Goodness gracious clematis! (at Fenway Victory Gardens)
This morning, I read Kimberly Matus’s powerful account of what happened to her on a New York subway, and it moved me to write about my own experience with sexual assault in public. It’s something I’ve talked about in therapy and with Brian, and I’m still working to resolve my feelings about it. I thought this might help, too.
In July 2009, my boyfriend Brian and I headed to Carborro, NC for XX Merge, a music festival hosted at the Cat’s Cradle to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Merge Records. During M. Ward’s set (night four of the festival), we stood on the floor, enjoying the music, when I bent down to get my phone, which was in my purse at my feet. Suddenly, a hard slap landed on my backside — not a playful slap, not a grope, but a stinging, wind-up slap. I stood up, in pain, and looked at Brian.
“Did you just do that?” It was too hard; he wouldn’t hit me like that. He looked back at me confused. I placed my hand where a red welt was developing.
I turned behind me, and to this day, I wish I could remember the faces I saw, but it was dark and there were five of them. A group of friends, all trying not to show their guilt, laughing among themselves, staring straight ahead.
In my mind, I grabbed each one of them by the throat and made them tell me which of them was the guilty one, and which of them were just the cowards who looked on. I’ve fantasized about jumping on stage right afterward, grabbing the mic and shaming them to the whole room. In reality, I broke into tears and ran to the back patio behind the building. Brian followed me as I crouched among the smokers, letting out heavy sobs. I felt violated, I felt dirty, and most of all, I felt robbed — robbed of the evening, robbed of the set I was missing, robbed of the memory of my happy vacation.
I’m still very angry about it today. I still envision choking the men who stood by and laughed as they watched their friend sexually assault a stranger. Not one of them apologized. Not one of them even looked me in the eye.
The dress I was wearing at the time, a green dress I loved, has since been given away, because even years later, it still hurt too much to wear it and remember. Going to concerts has never been the same for me — being up front makes me incredibly anxious, because of who might be standing behind me. I once left a show because I felt like I was being pushed around and had a panic attack. I don’t even like being in close crowds of any kind if I can help it.
Even almost four years later, the emotions are still raw. I still feel robbed, and want for justice. It will likely never come. I was happy to read that in Kimberly’s case, undercover officers witnessed her attack and arrested the man who violated her. This is the dream end scenario for any woman who has ever been groped, slapped, assaulted or harassed in public. But I know her ending is rare.
The majority of women who have been assaulted by a stranger in public (and there are many) will probably never find the resolution they seek. Like me, they will continue to envision what they would have done differently in the moment of their attack. Reading Kimberly’s story was comforting to me. Sometimes the bad guys do get caught. Sometimes, there is justice.
Things I’ve learned so far about Scooter: 1) he LOVES to wiggle, 2) his puppy farts should be designated as WMDs, and 3) he plays as hard as he sleeps.
— John Keats (via h-o-r-n-g-r-y)
So… Brian made bacon and black pepper biscuits using an America’s Test Kitchen recipe. They’re insanely delicious.
Hey, guess what works perfectly as a picnic blanket in the park? A vinyl tablecloth from Marshalls. I bet it will roll up smaller than a towel, too. (at Boston Public Garden)