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I'm afraid to go to the bank.

Years ago, I think it must have been late 2004, I posted an entry in feminist_rage. It was the story of how I was raped, by an acquaintance, and how nothing would ever come of it, because the physical evidence was gone long before the memory-clouding drugs were. This same person did this to several women I knew, and none of them were willing to go forward with it. So it went unrecognized, and everyone went on with their lives. This was in October of 2003. I ended up moving 1500 miles away, in part to go back to a city I loved and called home, and in part to ensure that I wouldn't ever run into him on the sidewalk. I just couldn't face it.

In August of 2008 that is exactly what happened. I was at work, on Bourbon Street. I had walked up to the front door of the strip club where I worked, and who was walking past but this guy. He recognized me, even though I turned and ran back inside, and he went to one of the door men (coincidentally one who was a friend of mine) and told him to deliver a message to me...that I was expected at his bar for a drink after work.

This was nothing but a taunt. He knew I remembered and he wanted to get a reaction out of me. A reaction delivered by my unknowing friend. A drink at his bar after work was how the whole thing started. I, of course, would not take the bait, and instead got an escort home several strong by good friends.

I lived in fear of seeing him. New Orleans is a very very small town. But as soon as he was there, he was gone. I didn't run into him again, even in the microcosmic French Quarter. Until last winter. I went to the bank to deposit my paycheck, and he was there in line. Two or three people ahead of me. Winter, early 2010. It's been more than seven years since I was raped, and I still stood in line and shook. I desperately hoped he wouldn't notice me. But who doesn't notice a girl with a hundred tattoos and crayon red hair standing in line at the bank? He finished his business, declaring loudly that he worked at the Alibi (a strip club industry watering hole and total dive a few blocks away), mostly for my benefit I'm sure. Then he went and stood in front of the door, silently staring at me until my shaking was so bad I could barely communicate with the teller. He walked out just before I finished my banking. I told my boyfriend about it, and his answer was "you won't go to the bank alone anymore." I appreciate his genuine desire to abate risk, but that didn't help, when two months later, I drove past the Alibi and him, standing outside on the sidewalk, smoking a cigarette, and obviously on duty. He didn't notice me that time. I thanked whatever deities happened to be listening.

Months have gone by. I don't know if he's still in town. But I live in a different part of town now, and I drive several miles out of my way to go to the bank.
When do I get my life back?


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 26th, 2010 06:37 pm (UTC)
I don't know how to advise you on this, but I just wanted to give you some supportive (((((hugs))))).

I, too, was raped once upon a time, and lived in fear of seeing my attacker again. I didn't, and was able to get on with my life.

I'm glad you have a supportive boyfriend who will escort you to and from the bank. That's very important.

Take good care of yourself. I hope to see you at a future Stitch 'n Bitch.
Jul. 26th, 2010 07:09 pm (UTC)
It's hard to leave something behind when every time you turn around it's staring you in the face. I don't know what to do except keep going...
Jul. 27th, 2010 12:29 am (UTC)
I'm so sorry this is happening to you. I can't believe he moved down there. That fucking shithead.

When I was raped (and I hate knowing that so many women I know have these stories) I was still in school, and saw the perpetrator in homeroom every day. Luckily, after he graduated and I dropped out, I never saw him again. But then I also spent a lot of time avoiding places I thought he might go.

Again, I am really sorry. This sucks.
Jul. 27th, 2010 01:52 am (UTC)
And I might almost be able to cope with it, if he didn't exploit every opportunity to hurt me with it. If there was any remorse at all there, he would attempt not to make contact. But the staredowns are the worst. He knows it hurts me, and he does it every chance he gets. Twist the knife.
Jul. 27th, 2010 04:24 am (UTC)
I was raped in May 2007. The perpetrator was a good friend of mine who shared a lot of friends that I shared. I couldn't avoid him. I notified our mutual friends and asked them all to pick and choose: if he's going to be there, I won't come, no worries. If you invite me first, don't invite him, etc. I menuevered a very selective path, carefully planning each step, doing my best to avoid him. His skinny body, his labret piercing, his shitty tattoos.

Eventually, I was blessed that he went away. I'm not sure what happened to him, but he went away. It's hard, though, that sometimes no matter how far away we get, our past is still with us, like a shadow under each step.

At some point, we have to recognize that the awful things that have happened to us, the terrible things that we carry with us, that sometimes consume us or eat at our hearts, the things that hurt us the most--are the very same things that, even though they sometimes feel like they are holding us back, are ultimately making us more resiliant. You are a better, stronger, braver person because of this. You are also not alone in this.

I obviously can't tell you the precise way to navigate your life with this jerk in it. I can't tell you whether to hold back and carefully select each of your steps to avoid him or if you should live life to your fullest and show him that you're better off now, even if it makes your body tremble. Know, though, that you are an incredibly strong and beautiful person who will, like all other things, get through this, too.

I'm sorry that you are going through this. If there is anyway I can help, please let me know. If I ever make it down to NOLA, I'll let you know in advance so I can beat him up or spit on his shoes or something.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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