Oh u didn’t know I used to figure skate? Still a member of the USFSA and now a proud member of the LA Figure Skating Club. See u on the ice.
SAN FRANCISCO — “This picture is about having everything I want. I don’t have to struggle—but I want to struggle. I wish I could say I was interested in changing the human condition, but everything I see tells me nothing will work especially if it gets in the way of my happiness,” 1982.
(photo by Jim Goldberg)
This is basically what I do all day long.
The dudes over at Oscilloscope are releasing (my favorite music video director…sorry Michel Gondry/Spike Jonze/Melina…) Romain Gavras’s debut feature film: OUR DAY WILL COME. I’ve been looking forward to seeing this film for a long, long time.
My second favorite music video of his: STRESS by JUSTICE
My third favorite music video of his: THE AGE OF THE UNDERSTATEMENT by THE LAST SHADOW PUPPETS
A few thoughts on the past couple of days since posting about my own experience with rape: I’m deeply upset (although I guess I shouldn’t be since it fits in with all the statistics out there) by just how many friends and acquaintances have told me that they too were raped by someone they knew. This is such a terribly complicated societal issue with no clear solutions…but I think what is important to remember here is that each and every “survivor” is MUCH more than just someone who was raped. Sure, it plays a part in all of our lives, but it is just that…a part. And for me, at this time, what happened (as terrible as it was and for how much it has shaped my current life) is just that…in the past. There are so many labels that I give to myself (filmmaker, photographer, music lover, corgi owner…) before I would even use the words “rape survivor”… just some food for thought. So, and perhaps I speak just for myself, by posting about Daisy Coleman and my rape I am not seeking sympathy…just trying to get the word out there that this is something that happens to people of all races, genders and age…its also something that happens across socio-economic divides and regardless of education level.
For more reading regarding all of this please see Amanda Hess’s and Emily Bazalon’s columns on slate’s xx factor blog.
Sometimes I take photos. You can find a few of them here
The courage that sexual assault survivor Daisy Coleman and her family have shown as seen in the glare of media coverage they’ve received over the past few days, has inspired me to come forward with my own story of rape, one that has shaped the narrative of my life permanently just as it will for Daisy and for every other person, male or female, who has been sexually assaulted.
Like Daisy and so many other survivors, I wasn’t raped in a dark alley by a stranger. I knew my rapist (whom I’ll refer to as ‘B’ from here on) and next month, a few days before Thanksgiving, it will have been eight years since he raped me. We had gone to high school together in Bethesda, Maryland and both ended up at Indiana University in Bloomington. We ran in the same group in high school, had many of the same friends in college and our parents were even friends. We took classes together, drove halfway across the country back home for holidays together and had even carried on a secret relationship for a few months, unbeknownst to his long-distance girlfriend, during our sophomore year of college. The relationship faded in the way that relationships can sometimes. I met someone, he decided to be faithful to his girlfriend, but we remained friends. The next school year, our junior year, and a few weeks before Thanksgiving, B came over and asked if I wanted to resume the affair even though he was still with his girlfriend. I said ‘No’, that it was a bad idea and without pause our platonic friendship continued: we studied for our upcoming Spanish mid-term, smoked the occasional joint after class and, fittingly since B’s nickname in high school was ‘Drunk’, had a few beers together on my front porch.
Our Spanish mid term was scheduled for the last possible time it could have been, resulting in an all but empty campus with everyone already gone for the holiday. The two of us made plans to celebrate finishing the exam by having a few drinks at my house. B came over with one of his frat brothers, the three of us drinking mixed drinks and just hanging out, as the college kids we were are known to do. I started feeling like I’d had too much to drink, that the room was spinning, that I needed to go lie down before I made a fool out of myself even though I had only had two or three drinks up to that point. I told the guys I was going to go to bed, that they could keep hanging out and sleep on the couch so they wouldn’t have to drive drunk. I went to my bedroom, shut the door, and got into bed still fully clothed.
I woke up with B on top of me, penetrating me from behind. I remember closing my eyes tightly, hoping that I was just dreaming, that there was no way that this could really be happening. I won’t go into the gruesome details but my body shut down, almost as if it had decided that the safest thing for me to do in that moment with a 6 foot tall guy on top of me, crushing me, would be to act as if I was still passed out. And so I never said no and I never fought back, two things that would eventually work against me.
When B finished he got up and left, leaving what he thought was a passed out girl unconscious face down and naked on her bed. I waited until I heard the front door close. And I waited some more before I burst into tears. None of my friends were still in town and my roommates had all left. The longer I lay there, the more furious I became. How DARE he do this to me. To my body. I had trusted him.
I went to the hospital and got a rape kit done. I talked to the police and the investigators who collected my sheets from my house while I was still in the ER. It was at the hospital that the rape crisis counselor who helped me through that terrible night, and whose name I don’t even remember, told me that the best thing I could do was talk about what had happened to me. And I did. I told my parents, waking them up in the middle of the night. I told my friends and word quickly spread during that Thanksgiving what had happened.
And yet no one stopped hanging out with him. I was suddenly the crazy one. I was the girl who liked sex and hence was obviously asking for it. Only one of my girlfriends stood up for me. But that didn’t stop B from getting invited to parties where I was, and I would find myself that winter seeing him out of the corner of my eye at some friend’s house party, and I’d know I would have to leave if I didn’t want to be around him. I was trying desperately to find some sort of normalcy even though I felt like a shell of a person, with my insides filled with only anger and confusion. How could I trust anyone ever again? My instinct was wrong about him…so could I ever be sure in my gut instinct? I felt ostracized by my high school “friends” that were still inviting him places, who hadn’t de-friended him, his girlfriend called me to ask what had really happened and then told me that I was crazy, that he would never do that. And so my visits home became rarer and rarer and then stopped completely. My parents moved for work and I haven’t been back to Bethesda for longer than a day or two since.
To IU’s credit, B was expelled from Indiana (which he was leaving anyway since he had been accepted and was planning on transferring to his girlfriend’s school) and even though I wanted to press charges (against my criminal attorney father’s advice) the county prosecutor wouldn’t try the case, saying that it was “he said she said” and that even with DNA evidence it wouldn’t hold up in court. And so my rapist walked free while I was left to heal through years of support groups and therapy. I realized that this one act had singlehandedly changed me from child to adult.
The physical act of rape isn’t what hurts the most. In retrospect, it was the lack of any legal repercussions in a small Indiana town where the detective on my case had coached B’s townie (or to quote the famous IU movie BREAKING AWAY “cutter”) frat brother, our drinking buddy as well as a key witness that fateful night, in little league when he was a kid.
It was also the slut-shaming, the ostricization that I felt by my so called friends who I had grown up with…that no one, with the exception of my dear friend Rebecca and one or two other people, would stand up for me. How many years of my life had I wasted with these people that I thought were my friends? Too many it seemed.
My short film, THE GATHERING SQUALL, which is loosely based on a story by Joyce Carol Oates of the same name, is about a young girl who gets raped. Making this film was cathartic in that it was my way of finally being able to take control of what had happened to me. The short was accepted into SXSW and eventually helped to win me a spot on Filmmaker Magazine’s annual ’25 New Faces of Indie Film’ list, which in turn paved the way for me to be able to make my feature film, A TEACHER which debuted at Sundance this past year and has resulted in a slew of professional achievements that I couldn’t have even dreamed of eight years ago.
Rebecca called me a few months back to tell me that B had died in a car crash. He was the first person I knew my age to die. I don’t believe in karma and I don’t feel that he had what was coming to him. My first reaction was that I felt terrible for his parents and that no one should have to die in such a horrible way. B had spent his brief post-college years, I learned, attending law school and working as an investigator for his local District Attorney’s office. It seemed like a perverse turn of events. Was he just following in the footsteps of a public defender parent? Or was this his way of making sure that even the guilty, as he must have known he was, received proper representation? I guess I’ll never know.
I never learned the full extent of what happened that night because B never was even questioned by the police. But in the past few years, several of our mutual friends from both high school and college have quietly approached me to apologize for not having stood up for me. This doesn’t make up for the intense despair and loneliness that I felt then in, but it helps. And as crazy as this sounds, I am actually looking forward to my ten year high school reunion which has been scheduled for the week of Thanksgiving.
To Daisy: thank you for being such a strong, inspiring young woman. It takes time, but you will learn to trust and love again…two things I’m still working on. My own rape gave me focus, forced me to take stock of my life as one does at critical times, and because of that I was able to truly understand myself (and human behavior) in a way that I wouldn’t otherwise if this had never happened. You are now the face of this very critical issue, and through this you have been given the power to speak for those whose voices aren’t heard. Thank you for taking your terrible tragedy and finding power within it, giving hope for the rest of us survivors whose own cases were never brought to justice. So, once again, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You are a true hero. And you are not alone.
I’m going to need a pet seal STAT.
Twin Shadow’s cover of Bruce Springsteen’s I’m On Fire is great.
Barbara Mason’s You Never Loved Me (At All)
If I didn’t eat so much ice cream I would totally buy this crop top. ;(