This has been one of the hardest weeks of my life.
Like most Americans, I watched the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Supreme Court justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh and found him smug and entitled. And, I believed Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. Most people I know feel the same way.
But most people I know don’t know that the same summer Ford says Kavanaugh attacked her, I was raped. I did not report it, and very rarely talk about it. Although Ford has not accused Kavanaugh of raping her, watching her testify, especially when she said he clamped his hand over her mouth, made me shake.
I was 23 and I, too, knew the guy. In fact, I had dated him, but – not that it matters – had not slept with him. And like so many women, I didn’t report my rape. I thought police wouldn’t believe me.
On this hideous night, the details of which are seared into my mind with an unnatural clarity, I had gone over to the apartment where he was staying and we had dinner.
This was the summer of 1982. At a birthday party in a Bowery loft on the weekend closest to July 4, I met this guy.
The man was handsome. Maybe your rapist is supposed to be some ogre, but the truth is he was tall, dark haired and rangy. He also had a hell of a left hook. I should know. My face absorbed a bunch of his punches.
His first name is all I remember and it’s a common name. We went out a couple of times but the vibe was off. On the night he beat and raped me, I was going to go over, eat the dinner he planned to cook for me and then give him the “I want to be friends” line.
We ate fish and he got drunk, and we went for a walk. In Alphabet City in 1982. Any New Yorker will tell you I was an idiot. I should have known better.
That has been my mantra for 36 years: I should have known better.
I had left my bag — with my car keys in it — at his place, a walk-up on the fifth floor. When we returned to his tiny apartment — where I later learned he was squatting — I went the bedroom to get my bag and leave.
His mood went from drunk to sober in a flash. He asked me why I didn’t want to hang out with him anymore. I told him that he was an a—–e. That did it.
He pushed me down on the narrow bed. I pushed back. He was over 6 feet tall. I am scraping 5-feet-4-inches on good posture days. I was now on the bed and he jumped on top of me. I tried to push him off. He reached beneath my dress and yanked down my underwear. I pushed harder and screamed.
When I screamed he covered my mouth with his hand. I bit his hand. His eyes flickered. He was unzipping his pants. I flailed about and bit harder. He punched me in the face. I punched back, landing a nothing punch on his shoulder. He laughed at me and pinned my hands. This went on for a while. In the end, I had a busted lip, black eyes and was raped.
When he was done, he got up, zipped his pants, and I swear, he said, “I’m going down to buy bread.”
I got up, grabbed my bag and ran back to my car. On the drive home, I remember saying out loud: Get a grip. Somehow I made it up the FDR.
By the way, I had already been a police reporter. I knew about rape kits. But I did not about date rape. I did not know if any cop would listen. Yeah, I dated him. I went back to his apartment. But I said no. I screamed it, in fact.
In the end, I didn’t report anything — I just went back to work. I filed my stories. I told people I had been mugged.
Over the years I very occasionally spoke about it, but mostly I chose to not. Why? Because is too difficult to talk about. It makes me nauseated and dizzy. It is easier to just move on with life.
This week, in the middle of many deadlines, I stopped to listen to Ford. Since watching her, I have been enraged. I cannot imagine facing these people, allegedly elected to represent me, and have them question what was one of the most defining moments of my life.
Incidentally, I do not define myself as a victim. I identify as a Jew, a New Yorker, a journalist, a wife, a mother, a sister, a friend and a disappointed American — one who stands with Ford and begs this country to take sexual assault, rape and any abuse of women seriously.