Do you wonder if the people who assaulted you ever think about it?
I picture Generic Music Dude, who assaulted me when I was sleeping, after we'd broken up, and I wonder if fear ever clutches his fucking heart—if what he did haunts him the way it still haunts me. I wonder if he worries that I'll show up in the city I ceded to him—he works at the arts organization I used to!—and I will tell everyone what he's capable of, and how he responded afterwards. (He asked, "are you sure you're not thinking of that time I hugged you for a too-long time?")
I picture Generic Camp Dude, who tricked me into going on a date with him when he was my boss ("They're filming a movie after-hours at our camp. A bunch of us are going!") and then groped me while he stuck his tongue too far into my mouth. He made a joke about how he'd have to get someone else to do my job evaluation while I dissociated for the first time in my life.
Do you ever think about how you're lucky only to have one of these stories, or two, or three? How it could have been much worse? Do you try, and fail, to count your blessings—that they stopped, that you stopped them, that your tendency towards fight, or flight, or freeze, saved you from Generic Other Consequence?
Do you wonder why people listen sympathetically until the story's antagonist is no longer an open secret or a blind item—until we name them? And then, and then.
I am not sure what justice would look like for me. (Is justice why we testify?)
What I think I would like is abstract: I would like to know that Generic Music Dude and Generic Camp Dude carry around the weight of what they did the way that I carry around the weight of what they did. I would like to occupy in their hearts a small territory of fear, the way they occupy, in mine, a tight small fist of anger.
What I think I would like is concrete: I would like to enter a room in [Ceded City] and not be carrying a secret. I would like all of my old friends and acquaintances to know exactly what happened between him and I. I would like him to carry this into those rooms. I would like to be able to remember the last name of my old camp boss and I would like to look him up and I would like to know if he is still working with teenagers. Sometimes I forget about him for a year or two and then I remember—I know I am not the only one.
I do not want to keep testifying for public consumption.
I do not want us to have to keep testifying for public consumption.
This essay is published as part of the No Comment project.
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