Op/Ed: Adding My Voice and Story to the Many Who Were Once Silenced by Violence

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It's supposed to be another nail in the coffin. Every injustice, discrimination, theft, just one more nail in the coffin, until the injustice and discrimination, the injury becomes the final stake and the coffin and secrets are sealed.

Those in positions of power and authority and yes especially the abuser, the serial abusers they understand. Abuser expect victims to be silent and remain silent. Abuser believe shame will keep women, especially from speaking out about the insidious crimes, of rape and sexual assault and violations.

And they often do carrying the shame of the crimes to a very early grave.

Abuse, ugly violent vicious physical abuse began early in my life. Not long after my parents divorced our lives went from a loving family and extended family to hell.

My sister has passed away and so I can't really share her stories except of when they intertwined with my own. My mother remarried a man who vicious, brutal, violent and misogynistic. He hated women. We were beaten often. Physically and brutally beaten with a leather strap. Often times we were made to disrobe and would be beaten until we had welts. This was the new normal.

Over the next five years, the backhanded slaps at dinner, progressed to sudden ambushes with the leather strap for no apparent reason other than we, all, my mom, myself and my sister were sharing a funny and separate moment.

The abuse began to take on different forms.

The First Time I Died

After my mom remarried we went to Lake Erie for boating. My mother, didn't seem concerned, even as she couldn't swim, I wasn't able to swim yet either; and on this day, my mother, myself, my uncle, the my mother's husband and two other unknown people were all the boat when I think I said, it would be fun If I could swim and then Jim [the step-father] threw me like a cannon ball into the lake, from up over his head away from the boat, as one would toss a sack of potatoes.

I remember, watching myself even now I see the out of body experience, of watching myself trying to get to the surface and finally making it grasping for air and crying and hearing my mom, who couldn't swim and was deathly afraid already, scream, "Swim Janet," and then in the boat crying.

I did swim and remember sitting on the boat and screaming at this man, "Stay away from me. You could have killed me." Not knowing that was his intent and not knowing as I do know he was offered money to have me killed which is another element of the evil that has followed me.

Over the winter we went up to Lake Erie where the boats were housed and found it had a major hole in the hull and it couldn't be fixed.


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Then the rage. One night, when my sister and I slept in separate rooms I heard her crying in her room. I, a child, of eight maybe nine, opened the door and saw this man in bed with her. I told my Mom the next morning, "Debbie was crying in her bed last night and Jim was with her."  From that point forward I was targeted with more aggressive and more violent beatings.

My mom moved us into the same room.

The second time, one of the few times of genuine fun my sister and I were having. We slept in the same room and I know she did not expect the rage, murderous rage, of this man and it was not her fault and I know she lived with the guilt of that night. As she called down the steps and said, "Janet is keeping me awake."

What I saw after that, as this man started up the stairs was murder. I saw the man who would kill me that night. I ran to bed and attempt to stop what I knew was coming. I did not expect that he would pick me up by my pajama bottoms and throw me against the wall and I know what happened as my spirit left my body and I watched the scene unfold from the corner of the ceiling, I think I was dead, for a minute, and my spirit was leaving, and I heard my sister scream, "Stop, you're killing her" and he said, "See what you made me do."

I bounced off the wall and landed back onto the bed, and it was like the window shut and my spirit was no longer watching myself being beaten. I was unconscious for the remainder of the night and remember waking up with a busted eye vessel and the usual bruises. I went to school and explained to my teacher, when she asked if my step father had done that to me, I said yes and ask for help and she said, I can't I'm afraid of him also.

Maybe it was stupidity but after that night I wasn't afraid. I did not fear, I told everything every time. I never stopped no matter, I didn't stop them and I won't stop now.  

I remember once sitting with my sister, I had skipped school and she asked, Aren't you afraid of Jim?" And I said, "No, all he can do is kill me. And I don't think he is going to." I was nine. By that time, I had survived two murder attempts.

I could do the play by play over the five years that my mom stayed married to this person and I suppose at some point the play by play will be talked about but for today I want to say, I think an appropriate picture can be drawn which is close enough to accurate. For all the abuse we suffered she did also.

So moving forward – After five years of torture my mother had PTSD and I guess I did also and it was difficult for her to manage. My sister went to live with my Dad and I was placed in Foster Homes. Again no need for the play by play.

After that time, I lived in two separate type of situations for children that had no other options. My dad was the finance director of the city, his wife, didn't want to take a chance on me. So for about a year I lived in a residential facility and after in a Girls Group Home.

At thirteen a case worker asked me what are you going to be when you grow up? And I said "Famous." I had no idea how and yet that much I knew.

New York City

So for a while life was technically normal. I was fortunate to know I wanted to write and finally ended up at a prestigious Community College on Long Island where I excelled academically and was accepted to New York University on merit and academic excellence.

After NYU, I lived on the Upper West Side overlooking the Museum of Natural History, at 80th and Columbus, and one night, a Friday night, saw a black car parked out front of the building.

My spirit said "That's trouble." And I crossed the street and the person powered down the window and looked at me and I at him. I went into the building. Ten minutes later I left and a sign was in the elevator explaining a women had been robbed at gunpoint. The  man who looked at me was in the police artist sketch that ended up in the New York Daily News.


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From that point on I had faced a new wave of harassments and discriminations which I didn't really attribute to the at gunpoint robbery.

In 1998 I started working at a Wall Street law firm on the second shift. I had been accepted to Circle in the Square Theater School and during the day I lived my dream and at night worked at the law firm. Life in corporate America is an entirely different animal. Abuse is the name of the game, and corporate law firms breeds sociopaths.

From 1998 through 2002 I worked at the firm. The law firm had made some hiring decisions that brought in attorneys who were essentially lowering the bar of their usual high standards, as they were involved in a consuming litigation. Lots of new people, with bad attitudes, who believed for all the grief they had to suffer, for their 60 hours weeks and six figure pay, the support staff would suffer also.  

The summer of 2002 the firm had probably close to 150 new associates. In addition to those hired through the natural recruitng cycle, the litigation opened the flood gate for any one who had compelted law school, even if they hadn't passed the bar. So essentially the undesirables were hired without thought which for those who had to pass through the recruiting process created ill will.

The parnters held a meet and greet in Westchester at a partner's home. The following Monday rumors of total melt down, behavior beyond unacceptable and criminal occured and the new associates who didn't realize support staff did not attend firm parties explained it was the evening receptionist, Janet something. 

At the time, the alledged crimes occured I was two states away. And was cleared as I passed through the Port Authority. Then after a few months, bizarre questions of pedophile preachers and other crimes against children were talked about. Bizarre questions from a bizarre people. 

In September 2002 I was raped. Not at the office, although at that time, the office was erupting as there were visitors and unknowns roaming the halls at all hours of the day and night. I went backed to work without having a rape test or telling anyone.

Oddly everyone knew at the office and began making remarks: "There were three of us up there that night" and "I raped her like she was my girlfriend." I essentially just blocked everything out and unless you burn the hand off of a corporate lawyer they will continue until you stop them.

From September 2002 until October 2002, I was repeatedly raped, multiple times, and explained to the police, who were less than helpful, less than concerned, they for me represented the worst, they took my statement, drove me back home and I never heard from them again.

I'm not sure anyone understands (maybe those who have gone through it) what that it like. Of course it may seem like a typical GYN visit. For the victim it is unbelievable trauma. And worse in this case, as she was explaining exactly what she knew and implicated powerful Manhattan attorney's, now don't forget in New York, as far as the law is considered a corporate lawyer is the pinnacle of every young girls dream. 

And of course when the perpetrator is the Ivory Tower with unlimited disposable shut down money, there is no depth to the evil. I've seen evil, close up, I've experienced evil, personally.

No matter what her own opinion of them was or what they are really like, when it comes to the law it only mattered that the tower was ivory and on wall street.

Then the name, reputation, belief system of the victim comes into play. And course, three lawyers lie and the detectives are kissing their well-polished shoes. Never mind the tapes that have surfaced that have the distinctive voices of the attorney's talking about their crimes or the confessions. Boys will be boys they say. The rape culture, in NYC Corporate Law Firms is worse than most fraternities. Ask around they all know where the black cloud hangs in the city.

I've not been silent; I've told authorities from day one. I've come through too much in my lifetime to allow these two organizations, The church, which I haven't talked about and the law firm, who is responsible to get away with their crimes.

Did they help. Hell no. The Detectives did explain, "it was expensive to raise children especially around the holidays" when he wanted to take his "entire family to Radio City."

To me it seems like he got the payment he was expecting. Did the law firm at least try to mask their involvement – Ha! Hell no. They are proud of those time. And will tell you about it freely. How about at least helping, securing prosecution? No. Pro bono representation to help with prosecution? No.

Did they do anything? They fired me three days after I reported the entire case to the New York Attorney General. How about the church I attended regularly. No help there either. It was like every organization I turned to for help shut me down. Of course, the inner-city church in the heart of Times Square and the Wall Street law firm formed the perfect alliance. Richard Hatch couldn't have played it better.

In 2008 I submitted a two piece investigative news series "Cops Conspire to Deep Six Sex Assaults" in the Breaking Local News category for the Pulitzer Prizes. It was the first year all the prizes included online submissions also.

(For the record I was rejected) The story detailed the account of power and privilege verses the horrors of sexual assault and one victim, Victim X, who had to courage to move forward.

I mistakenly thought would motivate local officials to move forward and make an arrest only exacerbated the situation. Trust me, Detectives investigate what they want especially when money, and a fully operational slush fund built on the backs of the creatives in the law firm whose works was stolen and sold, changes hands.

There was never prosecution and none now is expected. For me it is worse, the Goliath's in the Ivory Tower are the kinds that have their names on buildings. The fight for justice is a lifetime; and while encouraging to see the mighty fall; until Justice brings down every Goliath Justice is not served. 

What was the motivation? Short Skirts? Attractiveness? A general disregard/disdain of their power? Rapists Rape; Lawyer Rapists Rape and build alibi's off the victims back. The Ambition defense, that is so talked about in HW case, funny they lawyers would use it also. Not for career but personally as everyone knows Corporate Partners are the next stop before deity status and tied to that power makes you invincible.

So for every Victim who doesn't want to share their story, I understand what it is like, I hid behind a moniker for years, it's easier to talk about it in the third person and thought I would wait until the right time to breathe life into my effort for prosecution.

I guess, I add my story to the growing list of survivors who have the courage to speak out. 

 

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