Try to imagine: Raped multiple times, in multiple ways, by a knife-wielding man who said he only wanted sex. Held captive next to your partner while the man did the same to her. Slashed and stabbed by the man while he slashed and stabbed her. Except he got his knife through her heart, and she died on the street in front of the South Park home you both lived in, while you survived.
Nearly two years later, you're called to talk about all of this in a sweltering courtroom in downtown Seattle.
Would you be able to?
Imagine recounting the love you shared with your partner, the wedding you were planning with her, the mix of utterly pedestrian and truly remarkable things that occurred in what turned out to be her last hours. The way she put chapstick on her lips before bed, and the brand, now dutifully entered into the court record: Soft Lips. The time-stopping conversation you'd both had over a recent dinner about your futures together, the child you wanted to have together, the small theater you hoped to one day quit your corporate jobs and build. The way she said her last "I love you." The way you said yours. The way your partner checked the locks multiple times that night (like always), the way she brushed her teeth multiple times that night while flossing in between (like always), the way she "had a few OCD qualities" when it came to things like that. The way you always took the right side of the bed, and she the left, which is just the way it was that night.
Imagine recounting, for the court, what happened next. How, after the intruder raped you and your partner the first times, he walked around your bedroom and slowly, one after the other, shut all the open windows. The way he leaned against the dresser, naked and self satisfied, and said: "Don't worry. That was just round one."
The way he then just stood there, silently, for a long time—and how for you, that waiting for more pain to come was worse than experiencing the pain in the moment. The way he smelled. (Clean.) The way he talked. (Softly.) How much hair he had on his head. (A fair amount.) How much hair he had on his skin. (Not much.) The things your terrified mind thought: If I do what he wants, he won't kill us. If I make a move while he's raping my partner, he'll kill her. If I tell my partner I love her, maybe he won't like that, so I won't say that now.
And the way you and your partner both "scuttled up," hands wrapped around knees, knees pressed to chest, between the rapes.
Imagine you get through all that, and then the prosecuting attorney approaches the witness stand. He reminds you that the man who attacked you and your partner told you that this "was just round one," and he asks you: Was there more?
You reply: "There was more."
How many rounds?
It's 4 p.m. at the King County Courthouse.
The prosecuting attorney asks the judge if this is a good place to end for the day, and the judge says yes. You will return tomorrow, first thing in the morning, to describe all that happened next.
You walk out. You've cried in court. You've laughed on the record. You've diagrammed the interior of that house on a giant pad of paper set on an easel and now numbered as an official trial exhibit. You've bared, in a public proceeding, the interior of a relationship you hoped would never end. You've described—for twelve jurors, four lawyers, one judge, and dozens of onlookers—an inhuman violation.
You are not finished. You look determined. You are amazing.