It wasn’t fun but it was necessary. It wasn’t glam and it had nothing to do with baseball, one of my most beloved loves in the world. There are some things baseball can’t fix.
So, what how did I spend part of my Saturday evening?
I let myself out of jail. I shared my secret publicly for the first time in a room of 40 some people, including 2 friends of mine and today I’m sharing it with even more people.
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The event Saturday night was meant to raise awareness.
My counselor emailed me about a month ago and asked if I wanted to share my story. She said I could write it out and read it if I wanted to or I could have someone else read it at the event. I said, “It’s my story, I’ll read it.”
The lights were turned down with only a row of spots in the back on for some dim lighting.
9 people, myself included, sat in the audience and one by one, our stories were announced. I was the 5th of nine to speak. I left my seat, walked up and sat down in my chair in the row at the front of the room. I turned on my flashlight, read a statistic “42% of rape survivors told no one about the rape”, and then paused.
Then, I read my story.
My mom introduced us in the fall of 2001. He was a “good Catholic man”, widowed, with 2 cute little kids. He was my type, according to my mother. Tall, dark and handsome. Fine, introduce us. So she did. We dated, went out to dinner, I got to know his children and ours was a happy relationship. For a variety of reasons, Friday night was our date/stay over night. We’d talk and go to lunch during the week. Fast forward to October of 2002.
I don’t remember which Friday it was, just that it changed my life forever. We made dinner, ate with his kids, put them to bed, did chores, watched TV and went to bed about 10:30.
I woke up around 2AM on my knees, Mark attempting to have sex with me doggy style. I was groggy, still in pain from consensual sex earlier in the evening. I said, “no”, and tried to pull away. He grabbed my hips, pulled me to him and proceeded to tell me I’d wake up and get into it. After I tried to crawl away, I closed my eyes and prayed to get out of it alive. Along with wondering why this was happening to me. He proceeded to rape me, even as I was saying “no”, asking him to stop and telling him he was hurting me. To no avail. I remember everything starting to hurt and feeling completely alien in my own body.
Then he asked me if I’d ever had anal sex. “No, I haven’t. It’s of no interest to me,” I responded. He then said, “I’ll just put the tip [of his penis] in and see what you think.” In that moment, I wanted to die. I wanted to be absolutely anywhere but there. I said, no. He said he’d wear a condom. I remember saying no, I just wanted to go to sleep.
But no, he wouldn’t listen and before I even got the word “no” out, again, he was sodomizing me. I remember being curled up in a ball on my knees. There was no place to go. He was angry with me. I was vacillating between just wanted to get out of this alive and wanting to crawl under a rock and die. Crushed. Shattered.
My body began spasming, amidst waves of pain. He finished and let me go.
At one point I remember feeling like I was on the ceiling looking down at the entire scene. Filled with shame and guilt. I felt like I was living in an alternate universe.
I remember getting up and hobbling into the bathroom. My entire body ached. It hurt to walk, it hurt to sit, it hurt to pee. How did I let this happen? I trusted him. He’s my boyfriend. I thought I was going to be sick.
I got into the shower. It was filthy. Just like Mark. I scrubbed for I don’t know how long. There is no scrubbing rape, sodomy, shame, anger and the rest of it away. My skin was red. I dried off as best I could, hair still damp, got dressed and drove home. It was probably 3AM. I have no real idea what time it was. I also have no idea how I got home. I remember showering again and crawling into bed.
2 weeks later Mark broke up with me. I was in denial. I was devastated. For his kids. They thought they made their mom go away and now, I was gone, too.
In case you were wondering why I never reported it, there are a couple of reasons. First, I was in denial. Even after I admitted it to my best friend/roommate and to my mom and step-dad after that, and found out that Mark admitted to cheating on me, it took me a long time to wrap my head around the idea that I had actually been raped. I mean, how could my own boyfriend rape and sodomize me? I even tried to convince that I was OK with it. It turned my world upside down. Any sense of trust I had in myself was shattered. My trust and faith in men was shattered. The idea that a man would want me for anything other than sex? Yeah, no. I had no self-worth or self-esteem.
I saw him at church once after it happened and hid behind my mother, admonishing her not to move.
I’ve just recently regained faith and trust in myself and others, men in particular. It’s taken almost 12 years. Someone did ask me, sometime after the fact, if I wanted to press charges. I declined. First, Tallahassee is a really big small southern town. Had I reported it, it wouldn’t have been quiet for very long and I was ashamed that I ‘let’ it happen. After all, he was my boyfriend. Should I not have seen it coming before hand? More importantly, however, I didn’t want his kids to lose their dad. They’d lost mom, I didn’t want to be responsible for their losing him too, even if he was a rapist.
Fast-forward to this past summer. I found this place and shared my secret with Jen. I was assigned to Marlo and have been working with her ever since. I recently healed my rape enough to give up my space to someone else whose journey has just begun. In writing this out again, I’ve discovered more layers of pain and anguish. I’m working to heal those as well. It’s a process that’s starts with being able to say, “I was raped” aloud. I’ve rung most of the emotion from it, done my best to forgive him, for me, not him, so I can move on. I realize that I deserve love, joy, an amazing man who adores me and that I am not at fault. Letting go of the shame is still tough at times, especially when you think it’s healed…and then something triggers you and you realize it’s not. I’m committed to my happiness, though, so whatever it takes, I do.
As a final note, I saw a meme on Facebook the point of which was to advocate for gun control, with a photo of a woman, head in her hands, with the caption “A rape can last 30 seconds, but a murder lasts forever. Guns Are Not The Answer”. When I saw it for the first time, I burst into tears and shook violently for a good 20 minutes. My rape itself lasted roughly 30 minutes. The after affects have affected my life for almost 12 years. My rapist effectively stole 12 years from me. Rape and sexual assault, left untreated, do more damage than even I could ever have imagined.
I owe a very big thank you to a dear friend for putting out the brochure at her function which led me here, to Jenn for listening the first time and to Marlo for helping me heal.
After the event was over, someone whose name I don’t know came up to me gave me a big hug and thanked me for sharing my story.
I waited about 3 weeks to tell my best friend/roommate and then my mom and step-dad. It took me over 11 years to tell my dad, which is one of the toughest things I’ve ever done. But that’s another post.
Needless to say, it’s been a rough road. Some people reading this have been with me every step of the way and if you’re one of those people, thank you from the bottom of my heart. I am lucky to have an incredible support system.
If you’re reading this and you’ve been sexually assaulted or raped and you’ve never told anyone, please, please, PLEASE tell someone! Reach out to me if need be. Or reach out to RAINN.org.
Know that you have a right to heal, you have a right to a beautiful life and so much happiness that you need a group of friends to share it with but first you have to be brave for 5 seconds. It takes less than 5 seconds to say, “I was raped” aloud, to someone who can help you or get you help.
I can’t change what happened to me but I can raise awareness and be an advocate. I’m sharing because this ISN’T about me. It’s about reaching out and being brave, lighting the way for someone whose journey is just beginning.