It was the mid 70’s, a Friday night and my husband Michael and I had just had a big fight. My girlfriend, Sandy (I was in a poly V) who lived with us was away for the weekend and I needed to blow off steam. So I hitchhiked downtown. At that time my two favorite hangouts were the Pike St. Market and a wonderful gay disco called Shelly’s Leg that was under the viaduct. It was too early for Shelly’s so I headed to the Market.
At that time The Place Pigalle was not the uber fancy expensive restaurant it is now, it was one of the biggest dive bars in the city. And that’s where I met him. Soulful De Lassaire (I have no idea how he spells it). He was a sexy Black guy with a very confident attitude and I was immediately taken by him. We started drinking and flirting and somewhere in the midst of all this he held out his hand. There on the palm was a small sheet of paper. Acid! My favorite drug at the time. We dropped and continued to party.
Later that evening we went to Shelly’s to dance. Sometime around 11:30 I realized that I really needed to go home. I was starting to come down and was tired and so I told Soulful I was going to take off. He offered to give me a ride (or really he offered his friend who had a car). It was much easier than taking the bus, so I readily agreed. Sitting in the back I wasn’t paying much attention to where we were going. I’d given him directions to my home in West Seattle (remember I was pretty high and had been drinking all night). Suddenly we were up on Beacon Hill in front of a house. He motioned for me to get out of the car. This was the first time I felt uncomfortable. I said that wasn’t where I lived and he told me that was as far as we were going. I got out of the car and his friend took off leaving me there with Soulful. I turned and said “thanks for getting me closer to home” and I turned to walk away.
He said “wait, come in for a bit” I said “no” and turned again. He said “you aren’t going anywhere” and he grabbed me. I started to struggle and he picked me up, headed for the door, kicked it open and walked into the closest room which was a bedroom and threw me on the bed. I was terrified and at that time speechless. All I could see were the headlines the next day. “Woman found dead on Beacon Hill”.
Much of what happened after that is a blur. Somehow he got my clothes off of me and he began to rape me. I begged, pleaded, said disgusting things, all in order to make him quit. I never really physically fought back. I was so scared. I remember through all of it he kept saying over and over again “you are a spiteful bitch”. I realized later that he wasn’t raping ME, but someone who had done something to cause him so much anger. Finally, he came, rolled off of me and went into the other room.
I laid there for a short while and finally got up when it didn’t seem he was coming back. I dressed, walked into the adjoining bathroom to wash my face and then went into the living room. I remember seeing the clock when he carried me inside and it was around midnight. The clock now said 3AM. He was sitting on the couch smoking a joint. He looked up, smiled, offered the joint and said, “Want a toke?” I just shook my head and headed toward the door. The last thing he said was “see you around sometime”.
I began walking down Beacon not sure what to do. A cop car drove by, but I didn’t stop them. I just kept walking. Finally, a white van pulled up. “Need a ride?” I started crying and told the driver I’d been raped. He said he’d give me a ride home and I got inside. We were about 2 blocks from my house, when he pulled over and asked me if I’d like to make some money. I just looked at him in amazement and told him he was a sick fuck and got out and ran home.
When I got there I didn’t want to wake Michael. I convinced myself that if I took a shower I’d feel better. The moment the water hit my skin I curled up on the floor of the shower and began screaming. I’d totally lost it (something I’ve never done before or since except when my Father and Brother were killed in an auto accident). That’s how Michael found me. When he reached for me I wouldn’t let him touch me. Finally I calmed down enough to get out and tell him what had happened. He wanted so desperately to comfort me and the thought of any man touching me at that time was so repulsive. I ended up sleeping in Sandy’s room, cuddling her big stuffed lion she kept on her bed.
The Next Day
Michael urged me to report what had happened but I didn’t have it in me to do so. At that time, anyone seen out partying with the man that raped them would have been told they asked for it. We did go to the local health clinic for me to get checked out and luckily it was a very understanding nurse who did the exam. She found an open wound the size of a quarter that he had worn inside my vagina from the friction of being dry raped for almost 3 hours. Thankfully I did not contract any STI’s.
I had to plead with my husband and his best friend, Robbie to not go kill Soulful. Not because I didn’t want him dead, but because I didn’t want my husband or Robbie to go to prison.
It took a while for me to handle what happened. I didn’t sleep with Michael for several weeks, sleeping with Sandy instead. I didn’t have sex with either of them for at least month if not longer.
One terrible conversation I had was with Sandy about what happened. She was a bit younger than me and maybe that’s why she said what she did, but it hurt terribly. She asked me why I didn’t fight him off and said that she would have died before allowing anyone to rape her. I didn’t have an answer. I still don’t really.
The thing that was most troubling for me after all of this was that I did not think that he being Black made a difference to me –that his color was insignificant. Yet, several months later I ran into a close African American friend and when he went to hug me I started crying. I was so fucking pissed off at myself. To my dear friend’s credit he took my reaction very well and even spent the next year taking me on platonic dates (dinner, dancing, etc) until I didn’t shudder when he hugged me.
Years later I was telling a group of people about the rape and mentioned Soulful’s name. One of the women in the group (a friend of a friend) said “I know Soulful. He’s a family man with two kids. There’s no way he could have raped you.” I remember just looking at her very puzzled wondering why a woman couldn’t believe me when I told her what happened. I just shook my head and told her “well, he did” and dropped the conversation.
I did have one moment of empowerment after this incident. About 6 months after the rape I was hanging out on Alki Beach drinking a beer (in a paper bag) when I looked up and saw Soulful talking to some woman walking her dogs. I got up, walked over to them and said. “Do you know this man?” she shook her head, no. Then I said “This man is a rapist. He raped me and he’ll rape you if he gets a chance. You need to leave.” She walked away quickly and I turned to him. He was furious. It was obvious that he didn’t even recognize me. Before he could say anything, I held the bottle up and I said. “If you don’t get off this beach now and never return I will kill you” and the mother fucker ran. I felt pretty good after that.
Why am I writing about this?
I had to write something, since this is the topic du jour at the moment. Rape, rape culture, sexual assault, consent, etc. etc. (This was not the first time I was raped but it was the most violent. The first time, is for another story about 18 year old Allena being held captive by a pimp. Someday I’ll share that one.)
I told a few friends at Shelly’s Leg (the disco) what had happened and I found out that Souful had raped 8 other women in similar ways. One had even reported it and when he was tried he was found not guilty since she’d been seen out dancing with him that night. Date rape was seldom successfully prosecuted back then.
When I was young, women always “asked for it”. They were always responsible. I remember once a woman wearing a turtle neck and jeans was told by the judge that she asked for it by the way she was dressed. I even know of one case where the character witnesses (preacher, wife and neighbor) for a rapist who raped two 15 year old girls got him off and it wasn’t until the next rape that he finally was convicted and sent to prison.
I am glad it’s changing. That there is more awareness that date rape happens. That perpetrators use many devious ways to get away with committing these heinous crimes, and perpetrators are being prosecuted and convicted more now than ever.
And I’m also afraid that the pendulum is swinging too far in the other direction. I’ve read some very disturbing accounts lately of young men falsely accused and now unable to go to college because the school became the prosecutor, judge and jury. One woman who wrote about a terribly bad experience with sex as a teen and titled it, My Bad Sex Was Not Rape, was called a “rape apologist” by someone in the comment section of her blog and that was one of the nicer comments. We’re coming back to the “all sex is rape” world of Andrea Dworkin and I don’t want to see that happen.
I NEVER want to blame anyone for being raped or being sexually assaulted. No one who is sexually assaulted is at fault or to blame for what happened to them. (please note that I am not designating gender as all genders can be perpetrators or victims) . Violent stranger rape, date rape, intimate partner rape and drunken frat house rape are all very different. The perpetrators commit these crimes for different reasons and that needs to be addressed. The man who raped me (which was really more of a violent stranger rape than a real date rape) was using sex as a weapon to hurt me. As he called me a “spiteful bitch” he could have also been beating me with his fists. This was about violence and anger and not about getting off. Date rape and frat house rape is about privilege and less about violence. While having power over someone is part of it, it’s ultimately about getting off, at the expense of someone else. . And intimate partner rape many times is a mixture of both, with anger causing a partner to use sex as a way of hurting someone they love.
I think that we need to differentiate about these kinds of rape because I believe that we, as a society can educate our youth and create a possibility that certain types of rape and sexual assault will happen less and less. We as a society need to realize and bear our responsibility in how we educate our youth. Teaching the importance of consent as early as we can will go a long way in reducing the frat house sexual assault that is in the news lately. Creating a culture that celebrates sexuality and removes the shame will make it easier for those who are assaulted to come forward and press charges and talk about it. Teaching people that they are not automatically victims, just because they woke up the next morning and realized that they didn’t enjoy the sex they had or that the person they had sex with wasn’t someone they really liked (or liked them) (I call that Morning After rape). Teaching people to be responsible and conscious. While it was not my fault I was raped, I am responsible for my actions that got me there. I am not to blame for what Soulful did to me and I am responsible for going unconscious and taking drugs from a stranger and not being in control of my actions. I abdicated responsibility. I didn’t ask for it nor deserve to be raped. That still doesn’t absolve me from being a conscious responsible human being.
I have so much more to say and I can’t write anymore tonight. This has been hard enough.
This is all kind of stream of consciousness writing and I was going to let someone edit it for me but I think I’m just going to hit publish.