Oh, Lord. What a grim and intimidating title. But I don't know what else to call it. . . maybe "The Incident of the Undergrad in the Night?" "Rough Encounters of An Illegal Kind?" I mean, really!
Before I go to far into the story, let me just assure you I am reasonably ok. The assailant did not manage to achieve his goal (which myself and the police agree was rape), and physically I am more or less ok. There have been some complications, but nothing I can't handle. That beings said, here goes nothing. . .
It was several weeks into the semester, the middle of September. We were about two weeks away from opening night for our big fall musical - Chicago (it was absolutely brilliant, by the way. sold out run!) and I was serving as an ASM, as well as Props Designer and Props Manager. That means I did all the work around finding, purchasing, building, or otherwise procuring props, and then once in rehearsals and shows I made sure they were stored and catalogued properly, and oversaw the actors being given their props etc. "ASM" stands for Assistant Stage Manager, which means I wear a fancy headset, all black clothes, and make sure everything backstage runs smoothly - actors hit their cues, props hit their marks, everything is safe and quiet backstage, snafu's are avoided, and I run communication between backstage, front of house, and the booth. It was a Thursday night and rehearsal got out at about 10:30, per usual - which means the actors and director got to go home. Me and the rest of the management staff had to stay behind a little and clean up, lock up, etc. which usually only takes about ten or fifteen minutes. That night it took a little longer, since our set designer (and my professor and director in the next show) was around. Jim needed to talk to me about how the heck we were going to safely store all the props: we decided to build some shelves right into the walls. It was about 11:00 by the time we were done. As we left the mainstage he said "Where you headed?" and I said "Back to my room." He asked me where that was and I said "The condos - don't worry, my roommate knows I'm supposed to be home. She's waiting for me." Because Jim got that look on his face - he thinks he's everyone's dad, you know? And I was ok, the condos are school property, just a block or so off campus. It wasn't even that late. He offered me a ride and I laughed - I never get a ride. I walk everywhere, always, especially when it's a warm night and it's a short distance. . .
Obviously, I know now I should have gotten in the van and let Jim drive me home. Sure it was a warm night and it was before midnight and all that jazz, but I was still alone.
So I walked back - me, my giant messenger/gym bag, and my big black three ring binder that contains my whole life in it's weather old confines. My college is situated in the heart of smalltown new england - the strip of restaurants and shops between the Main Stage and my apartment is comprised of old brick buildings with shuttered windows, a bridge over the train tracks, and a post office. I was almost to the bridge, most of the way home - I could see the lights in other condos from where I was walking - when I noticed someone walking towards me. Like I said, it was only 11:00 on a Thursday night, so I didn't think much of it. As he got a little closer I could see he was a large male - I didn't feel nervous or anything, until he kept getting closer. He clearly had no intention of getting out of the way/sharing the sidewalk, and at this point I could tell he was drunk (again, college town. we can't be the only one with "Thirsty Thursdays," can we?) and I started to feel uneasy.
When he reached out and grabbed ahold of my shirt, between my shoulder and my breast, I felt more than uneasy. I told him to let go of me, or asked him what the hell he thought he was doing, or started swearing, or something - I don't remember what exactly I said, just that I opened my mouth and words came out. He didn't let go - instead, he half-lifted me up and slammed me into the brick wall next to us. As he started slamming me into the wall, I punched him in the face. Hard. He was bleeding, and I remember thinking he's drunk thank God he's drunk because if he had been sober, he wouldn't have stumbled a little slamming me and I would probably have been knocked out cold. The next thing I knew he had ripped my shirt open, all the way down to my navel - I was wearing an oversize tunic-y button down shirt thing-y over my leotard. I managed to push him away from me enough to have room to kick him. So I did. Hard. In his ribs. I heard something crack - it sounded like a wooden baseball bat breaking in half. He crumpled over and I was suddenly hyper aware of the sound of my own breathing in the night. Without looking at him or screaming or looking for help or reaching for my phone, I started walking away.
Yes, walking. Briskly, but I didn't run. I remember thinking Don't run. Don't panic. Don't run don't run don't run he'll hear you! Because I knew he was currently drunk and in a lot of pain, thinking more about his ribs (which I'm pretty sure I broke you sonofabitch) than about me, but if I started to run he'd be sure to hear me. The sidewalks are brick and my boots would have made a clicking and there was no one else on the street. I didn't want his attention back on me - I didn't want him to panic and be scared of the police and come after me. I remember a jumble of thoughts as I walked briskly, women's safety classes and police lectures when I was a kid. Always go to somewhere brightly lit. A gas station, a store. Somewhere you can be seen and they can too. In my head light = safety Get to where there are people. Don't stay alone . I could see the turn for my building up ahead, it really was only a few yards away. There were people outside smoking if I could just get to them I'd . . . be in the light and safe. . .
I guess I ran into my friend Jamie - I know her from doing other shows together, she's an awesome student stage manager. Apparently she asked me how Chicago was going and I gaver her a short, frazzled answer before bolting up the stairs to my room. Where my roommate was waiting for me, just liked I'd told Jim she would be. I never did button back up my shirt.