164. My lips were sealed. Warning: this is not for the faint hearted

Gawker had an article about Robert Downey Jr exposing a story that was generally known but never spoken about around Hollywood.

It was about a famous movie star beating and raping Natalie Wood.

I was discussing it with my sister Marcia and she suggested it was the sign of the times. He was a superstar and even if he weren’t it was always the woman’s fault . She did go to his room. She was clearly “asking for it”

“Remember what happened to you?” she asked.

Even after close to 50 years I felt a chill.

“I remember”

I was going to a party with friends. I worked in the South Bronx as a case worker and these were work friends I was going to meet. I was bringing Bob Dylan’s new album with me. Nashville Skyline.

I lived with my parents at that time. My car was parked in an underground garage.

Just as I was about to start my car I felt a presence at my window. I turned with a smile thinking it was a neighbor.

It was a latin man in his 20’s or 30’s. He had a huge knife in his hand.

He shoved me over and got in the car next to me.

My first thought was “I’m sitting on my album”

“I’m going to rape you”

I was wearing a jersey dress with a belt of the same fabric tied at my waist.

He put the knife at the belt and was about to cut it . “Stop” I said and I untied it.

Why I worried about a $30 dress I’ll never know.

He put the knife on the backseat and did what he came to do.

I kept my eyes closed hoping that he’d know I couldn’t identify him.

It never occurred to me to grab the knife even though I was sure he was going to kill me. I couldn’t stop shaking.

When he finished and he was lying on top of me I did something so strange that even then I couldn’t believe it.

I said ” Are you alright?”

He jerked his head up and looked at me with surprise.

He got up and jumped out of the car and ran.

Now that I think about it. It isn’t so far from how I behaved in my divorce.

I was deeply wounded by dave but I am still helping him and feeling sorry for him.

It makes me wonder what is wrong with me. Who knows, maybe my asking my rapist that question saved my life and maybe not getting dave mad at me will save me now.

I sat in the car too afraid to get out and run to the elevator until neighbors that I didn’t know came into the garage to get their car . I called to them to help me.

I just said I had been robbed. I was too embarrassed to say anything else.

They walked me to the elevator and offered to go upstairs with me. I refused their offer. Even then I didn’t want to be any trouble.

I got into my apartment and called my parents. It must have been a Friday night because they were at their weekly card game. They said they’d be right home.

I went into the shower and scrubbed myself clean.

When they got home I told them I had been attacked. They didn’t ask for any details and I didn’t give any.

My father called the police.

A short time later 2 policemen came to my house. I was  in a robe and my hair was wet.

I don’t remember much of that interview. I don’t think they asked if I had been raped and I didn’t volunteer the information. I couldn’t have said it in front of my father anyway.

I think the shower I had taken spoke volumes to them.

They left and we all went to bed. I couldn’t sleep. Finally I went into the living room and lay down on the flowered couch. Shortly after my father came in and sat with me. We didn’t speak we just sat there.

My father was always more in tune with us than my mother. He was the one who worried about us and waited up for us when we went out on dates.

We never spoke about it again. In fact I never spoke in any detail about it to anyone.

A few weeks later a detective called and said they had arrested someone and wanted to know if I would come down and identify him.


“I think that’s wise” he said. He knew that a trial like this wasn’t going to be pretty and I guess they had him on other charges or something.

So that’s my secret. this is the first time I’ve ever opened up about this to this degree to anyone.

I continued going to work in the South Bronx but I never made home visits alone.

I seemed the same but I never was the same.

If I could have sued that guy it would be for putting fear in my life.

33 thoughts on “164. My lips were sealed. Warning: this is not for the faint hearted

  1. Brave Mattie. There are so many girls and women who are in this position and too afraid/embarrassed/whatever to say anything. Liz xo

  2. Fuckin evil criminal. I am so sorry that happened to you.
    I love you. I wish for only good things to happen forever for you.

  3. Brave for facing it at any point after. So many women have similar experiences-some at the hands of a stranger, and many at the hands of those they thought loved them. By talking about this, maybe you will save one of them from the power of silence.

  4. Matte, your story just shook me to my core. That was a horrific experience. I don’t know what else to say except God bless you and thank you for sharing this. I am awed by your strength.

  5. I’m so sorry this happened to you. Thank you for sharing your story. What I heard int that, was what a selfless person you are. Even in the midst of the most awful, terrible moment, you thought not of yourself but of others. The act of sharing this story does that too. I don’t know you (found this post through a friend’s Facebook link), but I am touched by you.

  6. I am so sorry you went through that. I hate it, in fact. Thank you for sharing it: I think it’s important for these stories to be heard, though they’re difficult to tell.

  7. Every girl’s worst nightmare. So sorry you had to go through it. Wow-ed beyond words by your sharing. Thank you.

  8. i’m so sorry, mattie. how horrible for you. i wish there was something i could say or do to ease the pain & the memory. i love you.

    • I love you too. It was a long time ago. That’s how it was then. I still can’t talk about it. It’s funny that I was able to write it. I never told even told more than a bare bones version of it to my sisters and my parents never spoke about it again.

  9. I hope your rapist was haunted by your kindness every single day of his life. As you remember the horrid details fifty years later, I hope he is also unable to escape.
    You were good to share this. Others will benefit and I’m guessing you will as well.

  10. Mattie, I’m a friend of Julie’s. I am in awe of your bravery for sharing this post. I wish there was something I could do, other than to say thank you. I am so sorry for the fear you’ve had to live with. I hope that writing this now gives you some measure of relief. You are one strong woman.

  11. My dear Mattie. My partner Gem is a Buddhist and she told me this true story A Tibetan Buddhist monk was imprisoned by the Chinese government for many years. When he was eventually released, he met with the Dalai Lama, who asked him: “What were you scared of the most in prison?” He replied: “I was afraid that I might lose my compassion towards the torturers.” Maybe there is nothing wrong with you. Maybe instead you have the kind of rare and beautiful spirit that can perceive the suffering even of those who harm you terribly. May no harm ever come to you again.

  12. Mattie,
    I’m so sorry you had to go through that ordeal. I completely understand why you didn’t tell your the family the truth. It really would have devastated them as you were the precious baby of the family, even if you were twenty-something. No one could undo it, so why burden them with the gory details.

  13. I am so sorry that this happened to you. I’ve read your blog for a while now, and I’m annoyed with myself that I didn’t comment before today.

  14. I’ve tried to respond to your blog for several days now, and can only give hugs for your experience and wishes that you had been spared it.

    I can say categorically that were my daughter to suffer the same, I would want to know so that I could give her the love and compassion she would need to deal with the recovery.

    I’ve never understood how any member of the male group could feel such a compulsion to dominate another human, male or female, and I pray your attacker found help with his issues and never inflicted this experience on another.


  15. So sad. It takes a very strong woman to endure that horrifying experience.
    I had worked for a Producer and writer, Arnold Schulman. I hope he sees this. He had tried to seduce me and I resisted…. he fired me.
    I wouldn’t even tell unemployment about this and I denied unemployed insurance. The agency asked me if something happened. Of course they knew.. it had happened before.
    Why didn’t I tell them? Why would I want to remain the victim. This still puzzles me.


  16. Unfortunately, far too many women( and men) I know have been sharing similar horrific experiences chillingly similar to yours. What a sad, superficial world it was. Little girls( and women) should be quiet and polite. It’s perfectly acceptable for the judicial process to include demonize the victim. I really want to believe we live in more enlightened times but I seriously doubt it.

  17. Should I even mention that I would have behaved just like you? And my parents were very loving (father was an ObGyn, mother a teacher). I came very close a few times, but I was fortunate. My heart goes out to you as the girl who had to experience the ugliness and you as the woman who still has to live it. Hugs, my friend!

  18. We deal in different ways – bravery isn’t only facing it or sharing about it. Bravery is also getting up every day and continuing to live. You are a hero to other victims of rape, even if you don’t know each other. You are proof that life can go on, and that is not a hope many feel they’ll ever have after it happens.

  19. When I came across your writing, this morning, for Yahoo Travel (and Congratulations!), I thought, This amazing Lady is inspiration. I didn’t realize just how much truth was in my immediate response, to you and your writing. So glad I found you. ~v

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