It happened to me.

I realize most people wouldn’t post this on a public forum, but I’ve thought about it and decided I have nothing to be ashamed of. I’ve just joined a certain club no woman wants to belong to, but it could be a lot worse. I could be badly hurt. I could be dead.

I am visiting with a friend in the Washington DC area right now, in a suburban community that’s supposed to very safe: bucolic is the word for it. Two days ago I met a man on a bus. I was very tired and very upset at the time as I was having trouble with the public transit system, everything seemed to be going wrong. The man seemed sympathetic and friendly, and my defenses were not at their best. He saw an opportunity and took it. He talked me into leaving the bus with him, telling me a walk in the fresh air would do me good and we were only a few miles from my friend’s apartment complex. (He was correct, incidentally, about the proximity.) He lured me into an isolated area in the woods as darkness fell, then attacked me.

I quickly figured out that the man, although he punched me several times and knocked me on the ground and choked me, wasn’t interested in hurting me. He wanted something else and I decided I didn’t have much of a choice but to give it to him. I had no idea where we were or how close civilization was, it was dark, and running away from him would have involved going uphill through trees and roots and rocks and things which I was barely able to see. He said he had a knife, although I never saw it, and he said he could easily kill me and nobody would notice, nobody would hear me screaming. And he was right. He had chosen his spot very well. I wanted to come out of this alive so I did what I had to do.

He raped me and committed acts of sodomy several times on two different occasions as he lead me through the woods, always out of sight of the road and far enough away from houses and people that it wasn’t worth the risk to try to get away from him. I gambled and decided if I was very passive and cooperative and civil — the man was one of those types who wanted to think that I actually liked him — he might just let me go. He kept saying he would take me home, that he wouldn’t just leave me in the woods because “it wouldn’t be right.” And finally, after several hours, he did take me to a parking lot near my friend’s apartment complex and left me there.

I went back to my friend’s place, told him what happened and called the police. It was after ten-thirty by then and I spent the rest of the night talking to the cops and getting examined at the hospital. The police response was quite impressive. They launched an all-out manhunt, with like twenty squad cars and a helicopter even. The fact is that they haven’t found the rapist, which makes me very uneasy, both for myself and for other women he might prey on. But they are looking very hard and I had a good description of him and I can only hope he will be behind bars very soon. I am not really worried for my safety. I am well-protected and will be returning home early next week. But obviously this man should not be out in the community. I hope he gets a long sentence so he cannot harm other girls and women. But they have to catch him first.

I am actually feeling pretty okay. Physically, I’m not too badly hurt, and the rapist used condoms so I don’t have much chance of getting pregnant or catching anything, though of course they gave me drugs to prevent disease. I am very apprehensive, but I have decided I will come out of this intact, that I must. I can’t let this piece of scum ruin my life and I’m trying not to let him ruin my vacation. In a day or two, I’m resuming my vacation activities, arrest or no arrest.

The important thing is that I’m alive, and I used my head and remembered things from books and articles I read and talked him out of killing me or seriously hurting me. I could have ended up a missing person myself, but I’ve come out of it okay. I’m actually sort of trying to look at this as being like a scary root canal or something — very unpleasant, but no reflection on myself and just try not to think about it anymore. This was a bad thing that happened, but it’s over now.