Consider this a warning…if you are triggered by discussion about rape, promiscuity, victimization, or homelessness, you should proceed with due caution.
If you or someone you know has been a victim of rape, the number to the National Rape Crisis Hotline is : 1-800-656-4673.
This is one of the many insane things that happened to me when I was 19 years old, drinking heavily, and completely unaware that I was living with mental illness. It is true from my perspective, and the names of the participants have been changed.
There are many things I could have done to prevent what happened to me. I could have made a dozen other choices rather than going to visit my friend, drunk, that night. IN NO WAY am I saying that I deserved it. No one deserves to be victimized in this way. As you will read, I made many many mistakes that night that put me in the perfect position to become a victim.
Please be kind and keep an open mind as you read this, because it’s humiliating to admit, much less write down. Even now, thirty years later, I can hardly believe this is part of my story. Know that I am not the only one who has been through this. There are literally millions of people living in the United States with some form of mental illness. Granted, not all of us end up living on the streets, in our cars, on skid row. Some of us walk silently amongst the general population, work at regular jobs, undetected.
When I was 19, I met a long-haired guitarist at a club. We had sex in my car and spent the night hanging out, and I became obsessed with him. He was a very kind guy, truly. He never knew what hit him. He was very honest with me that he wasn’t interested in me or a relationship at the time, but for some reason I glommed onto him with an iron grip. I chose to leave my parents’ house and my job to be around him. When he was kicked out of where he was living and working, we lived in my two-seater hatchback car.
At some point, we joined up with Jamie and his friend, Basil, who were living in Jamies parents’ garage. His parents didn’t want any of us there, including Jamie. Most days were spent hanging out there because we didn’t have the gas to drive around. On this particular night, the guitarist, Todd, and the other guys had taken off in Jamies van to go to a wet t-shirt contest, leaving me alone pissed and jealous in the garage. But at least I had my car.
For some reason, I had some money. I might have picked up my last check from work, I can’t remember for cure. Anyway, I decided I was going to go see my friend, Danny, at the rehearsal studio where he worked. I wanted to drive up to Hollywood and party. I got all dressed up in a pink lace bustier, black mini skirt, black garter stockings (visible below the skirt, of course), high heels, and a black blazer, my typical Hollywood outfit.
Danny was in the middle of working with a band that was rehearsing there that night, and he couldn’t leave. He said that if I waited around, he might go with me after they were done. So I went out front and sat in my car, getting rapidly drunk on peach schnapps. Ugh.
There was an auto re-upholstery shop or some such shop nextdoor to the studio, and there were probably 10 or 12 guys working there that night. At some point, an older guy approached me in my car and invited me over for beers. And I went. I thought nothing of it. I had no fear, no premonition, no sense of danger whatsoever. No common sense came into play. I was already pretty drunk on the schnapps, so common sense had flown right out the window.
Initially, this older guy, David, handed me a beer, and we sat on the stairs between the office upstairs and the open bay where the crew was working. There was a lot of noise, a lot of talking in another language, music, laughter, and David suggested that we go talk in the office.
Once we got upstairs, he shut the door and offered me a seat. We began to talk, and he asked me what I would charge for sex. I pondered this for a moment. I had never charged for sex, ever. But, I was very promiscuous and possessed not even a shred of self-respect. Plus, I was hungry, homeless, and could use the money for gas or maybe get a hotel for a week. So I asked him for what specifically. He said he wasn’t sure, maybe four guys. I pondered it for another few moments while I nursed the Corona he had given me. Finally, I told him no, that I wasn’t a prostitute, even though I really needed the money.
David said that was fine, and we went on talking. He told me about his boss, Tomas, who was really cool, and suggested that I meet him. Then he pulled out a shotgun that had been concealed beside the chair upon which he was sitting. I can’t remember what he said about it or why he decided to show it to me, I just remember thinking how weird it was that he had a gun, especially at a place of business.
Eventually, David excused himself to go downstairs for more beers. A minute or two later this guy entered the office. He told me his name was Tomas, and handed me a beer. He sat down in Davids chair, and began to talk to me. Quickly it became obvious to me that he was there for sex, and when it started, I didn’t fight him. A small and irrational part of my brain told me to submit, that I was going to get money from him.
When he got me down on the floor, everything changed. A group of six or seven guys flooded the room. Tomas held me down by the throat, and another man pinned my shoulders while a few of them took turns raping and sodomizing me. I screamed as loudly as I could, hoping that Danny would hear me nextdoor.
For a few minutes I quieted down, thinking that maybe if I stopped fighting they would stop and let me go. When that didn’t work, I resumed screaming until they finally let me up. I ran like hell down the stairs and out of there. I screamed while I was getting in my car, while I was driving through the city toward the garage where I stayed, while I was getting out of my car and going inside. I screamed and cried while I tried to explain what had happened to me to my “roommates”. They were so angry with me, telling me to be quiet, saying that I was going to get everyone kicked out. And once I quieted down, a couple of them told me I had deserved it. What did I think was going to happen, dressed up like that and drunk?
I didn’t report the attack. There was no way to prove what had happened. In fact, there was a whole crew of men who would say it never occurred. Plus, I was ashamed, humiliated, and I felt responsible for putting myself in such a position.
I look back on this now, and I see that night, in fact my entire homeless experience, and sometimes I wonder how I survived. My life is dotted with periods of utter insanity like this. I know now that normal people do not choose to be homeless. They don’t choose a life like this. Sometimes I wonder what my life might have been like if my mental illness had been recognized and treated when I was young. What if I had known back then that meeting a new guy could trigger a manic episode? What would have been different if I had known that my drinking (and eventual drug addiction) was something I was doing to feel “normal”, to self-medicate? What would have been different if we’d been paying attention? Early detection might have saved some of the suffering I put myself, my family, and friends through.
These days, I make better choices. I don’t drink or use hard drugs which helps a lot. I don’t enter situations that seem dangerous, and I am not careless with my life. Today, I am aware of some of my triggers because I’ve been able to monitor the changes in my moods. I am a person in recovery from mental illness. I don’t have to live like that, aimless and out of control, any longer.