From Protecting You to Protecting Me

Sunday 19th July 2020 I was assaulted in my home. It wasn’t a burglar or a rapist but a family member I cared for dearly. He’d been living with me from September 2019. His mom told him he had to move out by 18 knowing with limited education and no job he would be on the streets. He was family and more importantly community. Everyone in the family knew he was gay but no one spoke about it openly.

We had spent some time together before he moved in. We attended a open mic night for LGBTQ youth to boost confidence. Under the moonlight I witnessed him come to life strutting across the stage and reciting an affirmation into the mic before leaping off.  I was so happy to see him feel safe to express his femininity in a public space in a country that was unwelcoming to rainbow people. I became his mother in the drag sense. I would protect and guide him until he could be on his own. So much so that when he was told at a lesbian owned bar to stop dancing with his boyfriend I confronted the owner who was less than gracious about her own internalized misogyny and homophobia.  My crew, the DJ team and other patrons stood in solidarity with us and left the club empty. I included him in my activism as well. He got home from a Columbus Must Fall protest with ideas to form his own non-profit and what issues it would tackle. I couldn’t be prouder.

We’d had some rough patches that made it clear that we weren’t a good match to co-habitate from early on. It became harder and harder to get him to attend our monthly house meetings. Anytime I did ask him to help out around the house especially because I was working and doing all the house work he would complain that he didn’t feel good or that he would get to it eventually. The energy in the house became tense and when we went into the first COVID-19 lockdown things intensified.  I had to ask him to leave for my own sanity and peace of mind. I had planned on supporting him in other ways but the outcome made that impossible.

One of my partners was at the house sleeping when the incident took place. His presence was a savior for me but he was hurt in the scuffle to regain control and disarm the aggressor. We left the house after some deliberation about whether I could treat his wound with my first aid kit. Even with my pre-pre-med training I was covered in blood and traumatized. My shaking hands couldn’t steady and the flow of blood out his chest indicated he would need stitches. We left for the hospital with banging and quarreling going off in the next room. My cousin had tried to kill me?

Arriving in emergency everyone turned to look but no one jumped to action. I walked up to a nurse and asked for help. I couldn’t string together the right words but I managed “stab wound”, “stitches” and “help him”. At the time my body was so pumped of adrenaline I felt hot but not hurt. We had been fighting so later when the hormones subsided and I would notice my forehead on the left, behind my left ear, my right knee, right hip, left arm were in pain as well as minor scratches and bruises on my hands. The conversation started in the laundry area and by the time we were in the house I was being slammed on the kitchen counter. Every so often I allowed myself to forget the ordeal until I touched my head or turned over in the bed and winced.

I stood in the waiting area under the curious eyes of other patients and called my support team. My closest partner was first. She helped me breathe. My sistren was next. She came immediately. I hugged her and cried. All that had happened was hitting home.

We sat down and went over everything. I knew I didn’t trust police or believe that they could help. We devised a plan to get the attacker out the house and document the incident. This would be useful for state data on violence which has implications on policy and procedures as well as in case of a further incident the history would serve as a defense.

I attended two sessions of counselling by the Victim & Witness Support arm of the TTPS. I completed the report over the course of three days going to and from the hospital to get a signature from the doctor and again when it wasn’t the right form that was signed. The whole thing was essentially over in a week but the impact lasted much longer.

My landlady’s perception of me had changed and now I was a problematic tenant. I had brought my cousin there and now look, police had to come, the neighbors would gossip and I would be asked if it was my boyfriends fighting. It looked bad. My job suffered as I had to take time off to see the counselor, get the police report completed, visit my partner who had taken a hit and manage my own emotional state which was crumbling. On the inside was worst. I felt betrayed not only by my blood relative but by my own intuition. How could I have trusted him? How can I trust any decision I’ve made in my life? The fear caused me to adopt a pup. She made sleep possible and brought joy back into my tiny apartment.

I haven’t spoken to this person since the incident and I don’t think I ever will. I still see him though- in pop stars he adores or resembles. I wish him peace.

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