I tried to describe it to someone one time. It’s like surviving your own murder, kind of. Ever wonder who would show up at your funeral? Or, more to the point: Who would actually be mournful? Rape taught me: fewer than I’d thought.
It is November 11, 2010. Eleven-eleven! It is a Thursday, it is Veteran’s Day, it is the birthday of of my closest friends, it is the day after a record release party at a bar that is hidden underneath another bar, it is a day I am most definitely skipping class.
By two o’clock in the afternoon I will be in the hospital, nurses & social workers reciting health risks & injecting me with things & swabbing & scraping the “evidence” off my body. Later, I will be billed for this: over a thousand for the kit, a few hundred for the ambulance, hundred or so for the doctor who finally appeared after I sat, waiting, glassy-eyed with ringing ears, for some hours. But for all the hours that pass, the handprints are still around my neck, a broken circle of red & grey.
My fella will find me there, & I will listen to for the first time from a boy the three-word phrase most girls imagine hearing on a romantic evening out, arms entwined, leaned in to each other against the backdrop of a city skyline or a beach. But they are in a private waiting room at a hospital with harsh fluorescent lighting, hard plastic folding chairs & an audience of social workers & a cop, when in between gasps of dry sobbing (no tears yet, much going on for tears, tears will come later) come the words: I am liking you.
It is true, what the song says -- it’s a chilled & it’s a broken hallelujah. In a few years' time, they will part ways. It is a slower method for him than for me, but they, , will be drained of everything they was before the afternoon of November 11, will become someone else entirely, & the life they built together will dry up & crumble under the pressure of what I am told is called “survival.”
My roommate arrives & they tells me a phrase plenty of friends parrot over the coursework of the next few weeks: You don’t must speak about anything. At first, this is fine, I don’t necessarily require to speak about “anything,” since I must speak about “anything” advertisement nauseam with detectives & the district attorney. But it is only a short time before I learn that “you don’t must speak about it” means “I don’t require to listen to about it.” of my oldest friends is so committed to not hearing about it that years pass before they speak again at all. Every time, “you don’t must speak about it,” than “I require to listen to about it.” How plenty of doors they can close with the nuances of language. Personal tragedies generate their own bystander effect.
 I leave the hospital with pamphlets and numbers and paperwork that I abandon in the back of a squad automobile. I have nothing else, no wallet or even keys, having been escorted out of my apartment so quickly by the police when they finally came -- or, , when I finally opened the door, afraid to open it at first, afraid they might still be there, might be hiding, might have the gun out, and then when I did finally open the door, I ran for it, throwing it open and dropping to my knees in front of an exasperated female officer, clinging to her feet, wanting only to be wrapped in the maternal safety they represented while someone other than me said help me, help me, God, help me, , , underneath shouts of what did they look like? and which way did they go? and what do you mean this isn’t what you were wearing? before they realized it wasn’t a robbery. Call SVU, they need SVU on the scene, receive a bus.
Outside of the hospital, it is dark outside, nighttime -- the actual hour, I have no idea, one’s idea of time evaporates in the back of a police automobile -- when the detectives take us from the hospital and steer us through Harlem. While driving up Amsterdam back to my apartment they behold a ludicrous sight passing us in the opposite lane: a huge flatbed van, headed downtown towing the Rockefeller Middle Christmas tree. Someone might have commented on it (as it was grotesquely hilarious given the circumstances), but I was one time fighting nausea from antibiotics and antiretrovirals and, in such disbelief that I was one time even alive, confused by the fact that Christmas would still be happening, that the remainder of the world was preparing for the holiday season when it would be years before I gave much thought to any date other than November 11. I say nothing, but I watch it pass, try to turn around and follow it through the rear window, but am stopped by so plenty of aches: my left arm, from the injections; my neck and jaw, from someone else’s hands.
The police have had to block off the street so camera crews do not get shots of me, although I am acutely aware of what is implied about me from the fact that my story has made the news: I am white, young, presenting as upper-middle-class, and I was one time raped by a black man in a less-than-upscale neighborhood. White privilege, I suppose, is what you might call it, this attention from the press in a social landscape in which most sexual assaults often go unnoticed, unreported and unprosecuted. Even I am angered by the cliché of it. As I was one time escorted out of the building, I saw my downstairs neighbors -- they’re Dominican, a full household of parents and grandparents and tiny children — all gathered at the bottom of the stairwell to see what the fuss of sirens and cops was about. I passed the brother and had of those small communications that can only come through millisecond-too-long eye contact. Her expression was not hateful, but not sympathetic, perhaps not even directed at me personally. I suspect it was more of an observation that I was one time the living definition of gentrification and now a worst-case scenario that rich white people could watch on the news with satisfied, validated horror.
 As they slow to a cease on 147th, now uselessly decorated in yellow tape from Broadway to Amsterdam, the inquiry reveals more pieces of my life that have been strewn about for public display -- literally. The detectives think they have found the dress I had been wearing earlier that day dumped in the trash on a corner. I am asked to identify it. Navy blue, brass buttons, pockets. It is indeed the dress, the I had immediately fallen in love with at first glance and bought only the day before. Keep in mind when I said the tears would come -- later? Later is now.
I am called on to watch a surveillance video at a bodega and then give the detectives a walk-through of my apartment, to further illustrate the story I’d told at least a dozen times that day in painstaking graphic detail. I am accompanied by what seems to me like an absurd amount of police officers. of them asks about the pills they gave me at the hospital, tells me I ought to eat something to settle my stomach before they kick in. I am struck by kindness of it, given that neither the nurse nor the HIV counselor recommended the same.
People appear to think Olivia Benson is actual, that there is a benevolent maternal figure to escort you through criminal proceedings with a hand that is both comforting and knowledgeable. But he is not actual, although “Law & Order: SVU” would make an episode loosely based on my case year later. My brother was horrified that I wasn’t “provided with” a female detective, as if these are decisions that can be made as though is selecting between different dress colors. But there is comfort to be present in unusual, peripheral places: the officer who suggested food, the security guard at the courthouse who would embrace me after the lead detective on my case whispered something in her ear, the bailiff at my trial years later who made positive I was one time comfortable while I sat alone in the witness-holding room, the presiding judge who would also hug and congratulate me as though I’d walked the stage at my graduation. The assistant district attorney handling my case was amazing and amazing and more of a practical help to me than any of the social workers and counselors I was one time sent to see, of whom dumbly informed me through a fluorescent smirk that I ought to think about getting a dog. My relatives and friends, for the most part, kept a distance, the formal length of an arm, broaching the topic with polite rarity. I get it. You can’t hug somebody closely and watch them simultaneously.
 Back in the automobile, a phone is handed to me and I am told my parents have been trying to reach me. My brother is on the other finish. I don’t keep in mind what they says but everyone in the automobile looks at me when the only words I can come up with are “I’m fine” before I hang up the phone. My parents don’t know yet. They get on a plane. They find out by turning on the news in their hotel room. I will listen to the sound of their devastation and only then will I think about that this event has hurt someone over it hurt me. Possibly they had the right idea, the “you don’t must discuss it” friends. Possibly this is what I was supposed to spare them. For the tiny “talk about it” set I was adding kindling.
When the inquiring in to team was done, I packed a bag. What would you take if your home was on fire? My first instinct was my teddy bear, a grey, threadbare, pathetic-looking thing. The bear I got the day I was born 21 years earlier, the bear that evacuated with me in the work of Katrina, the bear I clung to when my grandmother died, the bear that was mere feet away from me while a stranger pinned me to my bed and I covered my face with my hands and went somewhere else in my head. Even as an adult, I  didn’t think that bear was discolored and worn solely from the passage of time. I could seldom shake the feeling that they had an awareness of the events to which they had borne witness, the Velveteen Rabbit-ness of her, like they would become a actual bear if I left her outside.
She came along wherever I went, including the line I had crossed in the human experience that I hadn’t known existed. You see it on the news on a regular basis, the terrible things people do to each other -- murder, shootings, terrorism -- which prompt the obvious questions of who, how, why. But when the day comes that you see it up close, in person, real-time, it all clicks, somehow makes odd sense. Like seeing an exotic animal for the first time. Oh yes, I recognize it from the pics, looks different up close, but that’s it all right. This is the thing that will make all of the colors go wrong and force you to take antipsychotics to sleep at night. It goes like this: First, the preliminary panic and dread; next, the profound despair when you are positive of your death and wondering how they will tell your father; and then, finally, the unshakeable sense of haven’t I seen this somewhere before?
This is the most insidious sensation and the most haunting, as it will call every relationship you have in to query. You will try to persuade yourself it’s not true, that only a tiny sinful subset of the human population would ever do something so vicious. But your mail carrier, your boss, your grandmother -- no will look the same. Even your own reflection will force you to think about what glitch could turn your brain in to harsh grey lines of static. This is what the people around me didn’t need to know, didn’t need to listen to, didn’t need to see.You don’t must discuss it. don’t tell me about it. To have lived through interpersonal violence is to have seen a glimpse of what the finish of the world will look like and then asked to report it, and in so doing, you must try to shield those you love from the reality of it by saying it’s not so bad, we’re all going to be OK, ushering them away from the edge, all the while looking over your shoulder to make positive you aren’t being followed.
 And then, when it’s over, the funeral. Like at all funerals, there's the handful of true broken hearts -- the relatives, the best mate, the fella. Then there's those who come to pay their respects, politely, offering flowers, possibly a dinner, before going back to their every day routines while pushing to the back of their minds the idea that possibly something has been permanently altered. But then there's those who select to not show at all, dizzy from the mere thought of looking over the edge, who would seldom speak of it at all & hold onto the idea of you they had before November 11. Are you able to blame them? Who would require to know the truth when it’s so simple to ignore? Possibly they are the ones who know better, who can hold on to the hope that they will seldom must see up close, in high definition, what so plenty of people have been made to see. I am saddened by their absence, but I hope they don’t either.
What did the girls say at sleepovers in simple school when the clock struck that luckiest of hours? Yes: It’s 11:11. Make a wish.
This article was written by Laura Marshall from Salon & was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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