“No more silence… We are as sick as our secrets. You must tell. You must get it off of you so that you can breathe.” — Jennifer Lewis, The Mother of Black Hollywood
“Shame needs three (3) things to grow exponentially in our lives: secrecy, silence and judgement. The only antidote is empathy. It cannot survive being spoken and being met with empathy.” — Brene Brown, Shame expert
I fought myself for years about writing this. After seeing how victims of sexual assault are treated for not going to the police, I thought I would be spared because I did. It turns out that most people simply don’t care. I’m writing this now because I’m tired. Tired of being weighed down by the shame of what happened to me. Tired of being afraid to feel safe in my hometown. This is no longer serving me. Here is the whole truth.
I had been doing stand up comedy for a little over a year when I finally got my first paid gig on December 4th of 2014. I was really excited to be on a flyer for the first time and do the show. I was also looking forward to meeting the headliner, Diaz Mackie. I was initially intrigued by Diaz because he would often post these fake-deep posts on his Facebook page about comedy and how sometimes it’s hard and how lonely it can be. I found that interesting and rare because most comedians only talk about their wins. So wanted to talk to him more. We had exchanged friendly messages on Facebook prior to performing together.
The night of the show, he suggested that we go out to a gay bar and we danced until late in the night. He kissed me on the dance floor and I didn’t resist, but I was certainly uncomfortable. Thinking back on this was definitely a red flag ignored. After the club, I gave him a ride to where he was staying that weekend and while in the car, there was more kissing. It became a bit more aggressive, and I reluctantly allowed him to perform oral sex on me in my car. I was caught off guard and uncomfortable, but I didn’t say anything in the moment. Now, I know what you’re thinking: Why didn’t you stop talking to him after that? Why didn’t you stop him then?” and I understand the logic behind that. But what must be understood is that I struggle with standing up for myself and I’m a people pleaser. Yes, that’s hard to believe because I’m tall, athletic and mostly outspoken. But ever since I was a kid, I desperately wanted people to like me because I was different. So I continued to talk to and hang out with Diaz after that because I was glad that someone liked me, as sad as that may be. I also wanted to believe that this was just a random drunk night out thing. On a separate occasion, we engaged in oral sex again when he was back in town. I never told anyone that I was talking to Diaz because I didn’t want to be labeled as one of those girls who sleeps around for stage time. Especially being so new in the game. I did my best to not say anything to my peers, or at all, which ended up benefiting him in the long run.
On New Year’s Eve of 2014, I had started the night at another comedians house to countdown the new year and Diaz was there with his friend. I later found myself with him at a house belonging to a couple they were staying with.
At the couple’s house there was alcohol on the kitchen counter and table, lines of cocaine, chips and other leftover finger foods. A few bar stools were pushed up next to the table where I was invited to sit next to him.
I’ve been to parties like this before. I never judge those who partake in drugs, and part of me was curious to see what the big deal was about. The female homeowner made me a drink. She did a few lines of coke with him and they offered me some. I tried my very first line of coke that night. It was, surprisingly, boring. We drank and talked for a little while before heading upstairs to bed. I couldn’t risk driving home on New Year’s Day after drinking and it was also pretty late.
Trigger warning: This portion contains graphic details of sexual assault.
The room upstairs had a mattress on the floor. It smelled like stale fast food and old weed. Like a teenage boy’s room. Or one of a starving artist. I had laid down on the bed fully clothed and attempted to get some sleep. Then I was being cuddled, which was ok. Then there was kissing and an attempt to remove my shirt. “No.” “Stop. I don’t want to,” I said. My requests were ignored. More and more I was advanced upon, and my cries of resistance went unheard. My pants were being unzipped as I tried to push him away.
Things started to move very quickly as I tried to navigate what was going on and also try to be “cool.” His hands moved so fast like he had more than two. Suddenly, my pants were off. I tried to stop him, but he is stronger than me. I honestly was just hoping he would see how he was hurting me and stop on his own, but he did not. He forces a finger into my anus and I tell him to stop. He gets on top of me and I try to fight him off but he twists my arm. At that point, I thought it would be better for me to not fight. He attempts to penetrate me and I beg him to put a condom on. If I couldn’t stop the assault, I was at least trying to stop a pregnancy or STD. I was surprised that he obliged, only to find out later that he stealthed me. Stealthing is when a man removes a condom without telling his partner during sex, which is viewed as a form of assault. Fortunately for me, the cocaine started to affect his performance and he was unable to complete his mission. When he was done, I tried to leave, but he wouldn’t let me. He made sure I stayed to cuddle with him. The next day, I got up, got dressed and tried to leave the house as quickly and quietly as I could. He woke up as I was putting on my pants, but didn’t say anything. I got to my car and took off. I cried the whole way home.
Hours later, I started getting texts from Diaz recounting the assault in detail. I saved these screen shots for if and when I decided to come forward.
This is what was given to the police:
Some of you might be thinking that since I asked him to wear a condom, that I was consenting to sex, and you would be wrong. Given the circumstances and fear of being hurt further, I made a decision to take the path of least resistance. That does NOT mean I wanted to have sex at all. I wanted him to get it over with. You might also be thinking that previous sexual encounters gives a person blanket consent, but I dare you to roll up on your ex and have sex with them without asking and see how it goes.
I moved to LA a few months later but would still run into him at shows. I would even speak to him to be nice. Going so long without saying anything made me feel awful but part of me didn’t want to cause “drama” for him. The final straw came 2 years after the assault when I had moved to New York. I thought being across the country would keep me away from him, but I constantly saw his face on my social media. On flyers; in photos with my friends… I couldn’t escape him. So I spoke up. Once I called him out, I had to figure out how to press charges from another state. In the meantime, I was served with a cease and desist letter threatening a lawsuit if I didn’t stop calling him a rapist.
After going to the police, Diaz was arrested and charged with 4 counts of sexual assault and 1 count of coercion. It was when I also learned he had 2 previous domestic violence charges in the past, and also that his real name is Randolph (ugh).
The District Attorney pleaded him down to “conspiracy to commit battery” because I wasn’t the perfect victim. They literally said because I did coke that night, that a jury wouldn’t believe me. Also because I waited 2 years to come forward. And based off some of the things people have said about victims, I guess I understand.
I’ve had other victims of sexual assault say that what happened to me was “consensual sex gone wrong” because I wasn’t snatched in a dark alley and raped by a stranger. That person is wrong and so is anyone else who thinks so. When someone says “Stop” and you don’t, that’s assault. Period. If that person is trying to move your hand away and you push them, THAT is assault. If you side with Diaz or ANY sexual abuser, you might want to ask yourself why.
There are people who still work with Diaz and give him places to feel safe to perform. Those people are obviously not worth my time. But the people who I thought were my friends and turned their backs on me hurt the most. It’s obviously taken me a long time to sort things out and I’m still very pissed at the cowards who didn’t have my back. But the people who did and do? They’re the best people and I’m thankful for them. I should not feel like the bad person for going to the police. And I’m tired of beating myself up for doing what EVERYONE says victims should do.
Ultimately, I’m not doing this for you. I’m doing this for me, because I deserve to be free from shame and to live a full life. I love myself enough to do that now.