In the following weeks I tried to piece together some of what happened, think about what Sherisa said, and try to make sense of it all.

One thing was made obvious to me -- JHF does NOT care about individual survivors. Yes they UNDOUBTEDLY care about the cause, 100% ... but don't confuse that with the integrity of a single individual. And it's not just me: I've talked to a few of you who have had similar experiences with JHF. Individually we are just collateral. They share our stories that we give Mariska -- things meant only for her eyes. JHF gets and reads all of it. Logistically I understand and don't blame Mariska -- she gets SO much. But it was unnerving to see that they had all of my communications tucked away in a folder, again as if they were keeping an eye on me.

Another thing that I am firmly starting to believe has to do with what a friend of mine who was an actress on SVU back in the day said to me. I was telling her about who had assaulted me and how he was a writer on the show, and then what had happened with JHF. And what she said really captured the essence of what this situation was: 

"I hate what he did to you, but would I go around and proclaim it? No. If he offered me a job, I'd still take it from him."

That's how show biz works. Hearing her say that broke my heart, and watchin how JHF was almost watching me, I'm starting to believe that the reason they kept talking to me and pushing me away from Mariska was because it was a conflict of interest. The guy who assaulted me was an SVU writer -- know what that would do to their image? And my friends words echoed that, so clearly. Mariska's actions never demonstrated that -- but even the few short times I got to talk to her she never referred to him by name or what he did to me. It was always in general terms -- even though when I emailed her, and she responded, I had written his name in the subject box and that he had raped me -- so I knew she knew. Now this is all PURE speculation -- I have no direct evidence to prove this is the case -- but with things that JHF have said it has crossed my mind more than once and it has started to point in that direction.

Lastly, I was fortunate enough a few weeks ago to talk to someone who's very close to Mariska. I told her everything that happened (fearfully). The biggest thing that she said is that she is 100% certain Mariska had nothing to do with JHFs decision. That they are protective of her, and have had to make decisions like this when girls have threatened to kill themselves if they don't talk to Mariska, so now they make extreme decisions in ALL cases -- even small ones. Better to ban a survivor even if she is telling the truth than to risk it. Know how much that hurts when you ARE telling the truth?

I write this because I live in New York now and I walk by the court systems twice a week. I have not only passed multiple tv shows filming (once Blue Bloods -- which is where the writer who assaulted me works now; talk about a heart attack), but when I see SVU is filming I have a panic attack. Or I'm filled with such anger and rage and I want to hit something (or myself). I can't even bring myself to watch the show anymore. I can't be angry at Mariska, because I have no idea what involvement (if any) she had ... and from the looks of it, she had none. But JHF? Yes. Rage. and same with Danny. But mostly I am just purely heartbroken.





In hindsight, I see how my actions could've been perceived negatively. But part of it is that in 2010, when I was a part of the "pack," the dynamics on set were SO different. I could go and hangout behind the scenes all freakin' day and socialize with everyone. it's not like that anymore. And it kills me to know, and SEE, how many other fans/survivors out there go to the set SO MUCH MORE than me ... and I'm the one who gets burned. I wouldn't want anything like this to happen to anyone ... but I'm justified in thinking it's not fair.

So, JHF and Danny Pino ... I don't wish death threats on you. I don't stalk you, waiting to make my move. But I don't support you anymore. I'm heart broken beyond all belief. Never have I EVER regretted sharing my story more than when Danny Pino tossed it back in my face, and when JHF made me out to be doing this only for attention. And that is the exact polar opposite of what JHF's mission is -- to heal, empower and educate victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse. Well let me tell you this: they failed with me. I have never felt more ashamed of using my voice than I did in November, only tied with the fallout with the NYPD. And that is incredibly sad.

These people are human. They are not their stoic, unwavering characters on TV. JHF isn't the 100% failure-free pioneer in healing survivors. They are human as well. Angry and heartbroken are the only words I can use to describe SVU and JHF now. Confusion, as well. But couple all of this, with the fact that my rapist wrote for the show ... it's hard to ever watch it again, as I'm sure is understandable.

I don't judge those of you who still love and watch the show, who think Danny Pino is the sweetest person alive. I did, too. Hell, I've tried to block out the positive experience i had with him in October because it's so damn painful to see how wonderful he was, and then relive the November experience.

Maybe some day I'll get some answers. Ill never support JHF again, at least in terms of money. But I am hopeful that maybe some day I will get some closure. Maybe have a conversation with someone, Mariska, Peter. I don't know .... it's possible.

All I know is that SVU and JHF has lost someone who would've supported them til the very end. I can't change what happened. I also can't live and re-tell this story, because I know that it does no good. but for those of you who wanted to know, this was it. This was my part of an incredibly painful few months this fall, something that I'm only now able to talk about (this happened 4 months ago and I haven't been able to talk about it at all).

All I can do is try to forgive and move on. To love despite the hurt. And that's my plan.



Friday, February 7, 2014

A letter to the NYPD

The other night I had a really horrible night of triggers that resulted in a big meltdown. In the midst of it, I decided to send the letter below to a family friend who's a detective on the NYPD, who used to be on Special Victims but is now on anti-terrorism. I had written it in September, in the middle of all the drama with the NYPD but had never sent it because he told me that he was a mandated reporter of crime within the NYPD. Subconsciously, I may have wanted to say something but couldn't. But that night I sent it, and he called me yesterday saying that he had received my email and said that he had to report it to Internal Affairs.

His comments:

"It was beautifully written and very, very sad."

So now there will be an Internal Affairs investigation into my detective.

Below is the letter.

xo


The week of July 5th I went through the  forensic interview process for my sexual assault that happened out of state. The detective and his lieutenant had flown into my state to take my statement. The detective (who was actually only an officer earning his detective badge, and I was surprised at how young he was – he didn’t look much older than me) was exactly everything I had been wanting – kind, compassionate, and he believed me and took me seriously. Had been nothing but supportive. The interview was scary because the lieutenant was in the room too and he was intimidating. It went well but I dissociated at the end of it because the lieutenant said it was a weak case. But everything up until that point had gone really smoothly, especially with my detective who was the most supportive I could ever have hoped for when going through this process.

The next day I had some questions about the whole process because I had disscoated the day before so I asked if I could meet with the two of them again to ask questions. The det and his lieutenant came to my work (this time not in business suits). The lieu said his girlfriend was also there, and she is a forensic nurse, he said if I wanted to talk to her I could. That was nice. So after work the lieutenant said that he and his gf were gonna go down to the pier while the detective and I went to lunch.

He was great. He was kindhearted, answered all my questions, and supportive. I cried. He talked me through it, I asked general questions about his job, and he paid for lunch. It was a good ending.

After lunch, I said I’d walk him down to where his lieutenant was because I knew he was gonna get lost. When we got there, the lieu walked out of the restaurant they were in. I was about to leave because I figured I wasn’t allowed to stay since my det said they were gonna go out drinking, but he said, “You’re leaving?!” I asked if I was allowed to stay, because they were drinking. He said I could. So I did.

It was an insanely hot day, and it was only about 3 pm, so I didn’t want to drink. The lieutenant asked why I wasn’t drinking and I said I didn’t want to. He asked me if it was because of what happened to me and said, “I promise you’re really safe with us!” I laughed and said no I just don’t want to. But he insisted so I gave in to “peer” pressure. At the time, it was the weirdest/most fun/strangest thing, because here I was socializing with these detectives, being encouraged to drink with them and have a good time, even though I’m a victim in one of their cases. But I figured if they were telling me it was ok, then it was since they were supposed to be looking out for my best interests. It was awkward, but they wanted me to have fun, so I did. It was just weird because we would all be socializing, then someone would go to the bathroom or something ad I’d be left with the other two, and then we’d start talking about my case. But they treated me like an equal, so I was having a great time and it lightened the mood.

I thought it was just gonna be happy hour, so I had one or two drinks at the first restaurant. Nope. We met at 3 pm, and were out until 12:30 am. After the first place, me and my detective were buzzed. We walked along the pier and sobered up a little bit. I wanted to show them the whole pier because it’s a very beautiful area so we kept walking. We walked down to my favorite spot on the beach and the lieutenant and his gf took romantic photos and the 3 of them goofed off. My detective and I got a photo together as well. Then the gf wanted to drink more so we went to another bar on the waterfront. IT was dinner time at this point and I didn’t want to have any more alcohol. But the lieu ordered 4 irish ice teas (god knows what that was), and then 4 rounds of whiskey shots. I was having fun, and I figured that at that point it wasn’t gonna do me any good to protest the lieutenant. We stayed there for a while, then my det, who doesn’t drink that much and has a lower tolerane than the other two, went inside to go ask the bartender for something. He came back out really flustered and said that the manager cut him  and the rest of our table off and refused to serve us any more alcohol (probably because they had been arguing about sex crimes really loudly and there were families around). They got really pissed off and didn’t tip the waiter when we left.

We started to walk back the car, took a group picture on the phone and were laughing and joking. My detective was reallllly drunk at this point. I think I was laughing with them or something when he turned to me and said randomly, “You’re my favorite victim.” We all laughed really hard. It was fun.

I told them that if they wanted to go out drinking they had to visit a certain area of town that wasn’t too far from where we were. I told them that I had to go back home though because I had to work at 8 the next morning. They told me to call in sick for work and that they’d back me up.

We parked in that section of town and went to a bar. There was a line but the lieu flashed his NYPD badge and we cut the whole line. The college kids were really pissed.  We sat down at a table and the lieu told me and my det to go order the next round of drinks. I ordered what I would typically drink.  He and I were more socializing by ourselves at this point because the lieu and gf were starting to get into an argument. We stayed there for a while, and then were gonna go to this dance club but the flashing-the-badge-thing didn’t work this time. So we went to another bar. The bartender here was from Brooklyn so he gave us a pitcher of beer and a round of whiskey shots. I was shit faced at this point, and my det was too. We stayed there for a while. We finally went to one last bar. The lieu ordered another round of shots, but my det and I refused because there was no way I was gonna make it home without puking at that point. They also kept saying that they’d back me up if I called in sick. So I told my boss that I had some detectives out here from out of state interviewing me for a case. I said that I’d be in late because they needed me in the AM, so she said to let her know. Then, at that point, I was trying to figure out how to get home beaucse my car was parked in my university garage. The lieu said that I’d come back and crash with them at their hotel in the next town over. I said I couldn’t because all my stuff was at home and not to mention my parents didn’t know what was going on. But he wouldn’t let me argue, so I had to go back with them. Then he and his gf got into a big fight and knocked over a plate. She stormed out and got in a cab. The lieu ran after her. Me and my det looked at each other and weren’t sure what to do so we went back to the car. It was drama I didn’t want to get involved in. but we got back to the car and the lieu was waiting there for us and we all piled in.

On the way back I was so sick I almost threw up in the car. When we got there, the lieu told my det to take care of me because I was sick. So he stayed behind while the lieu went up to his room to find his gf. I had to sit outside in the parking lot for a while to make sure I didn’t throw up. Then he took me inside and we went up to his hotel room.

He took care of me, gave me clothes, always made sure I was ok, He said to me, “Rachel, you’re really cool. No, you’re awesome.” He gave me a big hug and kissed me on the top of my head, asd I thanked him for everything and for believing me etc. I felt really safe, like he was my big brother. He slept in the living room which was separated from the bedroom by a door, and he gave me the bed. When I was getting ready for bed, every time I would move or make a sound he’d ask, “are you ok?” It was nice. He got me settled then we both went to sleep.

The Next morning I woke up and felt awful (hung over). This was the day (July 7th) that the plane in San Francisco crashed on the runway so I turned on the news and was watching that because it was crazy.

Somehow he ended up in the room, and we were watching TV.  It was also my sister’s bday so I called her to wish her happy bday. While we were Watching the news. I was goofing off with him ( because he reminded me of my cousin), throwing pillows at him, etc but I still felt sick so I turned around and laid back down to try to go to sleep.

Then he moved closer to me and asked if he could put his arm around me. I thought he was just being comforting as a big brother so I said yes.

But then he asked me if he could kiss me. And I totally froze. I thought he was cute, but I thought wtf is he doing, not only is he married with two kids but he’s also working my case. in a position of power over me. And that’s always my freezing point for me.

I told him he shouldn't. I always thought he was cute (and I feel guilty for that) but I NEVER made that known to him or anyone else. And then he made the move on me. I told him he can't kiss me because he's married. He said "I know." I was terrified because deep down I knew this was horrible. He's the detective on my case.

I told him I needed to leave my clothes on – he kinda chuckled at that because that’s exactly what I had said to the guy who had assaulted me. I also said he couldn’t kiss me. He ended up getting very physical with me. I participated too, it wasn’t all him and I own that. But He  did end up kissing me.  It didn’t escalate, thank God. But he did kiss me and it got heated. He tried to take my clothes off but I pushed his hands away and said no. He said I was driving him crazy and he really wanted me. I said no. Eventually it all stopped because it was getting too hard for him to resist and I went to shower. I felt horrible about myself afterwards – it was extremely triggering and just plain wrong, I knew. Not only because he’s married but because he’s supposed to be a professional in my legal case and it was just so wrong. I was really upset, crying etc. I told him that, and he apologized profusely and said he was really sorry. He said he didn't regret it, though. He said he had never cheated on his wife before. He said that it couldn't leave the room, especially because his lieutenant had called him when I was in the shower and asked if he'd slept with me. He said no, and he hadn't, but he lied and said nothing happened (which was BS). I was really upset because I felt like I did when my perp raped me -- only a sex object good for one use only and to be discarded afterwards. But I pushed all of that down and just moved on. I forgave him, even though he forbid me to talk about what happened with anyone. I moved on and we never talked about it again.

When they flew back to their state, he kept me in the loop with what was going on in the investigation. He’d call me and update me, but we were never able to connect and talk about the details of the case. So he’d always say, “I’ll call you tomorrow.” So he would, and I’d ask him questions about the case. When I didn’t have anything left to talk about regarding the case, I figured I’d stop talking to him until I flew out for the next part of the investigation. So I was baffled when he said, “I’ll give you a call tomorrow.”

Tomorrow turned into the net day, and the next, and the next. Pretty soon he was calling me on his way to and from work, every day for about an hour each way. He said he looked forward to talking to me. We laughed a lot. He said he talked to me more than his wife. IT was so nice feeling like I was cared about, feeling like I could talk to someone and just laugh with them, because I’m so lacking that here where i live (I don’t have many friends here). He said I could never text him when he was at home, though, because if his wife found out he’d be in huge trouble. Deep down, I knew that he must be doing something wrong with his interactions with me, and I knew I should stop it, but I thought since he was a detective then he was doing the right thing. We had a great relationship ... and i almost forgot he was working my case. We actually hardly ever talked about my case, so it was just all fun. He’d text me at the office, while he was looking at his cases or waiting for victims. He’d tell me about some cases he was working. It was interesting. The only times we ever talked about my case was when I one time accidentally texted him when I was in hysterics crying and he got so concerned he texted me for 45 min trying to pick me up. it was really sweet and made me feel really safe.



It was never romantic on my end. I told him he was kind of like my big brother – that’s how I felt. It made me happy. He had silly nicknames for me, and I for him.

But then all of that stopped so suddenly one day because his phone broke one time on his way to work and he couldn’t call me. I panicked thinking he was never gonna talk to me again or that his wife found out or something. I was left feeling so incredibly alone. Long story short he just stopped calling because of work demands after he told me about his phone (he was doing night watch and said he was miserable from lack of sleep). One night when I tried to talk to him about it he yelled at me on the phone, and blamed our interactions on me. Said that it messed up his personal life, that I needed a psychiatrist to talk to (note: I never once sought him out to talk about my personal stuff, it was always fun talk), that at the end of the day I was just his job and he’s getting paid (that hurt the most). He just said some really mean things, and pretty much blamed the interaction on me. I was thrown into a deep, deep depression and my anxiety was sky high, questioning everything up until that point and feeling really really alone since he had been there so constantly for me and then POOF was gone. I felt incredibly lost, scared, alone, and hurt. My PTSD was through the roof. I stopped sleeping. I didn't realize I had been relying so heavily on him for support (even tho I never sought it out) and then POOF. He was just gone one day and I didn't know how to cope. But it was my breaking point. I had the stress of the invesigation and then added all this drama with him ... it was too much.

I eventually had another conversation with him when he wasn’t so mean. He still blamed me for crossing the boundaries – I tried to communicate that he was the professional, it was his job to maintain the boundaries to begin with. I know I was at fault, too – I should’ve put a stop to it. But the whole thing made my body caved. I stopped sleeping, my chronic pain got so bad, I was having panic attacks every night, and then I had horrible herpes outbreak on top of it. I didn’t know what to do, if I wanted to report him. Whether I should be the one responsible for him to lose his job when he's married with two young kids. Whether I need another detective, to establish another (professional) relationship with someone, re-share my story. It’s so much stress added on top of an already stressful situation. On top of that, in one of our conversations when I attempted to talk to him about how he had made me feel he admitted that he had developed romantic feelings for me – which, if I had known, I would’ve cut contact. But he never said anything and I had NO idea he had romantic feelings for me. None.

He said he cut contact because it could jeapordize the case, that tried to “put the case back on track” because it never should’ve gotten to that point … but he was the one who initiated it. So I felt broken. Like I couldn’t trust him or anyone at all.

My spirit was so deeply broken I didn’t think I was going to make it til October 6th, which was when I was flying out to finish the investigation. But, the first step in a positive direction came in mid September. I was stressed about flying out because of the situation and was debating on whether I needed to have another detective so I called their  hotline to get the lieutenant on the phone because i didn't feel like i was getting good advice. What I got was an enormously helpful detective who has been on the unit for 10 years. He helped me, and pretty much said my guy wasn’t doing a very good job with my case so he was gonna help me out, prep me for the controlled call I had to do, and be there with me. I felt so much better after that.

I decided to see how my interactions were with him when I got there and whether or not I needed another detective or if I wanted the case re-assigned. At that point, enough time had passed I realized I could work with him. He ended up doing a good job for what I had to do. And at the end of it he told me, “There was nothing you could’ve done differently. You did absolutely everything you needed to and I am so proud of you.”

The next day,  the other detective  called me on his cell to make sure I was ok which was really nice. He explained to me why these cases were so difficult and said if I ever needed anything I could call his cell.

The last day I was there I met my original detective for coffee. I was going to bring up all this other shit with him and finally have a face to face conversation with him but I was actually really sick so I decided against it. I just let it rest. We were on ok at that point.

I didn’t really think anything of the situation with him until his partner bitched me out on the phone a few weeks later. It brought all the other crap up again and I realized how heartbroken and angry I was that their unit could’ve made so many damn mistakes with me, and put me in such a horrible position. I couldn’t ignore it anymore.

Part of me forgives my detective, because apart from the position he put me in, he truly is a kind, compassionate, and caring person who treats victims like they should be treated (in the precinct at least). Everyone else in that precinct had questioned me and my story about why I was pursuing charges and if I was doing it just for revenge. Everyone. My detecive and the other older one were the only two that didn’t.  I don’t feel he is a bad person. But I went through hell in the summer dealing with this on my own. I couldn’t tell anybody except my therapist. I didn’t know what to do because I didn’t want to bear the burden of reporting him and then regretting it later. But the part that concerns me the most isn’t what he actually did – it’s the fact that he has NO CLUE how much it fucked me up, and that he doesn’t own ANY of it. He put equal blame on me, which under normal circumstances I would accept. Especially if I was the one who had hit on him. but I wasn’t. It was him hitting on me, him calling me every day. Not the other way around.

So, that’s what happened. At this point I don’t think I have it in me to report him. But I’ve been bearing this burden since the beginning of August, and I just wanted someone else in law enforcement to know, even just to hear me out and validate me.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

If You Were My Sister


If you were my sister, I’d call you into my arms, and hold you tight.
If you were my sister, I’d let you cry and wipe the tears away from your eyes.
If you were my sister, I’d let you pound with rage on my shoulder at the horrible crime committed against you.
If you were my sister, I’d help you tear up every piece of memory of him and burn it with you, releasing the energy into the night.
If you were my sister, I’d hold you tight when you wake up in the middle of the night, drenched in sweat, screaming from the nightmares.
If you were my sister, I’d help you get out of bed every morning, and find joy in something, even if it was only a piece of chocolate.
If you were my sister, I’d sit by your side if you went to the police and hold your hand through the whole process.
If you were my sister, I’d be the first in line to stand up for you if the police did anything wrong.
If you were my sister, I’d let you come into my room at night and cry in pain, knowing that your case had fallen through and that no justice would be given.
If you were my sister, I’d promise you I would always be there for you, even when all of your friends deserted you and left you in your pain.
If you were my sister, I’d smile in your eyes and promise you that it does get better.
If you were my brother, I’d tell you that you do not have to hide in silence.
If you were my brother, I’d take you in my arms and promise you the shame is not yours to carry.
If you were my brother, I’d tell you how much I loved you every day, and promise you that you are worthy of only the most beautiful love, and that what happened to you will not deter any woman from seeing how beautiful you are.
If you were my sister, brother, niece, cousin, friend – I’d take your face in my hands, look you straight into the eyes and say, “What happened to you was not your fault. You are beautiful. And you are SO strong. And I love you.”

Friday, January 10, 2014

The One Year Mark -- Forever Changed

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I’ve been toying around with writing a post for a few days now, due to the timing. Monday, January 6th marked the one year since I was sexually assaulted. It’s a hard day – the reality of how much I’ve lost this year, the trauma of all of it … it can be overwhelming and all consuming.
I wanted to write my story out on paper for the first time, but the pain is still too raw. But I do want to share a part of my story. And this part involves faith in people, lost faith, restoring faith, and where we put our faith.
So now, part of my story.
As many of you know, I’ve loved SVU for many years, and have met the cast multiple times. I got to have dessert with Mariska and Peter (plus Neal Baer and Mike Doyle), got to go behind the scenes multiple times in 2010, and was friends with the crew members. I developed an enormous amount of respect for the entire SVU cast, as well as the Joyful Heart Staff.
In addition to that, I found respect for the NYPD as my legal case began.
The detective working my case was incredibly kind hearted. I remember it took me 5 months and 6 days exactly to work up the courage to report it. As I sat in my favorite park in Seattle, I picked up the phone and called the number that my legal advocate gave me. He answered the phone (his personal cell phone), and was exactly what I needed – a true Elliot Stabler. I was so blessed and felt STRONG.
The next few weeks were prepped for his arrival. He, along with his lieutenant, were to fly out to Seattle to interview me for the initial report.
The day they arrived I had no one. I was completely and utterly alone. It was July 5th so all of my friends were out of town. My legal advocate came with me, and we waited for them to arrive near my university.
They pulled up in a car, dressed in full suits. My detective was so much younger than I had anticipated, and the lieutenant was a huge, burly, intimidating man. They were wearing guns a well. I was incredibly intimidated.
The actual interview was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. They were incredibly kind, and it was so validating to see the anger in the lieutenant’s eyes when I described what happened. But it was stressful. Aftewards, I completely dissociated and left to go to the gym. But as soon as I left I realized I had about a dozen questions I Needed answered. So I texted my detective, and he said we could meet up then next day.
I met him the next day for lunch and we talked about my questions as well as just had a good lunch.
Afterwards, I said I’d take him down to where his boss was with his girlfriend (down by the waterfront). We got there and I was about to leave because they were at a bar, and the boss said, “What, you’re leaving?” “Am I allowed to stay?” I asked.  He said ok, so I did.
It was 3 pm, and what I thought was just going to be happy hour ended up being 9 hours of drinking. I was having a lot of fun (and it was weird) but I had to work the next day so I insisted on going home. The boss told me to come back and crash at their hotel tonight instead of going home, and that they’d back me up if I called in sick to work. I finally gave in and went back to the hotel with them.
The boss told my det to take care of me because I was getting sick (or almost) outside of the car. After I felt ok to walk, he took me up to his hotel room and really took care of me. I felt really safe, and that I really trusted these guys. He gave me the bed (the boss was in a different room) and he slept on the couch in the living room (the bedroom door closed).
That night was unorthodox, but the problem didn’t happen until the next morning.
It was my sister’s birthday, and also the same day as the plane crash in San Francisco, so I had turned the news on and was watching the news. Det. S ended up coming into the room with me and we were watching the news. He remdined me of my cousin so we were goofing off – I was throwing pillows at him etc. (he’s a few years younger than my cousin). I was super hung over though, so I turned over and went back to sleep. S was sleeping beside me and then asked me if he could put his arm around me. I said yes, because I thought he was just being comforting (read: he’s married with 2 young kids).  He then moved a little closer, which made me uncomfortable, but I didn’t say anything. Then he said “I really want to kiss you right now.”
Shit.
Now I know a lot of you watch SVU, and it was in 25 Acts that they discussed the “freeze” response. I know that some of you can probably relate, but that’s EXACTLY what happens to me, time and again, especially with men in authority over me. And that’s just what happened that day. I froze.
I told him he couldn’t because he was married (and, uh, nevermind the fact he was the DETECTIVE on my SEXUAL ASSAULT case). He did end up kissing me. If he had been single, and any other person, then I would’ve been ok with it because yes, he was cute, he was nice, he was comforting. But HELLO – detective. Married. Two kids.
It was a horrible situation to be in.
Thank god it didn’t escalate too much more. I eventually went to shower and then just felt so shitty about myself and that I had partaken in it at all. I knew I was at fault too, but I felt especially horrible because just a few days before that I had laid out my entire sexual assault history to him, all of the patterns, and most importantly the fact that all I’ve ever been good for is to be used for sex, abused, and raped. That’s it.  And he KNEW that, and played into it – only good enough to be the slut on the side. Or at least that’s how I felt.
When I got out of the shower he was on the phone with his boss and looked really nervous. When he got off the phone he said, “Rachel we got too close.” (No shit, I was thinking). He said that his boss had asked him if he’d slept with me. “What did you say?” I asked. “I said no,” he replied, “Because I didn’t. Nothing really happened.” That was a total lie, because stuff DID happen, just not what the boss had asked.
When he went to shower I sat on the balcony and started to cry. Det. S had made me promise that what happened couldn’t leave the room. But I sat there feeling so shitty about myself. Ugh.
When they went back to NYC, I had some space and eventually forgave him. I pretended like it never happened. I wanted to feel like my faith hadn’t been shaken in these men that were carrying my deepest, most intimate secrets, but the reality is is that it did. Especially when the boss told me (and he didn’t even know what had happened) that the whole weekend had to stay between us, because my credibility would be shot and the case would be thrown out. That hit me hard, knowing that they had made decisions that could affect my case so horribly when I was trusting them to make the best decisions in my interest.
Even so, I went on with the case. Det. S had to present his interview to the DA, and that would determine how they would proceed. Once he met with her, he called me but I was at work and couldn’t talk long. So we never had a chance to fully talk about the case and how it was gonna proceed. So he would call me the next day if I had more questions. Once I ran out of questions, I figured I wouldn’t hear from him until October, which is when I’d have to go back out to NYC for the next step in the case. So I was surprised when he said, “Well I’ll give you a call tomorrow.”
Tomorrow turned into the next, then the next, then the next. Soon he was calling me on his way to and from work everyday, about 2 hours total. I could never call him, he only ever called me.
Nothing was romantic. Nothing was like the night in the hotel room. All he did was make me laugh every day. He became my friend. I knew deep down that it probably wasn’t smart to have this interaction with him, but I was so desperately alone in Seattle it was so comforting to feel like I had a ‘protector’ out there. He said he looked forward to talking to me everyday, that he talked to me more than his wife (hindsigh – that should have been a BIG indicator). We never really talked about the case except for once when I had a huge meltdown and accidentally texted him, so I almost forgot he was a detective on my case. He said he’s never had a bond like this with a victim before, that I was his favorite (he told me that while drunk when he was out here), etc. I felt cared for. It was comforting.
Then one day all of that completely stopped.
He was doing a night shift and I figured it was probably because of the scheduling. But when it turned into the next and the next I was wondering what had happened and had started to panic. I called the precinct and they said he had just walked in. He sounded pissed when he heard it was me, but he said he’d call me from the car.
When he did, what he proceeded to say was that I had caused all of this upset in his life, that it could compromise the case, that if his wife found out he had been calling me every day it would be the end of it, that he isn’t trained to talk to someone who is unstable (note – I never talked about the case, except once like I mentioned), that I needed a psychiatrist to talk to, that at the end of the day I was just a job and he was getting paid (that hurt the worst). He was horribly rude and abrasive towards me.
I fell apart after that. He had become my rock, and then I was left with no one. even worse, a few weeks later he told me that he had developed romantic feelings for me this entire time, which I had no idea. And that he had viewed our interaction as an emotional affair, which, again, I had no idea.
The stress from this entire process was bad enough, but all the added drama from Det. S pushed me over the edge. I stopped trusting him. I didn’t want to re-assign the case because I thought If I did then it would mean that he really had done something wrong. Obviously he had, but I didn’t want to believe that because the truth was that I had grown to care a lot about him, like my cousin. I thought that I could stil have a friendship with him when the case was over, considering how well we had gotten along. I was just so lost and confused, didn’t know who to trust anymore.
I was seriously considering having the case re-assigned when this WONDERFUL detective answered the phone one day when I called looking for Det. S. He knew I was one of the cases from across the country, and was answering my question about what I had to do (more on that in another post). He sort of laughed and said, “Don’t worry, it’s not like we’re not gonna coach you or anything!” And I said, “Well actually, S said that it was gonna be all on me anyways.” The other detective, call him Det. R, laughed again and said, “I’ll tell you what. I’m actually driving S to the airport tomorrow and I’ll have a talk with him. And when you come to New York, call me and I will meet with you and we’ll prepare together.” I started crying because I was so happy, and at that moment I realized how horrible of a job he was doing on my case.
In the end, the case fell through, as I’ve posted. I had a horrible fall out with the NYPD (as I’ve also mentioned), except for Det. R. Det. S promised to call me in the aftermath of the fallout, and was going to meet up with me when I was in NYC in November so I could say my piece and move on, but he didn’t. The last time I heard from him was Thanksgiving. Never got to have that last final phone call, that closure, from the guy who got credit for working my case.
The most horrible part about this is the pain. The pain of the betrayal. The pain at having my faith shattered in the legal system. But most of all, with Det. S specifically, the realization that he never truly cared about me. He did, but it was conditional. He had led me to believe that he was gonna be this awesome friend to me, that he was my rock, and then POOF, he was gone. The worst part is that he has NO clue about how much that FUCKED me up – that an emotionally vulnerable rape victim who is led to rely on her detective because HE wants it … he had NO clue. And honestly that’s concerning.
I played a large part in this, I know. I blame myself. But I also recognize how vulnerable I was. People I’ve talked to (professionals) have all agreed on that front. It was completely 100% wrong for him to do ANY of what he did. And I’m ashamed at how badly it messed me up for a few months.
The problem is that we put our faith in people because they have a badge, or a lab coat, or are a writer from a famous TV show. I’ve lost everything because I let peoples’ professions get in the way of what my gut was telling me. I lost SVU for that very reason, both because of the cast and my attacker (the guy who assaulted me used to write for the show). We put our faith in these people and trust them to look out for our best interests, when in reality, they are just as human as we are. It was actually the night that the real SVU took me out drinking with them when I said, “You know I always thought you guys were superhuman, but I realized that you guys are just normal people with big responsibility.” They liked that defintion, and sadly the truthfulness of that statement couldn’t have been made more apparent to me the next f.ew months.
I’m ashamed to write this portion of my story down on paper, but I wanted you to understand my experience with the legal system. That’s not to say it was all horrible. When it came down to what I had to do in October, Det. S came through and was incredibly supportive. Detective R had my back, and even called me the next day to make sure I was ok, when he wasn’t e ven assigned to my case. But the reality is I am heartbroken about what happened here. The trauma of all of this on top of the actual case was too much.
A family friend of ours who is a detective on another unit in the NYPD said to me, “I hope you don’t let this experience ruin your desire to join the NYPD. The NYPD has 25,000 people, most of them good. Unfortunately you got a bit of the bad.” And I know that’s true. But it’s hard not to make gross generalizations, to never want to trust cops or detectives ever again.
But that’s where healing is important. Because what I’ve come to find, especially since the one year was this week, is that healing doesn’t mean we forget about our attack, or our legal case, or our fall out with SVU. Healing means opening our hearts up to the possibility of change, to vulnerability. Allowing to let someone else in. to love. To BE loved. As survivors, this is an incredibly difficult thing to do. After this year, I vowed I never wanted to let anyone in ever again. But fate blessed me with a wonderful man who loves me for me, even despite my trauma and the hold it still has on me. That’s healing – taking the risk. YES RISK JOY – saying yes to taking the risk to being happy and joyful despite all of our hardships. That phrase has never meant more to me than this past month, when I took a risk to let someone in. Definitely restores faith a little, doesn't it?
I’m not healed. I don’t think any of us are ever “healed.” But I am healing. Beginning to move on. To smile at the simple joys in life. To laugh every day. And to be able to do that again is a huge blessing.