Friday, May 2, 2008

A Bad Day and a Good One

This post is about an unpleasant subject, and it is laced with profanity, just in case you're not in the mood for that kind of thing today.

Ten years ago today, I woke up at 3:18 in the morning to a man with a ski mask holding a knife to my throat.
You know how you read or hear about someone who's frozen with fear? That's actually true. He ordered me not to move or scream, but he didn't need to; I wasn't capable of doing either.

After the longest hour and a half of my life, he finally left. I waited a few minutes, then I left my apartment, terrified that he was waiting for me. I was sure throughout the attack that I was going to be murdered. I thought that his was the last face I'd see (the mask turned out to be a t-shirt, which fell off), that his was the last voice I'd hear. Only at the end did I realize that I was going to live. He made me promise that I'd never tell anyone what he'd done, and I promised. I told him, convincingly, that I had to work the next day, and that I just wanted to sleep for a few hours. I told him that my boyfriend (now husband) was very jealous, and that he'd never believe that I'd been raped, so I'd just not say anything. He believed me.

That's not the only mistake the asshole made. On my way out the door, I found that he had 1. Dropped his pager and 2. Stolen my bike. The bike was a pink beach cruiser, ladies' style, with a big old basket attached to the handle bars. Perhaps he didn't realize that a 6-foot tall man in his early 20s would look rather conspicuous riding that around Devon, Pennsylvania in the middle of the night. I gave my statement to a lovely female detective at the hospital, and she called me at 2:30 the following morning to tell me that they'd found him riding my bike down Route 30; they arrested him, and he confessed.

He was arraigned a short time after it happened, but even though he confessed, it was nearly a year later before he was formally sentenced (he spent that year in county jail). He was sentenced to 25-50 years. At that time, it was the harshest sentence ever imposed in Pennsylvania for a rape in which the victim survived. He appealed that sentence, which was upheld by the appeals judge. I appeared at the arraignment and at both sentencing hearings, wearing suits I'd bought with my employee discount at Nordstrom and kick-ass shoes. I wanted to stare him down, but he wouldn't look at me. I wanted to be brave, since I felt like a coward for letting it happen, for not fighting him.

I was lucky in so many ways. I was old enough to handle this. I lived. He was caught and imprisoned I had family, friends, a man who loved me. Still, that summer sucked. I had to move out of my apartment, which I loved; I couldn't live there anymore. I couldn't live alone anymore anywhere. I didn't sleep. I would come home from work at 6:30 or so and take a nap, knowing that I'd be up for most of the night. I showered constantly; I was often late for work because I'd decide on my way out the door that the shower I'd already taken an hour before wasn't quite enough. I cried a lot. I had nightmares.

Now? Entire days (even weeks) go by during which I don't even think about it. In 1998, I didn't think that this would ever be possible. I'm happily married. I have 2 lovely children. I have friends, a house I love, a life.

So you know what?

I WIN, motherfucker! You're in prison, and I'm not. 25 years is a long fucking time, isn't it? Hope I was worth it. See you in 15 fucking years, assuming good behavior. And I'll be at your parole hearing too, don't worry. I didn't fight back, but I made sure you couldn't do this to anyone else. Happy Anniversary to me.


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Sorry CDP, lots of stupid typos. Let me start over

This post stunned me and I am so sorry this happened to you. A horrible event indeed. But I can't say enough good things about how you and Mr. CDP have been dealing with this tragedy. Brava CDP! Bravo to you both.

3carnations said...

Wow. I'm so so sorry you went through this. It was very brave of you to share it here, and very brave of you to come forward and make sure he got what was coming to him.

I'm glad you were able to move on, and I'm glad he got a nice, long punishment. Oh, and I'm glad he was such a moron that he left clues.

Jess Wundrun said...

Huzzah. Tough chicks rule. Never discount the power of awesome shoes!

I am in awe of your strength.

(Having said all that, you've made me cry, cdp)

CDP said...

Spartacus--thanks! I'm always worried about the effect this might have on other people when I tell them (and I don't really talk about it that much), but many people have told me that it happened to them or to someone they love and that it helped them to talk about it with someone who understands. That's really why I talk about it.

3carnations--Thanks! Yes, I have many things to be grateful for, but near the top of the list is that the man who attacked me was an idiot who made it easy for them to catch him.

Jess--sorry I made you cry! I didn't feel like a tough chick for a long time, I had to work at it (and the shoes and suits were necessary in those court appearances!)

Miss Kate said...

You are a strong and brave woman, and I hope that jackbag spends 75% of his life in a prison cell.

Thank you for sharing. (I have been lurking for a few months and have never commented, but I just had to today).

CDP said...

Thanks, Miss Kate!

dguzman said...

This post stunned me because the same thing happened to someone I love. Only they never caught the guy.

And it stunned me because such violence always stuns me.

Wow. My head is buzzing and hurting now, almost exploding with feeling for you. I'm glad you won, CDP--you won the minute you continued with your life. And that motherfucker LOST.

CDP said...

Dguzman--thank you. I'm so sorry they never caught the person, that must be so hard. I was really lucky that he was caught, and quickly.

Dizzy Dezzi said...

Thanks for sharing your experience.

I survived a similar experience 15 years ago. And, I know how you feel.

I also know that no matter how bad other things go in my life, I will always be proud that I did not let that man make me a victim, I stood up to him and fought for my freedom, as he lost his.

Way to go, CDP!

CDP said...

DD--thanks, and good for you! I'm sorry that happened to you, but I'm glad that the good guy won.

BeckEye said...

It's very brave of you to share your story with the blogosphere. You should do speaking engagements - I think your strength and smarts would be an inspiration to a lot of women.

Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

Holy hell woman, you are my new heroine. I can't imagine what you went through. It may sound stupid but I am proud of you for following through and calling the police. You are one of the bravest people I know. Thanks for making our world a little safer by helping to put that shitheel away.

CDP said...

BeckEye--thanks! I'm better in writing, I think.

Dr. M--thank you so much. "Shitheel", that's a good one!

Worker Mommy said...

Wow, I'm stunned and outraged on your behalf.

I hope that disgusting excuse for a human never makes his way out of jail. He lost that right when he chose to victimize an innocent individual.

I'm in awe of your courage and strength and love that you've reclaimed your life. I imagine it wasn't easy.

pistols at dawn said...

It is mind-boggling how often this sort of thing happens, and how rarely people find the strength to talk about it or move on. Congrats to you and the people in your life for the latter.

FranIAm said...

You and I have communicated about this earlier today.

All wounds are wounds, all life is triumph in some way, if you can write a post like this.

My heart to you.

Anonymous said...

Hugs to out to you today. You're a brave woman.

Italian Bird said...

Very sorry for what happen, you are very brave.
My prayers are with you.

enc said...

I'm flabbergasted by this. I'm also horrified.

I'm so sorry to hear you had to go through that. And not only did it happen, you had to live with it afterwards. Your pain was/is real, and that will never change.

Not that you asked, but I think you were brave, not fighting: what if the fight resulted in an outcome not in your favor? What if you'd been killed?

The world would have been deprived of you, your husband wouldn't have been able to marry you, and your children wouldn't be here now.

I'm glad that's not the case. I'm glad you're alive.

I hope you'll keep suiting up, and showing up, and eliminating the perpetrator's chance of freedom. He doesn't deserve anything but to rot in jail.

I admire your strength and fortitude.

CDP said...

WM--thanks! I agree on his imprisonment. I don't think that minor offenders should be imprisoned, but people who hurt and kill others need to be kept out of society.

Pistols--thank you. I learned after I started to talk about this (and I still don't that often) how horrifyingly often it does happen; at least half of the women I've told about it have had SOMETHING happen to them. Thanks for the kind words.

Fran--Thank you for everything.

Suze and IB--thank you ladies!

enc--the fact that I lived because I cooperated is the only thing that's reconciled me to the fact that I didn't fight. Even now, when I hear or read about some brave person who fought off an attacker, I'm sad and a little ashamed, but not nearly as much as I once was. You're right, my children wouldn't be here if I hadn't lived, and that's too much to contemplate. Thanks for the kind words!

Anonymous said...

But you did fight back. And won. My kind of chick.

CDP said...

BFKADC--Oh my God, you're killing me with that. Thank you, that means a lot to me! (especially coming from you)

Ingrid said...

hi cdp, followed you here from phantsythat..
I don't know how to verbalize what I feel..I'll only try to say I'm impressed you survived to go on and have a happy life.. as a woman, I am proud yes proud that you showed this strength in court... and showed him!

Kate Morningstar said...

Hi, CDP -- I came cuz Fran said we didn't know each other yet.

I was about two weeks past my 12th birthday, and there was no knife. There were a lot of reasons I didn't fight back; it was pitch-dark and I didn't have my glasses on and couldn't see anything; he was between me and the door; I had no idea what was about to happen to me, because no-one had ever told me anything.

He told me it was my fault, and I believed him. He told me he could see my house from his, and if police cars came, he'd know I told, and he'd come back and do it again, and I believed him. I didn't tell anyone for 10 years. I slept with a nightlight on for 40 years.

By chance, one day two years ago, I told someone. Her closest friend was my kid sister's best friend, back in those days, and she knows other people I grew up with. She said, "You grew up on that street with that damn pedophile. I know four other women from there who've told me exactly the same story." She knows who my rapist is. I never told her that I hadn't been able to see his face and didn't know who it was -- I could ask her. But it doesn't matter now.

He spent a night hurting me. I stayed imprisoned by fear for 40 more years. Thank you, thank you, for fighting back as hard and effectively as you did.

Oh, yeah -- and it's nice to meet you!!

Distributorcap said...

whoa.......first not to sound cliche -- but that must have been tough to share with this wolrd

second -- i am so impressed with your courage and fortitude to fight back and be there and move forward

i dont think 25 years is enough time for him..... then again i hope he stays locked in his own mental prison because i see you have not put yourself in one.

you rock.... while you are lucky to have such a strong support group around you, your family is one lucky bunch to have someone like you

Christopher said...

I WIN, motherfucker! You're in prison, and I'm not. 25 years is a long fucking time, isn't it?

You're very lucky there was sufficient evidence to make apprehending this man possible.

Also, I assume this was a trial by jury? You were lucky once again to have a sympathetic panel who were willing to throw the book at this miscreant.

Too often, in the case of rape, there is inadequate evidence to prosecute the crime or the panel is, for whatever reason, unsympathetic to the victim.

There is a locally famous case of rape in Austin, TX involving a cop and a women who called the police because her apartment had been broken into. "Officer" Ramirez was dispatched and he raped the woman in her own home. Despite having DNA evidence, the case was referred by the DA for trial but because "Officer" Ramirez was a cop, the jury couldn't bring themselves to convict him. He remains on the Austin PD today.

Personally, I'm sorry you didn't have a gun. You could've put a bullet between this guy's eyes. I may be a liberal but I fully embrace the concept of that each of us has the right to protect ourselves and our families anyway necessary. No one has the right to violate another person. No one.

CDP said...

Ingrid--thank you!

Kate M--I'm so sorry for what happened to you; I can't even imagine how horrible it must have been. I'm sure that your rapist will pay for what he did, in some way and at some time. I hope you're well. (and it's nice to meet you too!)

Christopher--there wasn't a trial, actually. He confessed, so there was an arraignment and a sentencing hearing, but no trial. I did buy a gun afterward, and learned how to use it, but I never felt safe with it in the house, so I got rid of it. The shooting practice was pretty good therapy, though. Thanks for stopping by!

CDP said...

And Distributorcap--thank you, too, I missed you the first time! Such kind words. As you know, I'm pretty liberal and I oppose the death penalty, and I also oppose imprisonment for minor offenders and drug offenders (unless they're dealers), but people who hurt and kill others can't go to prison long enough. Pennsylvania is very tough; his sentence was 25-50, meaning no possibility of parole before the minimum term of 25 years. He basically needs to be an exemplary prisoner in order to get out in 25...and he was apparently a very bad prisoner in county jail, so I'm guessing he's in for at least another 25. And if not? I'll be at his parole hearing. I'm not vengeful, but he won't even be 50 at the 25 year mark, meaning he'd be able to get out and do it to someone else. I'll see him in hell first. Thanks again for the kind words.

Randal Graves said...

I don't have anything to add that wouldn't sound cliché or hasn't already been said better by others. At the very least, glad you survived to share your story and show that someone can be strong enough to go on.

Sauntering Soul said...

Oh CDP! I'm so sorry you went through this. Like the previous commenter, I have no new or profound words that haven't already been said. Never hang your head in shame for not fighting back that night. Instead, hold your head high for ensuring he's in prison and can't do this to someone else. Hold your head high for having the strength to share your story even if it's not often. Hold your head high for continuing to live your life boldly. You are truly an inspiration.

Paul said...

Words fail me but my heart goes out to you, sorrowing at what happened and rejoicing in the grace with which you have stood up for yourself, for life, and for what is right.

CDP said...

Randal--thank you very much.

SS--thanks, you inspire me too!

Paul--thank you. Grace is a funny thing, it comes at times when I don't want it...sometimes I want to stay angry about this, but I couldn't sustain that every day, could I? Thanks for your kind words.

Whiskeymarie said...

Everyone has said it all already, but you?
Are awesome.

I love tough broads, and you're my kind of broad. The winning kind.

CDP said...

WM--thank you, my friend.

Mauigirl said...

CDP, congratulations on winning. You have indeed. I admire your strength and fortitude to get through that terrible experience and move on with your life. And I'm glad that unspeakable coward is still in prison. I'm so sorry you went through that.

CDP said...

mauigirl--thank you!

Suzy said...

I am holding you in the light. Oh yes, and what all of the others said before me.

Thank you.

CDP said...

Thank you Suzy! That's a beautiful thought.

The Lady Who Doesn't Lunch: said...

This is a triumph and you are amazing. Thank you for sharing this story about doing the right thing and being able to move forward.

I'm sorry I didn't read it sooner.

You're a star.

CDP said...

Lady--thank you. That means a lot to me.

Lauralew said...

Hi, I came over here from Fran's and I am stunned by your story. Not only the brutality of what happened, by also by your bravery, fortitude, and grace in the aftermath. This is the garbage we women have to go through in our lives. Too many of us can tell similar stories. God bless you and your family.

CDP said...

lauralew--thank you!

Matt said...

cdp, I'm new here but I was moved by your story. Everyone must deal with something like this is your own way. I use to teach female self-defense at my dojo and during the class we would always bring in a women who had been attacked to talk to the class.

We could teach them all kinds of ways to defend themselves and keep themselves out of trouble but the biggest impact was always by the women talking for 30 minutes.

Again, you have to deal with it in your own way but please don't ever dicount the effect that a story of survival has on other women.

Thanks for everything.


CDP said...

Thanks Matt!

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