Kicking the Pigeon #4: Old Wounds

Diane with photos of her family

Being forced to expose herself while Officer Seinitz and the others threatened her was “like a dry rape,” Diane Bond told me the day after the April 28 incident. She mentioned then that she had suffered violence at the hands of men when she was a girl. Later she told me the full story.

It has been my fate as a man and as a journalist to hear many such stories. Inevitably, I feel a tension between my hunger for the details—details that may obscure more than they reveal—and the desire to cover my ears. I resist entering imaginatively into the experience of being rendered utterly powerless. Although I am acutely aware of this dynamic, I still must work to resist seizing on details that explain why the victim was raped. My impulse is not so much to blame the victim as it is to find a way to differentiate myself and those close to me from the suffering person before me.

As Diane Bond began to tell her story, I saw a familiar upwelling in her eyes—not tears but rather a sudden shift in emotional gravity.

She grew up on the West Side. Her natural father left when she was a small child. Her mother remarried. Diane was six years old at the time. From the start, her stepfather abused her. As a little girl, she had long hair. He would take her into the bathroom, ostensibly to comb her hair, sit her up on the washbasin, and fondle her. He told her that if she ever said anything, her mother would go to jail and she would never see her again.

Silenced by his threats, she didn’t say anything, until one day her mother caught her and her brother pretending to smoke cigarette butts they had fished out of an ashtray.

“I’ll have your stepfather whup you,” she told the children.

“No, Mama,” Diane blurted out, “he did the pussy to me.”

Her mother didn’t believe her. “He told my mother that I was messing with him, and she believed him.”

As Bond grew up, her stepfather continued to prey on her. When she was a teenager, he would try to spy on her as she undressed. One night when she was thirteen, he came into her bedroom in his under shorts in the middle of the night. She looked up, saw him looking down at her, and screamed. Her mother put him out that night, but he soon came back.

In July, 1972, when Bond was 17 years old, she had argument with her mother. The family was living in Englewood at the time. It was about 10:30 or 11:00 at night. She can’t remember what the argument was about. “My mother was strict. It may have been because I came home late.” Upset, she ran out of the house. She was barefoot, wearing only shorts and a blouse. At 60th and Halsted, three men grabbed her. They took her to an abandoned building. One ripped her blouse off. Another kicked her between the legs. The third raped her repeatedly. They held her from 12:00 to 5:00 a.m. When they released her, she sat dazed and disoriented on a bench at 63rd and Halsted. A woman driver stopped and gave her a ride home. Her mother immediately called the police.

Bond remembers sitting on the sofa and talking with the police. They were, she said, “kind” toward her. She felt weirdly displaced. “It was as if I wasn’t there. Everything seemed very far away.”

The police apprehended the three men, and she brought charges against them.

That fall she returned to Crane High School. One day in September during lunch break she was outside the school. The boyfriend of her best friend Gail, known on the street as Son, told her that Gail, who had recently had a baby, wanted to see her. She was, he said, upstairs in an apartment in a nearby building. Diane noticed a group of teenage boys hanging out on the corner across the street.

“They’re not coming, are they?”

Son assured her they were not.

He led her upstairs into the apartment. The boys she had seen on the corner entered the apartment via the backdoor. There were five in all, including Son. She screamed. They held her down and took turns. The first to rape her was Son.

When they released her, she made her way back to school. She went to the principal and told him what had happened. He called the police. She was taken to Presbyterian St. Luke’s Hospital. The police brought one of the boys to the hospital, and she identified him. They then drove her around the area, and she identified the other four on the street. They were arrested and charged.

When the case came to trial, according to Bond, “the mothers lied for their sons” to provide them with alibis. The defendants were acquitted.

Bond’s mother told her that as she left the courtroom, she heard a man say, “If I was them, I wouldn’t have let her go. I’d have blown her brains out.”

The case arising out of the July rape was still in progress. Demoralized by the outcome of the September case, Bond didn’t go back to court. She dropped the case.

“Is it hard for you to talk about this?” I asked.

“I’m not crying on the outside,” she replied, “but I’m crying on the inside.”

To be continued…