Monday, August 07, 2006

Good News

They caught the guy.

(This blog is super long. But writing it all down feels good.)

At work on Friday, my editor told me to 1. call 311, and 2. go home. Both good ideas. I went to the police station on the Upper East Side, and spent two hours looking at pictures of scary men with the detectives. Turns out there are 1,483 men in this city who resemble the guy. I looked at every one of them. On the bright side, the detectives were really cool. It was exactly how I pictured it on tv- thick New York accents, bad coffee with no milk, the one young blonde female detective who is apparently always at that time of month, and cigarettes and ashtrays everywhere. The best part was the sign that said Sexual Harrassment is Illegal*. Barry Bonds gets an asteriks in the hall of fame, and illegal gets one in the police station. At least when it refers to sexual harrassment. (Incidentally- and this is a whooooole other story- sexual harrassment is also illegal* in the media world, as I learned last week.)

Anyways, I looked at pictures for a long time, then sat in Barnes & Noble because it felt safe, and then went to a few AA meetings. My level of fear and general uneasiness continued to grow the whole day... it's funny, because I don't logically think I'm scared of the city, and I do know the likelihood of anything else happening is very low, but I still can't stop looking over my shoulder. A friend told me I should come stay at her apartment for a couple days, and I thought that sounded like a really good idea. I never though I'd ever be escaping the Upper East Side for the safety of Harlem. But, it did feel better there. Her two big male roommates made it really safe. Being gay helped even more than their muscles.

On Saturday, I went to more meetings and stayed around other people, and then in the evening the police called me to come back to the department and look at more pictures. They only showed me six this time, and I picked him right out. It turns out he'd done the same thing to another girl after me. When she called the police did show up, and they caught the guy. But, since they hadn't come for me, it took them a little while to realize the two incidents were related. The police were a little vague about what happened to the other girl... they kept saying it was "similar." I'm not sure if the vagueness is because of confidentiality, or because he did something worse to her and they don't want to scare me, or because he did something worse to her and they don't want me to feel guilty since maybe if I had called the police a third time, they would have come and found the guy before he got to her. All circular and useless thinking, I know. I'm trying hard not to let my head go there.

I went back to the police station again later that night to do a lineup. Luckily a friend was able to come with me this time... her dad is a police officer, and she was right when she told me their motto is "hurry up and wait." They put us in a random little hallway and we waited for a long time while they set it up. I didn't mind though, because I got to sit in the corner, and those have been my favorite thing these last few days. If you're in the corner, no one can sneak up behind you, and no one can get your neck, and you can see the whole rest of the room. Sounds a little crazy, I know, but that's just where I am right now.

It was funny, because at a meeting, some guy was talking about corners. His perspective, though, is that corners are where you get stuck. Maybe we are both right.

So I got the lineup right*. Things got tricky here, because I'd been planning to leave the next afternoon for a vacation with my extended family. They said that was probably not going to be a good idea, because if he was charged there'd be a grand jury within 72 hours, and I'd have to be there. I finally got a hold of my parents... I'd told them a little bit before about what happened, but not the whole thing because I didn't want to scare them. I kind of had to at this point though. My mom was fine, but my dad got mad because that's what he does when he is scared. He wanted to call the detective, and I felt bad that my dad was bugging him, but the detective said he understands because he has daughters too. Then on Sunday the detective called to tell me it is going to the grand jury, and he's been charged with burglary, robbery, false imprisonment (I think- whatever the one is where they won't let you go), and a few other things. Again, he was vague about the few other things, and again I wondered what he did to the other girl. Useless thinking. I guess he's an illegal alien, so they might deport him. I know I should be glad that he's getting off our streets, but it seems so silly to just toss him on someone else's. I started to think I felt a little bad for him, and my friend told me that was ridiculous, so I decided I'll feel bad about the system that created the whole situation instead.

Where I'm at right now: I'm still looking over my shoulder, and I'm still shaking a lot. It's still kind of hard for me to concentrate, and it's also hard to eat. I've always had a neck thing- I hate it when people touch it. It wasn't such a good thing that he was holding it the whole time. I've been wearing my hair down because it seems maybe a little less likely that someone else will grab my neck if it is covered. I stayed with a different friend last night, and I feel like I should go back to my apartment, but it's scary. We live on the first floor, and my room doesn't have doors- there are curtains to the rest of the apartment, and then big windows (without shades) in the back and a door to our backyard. My bed is right in the middle of the room which is also scary for me, because remember I like corners now. I have this urge to sleep on the floor next to my bed because then I'll be against something and not so out in the open, but it sounds so insane that I'm only writing it in a blog where I'm anonymous. A lot of times, people forget to lock the front door to the apartment. And more than that, when I walk in there my throat feels even tighter and I start to breath faster and the air is a little harder to get. A friend suggested just going back for a little while every day so I can start to feel more comfortable, and that seems like a good plan. My parents are in Canada, where they get horrible phone service. I'm thinking that is kind of a good thing. I love them, and I know they love me and want to help, but... they're parents.

And, while I was in the middle of writing this, the district attorney called. We're doing the indictment Wednesday morning. She said he wasn't going to be there, and that makes me feel good. And while I was talking to her, one of the fashion editors came over, and so she saw me kind of shaken as I hung up. I didn't feel like making up stories, so I told her the whole thing. It's a good thing I did, because it turns out she lives pretty close to me on the Upper East Side in a doorman building, and is leaving tomorrow morning to go out of town for the week. I wasn't even thinking in these terms, but she offered to let me stay there for the week. That will feel so safe. And alone is a little scary right now, but I think I can handle it. And also, I can sleep however I want and no one will say anything or think I'm crazy.

I'm actually feeling really blessed right now. Blessed for broken doorknobs, blessed for kind detectives, blessed that they found the guy, and blessed for my fashion editor and her doorman. I'm also feeling blessed because I think good is going to come out of this. When bad things happen, it kind of makes you wake up. It forces you to make changes and deal with the situation and take care of yourself. I'm scared and shaking and a little insane, but I'm taking action. I still don't think I'm a woman, but I also think I'm not a child. Acting like an adult feels good. (Oh and I also think I'm more of a Real New Yorker now. Real New Yorkers totally get attacked.)

And, thanks for all the comments. I'm taking a lot of the advice, and leaving work early to go talk to a therapist today. Because adults ask for help when they need it.

*According to the detectives, there is no right or wrong. It's just whether or not I recognized him. But it sure felt right to pick him out. And also, I loved all the detectives and I wanted to be cool like them and use an asteriks.

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posted by Lion @ 8/07/2006 09:07:00 AM |

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