Los Angeles, 1993.
I was working at a pool bar that was actually an Armenian mafia front, but I did not know that yet. A co-worker invited me to her Mom's bar...free drinks all night. How could a fledging alkie resist? She casually mentioned it was absolutely the safest place to go hang out because it was a cop bar.
I looked at her like she had 3 heads and a tail.
How. How can you look at me and tell me a cop bar is safe? She assured me that, as the guest of the owner's daughter, I'd be fine. I was young enough to still have hope in these matters. So I went.
Her Mom was fun, the bar seemed fine, and a cop started buying me shots. JÃ¤germeister, GoldschlÃ¤ger. Backed with Buds because....well. Of course they were. He introduced himself as Sergeant Steven Bishop. "Like the singer." I replied and he was delighted I was familiar with him.
We played pool.
I got drunk.
It got late.
He offered to "make sure I got home safely." A police escort...how could I turn down the chance to tell that story?! We walked past my car as he suggested we sit in his truck for a bit and chat, and that seemed like a good idea...I needed to wait for that first intoxication dropoff so I could drive at all. I was newly slender after a year of Jenny Craig and relentlessly working out. Drunk at 250 pounds vs. drunk at 129 pounds required re-learning my limits.
Within a few minutes he was kissing me rather aggressively and I was doing that "Oh, well, maybe later, OK?" thing that cisgender girls were subtly taught to do far more frequently than we were taught to say "No."
My coy deflections were ineffective.
My clear, firm "No, stop. I'm going now." failed to slow him down.
He wound up trapping me against the window of the passenger side of his truck, pinning me with one arm and pulling open my shirt and pants with the other. The adrenaline dump didn't "sober me up" as some say, because in reality that's physiologically impossible. What it did do was clear my head enough for me to realise I did not have much chance against a man who outweighed me and had professional training in subduing people. There was a 10-second window that I don't remember and the next thing I do remember is being on my ass, on the sidewalk, half naked, purse and shirt and apron on the ground, scrambling to my feet and running. I ran until I couldn't see his truck. I hid. I looped back to my car. He was gone, it seemed.
I got into my car.
I drove, slowly. On surface streets, from North Hollywood to the home of 3 of my friends. This was the first time I drove drunk. I had my left hand over my left eye so the road lines would quit that pesky doubling, so I could drive in a straight line. I reflexively looked in the rearview every few seconds. Had he gotten my plate number? That Would Not be Good.
I arrived at the home of my friends, three rocket scientists, (no, really.) who were stunned by my appearance and story and, of course, insisted I needed to report. I laughed in true hysteria. "To whom? Who do I go to? How exactly do you think a drunk Black girl reporting an attempted sexual assault committed by an LAPD sergeant is going to fare?" I spent the next hour having to explain to them why this was...unfeasible. Coming down from the adrenaline, still drunk, still scared...and this was not a conversation I wanted to have. The badgering didn't ebb until the girlfriend of one of my friends showed up. She was an ER nurse, had just gotten off a late shift. After being debriefed on the situation, she turned to them and said "Leave her alone. I work with these guys. Frankly, she's lucky she got away and if she says anything, she'll wind up with far bigger problems. Get her a whiskey and let her sleep."
Next shift at the pool hall, told my co-worker what had gone down after we left the bar. I asked her what I should do. I thought, at least she should tell her Mother. Our friendly interaction chilled. Immediately. I got the distinct impression she didn't believe me. She certainly downplayed the situation. "Well, you both were kinda drunk."
I count(ed) myself lucky.
It could have been worse.
But 25 years later, I still get a sick drop in my belly when I see a cop behind me on the street or a highway.
I wonder if Sergeant (and, evidently, eventually Detective) Bishop ever successfully sexually assaulted another woman.
And I am struck with a quiet rage when people insist that reporting sexual assault is a viable plan of action for most people targeted by predatory behaviors.