I was so scared I broke the bathroom window with my bare hands and screamed an almost un-human sound that caused my roommate to come running down the hall. With terror in her voice as she yelled “What’s wrong?!!” The guy continued to stand there, staring into the bathroom from the darkness outside. This is one of my many #metoo scenarios.
It was either late 2012 or early 2013 and one of my roommate’s and I had been talking and making dinner in the kitchen. We didn’t have curtains on the back windows of the apartment because although we were on the ground floor, we faced a creek and thick brush. No one ever walked back there. Doris and I were both cooking with oil and every now and then the heat caused the oil to pop in the pans as we sautéed vegetables for our meals. A louder popping sound caught my attention several times, and seemed to be coming from outside, but it was night and we couldn’t see out the windows. I dismissed it as just the oil and walked down the hallway to use the bathroom. There was a frosted glass window directly above the toilet and as I went about my business, I heard that same popping sound. I tried to place it. Pausing, listening, and then realizing, it was rocks. Someone was throwing rocks at the window. There were perhaps 6 – 8 rocks thrown and some were so forceful I thought the window would break, even saying so out loud. I stood up, pulled up my leggings, and turning to flush the toilet, I found a face pressed against the glass. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!! I screamed with terror. With a force I didn’t know I had, I shoved both hands at the face behind the frosted glass, so much so that I broke and splintered the window. But, the face remained, peering even deeper into our apartment as I backed away, opening the bathroom door to find Doris. I breathlessly gasped out the situation and we backed up so the man couldn’t hear or see us. Through whispers we decided I would call 911 and Doris would call our neighbors and our apartment manager. No one answered her calls, her multiple calls, and I remained with the 911 dispatcher for over 20 minutes as Doris and I huddled in my room, waiting for the police to arrive. I had the blinds drawn in my room, but later we found out that the little holes through which the string sits, are just enough space for someone, close enough, to see inside. Doris and I heard the footsteps of someone on the rocks, outside my window, and as she kept calling people to come help, and I whispered what was happening to the dispatcher, the sound of feet leaving never happened.
20 some minutes later we heard a knock on the front door. Nervous we looked at each other and both went to the door to look through the peep-hole. Still on the phone with the dispatcher we saw it was the police. Opening the door, we told the officer where we believed the man to be and as the officer turned to head in that direction, we locked the door and returned to the doorway of my room. We saw the flashlights of the police and heard the words “Hey, what are you doing?” to which we heard a very straightforward reply: “Peeking.” A skirmish happened and the police took the man away.
Doris and I were asked if we wanted to see and identify him, because perhaps it was someone we knew? After some consideration, we went with the police to the car to face the guy. He was young, maybe 19, and was obviously high or tripping out on something, but not someone either of us knew. It was a sad situation, on so many levels.
In time, maintenance nailed a board over the broken bathroom window and we placed thick curtains and sheets over each and every window of the apartment. After a day or two, once we felt comfortable enough to venture behind the apartment, we found a used condom among the rocks, outside my window.
I couldn’t make this stuff up, nor would I want to.
We never found out what happened to this man. We did both receive letters in the mail that we might have to appear in court to identify him, and I was offered therapy sessions as something to consider for my personal healing from the trauma. I actually cannot remember all of the details that occurred after that night, involving his trial and the several letters we received about the hearing, our rights, lawyers documents, etc. I actually think I wanted to just forget it ever happened. What I do clearly remember though, is that for years afterwards, anytime I sat on a toilet with a window above, I would panic. Even just before I wrote this, as I opened my apartment door into the darkness of the garage, I feared for what would be there. Right now, my heart is beating a little faster and I’m sweating slightly, recalling this memory, but this is partly why I write this. I want to release the emotion. I want to let my voice and experience be heard. I want to release the energy of this and so many other violations. I want to let go of the trauma of men violating me, on an even greater level. I want to be free of the fear of men harming me, taking what doesn’t belong to them. And, I want to continue the #metoo conversation.
What I want from you: to hear me. I just want to be valued enough to be heard. I am not asking for your response or pity. Feel no pressure to have to “fix the situation.” Please, just sit with me. Sit with me long enough to feel with me…… Then, maybe, together, we can both release the damage, release the poison, that has been done to so many…..