It wasn’t until just before the two year anniversary of the attack that I just started coping with this. First year I got drunk, I drowned it out. The next I busied myself with procreation. It wasn’t until I was of course sober, and then no longer pregnant, that I realized I’m in an incredible amount of pain. Being numb for one year and then just understandably uncomfortable for the next really distracted from the fact that I was still wounded.
I have 7 revision histories on this. I’m posting this again with some edits for two reasons:
One is that the media and others have misconstrued and twisted my words to make me seem like just another crazy whore that has manipulated a privileged white man into committing heinous acts because the difference between consensual BDSM sex or paid sex and coming into my home and beating and raping me is far too difficult for his wealthy white brain to understand.
The other is that my original manifesto was still quite guarded although I was trying to use this public forum to heal and be vulnerable. Of course I was guarded with good reason, because every word I say is tracked and twisted.
In two days I will go to the trial and defend myself far harder than he has to. I have to defend the fact that I am a sex worker. That I am a slut. That I openly welcome sex. I will have to defend the fact that even still, I don’t want sex from a man whom I had a restraining order against, and who created a fake identity and disguise over weeks to gain entry into my home, bind me, gag me, and beat me in order to get to it.
I have to defend that on February 12th, 2015, I didn’t want sex from Nathan Nissenbaum. I didn’t even want to see him. I did everything I was supposed to to keep him from me.
He played out one of his sick revenge fantasies but this time in real life. He had told me in the past how he fantasized about kidnapping his ex girlfriend (who also publicly accused him of abuse) and beating her in a BDSM-esque scene, but obviously against her will. He described a scene of tying her up in a barn and using a leather strap against her until she couldn’t scream anymore. I still stayed with him after hearing this. He had a way of manipulating the darkest things to sound normal or tantalizing.
He snatched me out of a 5-year (another abusive) relationship promising to be my salvation. To be the real man I always sexually craved. He promised to make a good girl out of me, and give me a space to be vulnerable. And I was.
He had done things to me in our relationship that I can never see myself interested in. He would somehow convince me that I really wanted it… He said I wanted to be tied up in my basement… he said I wanted to be bolted into a wooden platform, with a gag in my mouth, being whipped and bruised and beaten bloody until I couldn’t breathe and then at that point have ice water poured on me to revitalize me. Hell, he even convinced a friend to sit by and photograph it and had me tell him I needed it. He said it was kinky. He said it was bdsm. It was abuse.
I never liked pain before him. I don’t like it now.
Everything between us was cosmic and fiery. Until, one day he threw a wooden stool at my head after choking me while I fought to get away. He left a welt on my head, a concussion, and me and in and out of consciousness for a day while my friends looked after my daughter. He said it was a fluke. That night, he beat the shit out of me because he was scared of me, he says. He was scared being 200+lbs versus my 115. See, I am emotional. I was upset he locked my dog outside for hours. My basic emotional reaction upset him so badly that he HAD to throw me on the bed and repeatedly hit me in the face before throwing my little body across the room and pinning me down by my neck threatening to kill me then and there. But yeah, its because he was “scared” he says. It was such a surprising fluke.
I stayed with him. I stayed with the abuse.
My friends abandoned me. Everyone in my life abandoned me by the time my black eye healed. Our local-celebrity love drama just got too real, and I was dumb enough to stay. So everyone left me alone with him because I was an idiot.
Once I finally gave him the boot for good, he was relentless. Hundreds of texts, emails, calls per day for weeks, maybe months on end. To me, my family, my boyfriend, my daughters teacher, he called her school trying to “out” me by sending my adult work. I could not escape him. He was flooding my whole life. He was around every turn.
He once even told my fiance that he will rape me any time he wants, because he owns me. He was convinced I was his submissive still… for life.
I moved, I got a restraining order, blocked him, I did everything I was supposed to. It didn’t fucking matter. He still fucked my life up. Yeah, he won.
Here’s an edited version of what I wrote, just the day after his final attack. Now that I’m ready to just show my wounds so I can heal, and also because I need to prepare myself for the questioning to come:
I woke up, after a long night sitting in the detective’s office telling the same story again and again. To doctors, nurses, detectives, officers, and of course the state’s attorney.
I’ll spare the details but my ex-monster also did some great footwork for himself. For him, however, the goal was not moving on. He spent the time concocting a evil-mastermind-like plan to gain access to my home and have his dramatic final goodbye. It was good, it must have taken weeks. Details large and small – even growing a beard and changing his appearance to ensure a smooth entry into my safe space. This took some time.
The plan was executed (in part) yesterday morning. I was held captive in my home for 4 hours total. For me, I had no real concept of time during this. It seemed like 10 minutes and at the same time seemed like 10 days. At first I was terrified, hysterical and unable to breathe – partially from the presence of a gun and the tape, leather mask, and blows to the head and partially because of my god damn asthma. I cursed myself for not quitting smoking before this. I went totally numb for a short time.
(Thinking back I remember how I really didn’t think of much. I was certain I was going to die. I knew after a bit that his gun was fake, but I thought he’d kill me anyway. I would like to think it’s like the movies where you beg about your kids. It wasn’t. I just went on auto-pilot. Maybe its because I knew there was very little way to reason with him. I knew him well.)
I watched him dig through my things, packing my stuff – makeup, jewelry, clothes, lingerie, sex toys. I had no idea what was happening. When I first realized it was him through the disguise, he told me that if I continued to struggle we’d have a “murder-suicide instead of a suicide.” I thought he meant me for some reason. I really thought he was going to make it seem like I killed myself – he was too full of himself to commit suicide. But that didn’t add up either.
He packed a few big bags while I was bound on the bed, quiet and still shocked. He asked me where my money was, he ransacked my lock box of valuables, he asked about my engagement ring and I lied and told him I didn’t have it.
I was scared but some sort of acceptance came over me. It was some mix of shock, fear, sadness, and just something that I can’t even name. Just natural instinct. I couldn’t let myself be taken from this world right now. I originally wanted to look away. I thought to myself to just close my eyes and let it be over with. I was certain at that point that I would be tortured severely and decided that I needed to just close my eyes and leave my body. However, I found myself looking into his eyes firmly and directly. I kept them there for the next few hours. I saw the peek of weakness hiding far behind the mask of a monster and I locked onto it with my hurt until it slowly unfolded. This same bullshit that got me into that messy relationship ultimately saved me. My ability to see the humanity in a total monster.
(Nowadays, I really don’t know if Nathan has any humanity at all anymore, or if he ever did. Maybe I imagined it. I feel like such a sucker. I just so badly want for people to be good. He played me.)
Maybe at another time in another platform I’ll recount the details, but at this point it’s not necessary. The thing that matters is that originally this person’s plan was to hold me captive for days, with a gun, over valentine’s day to strip that of my loved ones, before forcing me to hold him while he took his own life. He planned to dress me up, punish me, lecture me, and cut and mutilate my face so I could no longer work in the adult industry. I know all of this because once he started to lose his strength, we laughed together about how he bit off more than he could chew.
Yes I laughed with him. Is it because I felt ok? Fuck no. I laughed with him after he told me his plan to mutilate me while raping and beating me for days while I was kept from my loved ones, forced to call and message them saying I was just freaking out about my recent engagement. I was so horrified that if my body could feel anything at that point I would have likely vomited everywhere.
But I chuckled with him. I laughed. Why? Well because how can you not? Here I am, front-and-center leading role in a fear-mongering Lifetime Original Movie or Cosmopolitan article. Such is life, right? Also because the laughter made me real. It made me human. It made him human too. Not that I could even see it at that point, but somewhere within that evil-infested body there once was a little boy, a human little boy, that was not consumed by illness or evil. Laughter is the only thing that could have connected us as humans.
(This is the part that I must clarify for several reasons. I did not laugh because it was ok. I laughed because no matter what, I knew Nathan could connect that way. In this moment, I did not want to connect with him. I wanted to hide and disappear. I found it in myself to laugh, because it was the only thing that could make him break his focus on hurting me. I laughed against my will just like he fucked me against my will, just so i could survive. If you can try to manipulate that into making this all seem “OK” then you can literally eat shit and die)
From the moment I found chance to laugh with him – he did not physically attack me again. I got him to slowly un-tape my body. He cried into the side of my face between attempts at carefully removing the duct tape from my “pretty hair”. Suddenly, after laughing, this person who had intended to mutilate my face with razor blades, was crying about pulling out some of my beautiful hair that I am so proud of.
I was able to reason with him, give his weakness a safe place to let go of his psychotic imagined power. I explained to him that his plan wasn’t going to work, it had to end here, today. I asked him if there was any chance of just leaving and getting help – I even begged him although truly I wanted the worst for him in this moment. He said he planned this out so he couldn’t turn back, and he would have to kill himself. I said it all just needed to end now, that his plan wouldn’t work if we tried to leave.
(I said “we”. At this point, I needed him to think we were in this together. We were not in this together. I just didn’t want to be beaten anymore.)
After awhile switching back and forth between pacing panic and crying into my chest, he picked up the razor blades out of the bag he packed, walked toward the bathroom and stopped and turned around and with a tired face and defeated hand motion, signaled for me to come to the bathroom with him.
I stood up dizzy, feeling somewhere between sad and scared that doesn’t have a name and joined him. He talked to me for awhile and asked me some questions, but during this whole thing some of my memory went missing about the tiniest mundane things. He was too tired to demand anything at this point and understood. He at one point told me that he knew it wasn’t possible at this point but what he really wanted was for me to just say we could be together. I gave him a knowing look and shook my head saying very clearly “No, that isn’t a way out of this at this point.” I offered to get him a final glass of whiskey for his departure and went to the next room as he monitored me. When I did I was able to observe where my dog and shoes were – the only things I really needed at this point.
I came back and gave it to him. We both laughed again as he choked on the whiskey a bit. We also laughed about the fact that from roughly 10 minutes into this ordeal I recognized that the gun was probably just a fake. He eventually got into the tub and had me sit next to him while he attempted to slaughter his arms which wasn’t going well. He had a much harder time hurting himself and let out a scream when he split the skin on his arm wide open. I started crying and asked him if I could be outside of the bathroom and he allowed it.
(My crying was real. Even after all of this, and honestly just hoping he would lose consciousness so I could leave, I just didn’t want to watch him bleed and scream like that)
Once I was in an entirely separate room from him with him otherwise preoccupied, then that real fear came back. I texted my fiance – an action I thought I was never going to be able to do again and once I set the phone back down, I felt reality again. I remember my senses igniting, the numb went away. My heart started pounding in my chest. I waited a moment and it dawned on me that I can’t wait for a better chance. Amazingly, he turned the shower on and I realized this would drown out the sound of me opening the bedroom door. I got up so quickly that the droplets of water may not even have hit his body yet. I opened my bedroom door quietly and grabbed my dog by the collar, slipped my boots on and opened the front door to the outside world I didn’t even think to see again.
(It was like a fucking movie. The bedroom had been dark with just a small shaded window. I saw springtime rays of sun peeking through big Bucktown trees. I never thought I’d see that again. Looking back, I see now that this was a rebirth into something so complicated. I was forever changed)
After a long afternoon at the hospital going through a process more rape-y than the previous 4 hours and all night at the police station, I sat at home and ate and drank whiskey and laughed. I laughed at the hospital too, which made the doctors very confused.
Then I woke up this afternoon and laughed. I don’t ignore the sadness and I talk about it openly. But without laughter I have nothing. Let me be clear – this situation isn’t just funny. What happened to me is real and the amount that my attacker is not only dangerous and scary, but also ill and suffering is very serious. But life is a crazy fucking place, and it could have been so much worse.
I’m not going to let this take me down like he wanted. I’m not going to grieve about what could have been but wasn’t. I only have some bumps and bruises and that seems like a sweet deal considering what was planned for me. I’m going to take some advil, drink some whiskey and invite over everyone close to me, and tell some really awkward jokes about the events of yesterday. I’m going to celebrate life and laugh at it’s fragility because escaping it in sorrow in my bed is not going to make it any less delicate.
I left the original ending although it is naive and guarded. I do laugh. I cope. I find a way. Laughter helps me to not sink into a terrible dark place in my head that has already been dug out by childhood trauma. Laughter brings the light in. That is the reason I laughed that day.
However, It wasn’t until a few months ago that the gravity of all of this started to sink in.
Nathan Nissenbaum is a monster. He has beaten and raped me, and allegedly several other women who trusted him.
He changed my life forever. He took away my safety and sense of self. Most days I’m scared to go outside alone, I don’t like strange people to look at me anymore, I question whether any client is actually him. Some days I laugh and I feel strong. Some days I hate myself and I don’t even know who I am.
I never thought I was the “type” to be abused. I hope for no one to feel like that. It isn’t me and I’m still learning that. These monsters can get to anyone.
I’m learning that I don’t have to laugh. I’m not ok and that’s ok. Life is fucked up and I will continue to try to find the things to laugh about.