Saturday, May 31, 2014

The Time I Almost Went Hiking with a Rapist

This truck has nothing to do with the man - though it does play a part in the story.
[Don't know if this needs a trigger warning or not -- after the title of this post, you sort of know the content of this post and if you're easily triggered, I recommend not reading it. I also want to note that I don't use the term "rapist" loosely - this guy drugged and raped a girl.]

I'm nervously laughing as I read the start of a post I wrote yesterday,

"Life currently is going so, so right, that I wonder when things will go wrong.
Today was one of those days that made me think, "Is this really my life?"

Things were so perfect, I was waiting for them to go wrong.

He was so nice and, after jamming all afternoon, this man invited me to go take a hike.
I decided to see how my ankle would do and took him up on it.
I didn't feel a draw or connection to him, but a hike sounded nice and I didn't think anything of it.

He asked me if I'd like to go in his car and I assured him, many times, that I would go in Tobbit.
He asked if I wanted to just go to the beach and relax, I said I didn't.
On the way to Tobbit, he waved at a pair and they completely ignored him - I found that very odd, everyone waves on Lopez. I wondered if there was a reason why.

Once we were on the same page with me driving Tobbit, we decided to meet at Watmough for the short climb.

I had a weird, weird feeling in my stomach (I suspected it was from the cheesecake that someone gave me when busking at the farmer's market) and thought water would help. I tried to ignore it, but finally did a U-turn to fill up my water bottle.

I pulled into Blossom, our little organic market where they had tap water available. I almost didn't because it would take time, but then realized that I really, really needed it. I was so close to driving straight there.

In the parking lot, there was another little green Volkswagen truck - so cute! I pulled up next to it and talked to the owner, grabbing a shot, and then telling them I was going to quickly grab my water and come back. I left my keys, camera, wallet, and everything on the tailgate.

As I left for water, a couple stopped me - the ones the man had waved to and who had ignored him.

"You play the cello?"
"Yeah."
"We saw you earlier. We don't really... I don't really know where to start..."
"What?"

I thought they were going to tell me some cello story...

"You know that guy you were with?"
"Yeah, _________."

And then they proceeded to fill me in on what they new about him.

Words came out of their mouth like, "rape" and "drug" and "15 year old girls" and "innocent" and "police reports." I took it all in. I know how rumors can spread around an island, fast, so I wanted to be discerning - but this wasn't a time to play around or decided to just "see how things go."

We went back to Tobbit where the other folks were waiting with my belongings. I apologized for the time delayed and the talk continued, where the other two women confirmed what these two parents were telling me.

"So this is more than just rumors?" I asked.
"More than rumors."

With four people there in testimony of his ill character, I decided to not show up for the hike.

I decided that if I saw him again, I would tell him that I realized I had to meet up with some friends, which is the truth. I had friends coming that afternoon.

If everything I was told was a lie, if he is truly a "good guy," then I know he would approve of my actions. If any decent guy knew that a horrible lie like that was told about him before he went hiking one-on-one with a young woman, he wouldn't blame her for not showing up. He'd understand that she couldn't take a chance like that.

I drove to H's house where no one was home. When her mom got home, she told me that another woman running a booth at the market had told Martha to warn me about him.

Later, I called J and talked to her about something else. She called me back a minute later and asked if I was with the man. I told her I wasn't and she gave a huge sigh of relief. She had also seen me with him but hadn't yet warned me.

One other woman, tonight, told me her creepy history with him.

I'm new the island, I don't know better and I'm doing my best to keep my self safe.
I'm grateful, really grateful, to an island that is watching out for me. For a community that has my back and will stop me to tell me if I'm in poor company.

Since that encounter, I've had it reconfirmed by at least 14 people that he is a "psychopathic rapist" and/or "violent." It isn't something I bring up in conversation frequently, but it has come up. His kids play with the kids I babysit for.

I still feel a bit shook up.

I doubt anything would've happened, but I'm freaked out to think about what could've happened. If I had gotten in his car and driven out there alone.. I don't know. Not worth knowing. Not worth finding out. But I was on my way there to hike with him alone. What if I hadn't been so thirsty? What if I'd ignored it?

He does know where I live, he knows that I sleep in my truck alone... he knows where I park. I doubt he'll try anything, but it's now going to be on my mind. I mean, I guess if he's low enough to drug and rape a young girl, there's no telling what he would do. Glad to have friends spending the night tonight...

Update: I have since seen him. He was with his kids (yes, I know. If you spend time with them, you can tell they've been around things no kid should ever have to be around) and called out to me.

"Hey! We had some sort of misconnection the other day. What happened?" he said with a smile.
"Sorry, had to meet friends. Bye!" I said and I immediately left the vicinity (I was already on my way out).

Then, I saw him again today at the library where he approached me as I babysat two kids. I later talked to the mom who had alluded to a psychopath, before, but hadn't told me his name. It wasn't till later that I made the connection.

"... I wasn't worried, but I hated it." I told her later.
"You should worry," she said. "Not with the girls, he wouldn't do anything when you're with them and in public, but if you're alone..."
"Yeah, that is something I'm trying to stay aware of."

Here's what I think. I think I've been (or am being) tested as a target. I think he's looking for someone more vulnerable (younger or susceptible to overdrinking). I don't think I'll meet his criteria because I won't ever be seen near him if I can help it. Honestly, when I'm around him, I still can't tell - I honestly can't. Even after all I know about him, when I see him, nothing in me goes "BEEP BAD MAN!" He just seems like a sweet guy.

So, once again, grateful for a community that I'm learning to count on. Now, if only we could get rid of him...

6 comments:

  1. There's that guardian angel of yours working overtime again.

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  2. I have said it before and I will say it again. Always...always listen to your gut. The gut never lies or leads you astray. So glad an army of angels were watching over you.

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  3. Since you listened to the still small voice, you continue to be a model and inspiration to women everywhere who want to explore the world wisely. Had you not listened, your name would have been used as a cautionary tale by mothers and fathers the world over.

    I am going to be at Cape San Juan with my 8th grade class at my father-in-law's house Monday (tomorrow) through half the day Wednesday. Come play with us! We catch the 9:30 from Anacortes. If you are in Friday to meet us on foot, we will give you a ride and a bed for three days. If you are in Tobit, you can park on the lawn. We whale watch from 11:30 - 4:00 on Tuesday. If we see you in Friday Harbor after, we can also hook up - or just surprise us and show up somewhere, sometime! The house number on the island is 360 378 3516.

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  4. I think they're right - your body knows a lot more than your thinking mind. I often have a hard time telling the difference between intuition-anxiety and straight-up indigestion, and more and more I think the difference between them is purely academic.
    Your self is taking care of you.
    Seems like you're doing pretty good at making feedback loops of gratitude.

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  5. Stay safe! It's a harrowing, good thing when the universe gives us these close calls...just remember what you learned here, and keep it in mind in your future travels. Glad to hear that 99% of the Lopez Island community has got your back and is looking out for you. I hope you sleep easy, and keep pepper-spray handy. Love and miss you.

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  6. I got myself in a couple hairy situations when I was traveling years ago. My guardian angels, intuition, quick thinking, etc. got me out. THANKFULLY! Please be careful!

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Your words make me grin.

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