Yesterday Sacramento was able to announce the arrest of another monster. Terrorist. Piece of human excrement. The NorCal Rapist was identified via DNA and he’s in custody. Not to completely freak you out, but he worked at UC Berkeley – surrounded by women who clearly had no idea there was a predator in their midst.
The irony in that statement that has turned me into a complete mess this week.
The reality is, we know there are predators in our midst. We know they are our fathers, our husbands, our co-workers, our religious counselors and our government leaders. It’s all good to talk about the monsters who reveal in their reputation as monsters: our President has done an effective job of shining the light on MS-13, a horrible gang that uses rape and murder to terrorize mostly immigrants. But they are the exception – like frankly our brutal killer DeAngelo.
More often, women are hurt by the men they trust.
On August 23, when the charges were read against DeAngelo, new to the catalog were 13 counts of kidnapping. While it made for a dramatic read in court, and it’s tremendously satisfying that the DAs were able to add those important charges, it ended-up sending shock waves through the ranks of the victims.
And here’s why. Because most of the survivors in Sacramento are rape survivors, they had come to terms with two things: the statute of limitations expired on the rapes and their voices would only be heard via a Victim Impact Report that is either oral or written and isn’t subject to cross-examination. The minute the kidnapping charges were added, so was the requirement that these 13 women testify. For some, this isn’t something they want to do. Testifying means being cross examined and that’s is where victims are typically re-victimized in the legal process.
Based on the events of this week, this shouldn’t surprise anyone.
Ironically, it’s likely I won’t be called to testify because I don’t have anything particularly material to share on this case. I wasn’t at the house, I don’t know the suspect. I could be called to talk about my dad, but I think the defense could possibly do more with me than the prosecution. And even at that, it would be irrelevant because DNA puts him raping Charlene. He’s guilty and I don’t care about him. But I do care about re-victimizing those already hurt decades ago.
I had no idea how much DeAngelo’s arrest would change me. I have not been the same since that day. Parts of me I’ve push down or away have bubbled up nearly driving me crazy. I wrestled with the paradox I was living in as I met and supported my fellow survivors in Sacramento. As I celebrated their courage to face DeAngelo in court, I was struggling with what had been happening to me for the last year of my life. I just spent the last year being abused by my boss. I had to keep quiet or he might not give me by expense report reimbursement (it still came through short and it took four months to get the check. I can’t talk about the company because they only way I’d get severance and COBRA was signing a confidentiality agreement. I’d already met with an attorney and the only way he could have gotten rid of me without a lawsuit was to lay me off. So he did – while I was out on medical leave to catch my breath over the arrest. I remember crying and telling my mom I felt like a hypocrite because I wasn’t telling my story while I was encouraging others to be strong and share.
And there’s more. I need to talk about my dad. You’ve all asked me to – but I can’t yet. My dad could be Brett Kavanaugh. Truly. He would fit all the descriptions people have of the judge. And I don’t think my dad ever sexually attacked a woman. But he was abusive to the women in his family. That was our secret. Not sexually. Emotionally and physically. And I will talk about it. But I need a little more time.
I am like most women; I struggle with not wanting to impugn his reputation.
He really did amazing things for our community and my brothers must have learned some goodness from him because they are both married to amazing women. I’m proud of both my brothers for having healthy, balanced marriages – the kind I didn’t believe were possible as I grew up (hey you with the raised eyebrow thinking, hey, maybe that’s why Jen isn’t married; here’s a cookie, you’re a winner).
Because my dad was so tough on me, I grew up tough. I think he gets credit for that not because of his behavior but because of DNA. I am a lot like him. I don’t back down and I fight for justice. I can be incredibly annoying because I am so driven. Then imagine being trapped by circumstances that prevent me from fighting that fight. That’s the gut-punch of being abused. You’ve lived through the trauma but to get justice, one goes through a process that crushes the soul and strips us of our dignity and defies moral justice.
- The state tries criminals on behalf of the people, not the victims.
I think this is correct but in the pursuit of “fairness”, it’s actually tilted to benefit the law, not the humans. In fact, humanity is intentionally stripped from the legal process. If you don’t believe me, do a quick rhetorical analysis. Rhetoric was my major: it’s the understanding of how words are used to influence. I called it a degree in bullshit and people would agree and I’d say, “See, I just did it. It works!” In legalese, words that talk about feelings are subjective. Subjectivity is seen as bias and lawyers work to eschew bias and seek facts. Sadly, the fact that someone had to move 3,000 miles away to get away from their perpetrator because they are so scared, is fact but is meaningless without the emotion. One DeAngelo rape victim did just that. Moved away immediately, across the country. Apparently, Dr. Blasey-Ford did the same thing.
- There are still too many men involved in investigating these crimes.
We are so blessed to have a hero in our midst with Carol Daly. She says one of the ways she approached abuse victims was to encourage them to tell their story. Seriously. Prior to her involvement, that’s not how things went down – it’s the difference of being transactional (iterative questioning back and forth) and being contextual (what happened, how did you feel, doesn’t have to be from beginning to end because many women think more comprehensively). Without more women – many of whom have experienced abuse – we won’t be able to conquer the bullying and the bias that we saw this week. Watching 80+ year-old men delivering Dr. Blasey ultimatums was beyond tone deaf and inappropriate; it was absolutely revictimizing the victim. If you still don’t understand what she’s facing, watch this. I nearly vomited on Monday night when I watched. That’s when I knew I was also facing my own demons.
- Good people do bad things.
This is probably the most important part of what’s happening in America right now (and what causes me the most consternation). My former boss actively posed as a moral, wholesome man from Utah (that’s code – please read into that). When I tried to pursue things internally, I was told I was guilty of reverse discrimination and I was making the men uncomfortable. (That sound you hear is me screaming – yes, I can scream that loud.) Our NorCal Rapist worked at UC Berkeley as a safety specialist (oh irony, you are a minx). And of course, Wee Willie Winky DeAngelo, was eating at Charlie’s Café and bopping around Citrus Heights and was a former police officer. Nuff said.
Since I’ve hit 50, I’ve thought a lot about how we function as humans. What I come away with after this tumultuous week that’s demonstrated just how often we hurt each other, I still have no real explanation. #sad #bebetter #KindnessMatters #WhyIDidntReport
I think a lot about the nature of humanity. There are so many things we have to figure out as humans: how to have agency, how to manage relationships, how to manage our health, how to support the people we love (and those we don’t even know) – we shouldn’t have to worry about other humans hurting us.
Based on where we are as a civilization, we should be doing better. Civilization actually means we are civil. But we just aren’t there yet.
We can be better. We can stop hurting one another. And it starts with closing your lips, opening your ears, being patient and showing kindness. A small shift that could create tremendous change. I wish that for all of us.
[Folks that follow me on Twitter know it’s been a tough week for me based on my tweets and you’ve been tremendously supportive. Thank you. It’s a great place to talk and meet other survivors. The true-crime community is amazing and we invite you to join us. Awhile ago I wrote a Twitter primer – if you’re new to the platform, it might help!]