But though I survived the emotionally devastating assault, I was plunged into an incomprehensible reality: I became unhinged by the sound of footsteps slapping concrete, terrified of the dark, and yet paid my rent and clung to a shaky identity by wearing a police uniform, working for a police department, patrolling the dark streets of a sprawling campus and crime-ridden city, walking other women home to safety. My only protection was my police uniform.
Traumatizing me further was the crash course I received on the flaws of our criminal justice system. I testified at my attacker’s preliminary hearing, then suffered through a scathing cross-examination at jury trial. Six weeks later, in another absurd twist of fate, I myself was nearly arrested and prosecuted. Through all of this I felt completely alone, unable to reach out to my mother for support, and jeopardizing my relationship with my boyfriend with all my strangling, clinging need.
Paradoxically, I myself went on to become a criminal defense lawyer, defending people accused of crimes as heinous as the one committed against me.
Fast-forward to 2014, 30 years after my assault, when my life, once again, appeared to be crumbling. As I stumbled my way through the days, navigating a dying marriage, devastating financial loss, and an elderly mother slipping into dementia at disheartening speed, I became fascinated by my own anxiety, by the PTSD still triggered by the sound of footsteps, and I began to wonder, Why does the body remember what the mind tries so desperately to forget? These questions prompted an obsession with my assailant: Whatever became of him? What was he doing now? I began a quest of excavation, determined to find out, tracking down the police report and court file from the case, and on the 30th anniversary of my attack returned to Berkeley and the scene of my assault. What I discovered was life altering.
What a Body Remembers is the intimate memoir of a woman’s traumatic past catching up with her, an honest, from-the-gut account of one woman’s journey to regain her power and confidence—a journey that continues to this day.