See the original blog post, "PLP Defends Rapists" for the announcement and call to action regarding PLP's defense of admitted rapist Seth Miller.

***TRIGGER WARNING*** Everything in this blog is a frank discussion of sexual violence and rape.

Friday, May 24, 2013

The Betrayal of Rape (Part 1 - Institutional betrayal)

"Why didn't the cops take care of it?"
"Why isn't he in jail?"
"If the police didn't think there was a crime, it was probably a 'misunderstanding', not a rape."

Seth pulled up his pants and kissed me on the forehead. He whispered, "I'm sorry," and fled my house. What happened between that time and when I left my house, I do not remember, except feeling shock. I remember feeling total disbelief that I had just been raped by my friend. But I do not remember what happened. I know that the next morning, when I opened my laptop, I found my browser open with several tabs.  Google searches on "have i been raped", "rape crisis services los angeles", etc.
    My memories restart around 2am, driving through the dark down the 2 freeway towards Kaiser Permanente Sunset, the nearest emergency room covered by my insurance. The drive lasted 30 minutes, in the middle of night, in my pajamas. I didn't change my clothes in order to preserve evidence. I remember driving in the dark, retracing my steps almost to the karaoke bar in Los Feliz where the night began. I was numb, stunned.
    I parked in the lonely, echoing garage, second level. I walked through the dim orange light down the ramp, twisted down the stairway that smelled of urine, and across the driveway into the emergency room. At the check-in desk I said, "I was raped." The staffer stared at me, and motioned for someone to bring a wheelchair. They could tell I was in shock. Three women, a nurse or two and the staffer, conferred quietly a few steps away as I sat with my mouth agape. The nurse came to me and said, "We cannot help you here." I pleaded for a rape kit (for evidence collection) and a physical exam. She gave me the address of another hospital, outside of my insurance coverage, and told me to go there. I asked her, "Now? Alone? I have to drive myself?" She looked at me sadly, pityingly, and shrugged.  She gave me an address, a street and number that meant nothing to me. Seeing my paralysis, the nurse drew a crude map on a scrap of paper a bic pen. She directed me to a hospital in a deserted industrial area a couple of miles south of downtown L.A.
   Defeated and torn apart, I slowly stumbled back to my car through the parking garage. I followed the crude directions to an isolated, war-torn building that could have been mistaken for any of the decaying factories on the street. Street lights were sparse, and a few figures waddled through the shadows pushing shopping carts and babbling conspiracy theories to themselves. After finding quarters for the parking meter, I found the break in the cinderblock wall that allowed me into the bleak and painful fluorescent lighting in the entry. The foyer was old linoleum and yellowed walls, dingy, and chaotic. Nurses bustled about, pressing on oozing gunshot wounds and calming raving schizophrenics.
      After checking in, I shortly found myself on a gurney in a hallway, staring between my toes. I wondered if insurance would cover this visit. Vague figures in bright printed scrubs bustled around me. I recall a man in a hospital gown sitting patiently in a wheelchair nearby as a nurse leaving her shift described the damage an infected GSW had caused to his internal organs. I overheard the nurses chatting loudly about my rape, adding, "Oh, she's so pretty!"
    They would not allow a health exam nor evidence collection without being interviewed by police officers first. They said a woman police officer wouldn't be available for twelve hours, or I could wait four hours for a male police officer. I did not want to be interviewed, I only wanted the evidence to be collected, and to be examined and tested and prescribed Plan B and some antibiotics. Since they insisted on a police interview, I agreed to wait.
    Hours later, my gurney was pushed into a small bare room. Two white men with shaved heads in full police uniform stood at the foot of the bed. They attempted compassion, but smirked underneath. They asked, "What were you doing?", "How much did you have to drink?", and repeatedly demanded Seth Miller's name. I couldn't give his name, I did not want to commit to a legal process in this exhausted and vulnerable state. Seth Miller was a high school teacher, he had been a close friend for so many years. We trained to be teachers together, we had fought Minutemen together. I wasn't sure if I wanted to put my friend's name on a sex offender list, or endure the scrutiny of a criminal investigation, or turn over the process for my own justice to hostile bullying white men. (I was educated enough to know that a rape investigation is more about the victim than the rapist, and these police made it clear my rape would be no exception.) I gave the police some details for the report, cognizant that I wanted an established record of some important facts in case I decided to pursue criminal prosecution.
    The police left, still smirking about the stupid blond girl that got her drunk self into trouble. I asked for the rape kit to be taken, and for an exam. The nurse said the forensic collection couldn't be done for another six hours, until the person trained was on shift, or something like that. Then they told me they could not do a health exam because it was not covered by my Kaiser insurance. My all-night stay in this crumbling pit had been for nothing.
     I drifted away from the hospital as the sun rose, blowing down the sidewalk with the other soiled and crumpled scraps.  I showered at my house, sobbing and convulsing with realization, sobbing as I scrubbed away the usable evidence. I stuffed my evidentiary pajamas into a garbage bag. I wished for my partner to be there. I wished for a comforting hug. After collapsing on the floor, my semi-feral cats circled and meowed and rubbed and licked my face, something they'd never done before.
    After fitfully napping on the floor for a few hours (I couldn't return to my bed), I drove myself back to Kaiser Sunset. I told them I'd been interviewed by the police and that a rape kit had been taken. I lied to get a physical exam.
    The doctor spread my knees and said, "Yes, there's a lot of bruising." She took swab tests and blood tests for STDs. She sent me to pick up Plan B. The nurse handing me the pills told me, "You'd better not do this again." I snarled at her, "I don't plan to, I was raped." She looked shocked and pulled me by the elbow into a supply closet. She said, "If your boyfriend is Latino, you can't tell him. He'll get mad at you.  Will you tell your boyfriend???  Mine would be so mad." I mumbled something. I wanted to shout and scream at her not to shame another woman ever again, but I was numb.
    My partner was arriving at LAX from Rome that afternoon. I met him at the international baggage claim and led him to the car. He knew something was wrong but we didn't speak of it. I told him I didn't feel well and could he drive? As he drove home we chatted politely. I couldn't tell him the news for fear he'd crash the car.
    When we got home, I told him that Seth had attacked me while I slept. The look of horror on his face, it confirmed to me that what had happened was as bad as I suspected. I kept denying to myself the reality, telling myself that maybe I misunderstood. That one of my closest friends had raped me. Seeing the reality reflected in his face, it hit me that it must be true.

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