Warning: This post contains graphic description of rape.
Vulnerable. Vul-ner-a-ble. The word itself is ugly, isn’t it? Or is it just me. I don’t know. What I do know is I don’t like it. The word or the condition. Having been a lifelong victim of sexual, emotional, and verbal abuse the thought of laying myself bare and letting people in anywhere deeper than my skin is all but unthinkable. (Actually, I won’t let most people in even that far, but that’s a post for another day). It’s like giving them permission to abuse me again. It makes me feel powerless and that’s terrifying.
As much as the “v” word terrifies me, I know it’s necessary if I am ever going to completely heal, and there’s no way to have a fulfilling life without some degree of it. I’m working on it but I have a long way to go. This post today will be an exercise in that. I have something on my mind that is terribly difficult for me to share. I have no idea what I’m going to say. I’m just going to put fingers to keyboard and type what comes out of my soul. I have no idea if I’m even going to hit publish. If I do it will be the ultimate act of bravery and if you’re reading this, well I guess I’m a hero. So, here goes…
I heard on the news this morning about a certain Stanford swimmer (whose name I won’t mention because I don’t think he deserves the attention) is being released today. After three months. I’m reminded of his father’s comment about not wanting his son’s life ruined by a “few minutes of action”. I feel angry. Angry that it happened in the first place. Angry that his father is so oblivious or, even worse –indifferent, to the fact that his son’s few minutes of action will have a lifelong impact on that girl. I’m angry that this swimmer will only pay 3 months for his crime and his victim will pay for her entire lifetime. I’m just plain angry. And, yet again, I’m being bombarded with painful memories of my own “swimmer situation”. Look at that. I can’t even say the word. R-A-P-E. There it is. Rape. I was raped.
I was 14 years old. You were the father of some kids that I babysat. You brought me home one night after babysitting. It was a deserted country road and you stopped the truck because you said you had to go to the bathroom. You had been drinking. You got back in the truck but you didn’t start the engine. You slid over to me. Your breath smelled strongly of beer. You touched my leg. I didn’t want you to. I was frozen in fear. I wanted to run but I couldn’t move and I had nowhere to go even if I could. I managed to squeak out a “no” and a “stop” but you didn’t listen. You told me to relax, that I would enjoy it. I wasn’t enjoying it. I felt like I was going to throw up. I felt alone and abandoned and helpless and scared.
You unzipped your pants and pulled out your penis and I was disgusted. It was weird looking and slimy and looked like a gun pointing at me. I had never seen an adult penis before. I was a virgin. I hadn’t even had my first kiss. Tears rolled down my face as you pushed me down on the seat. I didn’t want you or that thing anywhere near me. I wanted to go home. I wanted my mother, my father, my sisters, my brothers, Batman, Superman, God — anybody at all– to come save me. I wanted to be anywhere but here. But nobody came. I felt a piercing pain between my legs. I screamed. You were on top of me, all sweaty with your beer breath in my face. You were heavy and I was stuck. I couldn’t get away and I couldn’t make you stop. I just laid there enduring it until you were done. I let my mind drift off to someplace safe. You got off of me and slid back in the driver’s seat. As if nothing had ever happened, you turned on the ignition and drove me home. My vagina hurt and I noticed it was bleeding. I thought I had started my period. As we pulled up outside of my house you told me not to tell anyone about what “we” did or bad things would happen.
I went inside, washed you off of me and went to bed. I woke up the next morning and wondered why I had such a horrible dream. It had seemed so real, but I was relieved that it wasn’t. The next time your wife called me to babysit I agreed. She picked me up, but you brought me home. When we climbed in the truck I couldn’t even look at you because I was so embarrassed about my dream. Once we were back on the dirt country roads I started to feel uneasy. My dream had seemed so real and the memories were intense. And then you said the words that sent me into a panic. “You didn’t tell anybody about us did you?” Reality hit me like a bolt of lightening. It hadn’t been a dream. It really happened. And I was in the truck with you again. And you did it again, just like the first time. I never went back to babysit after that. I also didn’t tell anyone because I didn’t want anything bad to happen.
I didn’t figure out I was pregnant until I was nearly 5 months along. I had only been having periods for a few months before it happened so they didn’t always come very regularly. That’s when I knew I had to tell my mother. I did and you went to jail. The trial didn’t start until after I had the baby. Lots of people came to watch. It was all there was to do in a small town before reality TV. I had to tell them every detail of what you did to me. I was reliving the horror all over again, and you were just sitting there glaring at me with your beady little eyes. Your lawyer was a despicable man. He had scraggly long hair and dirty fingernails. He attacked me on the stand. He was relentless. In front of the whole town he tried to make me look like a slut . He tried to make it look like I asked for it, like I led you on. The jury wasn’t buying it. You went to prison. But only for 4 months. Since I never went to the police they couldn’t charge you with rape. Only indecent liberties with a minor.
You walked away virtually unscathed. Chances are you haven’t even given it a second thought. I wonder if in your mind you really believe I seduced you. That somehow a little girl sitting on the other side of your truck was an invitation to do what you did. I don’t know and I don’t really care. I won’t say you ruined my life because I refuse to give you that much power. But the things that you did to me still, 36 years later, pop up every now and then. I see your face every time my husband climbs into bed with beer on his breath. I have my guard up more often than I should, not letting people in because I don’t want them to hurt me. I am overly cautious about things that have the potential to hurt me. I’m always looking over my shoulder. I am an obsessive control freak, unwilling to let others have any power over me. Your “few minutes of action” created all those things in me and more.But I’m not going to continue to let you rob me of the fullness of life. I’m healing now, and I’m ready to do the work it takes to keep you in the past where you belong.
“The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace” ~ Romans 8:6″