Immediately following the April 2014 home invasion resulting in my attack and sexual assault, I pretty much went off the deep end. But you would never be able to tell. I completely disassociated from the event. People told me I was in shock, and that was why I kept making jokes about it, but it wasn’t shock–it was disassociation. There’s a difference. I chose to unplug. It was my long-time coping mechanism. I reflected upon this as I sat outside my apartment in the hallway. The police weren’t letting me back in, because they needed to keep the crime scene intact until Crime Lab arrived to collect evidence for the police report. So I hunkered down on the floor and leaned against the wall, attempting to make small talk with Officer Diamond, polite and pretending. Anything to keep from the truth of what I was actually feeling.
Pain. I was used to avoiding it. Stuffing it down, feeding it sick until silent, gorged, and swollen. And my favorite and most effective means to cope with the pain is to check out. It’s not so much numbness I seek—it’s more of an absence. When a tooth gets pulled, you can still feel the numbness of an otherwise aching jaw. But the tooth—the tooth has simply disappeared. I wanted to become the tooth. I didn’t want to be here anymore.
Suddenly I’m sitting at the Beverly Hills police station. It’s the middle of night, the station is deserted. The Detective sitting across from me is pleasantly plump with a round mustached face, his expression sleepy but his eyes alert. His name is Detective Ellwell, and he seems at a loss as to how to comfort me. I’m still wearing the same clothes I was attacked in as I sip my 7-11 coffee—jeans and a purple swing coat with a missing button. I’m seated in an office chair on the other side of a folding table, legs tightly crossed so as to clamp down on my sexuality while trying to appear casual. At the door stands a much leaner Officer, probably the same age as Ellwell but appearing to be several years younger. I’m not going to lie—he’s hot. He appears to be of some naturally-tanned ethnic background—maybe Latino? But his last name is Schwartz. Hot Latino jew? Why not.
Detective Ellwell starts the tape recorder and begins to take my statement. I hear the date and time, my full name, my address. I silently muse this must not be a dream if I can remember these details so clearly. Of course if it was a dream, it could all disappear upon awakening. But for now, I’ll play along. I recount the events of the incident while staring blankly at the tape recorder. Every now and then, Detective Ellwell interjects a question, which I answers as best I can.
He is a kind man. I don’t know what inspires people to enter law enforcement, but I have a feeling this man wanted to protect the weak and catch bad guys. He seems like one of the good ones. I’ll never forget the look of shame that crossed his face face when he asked me The Question–all women in my situation know what I’m talking about. It’s The Question he had to qualify with “I’m sorry but I’m required to ask this: what were you wearing?” He makes it clear to me the question is irrelevant, and I appreciate this, but I still can’t help but feel a sting. I had been wearing the same thing I still ahd on–jeans and a swing coat. But what if I had been wearing something besides jeans? In 2006 I created a stand-up character named Naughty Nancy, a British prostitute, and there were many nights I would come home after a performance in fishnets, thong, and corset hidden beneath a raincoat. What if I had been wearing that instead? What if I had had to sit there and explain my prostitute attire? Would that make more sense as to why I was suddenly jumped in my own living room?
When the police report was finished, they put me in the squad car and took me home. By then, dawn was breaking, and there was nothing poetic about it. I had been up for nearly 24 hours. The crime lab investigator was still in my apartment–a short chubby man with glasses and a goatee. He snapped pictures of my bruised face and the long multiple fingernail scratches on my right forearm. He’d already gotten shots of the broken mirror, the busted window screen, the belts taken off my coats and placed next to the bed, and everything else that could be of interest to the investigation. I stood in the center of the apartment and took it all in, noticing how different my home now felt. It felt violated. It was now a crime scene. There was fingerprint dust all over the doors and walls, and covering the nightstand where my now-shattered mirror once rested. The ledge of the window the guy came through was also blanketed with soot-like dust, and I shivered, imagining his hands gripping the rotted wood as he boosted himself up through the window. I wondered if they were able to get prints. Had he been wearing gloves? Wait—no, he hadn’t been wearing gloves; his nails had torn my skin. That’s why the crime lab investigator was now using his DNA-collection kit to swab my face and the scratches on my arm. Apparently, DNA can be collected even from mere skin contact, so though the perpetrator and I had merely scuffled, there was a chance DNA from under his fingernails could be collected from the open wounds on my arm.
It was 7:30am before Crime Lab was able to pack up and go. They left me standing in the middle of the room in pajamas, having taken the clothes I’d been wearing that night as evidence. I wondered how long it would be before I could wear my purple swing coat again. I also wondered how long it would be before I would be able to sleep in that apartment again.