*Trigger warning: Assault*
()Karen Stefano poetically recalls the night she was violently attacked, and how helpless and interior she felt after her traumatic encounter with death. "This is the story of the night I died," she recalled.
Publish Date: Feb 24, 2021
Yeah, I think I think I'll read Chapter two, which is the Onley. It's a very brief chapter. Most of the chapters in the book are very brief, uh, by design to keep the pace moving. This is the only kind of poetic, uh, version in the book. The rest is pretty fact and internal thought process oriented. But with that introduction, this is Chapter two. This is the story of the night I died the night of the footsteps of the harmless, pale haired man jogging down a sidewalk the night I walked home from work and darkness, the night he turned into my hallway, the night our eyes locked and he showed me the knife in his hand. This is the night that still possesses my body. It was just a small tragedy, and yet it wasn't. It was like falling into a while, distant and far away as a glimpse of light. But there's no way to reach it. You're still you, just not the same version. You're stuck and can't climb out. Can't even begin to know how to get out. And though there are people up there, people who want to help those people don't know how and you don't know how toe Let them. So you stay stuck in that deep, dark, cold place that has swallowed you After the night of the footsteps, I wanted to feel the strength of others, wanted to use it to make it mine until I could get my own strength back or contrive some new strain of that thing called stability personal power. But I couldn't find it. Not in the lover I wore out with my clinging need Not in the mother who promised only to make it worse not in the brilliance of the university where I pretended to belong. Not in the department of gun wearing, baton toting cops, among whom I orbited 25 hours each week. They were all strangers. So in the days, weeks, months, years following my brief meeting with the man and his knife, I learned something something I didn't want to know. Beneath the narrative of our days, there is another story, a story we don't get too right. One of the things that I really love that you capture in this book is the feeling of something missing, something being taken, um, people who have never experienced violation. Um, because you and I were talking before we started recording. It's not the event. It's the ripples that fuck with you. Um, talk about how it has actually before we do that. Talk about being a campus police aid when this happened and how you felt amongst the police kind of being one of them, but also not being one of them. You were dating a guy who was also a campus police aid. The moment when the police came after you called 911 is such a striking moment. I actually would you would you read some of that from the from the book? I think it's so perfectly captures that feeling of like being so alone, even though these air quote unquote your people. These are law enforcement people. Uh, yeah and their law enforcement people who mean well. But it was a really unusual situation and just thio give some background on what you've alluded to in the book. A time of my assault. I was a 19 year old U C Berkeley sophomore. It was summer, I was taking summer classes and I was working my job as, ah, you see Police Department aide. We were called and we were cop uniforms. We had all the sutra months of cops minus the baton and the gun on. The only thing that identified us as not being a real cop was a tiny little patch beneath this seal that, you know, anyone who's ever watched a cop show on TV, the seal on the arms of your uniforms. And that was a small patch. And it said aid and my job was to patrol the campus in darkness. Anyone who's familiar with U. C. Berkeley knows that it's, Ah, big campus. It's a little crime ridden the streets surrounding Berkeley or definitely crime ridden. And my job was to patrol. I had a police radio, and also my job was to walk other women home to safety. There was a campus police line 64 to walk. You called it? You said, I'm at the library. I'm alone. I need to walk home to my dorm, and I and other AIDS would be dispatched and then we'd walk them home. Are on Lee. You know, my only protection was the uniforms and the police radio. And so after a shift, I it's about midnight I go to the police locker room, take off my uniforms, put on my regular college young woman close, and I walk home to my apartment and darkness and outside my apartment is where the where the assault occurred. And after, when Berkeley Police Department arrived at my apartment, I felt, uh, really self conscious about them not treating me like a real cop. I felt inferior, and, uh, and again, that was more about me and my feelings of inadequacy than them. But I'll read really briefly from the scene after the assault after I've called 911 and when Berkeley P. D arrives and there's a sergeant in charge, and, uh, I'll take it from there. Sergeant Western Hoff asks more questions, filling in details of what happened, how it happened, where when she listens to my descriptions of the knife, jotting it all down into her note pad, how much time elapsed from the time you first saw him to the time he ran away? I can't honestly say how long it lasted. It happened so fast. Yet each microsecond felt impossibly long, unimaginably drawn out. Time was no longer an objective measurement. Didn't they understand that I released a heavy sigh. I don't know. Five minutes total, Sergeant Western, Off scribbles on her pad. I shift my focus back to Sergeant Weston off. I know of what information is pertinent. A description of the man who attacked me. Description of the incident. Facts on Lee. No speculation, No embroidering the story. But what had happened in my mind while the incident occurred? But I can't resist. In that moment, I knew I had only two choices. Scream and have him slit my throat Or don't scream and take my chances. I stop Clear my throat. So I screamed. I watched the faces of these police grimace, bodies shifting and discomfort. I feel foolish now, child like, ah girl who has proven she is not one of their cop clan. Berkeley P d looks down on you. C p D u c p d Doesn't see the kind of action Berkeley P D P. D. Does. Where campus cops one rung up from mall cops. And I'm not even a real campus cop. Another officer moves in. Did you scratch them at all? I don't think so. He has me hold out my hands taking them loosely in his and giving them a once over like an impatient father, checking to see if his child washed properly. And what what goes on to answer your question, Paul after that is that I'm still in my little universe of campus Police Department, and the code of conduct in a police department is Be tough. Be tough, be tough. And that's what I tried Thio dio. And in doing so, a zai describe in the book over several chapters, I do myself a huge psychological disservice. People reach out to me awkwardly because it's an awkward situation for people who are orbiting around the victim on this was also 30 years ago, which, yeah, we've come a long way. We've come a long way in terms of our sensitivities, Um, but when people would reach out, I pushed them everybody away. And my mantra was, I'm fine. I'm fine. Nothing even happened. I wasn't raped. It was just, you know, it's just a little knife attack. You know, I'm not the type of person to be affected by such a little trifle, is this? Uh and you know, when we lie, we create distance and, you know, just to survive in this world. I think we have to lie a little bit. We can't always go out with our innards on display. Um, you know, crying at the grocery store. Even if we feel like crying at the grocery store, we have to try to keep it together. Um, but that's a lot of what that this book is about to is, you know, lying.