There was no lie detector test or federal judge whose career was on the line from a fuzzy sexual detail from 35 years ago. There was just a clumsy rookie cop with a body cam that went off in two-minute interval beeps staring at me like the Deep State. After 45 minutes of talking, I realized just what the device was.
The police officer took a picture of the bruise on my chest. Late one night in Superior, in a dingy room, I felt compelled to reveal a crime against my sexual partner, a blue-collar worker I had been dating four weeks who committed an unwanted sexual act against me.
The burden of the immediate shame, the definitive explanations that raised the question of why I was with this egregious character could not be answered. At one point, the police officer pulled out an index card, double-checking the guidelines for an interview.
Yes, I was a victim of a violent sexual act by someone I knew. The line I crossed to go to the police was not out of bitterness, but the perpetrator’s utter refusal to speak about it.
One night in December, he had to leave at 4:30 a.m. to take care of something. He had a dental appointment that day and only needed to go into work in the morning. I slept in his bed and he returned around 7 a.m. I was asleep on my back.
When he returned from work, he crawled on top of me while I was asleep and tried to arouse me through force. He then laid on top of me with his face toward my feet. I couldn't move and I didn't want to do what he was suggesting. I had trouble breathing. I tried to push him off. I couldn't, so I just laid there still and remained silent.
"Please get off," I finally whispered.
He didn't understand why I wasn’t interested. I ran to the bathroom and cried. I didn't comprehend why he wanted this from me. There was another time a similar event occurred in which he said: “Too bad. I am doing it, anyways.”
I was the Florence Nightingale in this Stephen King dark novel. He wasn’t Harvey Weinstein and I was not Courtney Love, an actress with a bargaining chip to make or break careers. He was just a lost figure who played me for the wrong dose of empathy.
For weeks, I had tried to comfort him from childhood physical abuse he suffered by a community member, an alcoholic parent, and the feeling he was an underachiever black sheep, contrasted with his siblings who served in the military and medical field.
He often interrupted plans and was inconsistent. The romantic virtue that initiated the relationship clashed with self-centered programming.
Although he was an alcoholic who drank and didn’t drive on the weekends, I wanted to fix him, to prove to him someone could love him. A few times, I gave him rides on the weekend to my house so he could escape and find solace from his daily struggles.
I stayed with him for a while in spite of this brief unexplainable aggression. I dropped the charges because he said it would ruin his career.
Five weeks later, I went to visit him, and I found a woman there who said the same thing happened to her: “I know, it’s ridiculous when he does that.” She also appeased him by saying: “Oh, he just needs attention.”
I went to the police because I felt violated by the fact he thought it was OK to behave like this. I dropped the charges because my empathy for the perpetrator outweighed my self-esteem.
I know I did the female race an injustice by backing down and that is why I am sharing this story.
Jane Hoffman is an educator, caregiver and internet radio host. She ran for Duluth School Board in 2015.