Last night, I along with a couple of friends, went to the screening Brave Miss World. I had actually seen it in Ventura but totally shut down because I was in the middle of the criminal investigation for my rape.
My story, briefly, is I am a psychotherapist and as part of my self-care, I stopped at an upscale Spa in Encinitas California where I have a membership. On July 3rd, I had the last appointment and got a new therapist who had only been there 10 days, Steve. Five minutes into the massage, he began to violently rape me for the next 32 minutes. The only other person in the spa was the young girl in the lobby closing out the day and she said she never heard me scream. I was only able to scream briefly, as I went in and out of reality and he was 6’3″, 320 lbs, and I am 5’2″ 110 lbs. When I didn’t follow his instructions, he became more aggressive. In the end, he had committed rape, oral sex, tore my neck muscles by tearing me out of the face cradle to rape me face down and multiple other injuries. Two days later, his actual hand prints showed up on my inner thighs where he held me down and refused to let me move. He threatened me if I told, and lau ghed in my face and said no one would ever believe me anyway and nothing would happen to him.
As an advocate for my own clients and a strong fighter against any sexual violence, I did what I thought was right and went into the next driveway to the Sheriff’s department. I underwent 7 hours of the SART exam which was extremely painful as I had a six inch “dirty wound” vaginal tear from his roughness. I was in shock, but had the Center for Community Solutions (Vern Tabor Griffin, who happens to be a personal friend) to be my advocate.
I actually lost MY JOB as a therapist at a Community Center for Domestic Violence because they felt “it was too traumatic to counsel DV survivors after being raped.” I felt violated again. I finally went to Bel Air to Bridges to Recovery, an emotional and trauma treatment center for 8 weeks as I had lost so much weight, needed to be hospitalized for dehydration and was depressed beyond belief. But while there, I flew down for the hearings with the DA and the Investigators.
The spa is owned by Attorneys. It is a franchise. They immediately got their massage therapist an attorney and they all went silent, refusing DNA and taking the Fifth.
Last week, 7 months later, I got the ruling that they WILL NOT be pressing any of the 7 Felony Counts because they could never get a Jury to unanimously convict him. How can that be? They have DNA, injuries, a credible witness, and even found he was fired from another spa for undisclosed reason of a complaint from another client.
In the end, I found as I went line by line with the Deputy DA that only 3 percent of the cases go to trial, 1% convicted. I am DEVASTATED. When I hear Linor tell her court system how UNFAIR it was that the rapist could speak at his probation hearing but she could only write a letter, I sobbed. It is NOT FAIR. Basically in California you need a witness to the rape. How would that ever happen?
He got me at the most vulnerable point. Without clothes, trying to relax, and thinking I was safe on a massage table. He won, I lost and I will never, ever be the same. I have an amazing Jewish Psychiatrist of 10 years as my physician husband known around the world for Cosmetic Dermatology has Stage 4 cancer. This experience has led me back to my Jewish roots that stretch far,far back, but I have never been actively involved. It is the only thing that gives me peace, so I understand Linor’s journey to trying to find something to believe that the world still makes sense.
But you know, it doesn’t make sense anymore for me. I don’t feel comfortable in my own body. I don’t know my place in the world. I have considered ending my life many, many times, and regret every minute that I spoke out because it has been like being raped over and over again. I even got the “your husband is sick and not able to meet your sexual needs so perhaps you went looking for something else that night?” Are you kidding me? Why would a 55 year old woman, with five grown children, a therapist, randomly pick some giant massage therapist that she has never even met? I have never betrayed my husband, why would I now when I am losing him??
Cecilia, to you, the movie is so beautifully done (my husband is also a Princeton Grad and bleeds orange and black). You capture Linor’s pain, the pain and vulnerability of the other rape survivors, and the injustice of the system around the world.
My daughters gave me a bracelet that says BRAVE and a necklace that says Sois Courageuse (Be Brave in French) that I try to wear everyday to remember, especially now that I am back counseling teen girls who are doing self-harm. But when they leave, I cry asI feel I don’t even know myself anymore.
When are you ever ok again? When does time heal? When can you really move forward?
Thank you both, for being so brave to share this movie, and hopefully prevent at least one woman from going through what we have.
Maybe if the system truly treated the rape victims as victims and the rapists as the violent criminals that they are, they wouldn’t feel so free to believe they can get away with it…because right now…they CAN and DO!
As a side note, my rapist has resumed doing massages. I told the Deputy DA and investigators at the hearing on Friday that I pray that it is never one of their family members that end up on his table, on one of the days he decides it’s time to rape again.
I love you Linor, for your bravery even when it was all too overwhelming. And Cecilia, you are simply brilliant.