Thursday, May 12, 2005

Rape Victim Discusses Her Nightmare

Rape Victim Discusses Her Nightmare
Phil Jacobs
Baltimore Jewish Times - MAY 12, 2006

There’s a framed print of a Kohane’s fingers spread in a ceremonial position as the backdrop of this interview.

Near the sofa is a wedding photo with the words in Hebrew, "Ani L’Dodi L’Dodi Li, (I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.) A shofar sits on a nearby shelf as well as a tzedaka box. On the coffee table is Harold Kushner’s book "Who Needs God?"

Similar symbols of Judaica can be found in the homes of many of her Menlo Drive neighbors. She and her husband have lived in the home for about three years. They are only a few blocks Shabbos walk to their synagogue.

So it seems incongruous that this 63-year-old mother of three adult daughters was talking about a rape in her comfortable Upper Park Heights Avenue living room. Rape. The word shouldn’t find its ways from the lips of any person, man or woman, but especially that of a grandmother of seven.

It wasn’t someone else's rape.

It was her own.

At about 11 p.m., Tuesday, May 2, she walked out to her driveway to retrieve something from her car.

When she looked up, "there was a young black man next to me. He was just there, I didn’t hear him." A hand tightened the sweater around her neck. Another hand held very large two-prongued fork, the type you’d use to roast food over a barbeque. The fork was held up against her neck. He told her not to talk or to shout.

"It took me a little bit to realize what was happening," she said. "It was surreal that it was happening."

They walked towards their neighbor’s house, which she said set off a motion detector light. Still they kept walking.

She told him to take her car keys. He told her to shut up She knew she had to get away. But she couldn’t. He was young, he was in his 20s.

"Do what I tell you to do or I’ll stab you," he told her.

She told him that she was older. She told him that she had back surgery.

It didn’t matter, not to him.

She would get up moments after he cavalierly just walked away from her. She’d get back into her house. The house with her husband watching TV, the house with her cat Sophie curled up on a living room chair. 911 would be called. An ambulance would transport her to Mercy Hospital. The City Police would get involved. There’d be a gynecologist exam, a counselor and probably therapy.

All this for a 62-year-old. Then there’d be the call to Dena Henry, one of her two daughters living in Florida. Dena would call Maggie Ramos, who lives in the same Florida city. Another sister in Indianapolis would be called. She was the daughter estranged from her mom. It didn’t matter now. All three would come to Baltimore.

Imagine having to call your daughters to tell them you were raped. Maggie talked about how her mom would sometimes hide her problems, quirks or illnesses from them until she was over them. She couldn’t respond over her tears in describing what it was like to hear this news about her mother.

"It’s your mother," said Maggie. "I couldn’t stop thinking about that. She was physically violated. And the same as a violation to us."

Her mom described her rapist as a "nice looking young man. But he had no distinguishing features."

With the urging of her daughters, the City Police helped the victim produce a composite drawing. Her daughters have distributed the drawings to neighbors within blocks of Menlo Drive. They have also gone to the local TV media to get the word out.

Both daughters weren’t reserved in their criticism of the initial City Police investigation, feeling that there could have been a more sensitive follow through process. They also were angry that while their mom was being interviewed by detectives, she could hear what they felt were insensitive conversations and laughter through the walls of the police station. Still, they had compliments for Northwest District commander Major Kieth Tiedemann and the Northwest Citizens Patrol. Also, the family received a great deal of support and well wishes from their rabbi and from their neighbors.

"I feel safe," she said, "but I do feel anxious. I’m also more aware of my surroundings. I do feel God is watching over me, just in a strange way."

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