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1/13/13

Spoiled Goods or Hereby I Say My Peace, Once And For All


For the last two months, exactly from the week I voted for the first time as an American, today being Sunday, January 06, 2013, I engaged in various activities and thoughts that made me reluctantly dug up the past, and end up making it public, trying somehow to put it to rest once and for all. Not that the past needed that much digging, it would pop up annoyingly often.
I grew up in a dusty small town in Transylvania, Romania. My father was a hardworking man, but a heavy drinker. My mother, an equally hard working woman, didn’t divorce him, saying her four children needed a father, and besides, where should she go?! and overall, what for, since all men were crappy. I grew up devouring novels while weathering the ongoing family drama, my head buried in books and ducking from flying cooking pans. The imaginary was easier on me.
During my adolescence it became apparent that I was an artsy type and that our small town was just that, too small for my creative aspirations. I recall my first deconstructionist fashion statement was a pair of jeans that I turned into a dress by ripping off the seams of the legs then re-sewing them together, one arm going out of the zipper slot, the other thru the unraveled buttocks’ line. To finess my defiant look I also wore black, round rim sunglasses and noisy, black clogs. As I headed downtown my dear mother was coming back from work with her habitual shopping bags. She just passed by me. I thought she was ashamed to see me thus adorned but when I arrived back home she said she hadn’t recognized me on the spot. So I got my usual admonishments as to what the neighbors would say.
My mother was of the opinion that women who wear lipstick were whores and women should be virgins until marriage. My younger sister took a box of pills when her first beaux dumped her because she gave him her virginity so she was dishonored.
Anyway, I was a good student, math was my forte, but I also loved dancing. We had one disco, no, two discos and I’d dance until they shooed us, the youth, out. My arriving home after midnight annoyed my mom to the extreme, so one night my father gave me a good thrashing with his belt and heavy buckle since he was inebriated and my mom was egging him on saying that I for sure belonged to a religious cult that had secret nocturnal meetings and our family would be punished. This was during crazed, rabid atheist communist days, before the anti-communist revolution of ’89, and they’d report you if you wnet to church, not like nowadays when beefy churches were built on every street corner.
So after several drastic coercions like these, and repeated failed attempts of leaving the loving family nest, I married a guy who had already graduated high school and I moved out. I had one more year to go. But my marrying so young was doomed immoral by The Code Of Principles, Norms, Ethics and Equities of Socialism that must govern Its Golden Era New Man behavior and it created a hullaballoo. I was automatically forced to move by the school administrators to evening courses, and instead of one year, I had to drag my way for two more years until I graduated. I’ve never understood why that switch was mandatory for girls, since I wasn’t pregnant, and even if I was, what kind of punishing law was that?! Here teenage girls take their babies to the day care center so they can study. Anyway, upon graduation I went to take the entrance exam at the Institute of Theatrical and Cinematographic Arts in our beloved capital, Bucharest. They had 4 seats a year for girls, or 6, I don’t remember anymore, and there were always over 1,000 applicants. Let alone most of those wretched 4 seats went to children of actors and directors, and rumor had it to communist party honchos’ offsprings. No matter, I went, I failed, I returned to the prison of my dusty, gray, small town. Not for long. I realized if you want to be part of the art scene, then you’d better get yourself to the scene, for that scene was for sure not in my town that had no theater whatsoever, only two dilapidated cinemas. Plus I read in Cinema, our national magazine, what a Romanian movie star who was born in a small town nearby mine said in an interview, ‘Let the aspiring youth come to me!’ So I took him on that. Surely he understood me!
Thus one fine day I told my husband it’s time to go to the capital. He kept postponing, so I took off, hoping he’d catch up with me. Nope. I set myself in a cheap hotel and proceeded to go to the theaters and figure out how I should let the movie star know that I needed his help, I needed acting lessons. I figured out which theater he worked at and one fine day as I waited for him at the back entrance at the end of his rehearsal, someone looking vaguely like him—the him on the silver screen—walked out of the theater. He was a shrimp, had dirty clothing, and his hair was stringy, but I called his name and he turned back. I told him my mission, he said great, he’d tell me pronto after a quick test if I had talent because he liked my looks and wanted to have sex with me. I was stunned. I mumbled that I loved someone else, but no matter I gave him my hotel phone number. He called the next morning asking what I actually wanted from him. I repeated my piece: Looking for an acting coach, not sure if I had talent since I failed the exam. He said I should come the next day after rehearsal.
I counted the hours. My destiny would be decided soon. Meanwhile since I was running out of money, I had to rent a room. So I went with the newspaper ads in hand to see some possible places. I got lost and one guy in the street gave me directions, and then hearing my story, he said that there was a room for rent in the house he lived. My lucky day. I could move in that very evening, after he got off work. Great! We’d meet at the back entrance of the theater; and after my conversation with the movie star he’d help me with my suitcases from the hotel.
Well, I decided to dress for the artistic appraisal with clothing designed by creative me: I put on a long yellow T-shirt, striped yellow and black leggings that I made by sewing two leg warmers together, the kind strictly soccer players wore, and yellow plastic clogs. I also had my hair puffed up in a mega Afro that I achieved by braiding 30 pigtails when the hair was wet and then unravelling them when it dried.
Thus creatively decked, I went my merry way.
Now this was in a country where people wore gray overalls at their workplaces, total regimentation. In the street I had people spitting at me, screaming I was the devil! They’d whistle, honk, I kid you not. But my future landlord, who was waiting for me, took it all in stride. Alas, when the actor saw my get ups and that I was accompanied by a guy, told me furiously to fuck off, I’d get him in trouble, what would the theater administration think of him, and what was that showing up with a guy?!
Well, all my dreams of artistic solidarity were crushed. Even here in the capital, in the theater world, my creativity was not encouraged, but ridiculed. Nowadays kids, not even artsy types who want to make a career out of their creative looks, at least here in New York, dress ten times more outlandish and no one bothers them. I wasn’t even dressed revealing, though this is beside the point. Were Lady Gaga to venture on the streets of Bucharest, she’d be lynched.
So back at the hotel, I changed and moved out. I paid the rent upon arrival at the new home, a house on a street without pavement at the outskirts of Bucharest. At times I think I remember the street name, September 11 Way. I even tried to go there years later, but l got confused. Maybe the main street was September 11, and maybe the house was on a side street. Anyway, I was exhausted after that day’s experiences. I swore I’d make it into this unfeeling world, and I’d show the movie star hypocrite what a real artist was, since his rebel silver screen persona was a sham. He cared more about what the theater administration thought of my leggings than of a burgeoning artist future sensation like myself. I shall conquer the world. I locked the door and fell asleep, grateful that this guy, a mere country bumpkin, a working class dude, proved to be kinder than the mega star sham.
I woke up during night to loud knocking at my door, someone hollering he was from the police, ‘We were made aware that a non-resident was harbored in the house, present your ID! Open the door!’ At that time they had laws that you couldn’t live wherever you wanted, especially in Bucharest. They had what they called ‘closed-cities’. So if your ID was from a different town they could put you in prison. They also put young people in prison if they didn’t work after they failed the college entrance exam, because they were declared ‘social parasites’. But you couldn’t work in a city you didn’t have an ID for and you couldn’t get an ID if you didn’t work in that city.
No matter, I refused to open the door. The landlord started whining at the door, ‘You should be nice to the policeman because we’ll all get in trouble.’ ‘What do you mean by nice?’ I asked. ‘Well, you know...’ ‘No, no way.’ So more hollering, more pounding on the door, more door jostling, and in the end they burst into the room, four of them, all in their late twenties, and after more police pretense, they got down to business. Two were holding me, while the pretend policeman raped me. A forth one was pacing about, telling them to leave me alone. They called me all the names they could. If I wanted to be an actress, they’d show me some acting, much better than the movie star. I screamed and screamed, they grabbed my face, they hit me, broke my front tooth, smashed my lip. Disfigured me. To this day I don’t understand why no neighbor showed up to the rescue. I screamed so loud, my skull was paining. After the policeman was done, he asked the landlord scumbag, ‘Why did you say she’d be okay with it? She’ll put us all in prison.’ The landlord said I just pretended, they should get out, and I’d be nice to him.
They cleared the room. The creep undressed, he had dirty knickers and his toe nails were long and black. When he was dressed he seemed a nice guy, with curly blond hair, blue eyes, I think, not an educated guy, but decent. Now he was disgusting. He saw my surprise and he smirked, saying he needed a woman to take care of him. He approached me. When he was lowering himself on me, I yanked his balls. He hollered, then he kicked my belly with his feet, I grabbed a bottle, broke it, or it was already broken, I don’t remember, I just know I cut my fingers, and trembling, I told him, ‘Stay away from me, or I’ll kill you. All I want is to go, I’m not gonna report you to the police, just let me go.’ I was trembling, crying. The forth guy closed my suitcase, and got me out of the house, pointing me to the end of the street for the streetcar stop.
I was shaking on my unsteady feet, my ironing machine, my stuff falling out of the suitcase. I had blood on my trousers, on my hands, face, my jacket too. I found the streetcar end stop. It was not running yet. When it did, I sat by the window, going around and around. I was numb. I couldn’t go to the police, they’d put me in jail, because of the parasite and residence laws. I called my mom at dawn. She asked me if I was raped. ‘Yes.’ ‘Come home.’
The only train was in the evening. All day long I rode on the streetcar, cold and hungry. I also went to talk to another movie star, at a smaller theater, this time a woman. Her moniker was the Queen of the Romanian Theater, whom I approached again for coaching, but she just looked at my bruised face and said the way I presented myself was not up to the industry standards. I felt such shame. Then I sat on a bench in a park by the train station looking at the rats running up and down the baren bush branches. When night came I went to the train station waiting room. A peasant woman with a babushka looked at me in amazement and wagged her head, asking me what in the Good Lord has happened to me. I couldn’t talk, choking with tears. So ashamed.
At home my parents looked at me in disgust. Not even a hug. My husband said he’d take me back, in spite of now being spoiled goods. I just looked at him. Couldn’t even articulate, ‘No, thanks. What kind of men are you? You and my father?!’
For a month I sat hidden in the house until my face healed. Then my mother found me a job at the post office, where I distributed mail into the PO boxes. The post master was a prick, he’d constantly make dirty jokes, pinch the workers’ breasts, buttocks, slimy guy. Rumor had it he slept with one of the postal workers. I didn’t last long there, after I gathered a bit of money, I read an ad for a nanny job in Bucharest, I called and I got the position, and I left immediately that night. I won’t go into what happened with them. The father, a defrocked, persecuted priest, was the director of a tire making company, or repairs, but this didn’t stop him from hitting on me. And the grandpa too, he could barely shuffle his slippers but don’t you think one evening he came into my attic room?
I found an acting coach, expensive, but at least he wanted only money. For years my life was about taking the acting entrance exam, almost getting in, second under the red line, now the tenth, almost, almost, next year for sure. I wormed my way in a youth theater. The director being gay there was no peril of couch casting, at least for us girls, the boys, oh, poor wretches.
I remember once I was the Queen in Hamlet and the director asked me to scream when Polonius was found dead. He advised me to tap into my subconscious following the method, was big on Stanislavski. No, the Polish one, Grotowski, The Poor Theater one. Well, I tapped. I screamed the scream of my constant nightmares ever since the rape, for years and years I’d scream in my sleep, wake up in terror and not recognize where I was, not recognize my husband, being terrified by him, shaking. Then in the morning I’d be ashamed hearing neighbors gossip about the awful nocturnal scream, bellowing like a cow giving birth, as one of them described it. I was a nuisance, a bother. Well, I screamed when Polonius died, and the director said it was not the right kind of scream. Too much terror. Too much realism. Oh, well.
Whenever I’d see the rebel movie star on a poster, or on TV or in a movie, I’d be cold with sweat, my heart pounding, wanting to rip off the poster, scream at him it was all because of his pretty lies, ‘Let the children come to me!’ Couldn’t he see I was a runaway girl, couldn’t he predict the danger? And at the same time I’d feel ashamed, everybody loved him, it was not right how I felt. Everything was wrong with me. I’d wear large baggy clothing; I’d hide my face behind my hair. My eyes behind the fringe. Goodwishers would scold me I didn’t show off my shapely femininity.
I had misadventures with other A-listers, to hell with them. One, a senile decrepit fuck, to which the gay gentleman sent me saying he’s generous with young talents, jumped on me promptly, namely that how could he not dip in the barrel of honey. And he’d lecture me how I should behave like another protéjé of his, now an acting student thanks to him. That girl once when they went to a mountain retreat with the Institute candidates pretended to be ill and he had to get off the bus with her, only to find out she wanted to tumble in the grass with him. Oh, such a charming crazy girl! No, thanks for your fatherly advice. This gentleman had a huge belly, he was wider than taller. Tumbling in the grass. Such concern. I turned around and slammed the door.
But there were kind actors too, only they kept out of it, disgusted. It doesn’t matter now.
One late autumn day I was in a pastry shop by Cişmigiu Park, and as I turned around with my kremschnit to-go, I faced this guy with thinned blond hair. It was him, the scumbag, for sure it was him. I stared at him and he stared back. Cold sweats, heart pounding, unable to move. I faintly asked him, ‘What is your name, Sir?’ He looked at me coldly and said, ‘Duşmanu Cătălin.’ Why did I just shake my head, said, ‘Yes… yes…’ and left, I don’t know. I knew it was him alright. Walking in daylight. Had a sweet tooth. It still didn’t cross my mind I could go to the police. I still didn’t have a residence ID, or a steady job. Just theater, theater. My parents hadn’t gone to the police. I was ashamed, and horrified. Didn’t know what to do.
Then the ’89 revolution erupted. God, the horrible tortures that people testified on TV. Political prisoners who suffered decades of beatings and humiliations, and death, for their convictions. What is a gang rape compared to that? Nothing.
That next year at entrance exam we were promised things would be fair. I just gave birth. My breasts were dripping with milk. I was in pain from the cut the doctor made in me so the baby’s head could come out. Well, we had to take an athletic ability test, to jump over a hobby horse. You had to open your legs widely to jump over it. I told the examiner, a stunt man by training, I couldn’t jump it even for a million dollars. I barely gave birth. He hollered at me, didn’t I know where I was? This was the Institute for Theatrical and Cinematographical Arts. And he gave me the equivalent of an F-. Yep. I often wonder if the great Romanian tragediennes were also required to jump the hobby horse to enter the damn Institute.
Then came the improvisation test. I don’t even remember what I was supposed to improvise, some gimmick, because who was on the entrance exam commission? There, three feet from me, seating with his legs sprawled nonchalantly in the dark behind the spotlight? Of course the rebel movie star, the top billing outlaw. I wanted to scream at him, ‘You have no place here, you’re a predator, a liar, a communist party line toer, you have no right to decide my fate.’ But I didn’t say a word, of course, I went thru the motions trying to improvise something somehow with a mirror, idiotic games. They told me later—my acting coach then knew one guy on the committee—that I behaved like I didn’t want to be there. Huh. And why would I want to be there?
Life took me to a different country as an undergraduate student. I also worked as a journalist with English language papers. I was assigned one day an interview with our movie rebel since he started a company that performed in English and was about to come on tour. Oh, how he ass-kissed. All thru the interview I wondered if he remembered me. I shall never know. I was amazed how stupid the answers he gave me were. Impostor. The editor split with laughter when he read the arrogant idiocies I taped. We killed the story out of pity. Let the nation have heroes. Then he died. Liver cirrhosis. The country in tears. Our rebel left us alone. Go to hell. And yet I felt, ‘What’s wrong with me? This is one of our national heroes. What’s wrong with you, woman?’ ‘Nothing, nothing. Speak kindly of the dead.’
Then the internet took over my life. Information explosion. Self-help craze. Feminism. Reclaim your sexuality. Reclaim your dignity. Reclaim your life. I wrote, oh, how I wrote, a play about the gang rape, No Sob Stories, Please!, then a book of erotica, My Mad Carnation,with rather violent fantasies, I bestowed them upon unsuspecting audiences, upon innocent readers. Then horrified of submitting them to my nightmares, I hid them in the deep drawer.
I asked my parents why they never took me to a doctor, I could have been pregnant. Why no police report? Something. They scoffed irritated, what would have been the use of that? Nothing, police does nothing. The town would have put me to shame, I was spoiled goods. And the way I dressed, well, they had told me not to go to Bucharest, it was full of criminals. They told me to switch to taking the entrance exam to the Language and Literature Department?! My private acting lessons had cost them a fortune. My father could have bought a car with that money!
I was upset, angry at them, angry at Romania, got into therapy, reading, psychoanalisis, the works. There’s no escape. Look what happened in Bosnia, in Congo. Mass raping. I had various depressing causes I worked on, altruistically helping people eradicate this and that, alcoholism, racism, stigmatization, so on. I associated with angry people who wanted to change the world, but in the process they’d be surrounded by misery and powerlessness. I busied myself with anything but unearth my deepest story, which I do it now.
Did I date? Oh, sure I dated. But usually guys who in the end would prove predators—wolves in shipskin. And I’d retaliate. Brilliantly I’d retaliate. I helped an ambassador gentleman getting exiled in the bottom of the Russian Georgia to milk goats. I had rights and I learned how to exercise them. I was proud that I wasn’t a poor dumb runaway girl at the hand of rapists anymore.
Until this fall, when I realized this last guy—a donkey—I realized, you know, yes, he hurt me, he deceived me, and I dished out grandly, but in the end I somehow felt bored and tired of it all. The same kind of guy, the same Nicey Nice Ella, ‘til one fine day she’s not Nicey Nice Ella anymore, she’s the Angel of Justice hacking the Dragon with her Sword of Fire. For years I watched Law and Order, and Criminal Minds, and other such concocted crime series, since for the length of the show, good prevails, bad is punished. On that night in Bucharest I was at the wrong time, wrong place, wrong people, that’s all, rape will never happen to me here in America, here the system of justice works. Romania, communism sucks. Well, suddenly all those hours of watching crime concoctions were humiliating. I could have done something better with that time. Even written my own justice-making book.
I suddenly felt I was trapped by past injustices. I suddenly felt I was turning into a harmful person. The poor schmuck did damage to me, but I retaliated disproportionately. This has to stop once and for all. As if on purpose you, Ella, let shitty guys in your life, and you put your heart in their undeserving hands like bait so you can really punish them to death. They are symbols of the past. Stand-ins for the rapists. This has to stop. You must go about things differently. Immediately.
And oh, I scurried on the internet, how to forgive, how to forget the past, read, read, nothing jives with me. I’m sorry, but I won’t turn the other cheek. No, I can’t forget. No, I can’t forgive. They have to pay. Rapists. Yes, but they pay much more, like they did petty theft and you punish them for murder. And then the next one shows up. And the next one. Just the same. Stop calling them into your life. It’s like a ritual. You’re out of whack. You have to do something different.
One tribe in Africa, a story on Facebook goes, doesn’t punish the evil doer, but reminds him of the good things he’s done in life, reminds him what is expected of him. Interesting approach, I mumbled, but what about the victim? What does she do? Sings Kumbaya along with the entire tribe, or throws rocks at him? I can’t forgive. Hit him where it hurts—in his wallet. Well, I did hit him in his wallet, and it didn’t help. More internet scurrying. In a video, Forgiving the Unforgivable, a lecturer asks the audience, thus me, if I hurt anyone along my life? Yes, sure. So would I feel alright with never being forgiven? Ever? Of course not. Then I have to take an intellectual decision to forgive. Ugh.
I never tried it before. I shall do it for a change. Take a leap of faith. Doctors keep on saying that not forgiving is bad for your health, your blood pressure, your immune system. Oh, shut up. So I write my schmuck, ‘I ask forgiveness for my share in the mess. I take responsibility for my not standing up for myself and giving in to your lies. I accept my share in the damage.’
Well, don’t you know, for a few hours before I go to sleep, I feel buoyant, I feel sexy, I feel hip. It might work this new forgiveness trick they keep on talking about. The next morning I’m all upset! The schmuck is supposed to ask forgiveness too for the mess and hurt he did to me. He is supposed to ask forgiveness too. Oh, yeah?! He doesn’t even bother to respond. Not in a million years. Well, Ella, why do you turn around? You did it for yourself. God, it’s no good.
I consult with wise friends. One says, ‘You know, in the eastern philosophy of karma it says that both victim and perpetrator are guilty.’ ‘What?!’ ‘Yes, that this was called upon you because of your previous trespasses, or your ancestors’.’
It hurts. How should I know what evil my ancestors did to people? I was raised to be a decent person. I’ve assumed it’s because all my family is decent. This sucks. This is all over blaming the victim. This is terrible.
I talk to more people. One comes up with the idea that I need a ritual of healing, psychodrama, the opposite of gang rape, being group sex, I should become polyandrous, do it with two, three, in my case four loving guys that are gaga about me. Man, it’s hard enough to find one, let alone four. But, don’t you think I researched the idea? Oh, my God, there are communities in India and some islands where brothers are married to the same wife, but for economical reasons, since they can’t afford the dowry to buy two wives. So she cooks and washes dirty shirts for two husbands. Grand. No love in this. Group sex is done when on LSD, or under influence, the sixties, hippies. There’s no healing love in this kind of activity. Healing rituals are not for me.
But you have to do something. Perhaps I should ask forgiveness to the fucking scumbag rapists? Whatever I do I can’t change the past anyway, I’ll always be a loser trying to change it, so I’d better take responsibility for my part in the mess. Such as? Following your teenage dream? Dressing unusual? Go to hell, I won’t ask forgiveness from gang rapists! No. You should! Just try. You don’t know, maybe it helps. What do you lose? You should! No!
And then, bang, end of December six guys from the slums of New Delhi gang rape a student, on a bus riding in plain view on the streets of the city and then the police don’t do much about it, and then people get out in the street and have candle vigils and protests and want change. They don’t want the current whooping statistics of rape any longer. They demand change. They demand punishment. Well, if in India, where they believe in karma, they ask for punishment, well, then how should I ask Christian forgiveness from my gang rapists?! Never!
It’s New Year’s Eve and instead of preparing for the party I cry in front of the computer screen. In my country no one took to the streets to protest when I was gang raped. In my country I ‘deserved it.’ My friends here say I should look at the bright side. Perhaps I can now sympathieze with other rape victims, I can lighten their burden, I can tell them there is life after rape. Mine is a success story.
Is it? I stare at the computer screen and cry uncontrollably, no one did anything. Nothing, they did nothing. Perhaps there is another woman in Romania or wherever she ran faraway like me, who was raped in Romania and she too cries in front of the computer screen, decades after the crime. Perhaps we’re together. Perhaps…
No, nothing.
I want to know what the Romanian media says about the Indian tragedy. Not much. Not much. One asshole even comments that women should stay home, not walk about at night, she deserved it. Another reader replies that such comments are primitive, is he by chance a brother of Vlad Nicolae, the serial rapist? So I scurry, google Vlad Nicolae. Last summer Vlad Nicolae raped and murdered a Japanese student who arrived at the airport in Bucharest to teach Japanese in a town away from Bucharest, and this Vlad Nicolae lured her into a taxi, and the taxi driver deposited them by the woods where Vlad Nicolae raped her, robbed her and killed her. The outrage is that Japanese people, who seem to be held in high regard by the reader commentators, might think all Romanians are like this Vlad Nicolae, a mere illiterate Gypsy. Maybe they don’t think much about India because Gypsy people came from India and they are oh, a terrible pest, ruin the image of Romania wherever they go, Romanian nationalists complain.
As I read, it comes out there were other victims before this poor Japanese girl, but the authorities did nothing when one of them died, and another one who was assaulted complained and even provided an object that could be tested for the rapist’s DNA. She even offered to pay herself for the test. Were the authorities not to ignore these poor women’s tragedies, the Japanese girl would be alive, because the guy would have been in prison. But the poor women before her were old and disposable. They were not cute Japanese girls. I swear, this is how the Romanian headlines read,“Look, How Cute The Murdered Japanese Girl Was!”
The Japanese press correspondent showed up to conduct his investigation but was stonewalled by the Romanian authorities. He pointed out the tragedy could have been prevented. What was the taxi driver thinking dropping her by the woods? What were the authorities thinking ignoring the previous victims? What was the organization that invited her to Romania thinking to let an innocent, inexperienced girl on her own at night in the jungle of the airport? What was the airport safety team thinking letting such unsavory characters like the rapist ambush the travelers?
And I think about the past. Yes, what was the theater community thinking letting the Theater Institute operate in that dishonest, nepotistic way, so that young people should be submitted to such humiliations as the sham of the entrance exams, their youth and talent thwarted? What were the neighbors on that dirt street thinking when I was screaming and no one came to help me? What were the people of Bucharest thinking when they saw my wounds and blood stains and didn’t ask questions? At least now I know what my parents were thinking when they didn’t report it to the police. Police do nothing. Today, 2013, when Romania is a democracy. The justice guys, D.I.’s Office, prosecuters, whatever you call them, responsible for letting this serial rapist go free were not put in prison, but were merely demoted. And that’s that.
As I read, I realized my fault. I should have written this testimony down many, many years ago. I should have said my piece publicly many, many years ago. I never had the guts to. I let shifty guys in my life instead. To have someone to extract an ounce of justice from. I should have written this testimony to my country of rape many, many years ago.
But the shame—what the parents would say—and what for? Nobody would move a finger. The shame.
Well, here you have it now.
As I surfed the internet I came across girls who organized themselves in Bucharest and tell the world that every four hours a woman is raped in Romania. That guys get away with it, because see, she dressed provocatively. Guys pinch, whistle, hurl sexual insults on women who just walk by. In plain daylight. And it’s okay with authorities.
No, it’s not okay. I live now in New York. Never ever has a guy done this to me here. They compliment me on the street, my dress, my shoes, my sense of color, my smile, but never harass me. Yes, there is domestic violence, but we have shelters where women can seek refuge, we can file a police report and the court grants us an order of protection. And then if the stupid fuck doesn’t abide by the law, he goes to jail.
I said my piece. If you think you can use it to improve lives and policies, please do so. At times I wonder with all the computerization whether it would be easy to find out where that scumbag Cătălin Duşmanu is. Though I assume the law can’t prosecute him and his gang for a crime so long ago.
Year after year I was silent, thinking it’s too late now. But each year it’s one more year too late. I’ve said it now, so I won’t take it with me to the grave, and I have no expectations.
Though I ask myself who was responsible for the fact that there were so few seats at the Theater Institute in the ‘80s. The Ministry of Education? They’d deserve to be taken to court, with the Romanian state in tow. Here, if you want to be an actor, sure, study. You are given all possibilities, so you see for yourself if you are good at it, if not, you drop the ball yourself.
I never understood clearly why Ceauşescu, our dictator, hated artists. Were we thought dangerous, subversive? There were so many talented youth, and they were struggling, tortured. Stolen lives. Only those youth were not taken into account as victims of the oppressive communist system, like the political prisoners were, so that their suffering would be acknowledged at least. But they were victims of the cultural policies and communist corruption.
I’m thinking I shall write to the Institute too, even if they’ll scream that I want to desecrate the memory of the rebel movie star, to besmear the Theater Institute because of the frustration of my failure to enter the Institute. But let them think and say whatever. Oh, please, me, a failure, because I didn’t study under those mediocre spineless scumbags that were all over TV reciting shitty patriotic poems to aggrandize the Dictator and his creepy wife? And those who didn’t tolerated them. Priviledged profiteers. I assume many of them are dead by now, retired, sick. Not worth the bother. I have a lovely artistic life now. I’ve done things here I never dreamt I’d be able to do back in Romania!
But I just wonder that no one said anything after the revolution, they keep on doing their dirty deals. On my last visit to Bucharest, a couple of years ago, I heard that the head of the Institute was bestowing Bachelor’s and Ph.D.s and teaching positions on his entire family, wife and ex-wife, sons and daughters, each and every one received a degree, only if they didn’t want one. But as if he is the only one?! Wherever you look you still see sons and daughters, nieces and nephews. Educated on state scholarships.
It’s stressful to give testimonies. I don’t know how the poor things testified on TV in ‘89. It makes me ill. I’ll go dance at zumba class.
New York
Sunday, January 06, 2013

Besides my voicing it live at 6:30 p.m. on february 14th, V-Day, it shall be on my radio show at 3 p.m. same day at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/ellaveresshow and a videotaped reading of it is already up at https://vimeo.com/59619027


For a Romanian version, published in jurnalul.ro please click on this link

Well, here you have it: If you’d like to throw a bit of money my way to keep my endeavors going, and also enable me to spread the money to my various causes, witnessing democracy, amassing oral history testimonies, and engineering social change being some of them, I’d be grateful.

27 comments:

  1. Punished them

    Pedepseste i pe nenorociti
    Atunci vei fi libera !

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  2. fantastic articolul, n-am mai citit demult ceva "bun" in presa romaneasca, cu exceptia violului, este exact povestea mea, noroc ca exista Cambridge si e a cincea universitate din lume, eu am fost agresata sexual in fiecare zi in drumul spre si dinspre scoala, ciupita, fluierata, pipaita, n-am sa uit niciodata cum mergeam foarte repede si faceam "slalom" printre romanasii nostri, ca brazii, care-si intindeau mainile ca sa apuce de ceva, de orice- ma gandeam atunci daca nua aveau si ei fete si neveste pe-acasa.....si acum mi-e sila de barbati, dupa o casnicie esuata in care jegul a incercat sa ma iubeasca "feroce" nu m-am mai recasatorit, si nic nu crd ca o s-o fac vreodata, pe-aici nu intalnesc decat acelasi gen de labagii feroce.... nu s-a schimbat aproape nimic dupa revolutie....e o continua masturbare nationala.....

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  6. ai inceput un lucru,mergi pana la capat!in numele tuturor femeilor abuzate sexual din romania,te rog,ajuta-ne sa schimbam mentalitatea macar a unei parti dintre acesti barbati!sta in puterea noastra sa schimbam ceva!tu poti fi vocea noastra!1 din 2 femei in romania a fost abuzata CEL PUTIN o data-n viata!acum este momentul!cand subiectul abuzurilor sexuale din politie este intens mediatizat!

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  7. Va felicit ca ati avut puterea de a povestii! Intr-un fel,v-ati eliberat. Din nefericire, atrocitatile astea, inca se petrec la fel de frecvent si la toate nivelurile. Raportate si pedepsite, cred ca nu-s nici un sfert din ele. Mentalitatea e aceeasi, cum o stii, vei constata si din comentarii, iar neincrederea in justitie, in organele statului face ca orice strigat de ajutor si de razbunare sa ti-l tii pentru tine. Si daca totusi te destainui cuiva, tot datorita mentalitatii esti sfatuit sa taci, sa uiti, iti vei face mai mult rau, vei fii acuzata ca tu ai fost de vina, te va vorbii lumea etc. Nici consiliere psihologica nu-ti poti permite, daca nu din cauza banilor, atunci tot din cauza mentalitatii. Nascut in Romania, esti victima din start! E tare trist ce spun dar citind povestea ta, realizez ca de fapt nici nu prea s-au schimbat multe, nici in capul romanilor dar nici la nivel de tara... Mai vreau sa-ti spun ca te inteleg foarte bine, si eu am trecut printr-o astfel de experienta! N-am mai putut fii la fel ca innainte niciodata! Mi-am ratat studiile si am pierdut ani la rand, gandindu-ma de ce mi s-a intamplat mie!... Toate cele bune iti doresc si scrieri la fel de reusite!

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  8. va multumesc mult ptr comentarii si imi pare rau ca asa stau lucrurile si la nivel personal si la nivel national.
    dar sigur ca as vrea sa fac ceva mai mult. nu stiu inca concret ce, dar daca aveti idei va rog impartasitile. [eu nu mai folosesc liniutele si diacriticele]
    pot sa public eseul in ziarele de aici in engleza, apoi sa fac un spectacol si sal filmez si sal pun pe net, si pate sa vin in romania cu el? altceva nu stiu. dar spunetimi voi.
    cu mult drag

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  9. Ella,

    In povestea ta trista se recunosc multe femei care au trecut sau au fost nevoite sa accepte compromisuri. Cele care nu au acceptat au plecat. Asta nu inseamna ca isi detesta tara, dar au cautat un loc sub soare unde santajul sezual nu este tolerat. Te felicit pentru ca ai plecat! Si te admir pentru puterea de a povesti intr-un limbaj artistic de mare valoare o poveste trista, in care iertarea nu are ce cauta. Capul sus si mergi mei departe!

    Cu drag, Dana (NY)

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  10. Bună Ella,

    Tot respectul și eu.

    Pentru curajul pe care l-ai avut să scrii și să publici acest articol, pentru tăria și cred, blândețea care te ajută să faci frumos în viață și mai zic încă, pentru faptul că reușești să inspiri.

    Articolul m-a emoționat și m-a înfuriat deopotrivă. Am plâns de drag și de nervi. Altul este, însă motivul pentru care am decis să scriu acest comentariu. M-ai inspirat să-mi aduc aminte de ce înseamnă demnitate.

    Mă simt dator să-ți spun (cu riscul de a deveni siropos) că textul tău emană această calitate sublimă. Spun "sublimă" pentru că așa se simte și pentru că mă face să îndrăznesc să cred în umanitate și o face cu putere.

    Tocmai această calitate le lipsește spiritelor schimonosite, ca cele de care ai amintit (fie ei academicieni, vedete de cinema sau muncitori cu cârca). Le lipsește pentru că au învățat ce e frica și nu ce e iubirea. Au învățat să se ascundă și să iasă la suprafață doar ca să lovească.

    Realitatea, este adevărat, nu s-a schimbat cu mult în România. Sunt încă mari(?) actori care se scaldă în mocirlă pe câte un scaun de profesor la UNATC, purtând vanitoși niște lauri închipuiți pe tâmple cărunte. Și dacă ei, care ar trebui să fie îndrumători spirituali, sunt atât de mici, atunci, desigur că fenomenul este încă real.

    Cred, totuși că starea asta națională își consumă încet, încet inerția. Cred că suntem martorii unor ultime zvâcniri puternice ale unor vremuri murdare.

    Nu trebuie decât să fim atenți și vom vedea exemple de curaj, de generozitate neinteresată, de modele de caracter care apar destul de îndrăzneț în diverse medii culturale. Oameni care, pur și simplu, trebuie să-și dea sens existenței și făcând asta, vor ameliora starea actuală.

    Voi fi îndrăzneț și eu și voi spune că oamenii ăia suntem mulți.

    Aș vrea să termin într-o notă simpatică. Am atașat un link către o melodie care mi-a fost recomandată de un absolvent de liceu. (click pe Ștefan se pare)

    Cu drag,

    Ștefan

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  11. multumesc dana.
    inca nu imi revin, desi era de asteptat, dupa ce am terminat de citit comentariile de pe ziar acum cinci minute. aoleo, ce mai tevatura... ce violenta.

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  12. multumesc, stefan.
    sami spui nume de oameni indrazneti, ca as vrea sai am alaturi sa ne sprijinim reciproc :) artistic si prieteneste. linkul cu cintecelul nu merge :(

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  13. Hei :) cântecelul este ăsta:

    cântecel

    Și câțiva oameni îndrăzneți (nu știu cât urmărești media din România, așa că am trecut în listă și persoane publice care mi-au atras atenția):

    Nicușor Dan și voluntarii de la "Salvați Bucureștiul"

    Dan Puric

    Silviu Gherman - amuzant

    Voicu Rădescu (organizează "Teatrul Luni" de la Green Hours din București)

    câțiva aici (inclusiv realizatorul bărbos al clipului)

    Codruț Sebastian Neguț

    Iar eu sunt încântat de cunoștință.

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  14. mutumesc stefan: revin dupa ce miam facut tema de casa miine:) aici e meizul noptii.

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  15. Ella, trebuie sa-i ierti pe violatori si stii de ce ? Pentru ca nu ei te-au violat, nu ei ti-au vrut raul ci "aceia" care nu se vad si care ii manipuleaza pe oameni sa faca rau semenilor lor, iar aceia sunt diavolii. Cred acest lucru deoarece am citit, si tu poti citi, mai multe carti ce mi-au aratat acest adevar si am trait pe propria piele lupta cu "ei". Nu ti le pot povesti acum ... trebuie timp .... Daca acei frati ai tai ar fi vazut cine ii impingea de la spate ca sa-ti faca rau, crede-ma, nu ti-ar fi facut in veci asa ceva ! Toti oamenii cand se nasc sunt buni, ca niste ingerasi ... apoi (depinde si de mediul in care traiesc) ei pot deveni din ce in ce mai rai, egoisti, inchisi in ei, tematori, etc. ... Crede-ma, este o lupta ce nu se vede, este o mare lupta intre Bine (Dumnezeu, Fecioara Maria, ingerii) si rau (Lucifer si ingerii lui negrii).

    Asa ca iarta-i ! De ce (inca odata)? Si pentru ca in rugaciunea Tatal Nostru se spune : si ne iarta noua greselile noastre precum si noi iertam gresitilor nostrii ... Ca Dumnezeu sa-ti ierte si tie greselile tale !

    Retraieste momentul violului cu ochii mintii, ciar daca vei suferi si cand ajungi la acel moment dureros spune : Doamne, eu ii iert pe acesti oamenii, caci nu ei au vrut sa am un suflet ranit ... si ai sa simti in suflet urmarea iertarii !!!

    http://ligiapop.com/2012/05/14/suntem-rezultatul-a-ceea-ce-gandim/

    Am gasit acest articol, nu este blogul meu ....

    Treci la treaba, curata-ti inima si sufletul pana nu te distrugi ....

    Cu drag, unul dintre fratii lui Isus din Nazaret ! :)

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  16. stefan: am clickuit pe linkuri. ce ma bucur:) multumesc.
    dar linkul tau nu merge pe facebook.
    te/va rog contactatima pe fb :)

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  17. lui unul dintre fratii lui Isus din Nazaret:
    multumesc ptr cuvinte si link. ce ma bucur ca exista informatie in romana. mare lucru internetul.
    o sa citesc si o sa incerc sa inteleg. dar e tare tare greu.
    cu drag, ella

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  18. raspuns la: Anonymous said...
    fantastic...

    multumesc ca ai impartasit. e greu... daca vrei sa vrobesti mai mult te rog contacteazama pe email?
    cu drag,

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  19. raspuns la: Anonymous said...
    ai inceput un lucru,

    multumesc. fac ce pot, dar fiecare voce conteaza, si e nevoie, o persoana singura e coplesitor.
    cu drag,

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  20. lui silvia:
    imi pare rau ca ti sa intimplat si tie, draga silvia. aici sunt atitea posibilitati de recuperare relativ rapida... poate sa vorbesc cu citeva organizatii, poate pot sa faca ceva ptr romania. cine stie. eu am inceput sa adun marturiile, daca vrei sa iti alaturi vocea, scriemi pe email, sau facebook.
    cu drag,

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  21. lui tatiana:
    multumesc :)
    sanatate la bebelus:)

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  23. You are an amazing woman Ella. I am happy to say that I know you. I am also happy to know that you are in a place in your life where you can do and be whoever the hell you want to be. All the best to you my sister.

    Peace and blessings,
    Nanette

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  24. Hi Ella,

    Thank you for sharing your story.Your courage and insight will encourage others to tell their stories.

    Tonight I discovered a victim/survivor group that have found another way for women to share their experiences of rape/sexual assault using placards, and I thought you might be interested

    This is their website.. http://projectunbreakable.tumblr.com

    Reading your experience was inspirational. Thank you again for sharing it :)

    Etoile

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  25. thnak you, nanette :) same to you.

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  26. thank you, etoile, for the kind words. i'll check the site. i also saw some similar pics on the slutwalk.com site.

    hugs, ella

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