“It could be the literal apocalypse and I would still be having nightmares about Avery fucking Peterson,” read a snapchat I sent to some friends during the first week of quarantine. It’s one of the only times I’ve mentioned or even alluded to my rape since everything has changed. Not because I haven’t thought about it or been triggered; it just feels wrong right now. It feels insensitive to draw attention away from what is literally a life and death situation affecting everyone to talk about something I’ve already had the privilege to talk so much about already.
But my hometown made the news recently, and it has sparked a large amount of commentary on social media praising the police department there, which has caused a lot of feelings in me that I need to let out. So although there is part of me that feels guilty for twisting this to make it about me at all whatsoever, because the big picture has absolutely nothing to do with me, I’m hurting. And I know if anyone came up to me with a similar feeling I would listen and tell them it still matters that they’re hurting even if they have so much to be grateful for right now and even though the world has bigger problems. So I’m going to extend that treatment to myself – and to anyone reading this: You are allowed to feel things that have nothing to do with the pandemic. Feelings don’t always happen at convenient times, but processing them when they come is important. It took me a while to get here and give myself that permission.
The backstory is, a man in Rumson decided to put on a Facebook live concert covering Pink Floyd songs, and a gathering of over 30 adults in town ensued to listen to him play from his front lawn, despite the mandate to not hold gatherings. The Rumson Police Department arrived and broke up the party, which was not taken well by at least one attendee who allegedly said some pretty racist stuff to the police. The Rumson Police Department then shared on their official Facebook page a very cheeky and admittedly hilariously worded warning that future gatherings during this time will not be tolerated. They provided a specific detail that the song being played upon their arrival was “Wish You Were Here.”
The response was huge. The post generated over 1,000 shares, almost 1,000 likes and 1,000 comments. Comments like, “Rumson Police has and always will be the best,” “Thank you for always working to keep our community safe,” “Thank you for all you are doing and always do. You should post their names. Shame on them. I hope they were charged!” “Is this a joke! Really in our town?” “The Rumson Police Department has always been there to protect and help the residents of Rumson,” “Thank you Rumson police dept for doing a great job always.” I could go on, but you get the point.
Sometimes I feel like I’m shouting into a void losing my voice for absolutely nothing. It feels like that right now.
I appreciate the Rumson PD’s efforts to keep the town safe during this time and I would assume that is always their goal. I know that just because they handled my case poorly doesn’t mean they always do. But it’s hard having my experience seeing people praise ALL of their work and to particularly credit them with keeping the community safe.
I was not safe in that community. I do not feel safe in that community. I tried to do my part in protecting the community from a danger I experienced first hand, and Rumson Police Department didn’t put in the same effort.
Nothing screams, “no one hears you,” like seeing a bunch of people living in the same town I was raped in cheering on the police department that felt comfortable letting him walk free. And also, “Wish You Were Here” by Pink Floyd is a song that I know through him, so this whole thing set me up to be triggered, but that’s just a me problem.
People should not be participating in gatherings right now. Most of us are struggling with that but accept that it’s dangerous. The more we engage in that kind of behavior, the more people literally die. That is objectively worse than getting raped.
But getting raped fucking matters. There’s a lot of days where I have wished he had just killed me, some days where I’m so afraid of him I worry that he would, and other days where it just really hurts and makes me feel extremely lonely no matter how isolated I am, or am not.
While it is crucial that we as a society do what is necessary to flatten to curve and prevent gatherings such as this one from occurring, the danger posed by a man whose intent was to provide entertainment is significantly less troubling to me than a man whose intent is to cause harm, and I wish that people seemed to be as outraged about rape as they are about the Pink Floyd cover concert. I wish people could praise the police’s efforts while remembering where they have failed.