17 Years, Still Lost

So…tomorrow is the anniversary of the first rape. The last few weeks have been tough, especially with the raging heat. (Heat is one of my biggest triggers.) Although I’m not currently having nightmares, I am highly depressed. Can’t stay awake more than a few hours, not eating much, drinking. 

My heart hurts.

Its like someone is stepping on my chest and holding a wet towel over my face. It hurts to smile or stand up or talk to people.

17 years.

17 years since IT happened. 17 years since his penis was inside me. 17 years since I was forever changed.

And I still can’t reconcile it.

The anxiety, the depression, the brain fog and agitation. The hopelessness. I just don’t know where to go from here.

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Scarlet “R”

I’m sitting in group, for maybe the hundredth time, wondering what my problem is. Why am I so affected? Why can’t I move on? Why does my life still revolve around this? I see each face in turn, there are 8 of us. I know these girls. I understand these girls. I am these girls. And by some cruel twist of fate, we are all here, buried under pillows and blankets…like they will protect us from the stories held within these walls.

 I know I shouldn’t, but I judge the girls. Maybe to protect myself, maybe not. Maybe because I am jealous of them. 

The girls come and go, but our core stays the same. And week after week I see their faces and hear their stories and wonder why I’m still telling the same story of being raped while they’ve moved on to working out other things in life. 

Sometimes I love group counseling and sometimes it makes my skin crawl. The dichotomy is troubling. I feel like I should just quit because it obviously isn’t doing anything. But really, this is the only place people understand me. They all lived it. They know the deal without me ever even saying it. So I like the days I can slink back into the couch and get lost in their stories, get a break from my own. 

But that’s not where today is going. I can feel it. 

The counselor references The Scarlet Letter and asks us what our letter would be and why. I know it will come around to me, but I’m surprised at the answers I hear:

B for bitch…

S for slut…

A for addict…

L for liar…

C for cheater…

G for gay…

T for tease…

And it’s to me…

R for raped.

And I wonder how we can be in a support group for rape victims, some very recently raped, and I’m the only one who feels like rape is written all over my breast. How have they moved past it? How does it still define me? How will I ever get better?

And even though this particular group session happened 15 years ago, I still wonder the same things. You know, like, why do I even feel the need to write this blog to process my feelings? Why do I still think about the rapes every single day? Why have I never had sex without referencing what they did to me? 

Why can’t I move on?

I still have contact with 2 of the girls who were there that day. They’re both divorced, single mothers now…just like I was. They were the “G” and the “C” of the group. I actually only talk to G. She’s doing great. No flashbacks, only really thinks about it briefly around the anniversary, calls me on the anniversary of my first rape. She’s always there should I need to talk, but I’m sorta resentful that she’s doing better. Envious. Jealous. Sad.

I go grocery shopping with my scarlet “R.” I wear it to work and display it while on dates with my husband. It’s such an ingrained part of me that I cannot sever ties. I tell myself I want to, but what if I really don’t? Maybe I like it? Maybe I find comfort in it? Maybe there are too many questions that will never be answered? I may never know how I’m supposed to get to the other side. I suppose I’ll keep trying to get on, managing, scraping by. Perhaps one day I won’t feel so alone in my victim status. I’m going to end this rambling now.

But I’ll leave this thought here for you….What is your scarlet letter?

Ain’t nobody got time for your bullshit!

I’ve been trying to find an outlet in my real life to dissect these feelings, to lessen the burden. PTSD is crippling. There’s nobody in my real life who understands how awful the flashbacks are, how debilitating the pain can be.

My husband is a soldier, but he was fortunate enough to not have seen any real “action” when he was deployed. Although I am thankful he doesn’t deal with that trauma, there is part of me that wishes he could empathize with PTSD.

These rapes have stolen from me in so many ways. One of the most real ways is in how I interact with my husband and family. It shouldn’t, but being raped informs everything from how I go to the bathroom in the middle of the night to when/if I use the air conditioner in my home. It’s unthinkable that my rape life touches all parts of my real life. Shuddering, even.

But this very fact is the reason I don’t talk to my husband about my victim status. I mean, he knows about everything that’s happened, is more than willing to talk with me about it, and is always ready with tenderness and comfort. But I HATE that the intimate parts of our relationship – sexual and non – are connected to the rapes. Those men cannot, will not, have any more of my marriage. So I find other outlets to share my pain.

A few nights ago an old friend, C, who is also a soldier, texted me in the middle of the night asking why I was still awake, something he noticed by a Facebook post I had just made. C has PTSD and was a very close friend before he enlisted. Over the last 20 years, C and I have always found the time to be there for each other when shit got rough. 

I was pleased to hear from him – it’s been months – and figured this would be a great time to unload some of my burdens and thoughts. Who better than a friend who also suffers from PTSD? We made plans and I saw him today. He immediately started trying to cuddle me. What. The. Fuck. 

Now, C knew about the first rape. He was around while I recovered from it. He was great then. I assumed he would be great now. I very clearly told C that I didn’t want him touching me like that. He stopped but also said he would be pushing those boundaries because I needed to practice physical touch in order to get over being raped. (WHAT?!) I probably should have left, but I didn’t. I needed to talk. 

I tried to share with him, but it was too difficult. My guard was up. I couldn’t relax. I didn’t recognize him. I managed to vaguely share that extreme heat is a trigger (it’s 100+ degrees right now), and that the hair pulling and suffocation were the hardest things for me to get over. C’s immediate response…. “Have you thought about self-defense classes?” 

I fucking HATE that question.

What makes you think I haven’t taken self-defense?!? Does being raped mean I automatically must NOT have ever taken a class like that?!?!?!
I hate the victim blaming that goes with it. I hate the fact that you want to tell me it’s not my fault and then turn around and say if I knew self-defense I could have saved myself. I fucking HATE that you think a question like that would empower me!!

I have spent 17 fucking years trying to get it through my thick fucking skull that it’s not my fault that TWO men forcefully put their penises inside of me. I have spent 17 years trying to believe there was nothing I could have done to stop them, persuade them, deter them from violating me. I have spent 17 years listening to people say I did nothing wrong, I wasn’t responsible for their actions, and I couldn’t have changed their choices.

But I’ve also spent 17 years hearing that I should take self-defense classes, that they wish I’d known self-defense at the times of the assaults, that they JUST KNOW self-defense would give me the confidence to stand up for myself and prevent another rape from happening. ARE. YOU. FUCKING. KIDDING. ME.

You cannot have it both ways. You cannot absolve me from any responsibility and then tell me that if I take steps I will be able to prevent another rape. That bullshit doesn’t work. Either it wasn’t my fault, or you think it was my fault because I couldn’t adequately defend myself. It can’t be both. And for your information, C, I have taken self-defense. SEVERAL TIMES.

And I swear to fucking god, if I hear one more time that I should take self-defence, I will fucking lose my mind. 

Ain’t nobody got time for your bullshit.

He raped me, part 2.

You can read the first part of my story here. I now consider the first rape textbook. Vanilla. Nothing…compared to the second. If you’re easily triggered, be warned now that this is ugly….

I had to write this in two parts. It was too much to get out at once. Too hard. Too trying. But I need to get these things outside of me, outside of my head.

After being raped at 14 and shunned by my whole school, I spent the remainder of my teenage years severely depressed, engaged in at-risk behaviors, in and out of abusive relationships…broken. My parents weren’t supportive and I ended up marrying the first person who asked me. I was 18, he 20. I found myself pregnant a month later and abandoned by my husband 2 years after, our daughter only 14 months old.

Being a single mother, I didn’t date until I was 23. When I was ready, I started dating on the internet and met D2. He was kind, fun, handsome, etc. He made me laugh, held doors, walked on the street side of the sidewalk. He made me feel special.

On our fifth date, we went to his place for pizza and a movie. When I showed up, I learned the only TV was in his room, but his mother was there visiting, so I didn’t worry too much about it. I told D2 that I didn’t want to have sex but would still go upstairs.

During the movie, D2 and I were kissing and heavily petting each other. He reached down and unbuttoned my jeans. I moved his hand away but continued kissing him. He reached down and started unzipping. This time, I pulled away and said I wanted to take a break. He leaned off of me onto his side and I rolled away from him to get off the bed. As soon as my back was to him, he pushed me face down onto the bed and crawled on top of me. 

I called out his name and asked what he was doing even though I already knew what was coming. He responded by pulling down my unbuttoned, partially unzipped jeans and tearing at my underwear. 

I felt his forearm on the back of my head, pressing my face into the pillow. D2 reached for something and I suddenly felt cold, wetness all over my lower back, buttocks, and thighs. I realized it was lubricant. He laid on top of me and whispered in my ear, “I like when you get wet for me.” I was paralyzed.

Keeping his forearm on my neck, D2 penetrated me anally and continued thrusting forcefully. After a few minutes, he asked if he could pull my hair. I told him yes. D2 grabbed as much of my hair as he could and yanked so hard that my neck popped several times and my torso was lifted backward off the bed. When he let go of my hair, he held my face into the pillow again. I asked if we could please stop now. I tell myself the pillow muffled it too much for him to hear. D2 stayed silent, panting.

He spent the next portion of time alternating between pulling my hair and suffocating me with my face in the pillow, for longer and longer each time. He switched to vaginal penetration as my vision began to blur. I begged him to wear a condom, at least I think I verbalize that. He answered by whispering between labored breaths that my “pussy. is. so. wet.” Just the way he liked it. He caressed my arms as he pumped into me. His breath curled my straightened hair. My breath and tears soaked the pillow.

Some time later, D2 pulled out of me, lost his erection and rolled away embarrassed. I dared not move. He told me to go clean myself up, so I got dressed and then locked myself in the bathroom. I’m not sure how long I was in there, but he started pounding on the door telling me to come out. 

When I came back into the room, he told me to get into the bed naked. So I did. When he climbed in, I turned away from him. He spooned me. Pressed his erection against my back. Rubbed my arms and hips. When his hand slid onto my lower abdomen, I peed his bed.

Then it went black. I can’t remember anything, for at least a few hours. Next thing I knew, a different movie was ending. I was on my back. D2 told me to get dressed because he had to work in the morning. He didn’t let me have my underwear back. He laid in bed, watching me dress, while fondling my underwear. When he put his hand down to push himself up, D2 felt the wet spot I’d made. “Damn girl! It’s so fucking sexy how wet you get for me. Makes me want to fuck you again.” 

TERROR.

“But nah. I gotta work in a few hours,” he said as he got dressed. He led me downstairs. Opened the front door. Said goodbye. 

I had a 30 minute drive home.

He raped me. 

He. Raped. Me. 

He RAPED me. 

HE raped ME. 

He rapedme. 

Herapedme. 

herapedmeherapedmeherapedme

Shit. He was too good. Too fucking good for me to be his first.
When I got home, I stripped down and hid my clothes. I showered, knowing it would get rid of any DNA. Knowing I wouldn’t press charges. Knowing he was going to rape again. 

 I still wonder how many pairs of underwear he has hidden away.

He raped me, part 1.

I was a flirty kid. I enjoyed using my body to elicit sexual responses from boys and men. I started letting boys see and feel my breasts in 7th grade. I let them put their hands down my pants and wore short skirts with tall boots. I had nearly all male “friends.” 

I had known one friend, A*, for several years and trusted him completely. A was always trying to hook me up with his friends, and he eventually introduced me to D1, who was three years older than us and fairly popular at the high school A and I would soon go to. 

D1 and I started talking everyday on the phone, and I would lie to my parents to go meet up with him at various places around town. I would be lying to myself if I said I wasn’t attracted to D1, but I had a boyfriend at the time and didn’t want to cheat on him even though I loved knowing D1 was attracted to me and was trying to hook up with me. Regardless, we stayed friends and I happily played the tease.

One day, my mom asked me to pick up something from my old school. I was on summer vacation, so I walked up to the school and told D1 to meet me. We walked to a nearby park and sat down against a brick wall because it was over 100° and we were hot and exhausted.

After talking for a few minutes, D1 leaned over and kissed me. I pushed him away and reminded him I had a boyfriend. He smiled and apologized and we kept on talking. A few minutes later, he kissed me again. I pushed him away again, and then he pushed me down to the ground and got on top of me. As he was fumbling with my shorts, I begged him to stop and asked him why he was doing this. He paused, looked me in the eyes and said, “Well, what did you think was going to happen?” 

I froze. I didn’t try to manuver or run away or fight. I didn’t try to scream or reason with him. I froze, tears streaming down my face, while he pulled my shorts down and penetrated me. He didnt use a condom or lubricant and I was a virgin, so the pain was substantial. He pinned my arms above my head and used his weight to keep me still. He didn’t speak to me or look at me the entire time.

When he was done, D1 got up and told me to get dressed, so I did. He hugged me and said he’d had fun but he had to go to work, and then he walked home the opposite way we came. I turned around and walked home, too, totally numb and dazed.

As soon as I got home, I took the stereotypical long, scalding hot shower trying to scrub him off of me. Then, I spent the next several weeks dreading the first day of high school and the likelihood that I would run into D1. I stopped talking to A and he stopped talking to me. I still wonder if he knew D1’s plan all along.

I didn’t tell anyone for 2 months. When the pain and depression became too much to handle, I told someone who happened to be a mandated reporter. Had I known that, I would never have said anything.

After an investigation, D1 was arrested at school. He had some weapons on him and was later expelled for that, but people quickly found out why he was arrested and who accused him. High school became my nightmare. Yells, insults, things thrown at me. I lost nearly all of my friends, in large part because A spearheaded the smear campaigns against me. 

The trial was quick. I spent 4 days on the stand answering the most invasive, graphic questions imagineable. The defense attorney tore me apart and made me look awful. D1 was convicted, but only because he admitted to the rape and apologized on a recorded phone call I made to him. His sentence was 3 months of house arrest and 3 years of probation. And I was left, at 14 years old, to pick up the pieces of my life. 

*initials for anonymity.

My Struggle Today

As I sit to type this, I’m not really sure where I’m going with it. I feel sad, sometimes empty, but mostly sad. I wish I could get angry at them. Believe me, I’ve tried. I just don’t have it in me. I don’t know why. I mean, obviously, rape is awful…legitimately the worst. And being nearly killed during it is even more horrific. But I can’t seem to muster the anger that most people have. I just feel sad, and I want to talk about what happened to me, but I’m deeply ashamed of it. Ashamed of what they did to me, ashamed of my part in it. Ashamed that it still so greatly effects me.

Part of me likes talking about the rapes…but only with men. It’s something I definitely struggle with. The women I’ve spoken with – and there are many – have been dismissive or judging. The men are mostly sympathetic and ask a lot of questions. I know a lot of women don’t like questions, but I much prefer that to volunteering info. It’s cyclical, but right now I really need to talk with someone about how I was raped, what they did to me, how I can still feel it…but there’s no one I’m at that place with right now. So I suffer in silence, grin and bear it, fake it til I make it. And hope that I can find someone to talk to soon before things get too bad.

Rape is one helluva hurdle to jump.

Mother’s Day

It’s the end of Mother’s Day and I’m so happy I didn’t see my mother. Seeing my mother means seeing my father. And seeing my father means I’m going to be touched too much. How can he still make my skin crawl all these years later?

I mean, I love my dad. I really do. I just don’t like hugging him. He’s funny, generous, caring, always ready to help, and he does give great advice. He’s well loved by everyone, including me. Except when he touches me.

And it’s never been under the clothes – that I can remember – but it’s just enough. It’s a hand lingering on the small of my back or rubbing my thigh. It’s him touching my hips or pressing against me too hard. And there’s that time he straight grabbed my boobs and shook them…or all the times he’s cupped my ass…but nothing REAL. Nothing that I can call sexual assault or molestation. Except I know it probably is.

In my real life, he’s a great dad. In my rape life, he’s the one who started the pattern of abuse that invisibly marked me for those two rapists who destroyed everything.

But I still see him, smiling and laughing like nothing is wrong. Pretty much sums up my real life. My rape life will just stay silent and take it. Typical.