Sunday, October 05, 2014

A WOMAN'S STORY: "I am telling this story not because it’s unique but precisely because it isn’t."

A Boystown woman was walking to work one morning last month, when a 20-year-old man allegedly came up behind her, fondled her, then forcibly kissed her directly across the street from our 19th district police station.

That day, the victim sat down and wrote a Facebook post about what happened. It has collected 84 "likes." Her reflections, shared here with her permission, leave us more impressed with every reading.
*Trigger warning*
Today I was sexually assaulted. A man walked up behind me, reached between my legs, grabbed my crotch, then kissed me on the lips. I stood frozen while he sauntered across the street to join his friends sitting on a porch.
“What the fuck?” I shouted after him, as two men who were walking in front of me and missed the whole thing looked back, probably wondering what this crazy chick was shouting about. He didn’t even turn around to look at me.
I walked to the police station. I was covered in a cold sweat, shaking, and struggling to keep my voice even.
“I’d like to report an assault.”
The officers took it all in stride. They knew him; apparently he’s made quite a little reputation for himself as an all-around low-life. They asked me if I wanted them to go arrest him.
I don’t know. I don’t know what’s going on. I feel gross. I feel so, so gross.
The officers encouraged me, telling me that he probably did this to women all the time, and that my help could keep more women from being victimized. As my brain thawed and began to function again, I realized yeah, the last thing I wanted to do was let him walk away thinking that this is okay and let him make other women feel like this.
I told them to go. As the officer approached the stoop, I saw him take off running. A cop sat down with me to help me fill out the paperwork. She said the cop who chased him down injured his elbow in the process of tackling him, so in addition to battery, there’s also going to be a charge for resisting arrest. She told me that the only thing the guy had to say about the incident was that his dog likes it when he touches her like that.
To give you some context for this specific event:
• It was 8:45 in the morning
• I was on my way to work
• I was in a “good” neighborhood
• It happened right next to a police station
• There were other people around
• I was wearing jeans, flats, and a tank top, holding a bag with my lunch
What I would like to make clear here is that all of these things are irrelevant. There was literally nothing that I could have done to prevent this, nothing that I did was the reason I was violated. I am telling this story not because it’s unique but precisely because it isn’t. Because I’m just one of 237,868 victims of rape and sexual assault each year. Because two minutes before me, it happened somewhere else to someone else. And in the two minutes it took for me to pull myself together and get to the police station, it happened again to someone else (1). And you will likely question whether she was drunk or why he was flaunting his sexuality or how short her skirt was. And I will remind you that things like this happen in the most ordinary of circumstances, like walking to work; that you can live your life in fear, striving to minimize every possible risk, but you could still be wearing all the “right” clothes at a “safe” time of day in a “good” kind of place and it could still happen to you; that men will still feel entitled to treat you however they wish; that they will still compare you to their dog.
I didn’t want to press charges. I don’t want to go to court. I just wanted to tell the police and have them do something about it that didn’t involve me. But if this is one thing that I can do to chip away at a system of female (and trans* and queer and gender non-conforming people) oppression by reminding one man that one woman will not tolerate his trespasses, I will gladly do my part.
If you’re tempted to give me any advice about what you think I can do to prevent things like this from happening in the future, I’d encourage you to instead focus your attention on something that can actually help prevent sexual violence by donating to some of the organizations that are working to dismantle the systems of rape culture, misogyny, and patriarchy that are at the root of these transgressions. RAINN, Men Can Stop Rape, Hollaback!, Everyday Feminism, Planned Parenthood, and Take Back the Night are just a few.
Now-21-year-old Malaki Mercado is charged with simple battery and resisting police in connection with this incident. He failed to show up for a court appearance last week and a warrant was issued for his arrest.

Thank you for allowing us to share your story, C.
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