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To speak about an experience with any form of interpersonal violence is difficult, but it is also empowering. Breaking the silence reduces shame and helps others to speak out about their own experiences.
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Monday, November 5, 2012
The first "leader" I found made my skin crawl. To everyone else, he seemed like an average, ordinary 17-year-old boy. My discomfort around him wasn't shared by anyone else in my group, so when all the other seats on the fancy charter bus were taken, I convinced myself that the bad feelings I had were all in my head; I needed to just suck it up and sit down next to him in that last row. The result was an hourlong, torturous nightmare that left me feeling dirty, used and paranoid.
No one made any motion of stopping him from his slow but thorough invasion of my body. This was NOT how I pictured my first interaction with male genitalia: my hands forced behind my back, and then down his pants, moving further and further into unwanted points of sexual contact. I thought no one knew, but an anonymous tip notified my group leader when we arrived at our destination. Knowing someone else shared in my torture was disgraceful and horrifying. The boy was ejected from our group and sent home with a slap on the wrist from the program director.
Um, hi? What about me? I was scoffed at by my group members- told I was making a big deal out of nothing, and I should consider myself "lucky" that I wasn't fully raped. Oh, I'm lucky? Because feeling unsafe at every turn is lucky. Never trusting anyone again is LUCKY? Losing crucial relationships and becoming physically detached wasn't lucky.
I was miserable for months until I realized that what happened to me WAS real, and no one could make it any less legitimate or upsetting. Time has healed the emotional wounds, and I realize I WAS lucky- too many women have these atrocities continually inflicted upon them, without even the most minimal of interferences to stop the pain. I escaped with minor scars, but even those are reminders of things that never should have happened.
Thursday, November 1, 2012
My baby sitter in elementary school would also babysit other kids and housesit in order to make more money to survive. None of the parents involved minded, because she was genuine and full of warmth. She started taking care of me when I was 3 days old, and the bond that she shared with me and my family was unbreakable. Through her I met many other children in the Chapel Hill and Durham area, in addition to some teenagers attending Durham high schools. There was this one family that I got to know really well because my babysitter would bring me to their house all of the time. I have good memories of that place. They had a rope swing in the back yard, a big TV where I would watch the Anamaniacs, and a nice spiral staircase upstairs to the teenagers' rooms. I don't remember exactly how old the teenagers, Julie and Brian, were but I remember looking up to them and going with my babysitter to pick them up from school to bring them home and to stay with them until their parents got back. I felt close to them as well, as close as a little elementary school kid could feel to teenagers. But a single afternoon would take away my childhood, more or less personhood, prematurely.
She called me to her room - I don't remember what for, but it was like any other day. I think she started playing with some toys with me, I always felt really cool having teenagers spend time with me. I don't remember what she said to me to stop playing with toys, but we both stood up. She said something about playing a game. Then, she slowly put her hands down my back, and told me to do the same to her. I froze, I didn't know what was going on. We, quote, took turns, with this game, even though when it was on me I generally skipped. Each time she went deeper and deeper from my back down into my pants. She kept assuring me that it was OK and that it was a fun game. What seemed like hours passed by until she said that we were going to play from the front. She put her hands down my pants from and molested me. She then made me touch her genitals. I didn't know what was happening to my body. She told me to get naked and to get into her bed, which I did. I can still remember how the sheets felt, because that is all I could focus on as I was trying to not pay attention to her as she stripped down naked and got into the bed. The entire time I just wanted to scream, I felt trapped in my own body, not knowing what was going on. My babysitter was just downstairs and just saying anything would have made it stop.
I can't dissociate the pain, the vulnerability and the humiliation from sex now. How can something that is supposed to feel good cause this much destruction to me? You have ruined it for me. I have lost the ability to be intimate with anyone, I cannot bring myself to trust anyone again. You have taken my childhood from me.
I hate you.
I am broken. I am damaged goods. I am full of shame: I'm not sorry I make mistakes - I am sorry that I am a mistake. Society seeks to support rape victims, but male rape victims are often pushed aside in another stigma. Let me tell you that this is real to me, and my life is forever affected as I still wander through the darkness of my mind. Maybe one day I'll uncover my self worth, or even find someone I can feel intimate with. But I have given up hope, as my past dictates otherwise.
But, this is about my lips – what silence looks like. It’s difficult for me to see so many friends be assaulted, battered, attempt – so soon after my own destruction – so soon after having a personal experience with sexual violence. They were scared and embarrassed to tell her story, in that her friends would be disappointed – I too felt that way. I was raised with high morals, with a life enlaced in strong religious duties that always led me to believe that the woman was to be pure till marriage. I did not have that choice, even if my loose liberal American mindset had always challenged it. Upon hearing stories, all I can do is boil tears - smile in rage - laugh to myself with all the hatred I have for the system of oppression that targets women as sexual objects, that portrays Latinas as being only one type of creature: hypersexualized, submissive, ignorant, desperate, alien. It’s easy for me to channel this anger into speech, but to explain it is to feel it in a constant cycle: to feel those weeks of denial and of refusal to accept that it was not my fault, and that I am still whole. But the reason I smile is because it is what the feeling of being a survivor manifests as. Along the journey, I felt like one of many numbers of Latinas that have been sexually assaulted, and just like my sisters, my family knew nothing of what happened to me – nor will that be an easy task for me to fully disclose. I can’t help but laugh at the fact that, when filling out that blind report - shaking, guilt screaming in my head through self-blame, anger sweating through my pores as I remembered all the bystanders ignoring me during everything – all I could think is that I was like a little check box – Hispanic/Latino. – my blind report went to another stack, and just by the national average, it seems like there are a lot of us Latinas being stacked into binders. I wore the veil of a victim for weeks before I could remove it and accept that I was a survivor. But, I’m not alone in my silence, nor am I alone in my rage an determination to break it.
Friday, October 26, 2012
Thursday, October 25, 2012
I am more inclined to write about the people that betrayed me, the people that didn’t believe me, the people that ignored the signs and facilitated his abuse. A handful of girls on my hall defended him without even asking me or talking to me at all because he was “always nice to them.” None of them have confronted me about it to this day. They defended my rapist without even asking me “Did this happen to you?” I still cannot understand how women can betray other women like that.
I could write about the people in my life that called my emotions “silly,” that told me part of my soul had been taken away forever because of what happened, that look at me differently now, that trace EVERY action and decision I make back to what happened, the people that torture me with their apathy and ignorance and their refusal to even try to understand. I could write about the questions people asked me: “Why didn’t you break up with him the first time it happened?” “Why were you ever alone with him?” “Why didn’t you run away and call the police?” Why, why, fucking why, every day for weeks and weeks. Few people wondered why he raped me, why no one asked me if I was okay when I walked through the halls of my dorm sobbing, why no one reported it after I told them about his threats of violence, why no one noticed him showing up outside my door countless times every day, why people didn’t interfere when he would scream, curse and verbally abuse me in public.
But this is not even half of the story. If you don’t know my story, you can’t know my glory, and my glory is in the beautiful people—the angels God sent me—that have lifted me from my suffering and made me stronger and more wildly beautiful than before. I wish I could list each of them here and tell them why I love them and how each of them has, quite literally, saved my life. The people that believe me, LOVE me, encourage me, support me, laugh and cry with me, hold me, smile at me, believe IN me . . . I love you more than you will ever know. You inspire me to stay true to my responsibility to give back to this world.
Monday, October 1, 2012
After being beaten on and pushed around so much when I was 13, I didn't feel like I had any control over my body. Several times guys started to touch me and put their hands in my pants, even when I started dating someone, and I was terrified to say no. On buses, or at friends movie nights, and later in the backs of cars and in movie theaters and in my own bed; in churches, and dark parking lots, and the woods, I would get touched and felt and kissed while my guts were throbbing and hurting and screaming and trembling and my mouth was too scared to open. If I tried to say no there was always a convincing argument against me and I always felt that I would have my face bloodied and bruised if I said no. Anyway, I felt that someone wanting me, even for just sex, was better than being feeling so alone. So I pretended I didn't care instead. I didn't have any real friends and I didn't trust anyone. After awhile, I didn't really have any emotions or feelings or tears or anything left. I started cutting myself, just to feel something. I lived with just my mom then, and she wasn't home much, so I would sit at home alone and eat microwave dinners and watch the news and cut myself. After awhile I didn't really notice it, it just became a habit, like biting my nails is now. But then it kept getting out of control, and I kept getting more and more depressed, and began to feel more and more suicidal. My cuts got deeper, and I started cutting all over my body. My legs, chest, sides, stomach, arms, wrists. I carved the words "fuck" and "whore" and "trust" into my arm. One night I felt completely done with everything. I wrote a letter saying fuck you to all the people who had hurt me. Then I took my knife and stabbed it into my arm as hard and deep as I could, and jerked the knife up my arm. There was blood everywhere, I felt dizzy, I felt scared about what I had done. It became hard to stand up, then I couldn't. I got in the bathtub and tried to wash all the blood down the drain. I just lay there trying not to pass out, but eventually I was able to breathe easier and the bleeding slowed down. I wrapped it up, and it bled very slowly for a long time, maybe a day or more. After that I had no grip in that hand for 4 or 5 years. I saw the guy who had been hitting me sometime after that and I told him about the cutting, he laughed and said I deserved it or something like that. I finally got up the guts to tell my guidance counselor after that. I told him about getting beaten on so much and how I was hurting myself. He threatened to tell my mom if I kept cutting and he said that he would call me in to talk to him again soon. He never talked to me again after that.
Sophomore year of high school I got dumped, and I felt horrible. I had found someone who I trusted enough to tell a little bit about how I had been beat on, but after dating for awhile he told me that God had said that he had to break up with me. I finally started dating this other guy, but I didn't trust him. After awhile that ended, and around the same time one of my friends moved away and I lost some other friends, and I started feeling really lonely and lost. I had still not made sense of anything that happened to me and did not trust anyone. I went to the beach over spring break with my mom and a friend. I hadn't really been able to drink before, at least not much, because my mom was very strict and also I didn't have any friends who invited me to drink or do anything like that. At the beach I decided to go out and find a random hotel filled with college kids there on their spring break. My friend and I immediately got picked up by guys who were probably 21 or 22, but told us they were 18. They took us to their room and gave us shots and shots and shots of liquor, which we washed down with beer. I weighed less than 115 lbs and the most I had previously drank in one night was 3 beers. After about 10 minutes of being there I was falling over. The guys said we had to play strip poker. One of them pulled me onto his lap and started taking off my clothes. After he took off my shirt he threw me on the bed and started having sex with me. I was barely conscious, but it was my first time, and it hurt. He didn't use a condom. Some of the other guys came back in the room while he was still having sex with me and starting laughing and filming it with a video camera. I had a friend with me, and another guy had sex with her. I finally grabbed her and I carried her home. She was throwing up and really sick. Then in the morning I told her what happened. I tried to get excited, and feel like I had had my first one night stand, but all I really felt was broken. The next day I went out to the beach and got some booze from another guy. I drank myself into the hospital. Somehow people at school found out and everyone called me a whore.
That summer I was lost. I went up to visit my uncle in Milwaukee. As soon as I got up there he started touching me and putting his hands all over me. He would push me up against his car and hold me there and not let me move, and he would grab my ass and rub his hands up and down my legs. Then one day he stuck his hands down the front of my pants. One day when he had me pushed up against his car he said he would have done more if I was 18.
When I came home after the week I took all the pills in my house. I woke up the next morning in the hospital. I was there for a couple days and I was almost always in a state of semi sleep. Sometimes I would look over and see a zombie version of myself crawling towards me on the floor. After I got out I started hurting myself more. I would beat the shit out of myself, smash my head into metal or wood, burn myself, choke myself. I'd knock myself out with a hockey stick. I would have big lumps on my head, even little cuts. The pain felt comfortable, it felt like something I was familiar with, it felt like the only thing I could trust. I hated myself and blamed myself for all that had happened. Every night I had terrible flashbacks and nightmares.
When I got my license I would drive around aimlessly at 90-100. I'd speed around on mountain roads, not going anywhere in particular, not caring if I died. I'd smoke cigarette after cigarette alone by myself in the park after dark. I would drink or smoke any chance I got, and drive around wasted.
Monday, September 17, 2012
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
Saturday, June 2, 2012
Thursday, April 26, 2012
For three years, beginning when I was fifteen, I was in a verbally, and occasionally physically, abusive relationship. We believed that we loved each other and that we would get married, and it never occurred to me that abuse happens even in high school, even in your first relationship, even when you are practically still children. When I was with him I felt dirty and empty and useless and scared, and I didn’t realize how wrong it was until years later. That’s not really the problem anymore, though; just how the problem arose.
The problem is that in fictional portrayals, the abused girl realizes her strength and immediately finds a man who respects her and loves her – when from what I’ve seen, bad relationships are followed by self-loathing, sexual recklessness, and shattered confidence. I know that I have not had it nearly as hard as many of the people posting to this site. I know. But too many times I’ve woken up the morning after and cried on my floor, brushed my teeth, scrubbed my skin, and brushed my teeth again. Too many times I’ve been too scared and confused to try to say no, or I’ve been ignored when I do. Too many times I’ve been screaming in my head and not known how to scream out loud.
My body is mine and I want it back. You can’t touch it unless I want you to, and if I don’t want you to, don’t try to convince me. I’m sick of not feeling like I can respect myself and I’m sick of not feeling like others should respect me.
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
I was about to start my senior year in high school. I was so excited for all the events that I would get to finally take part of that year. I was finally clean from drugs, had over come my eating disorder, and was ready for a fresh start. Two weeks before school started, he raped me. The one man who I thought a woman could always count on. The man that was supposed to teach a woman how other men should treat her, how to get respect, how to not let anybody ever hurt them.
I wish my mother would have believed me two years ago. Maybe this could have been avoided. I wish she believed me now. I wish it never happend. I wish I didn't have to run away because of it. I wish I could sort the thoughts in my head that have kept me up at night for the last 3 years. The thoughts of not knowing what to call him when I see him every time I go home. Are you really my father? no. You are a monster...disguised by a joke, a "hard working man", nobody knows what names you called my mother, sister and I, or what you did to me. Even after I told you to stop. Even after I ran away.
How do I tell the man I love now what has happend to me? how do I get him to understand? Does this make me less of a woman? How do I tell him I can never fully be his because you decided to claim me? and you continue to claim me saying i'm yours. I lost the baby you forced onto me...I guess God had mercy on me.
I hope to one day be able to look into the eyes of the man I once called father and say, "i forgive you". Maybe then and only then will I be able tolive again. you broke the heart that was once so full of life. So happy, and ready to start fresh. You killed me when I was just about to start living. When will I taste life again...
Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Dear 16 yr old Lisa,
I know that you are scared and confused right now. You were just raped, you are feeling physical and emotional pain you don't know how to deal with. It's ok to feel pain it only makes you human. Don't listen to Satan's lies you aren't weak and it's not your fault. You are going to get angry, you are going to be sad, you are going to want to blame yourself. You are going to look in the mirror and hate your reflection staring back at you. You think you are alone, you feel lost, and you are going to find comfort in that bottle of alcohol. Alcohol is going to introduce you to your safe place in your mind where everything is ok because you can't feel anything. Being numb is your safe place but you aren't safe there! The enemy is taunting you with flashbacks, and you are reliving that awful day in your mind. The enemy invades your safe place and is leading you to alcohol. He is filling you up with fear, doubt and hate.
My dear sweet Lisa this is no way to live but don't fear sweet angel redemption is coming! God is looking out for you, He loves you, He forgives you for being angry at Him, and He will bring you Light! You won't be living in darkness forever. I wish I was there to comfort you and lead you in the right direction. I would tell you that God loves you, just call on Him! He will carry your pain for you. This pain is too much for you to carry all by yourself, give it to Him. Please don't take that drink! Don't drink that glass of vodka you are going to be raped again. I know you are hurting and confused. That new dream you had, that nightmare was just God telling you what happened to you last night. He wants you to know because your body is going to hurt everywhere. You are going to be hungover and you are going to have some bruises on your back from the back of the truck they laid you down on. Yes! I said they, there were two of them and they took turns. You are going to doubt and think that your mind is playing tricks on you but that is just Satan, "The Father of Lies" he wants you to think that you are going crazy. He doesn't want you to know the truth but God is going to send a girl to tell you that everything you saw was real. You aren't crazy and please don't hate yourself. I know that your parents are mad at you for coming home drunk and wearing nothing but a bathing suit, but they love you. It's ok to tell them what happened to you. It's ok to just confide in your Mom if you want. It's going to cross your mind for years to come but don't worry my sweet angel redemption is coming. In God's time they will know the truth and you will feel God's courage and strength. The chains that the enemy used to hold you down will be broken. One day you will be free!!
Right now you feel unworthy of love, you feel broken, damaged, and you have become a prisoner of your own mind in that safe place you created. You started a dangerous love affair with beer and vodka. You don't realize it but it's leading you to dance with the devil. You are going to dance with the devil for years to come, but don't cry my love. God is going to cut in and lead you in a new dance. Your new dance with God will be the most beautiful dance in your life. The twirls and dips will be healing, the leaps you make will be bigger than you ever thought possible. You will be lighter than you have ever been and as you two take your bow there will be a joy in soul you have never experienced before.
I know right now you can' t see anything but fear and torment your first attacker comes to visit you often. He shows up at your house, your school functions, and hangs out with your friends. You feel fearful because when you see him you remember that awful day. You remember the coldness in his eyes, the weight of him on top of you, the tight grip he had on your wrists, you can still feel the ever increasing heart beats in your chest as you feel his wet lips on your neck. He triggers those memories when you see him, but when he sees you, my darling he sees your strength and he becomes fearful. He saw how you fought that day and sees how everyday you walk a little taller, and speak more clearer. You are stronger every time he sees you! You are too broken to see that God has given you His courage and strength to look your enemy in the eye and rise above him. When you walk away from your attacker you are both fearful. You my sweet angel fear the devil you see inside him and your attacker fears God because God is shining through you!!
My dear God is protecting you he hasn't left you nor will He forsake you. The enemy keeps harassing you he is taunting you and using people in your church to shun you. He is using them to bring you back to the bottle. You are even more broken than before because the enemy has told you that those people that rejected you at church is a reflection of how your earthly father and heavenly Father feel about you. It's a huge lie that will believe and drink away for years to come. Don't fear my dear Lisa, redemption is coming!
You walk around in a daze because that "safe place" you've created in your mind is filled with chaos, confusion, fear, and doubt. Satan doesn't want you to know how strong you are he is slowly chipping away your confidence. He is leading you down a path of darkness that is filled with men that see your innocence and take advantage of your vulernability. Don't give yourself to those men, don't lie in that bed with them they don't know how special you are. You stand outside of yourself and see a different person in that bed. You are protecting your soul and you are watching your hallow shell in that bed. Don't let this define you, Satan has labeled you as a weak, empty, and soulless victim. You don't know this yet but you are a strong, courageous survivor. The enemy doesn't want you to know this truth and his sole agenda is to keep you from your day of redemption through God. It's coming soon keep pushing through the pain.
You are losing battles with the enemy but fear not for with God the war is won! God always wins just reach out your hand to Him He will pull you up and walk with you. God is protecting you, you are older now and are moving to the other side of the country. He is also going to bring you friends and people whom you will feel safe with. You don't see it though you are blinded by the enemies lies. You are too broken to see that God is with you and redemption will be here soon! You have now started to tango with the enemy. He has you close to him and his lead is strong. The bottle is now your sanctuary and you are about to fall down into a well of danger. You are about to face evil again, you my sweet angel are going to be raped again! This attacker is evil in it's truest form. He is going to taunt you, hold in his laire against your will, he will violate your body and insult you he will even laugh in your face. Fear not my love you will rise above this, redemption is just around the corner!
You are stronger than you think and you will reach out to your safe people. They will encourage you to keep fighting, God will use them to tell you to not let this rape define you! You will go back to what you know, the bottle and you will drink yourself numb. God is crying for you, He wants you back, and He is about to free you from the enemy! In the midst of your love affair with the bottle and your tango with the enemy God cuts in! God is about to lead you into the arms of your husband. A handsome angel is going to rescue you from your dangerous affairs with bad men and the bottle. You will be timid and shy at first, the enemy will tell you that you aren't worthy, but you follow God's lead through this man. You will tell this man of your brokenness and he will love you through it. You see a light for the first time in a long time. He leads you to break your chains of silence and telling your family about your past. Lisa my sweet angel redemption has begun!
You have started on your path to redemption and the lies in your mind are being quieted by God's truths and promises for you. God gave you a beautiful wedding to the love of your life. He didn't want you two to go through healing and redemption by yourselves. You are going to see glimpses of God's love for you through your husband's eyes. You and your husband are now walking on God's path of redemption for you. God is leading you to a class called How We Love so that you can recognize where your brokenness comes from and has given you tools to overcome it. Then God will lead you to a class called Rooted at Mariners Church and you will share your brokenness with a group of women. These women embrace you and they don't shun nor do they judge you. You will have a moment during your prayer time where you will hear God's voice for the first time. He will tell you to surrender your pain to him that you have been carrying a burden for too long and too large to carry it on your own. You will surrender your pain to Him and your chains of your past will fall to the floor. You will feel safe and freedom for the first time in your life!! You will praise God and thank Him for never leaving your or forsaking you. You will get baptized with your husband holding hands. You and your earthly father will share a special moment and this moment kick starts forgiveness in your hearts for each other. Redemption my sweet girl is continuing!
You will go through Rooted again because you are seeking and searching for your purpose. You will continue to heal and share your story with the men and women in your group. This is when you embrace yourself as a strong and courageous survivor. God tells you to go out and tell your story to many you are, "Breaking Your Silence 4 Healing". My sweet angel God is going to use your story to tell others of His love and faithfulness for His children. God has given you redemption, He has put a new mirror in front of you. You will have a hard time accepting this at first, but once you look again you finally love who God made you. MY LOVE REDEMPTION IS HERE, IT'S NOW AND YOUR SOUL IS HEALING!! God stripped away your pain, brokenness, and your distorted view of yourself and NOW these three remain: FATIH, HOPE, AND LOVE. But the greatest of these is LOVE. (1Cor 13:13) My dear sweet 16 yr old Lisa God is healing you, making you feel safe, freeing you from your chains, God is the redeemer of your past. He loves you and will never and has never left your side. Praise be to God my Savior, my Redeemer!!!
Love You Always,
30 yr old Redeemed Lisa
Saturday, March 17, 2012
I did not report... because I used to love him, because I still cared about him, because I told him to get that condom.
I did not report because I was wearing my shortest short skirt and my fuck-me heels, because being in bed and being cuddled by him felt like one of the safest places in the world. Because crashing at an old's friend and ex-boyfriend's seemed far safer than braving the two night buses and the street where the scary boy follows me home every so often.
I did not report because I am angry at me. He betrayed my trust, but I got me raped. Or assaulted. Or taken advantage of. Or whatever that grey area is between consent, non-consent and acquiescence. I was not there for me.
I could have left. I have a phone and one can find taxis even in Hackney. I could have moved to the sofa. I am a feminist, he thinks he's a feminist, I know that women tend to appease rather than fight.
Yet as the 7am light hit my groggy head, and we'd been drunk, then asleep and then we were awake again and the number of No's! was getting embarrassing, he raised his voice with me and I gave up. I gave in. I was not there.
This is why I do not report.
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
I was drugged.
Just typing those words pains me, scares me to death. If it weren't for friends who intercepted me at the bar, things could have been much, much worse. I still feel sick at the thought of a bar or alcohol, and it's been hard just to eat the past few days for fear it will all come back up once I remember that this happened to me.
The knowledge that this happened to me is still a foreign concept. I can't imagine where I would have woken up and in what state I would be in if it weren't for the intervention of friends.
I release this memory (or lack thereof) so that others may know that this CAN HAPPEN TO YOU. I know we've heard this a thousand times over, but it never sank in until I was that person that it happened to.