Category Archives: rape

The moment I cried

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**Trigger warning if you read the linked article because she talks about abuse.**

I read this article after noticing it because of its title.  And boy did it hit home.  I will link it here so you can read it if you want to before going on to read about why it was so important to me.

“MY BOYFRIEND WAS ABUSIVE — AND I DID NOT REALIZE UNTIL AFTER WE BROKE UP”

Timing is everything.  And it is sort of ridiculous that this week is when that article posted and when I saw it to read.  Except for the actual boyfriend part and some of the boyfriend’s anger, this is me.  SO me.  Well…so much the Girl in the Corner.  All through high school and not with a titled “boyfriend,” but certainly someone I really thought I wanted to be my boyfriend.  He let me believe that is what he wanted too, because if he let me believe that, it made it easier to abuse me.

Allow me to go back a few weeks and say that I am really, really struggling with this group therapy this time.  I need and want to focus on this relationship which shaped so much of what I have felt about myself and how I responded to everyone around me throughout high school and since 2012. But I victim-blame myself on this relationship SO much, that I am consistently failing to stay engaged in group.  I begin minimizing my experience and feelings the second group begins and I punish myself with put-downs for taking up space for a “real” victim.  I know it is silly because the group members and the facilitators would never want me to feel that way, and we always discuss that exact feeling when groups begin.  It is common to feel that someone’s situation may be “worse than” and so victims begin to minimize their own experience as not as bad and, therefore, not as worthy of help.  Ridiculously sad.

So I’ll return to high school now.

The very first time this guy finally showed me some attention was one night when I was having a sleepover and he knew it.  He told me how much he and his friends just wanted to have some fun and that we should sneak out to party with them.  And at that point, I would have done just about anything he said to get his attention.  So we did.

As we got to the woods where everyone was partying, I was happy.  Happy to finally have his attention.  And all of us had fun for a while, but there was a few times I just felt it.  And by IT, I mean that gut feeling that was trying to say “not ok, get away, this isn’t right, he is a jerk” and “you are worth more than this.”

Sometime during the night we were all by a pond and most people were stripping off their clothes to go swimming, including him.  And here’s the thing about that–no way was I doing that.  Not because I couldn’t or wouldn’t get naked, but it was dark out and I don’t like fish touching me so I’m sure as hell not getting in the water in the dark at that point.

That’s a whole other issue for another time.

In any case, I was more than happy to hold his clothes and laugh and have fun with a few people who didn’t last long in the water.  I wasn’t much of a drinker, but I did smoke cigarettes at that point so I just hung out and smoked.  Later, back at the area where everyone hung out, there was a tent.  And when he asked me to go in that tent, I was happy, just like the girl explains at the beginning of that article.  Happy to have attention from someone I liked so much.  I was so excited that he was showing me attention and I was thrilled that he was taking me in this tent for what I thought would be some kissing.  And he made it clear very quickly that he was interested in more than that.  And I completely froze.  I had NO idea what was happening and NO experience in dealing with it.  And, again, just like in the article, the next day or the next weeks at school he was so distant and acted like he didn’t know why I wanted to leave that night when I finally said “take us home.”

Given some time, he was right back to flirting and calling and showing me attention.  And he made it seem like what happened was no big deal, so I just moved on without giving it much more thought.

In the article linked above, the following quote hit me so hard I had to read it again and again:

This is the hardest thing to explain: I really liked him. So when he turned on me, it felt so insane that when he was normal again, I’d forgive the crazy behavior — and then do everything to prevent it from happening again.

Now, unlike the article, he never yelled or threw things at me.  But he was mean.  So very mean.  He would say really rude things to me and treat me like crap if other people were around him and just generally disrespect me.  He would say such awful things and I always felt a level of humiliation being around him, but I didn’t know what to do to get away from him and just as I would decide he was horrible, he would say loving, wonderful, fun things and I would forget everything else.

He would call me and apologize and say wonderfully nice things to get me to come over to his house or pick him up.  And we would go places or do the things he wanted and needed to do in my car because he didn’t drive.  It always felt like a mixture of fun and torture to be with him.  He would always try to talk me into sexual stuff.  Sometimes putting me down until he got what he wanted.  I would laugh things off uncomfortably and tell him I hated him.  But I did things he wanted to do most of the time.  He humiliated me on a regular basis into having sex with him.

Two other quotes came at me like slaps to the face from the above article…

It didn’t feel forced, but it certainly didn’t feel good.

I was so deep in the relationship that I didn’t have words for how I felt.

WHAT IN THE HELL WAS I THINKING?????  The blame the guilt the yuck just comes at me from all over my head and all over the things people say about girls “like me.”  Girls like me.  I felt that my choices were what made me into that girl.  A girl who felt SO MUCH SHAME on a regular basis, but didn’t really know why.  A girl who became mean and confrontational and just generally not nice to people she identified as better off than her.  Which was pretty much everyone around me outside of my close friends.

I didn’t understand why I felt so terrible being with him because I could only see the worth he allowed me to feel and to believe.  Which was tiny.

Fast forward now to last week in my group therapy and the topic of anger.  We did an exercise that I laughed through because that’s what I do to avoid and cover when I can’t cope.  When I feel blame and guilt for my own sexual assaults.  When I feel unworthy of the free therapy and the healing and the love and support all around me.  Healing is difficult, exhausting, frustrating work.  But the anger exercise broke me.  I threw the word consent out as confusing and as something that makes me so angry when focusing on this past rape.

Because I liked him.  Because I wanted to be around him.  Because I said yes, I’ll go with you and drive you, and I NEVER SAID NO.  I would shutdown and say nothing when he humiliated me to the point where I would just “let” him have sex with me.  And when I would “let” him, he showered me with attention and fun.  He built me up just enough to feel worthy of his time and attention, so that I would be around the next time he called.

And as I said those things to the group, the room went silent.  And the facilitator said…”humiliation is not consent.”

And then she just let me sit there with that feeling.  And in that silent moment I did not laugh.

It was the moment I cried.

I can guarantee you that this moment was only the second time IN MY LIFE I have cried over the realization of how horrible this person was to me.  I let that out on the side of a road one other time, with a friend who I had called to come and sit with me because I was sure I would never stop crying and was going crazy.  It was the first moment I cried that led me to this second moment last week as I cried all over again.  This time with the complete realization that it was NOT my fault.  That he was the one in the wrong.  That he KNEW very well what he was doing all those times.

That liking or loving or desiring someone is NOT equal to giving consent.  Humiliation is not loving.  It is wrong.

The first moment I cried empowered me.  And that was in 2012.  That year I had contact with this guy for the first time since 1996 and it was a mess.  But I’ll talk about that another time.

For now, what is important is that being contacted by him brought me to healing.  Brought me to try EMDR.  To become aware of who I was and how that made me into who I am today.  I won’t thank him and I’m not sure I’ll ever forgive him, but I do recognize that from pain came knowledge and healing.  I’ll say again, I won’t thank him.  He gets ZERO credit.

That first moment that I cried brought me to my second moment.

I did the work.  I recognized that the work needed to be done.  I took back control of my emotions and my body and my life.

The last quote, which I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE from the linked article is this:

It’s funny to hear the word empowered when where you’re coming from a place of zero power. I’m just trying to get mine back. People talk about survivors like we have an extra coat of armor when really we’re just trying to grow back our skin.

I’m doing the work and I’m finding my power.  And it sucks and it is really difficult.  I want to give up most days.

But it is also awesome and freeing and wonderful.  And I cherish the opportunity I have been given to find healing.

And you know what else I really cherish??

The moment I cried.

KK

What I must say about Cosby

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Every single article that comes out about Bill Cosby irritates me to the point of having to use my good coping resources. It’s not even the articles so much as the responses to the articles. The ignorant, victim-blaming, hateful comments from people who think it is some intentional “destruction of a legacy” is just ridiculous.

Let me start by saying that I was not there, I don’t know him, and I don’t know any of the women coming forward. I can honestly say his personality makes me uncomfortable, but I can also admit that who I see as a celebrity, isn’t always who the person really is in life. But my guts are good, and he’s always given me the creeps.

I believe every single woman coming forward with their stories about Bill Cosby. And I think it is brave and awesome because what I see in these stories is that women are sick of being told to shut up about being wronged.

Rape is in the news and it is freeing survivors from the burden of their secrets and their shame. And that opens them up to love and healing. And the telling of stories brings more women out of their shame until we, as women, will no longer tolerate how the world blames us for the crimes of others.

I love that. I adore every brave woman that comes out of her corner of shame to release that burden and put the blame where it belongs.

I believe the survivors. These women accusing Cosby have not asked for money and are very aware he won’t go to jail for what he did to them so long ago. And to imply they are coming forward for fame is just absurd. All survivors take a huge risk telling their stories and face horrible backlash from strangers, and often times friends and family. That’s not the kind of fame anyone looks for in life.

It makes me so angry that people will defend celebrities to the point of making threats to victims and tearing apart their character. It’s so easy for people to call out the victims for being horrible people who are just after money or fame, but most don’t know the celebrity they defend any more than they know the woman they are dragging through the mud.

You think you know that actor, singer, coach, or athlete just because you watch them on TV?? You think that making gobs of money means someone is automatically a good person?? How awful it must be to have lost touch with reality and the people you can actually connect with in your life to idolize someone who doesn’t care one bit about you and never will.

I don’t get that at all.

I believe the women. Until I’m given proof that they are not worthy of my respect and support, I believe them. Because not believing them is the bigger risk. To them and to all people who are victims of rape.

KK

I reported my rape, but I don’t know if I’d make that same choice today

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Rape accusations and stories are in the news a lot lately. Whenever I see an article, I have two immediate reactions.

One is complete emotional pain for the victim. Because without question or hesitation, I believe you. And I hurt for all you will go through now, and possibly forever. You have done something extremely brave by telling. By reporting the crime against you. I wish for you to have strength, support, and hope for what lies ahead of you. I believe in you and I am so proud of you for being brave. For becoming a survivor.

After my feelings for the victim comes anger. So very much anger. I have an immediate anger for how the media reports these stories because they aren’t taking any time to do it right. I get so mad that they continue to lack the ability to inform without further perpetuating this rape culture that is all around us. The culture that blames the victim and questions why the victim didn’t do a better job of avoiding the crime. The culture that immediately defends and feels badly for a football player whose career might now be ruined or a celebrity who “has no reason to rape” because they are plenty popular and/or good-looking to not have to rape someone.

Newsflash idiot reporters: rape is not about sex, it’s about power and destruction and humiliation and it is a CRIME. A crime that the criminal absolutely knows he/she is committing.

Let me tell you what happened when I was raped and reported it. I spent THE ENTIRE night explaining what happened to multiple people. To nurses and doctors and detectives and my loved ones. The humiliation of having to say exactly what happened to hospital staff and then again to police was almost more than I could handle. I asked to leave several times. The judgment in their eyes and their questions was so clear.

The news media on campus and in the city were all over the story by the next day. Printing my statement word for word. As if saying that I was raped was not enough. The details for everyone to read. Why??

It was 1993. Sadly, the news media has not improved at all. In fact, I would argue that now it is a lot worse. My name was never used and my face on tv during the hearings was blurred out. Not that it mattered since my name was quickly dragged through the mud on campus. I mean, after all, I was just some nobody who accused two precious athletes of a terrible crime. Why should I be allowed to feel safe in my dorm or walking on campus? Everyone there knew who I was, but at least the whole country wasn’t watching.

I was way better off than the victims of current times. Victims who are so quickly called liars, gold diggers, sluts, and so many other disgusting things. The second a report is out there the victims also face massive judgment on every social media site. I know I shouldn’t read the comments, but I always feel drawn to them. I always have that shred of hope that people will defend the right person. That people will say “I’m sorry that happened to you” or “I believe you” or “you’re amazing and brave and not at all to blame for what happened.”

Those comments are almost never there. And that makes me tremendously sad. And so so so angry. If I am filled with anger and guilt and shame just reading the horrible comments, then I just can’t imagine what the victim is feeling.

I did read the articles about my rape in the papers. And it was awful. But the newspaper wasn’t online and the articles weren’t posted on Facebook and Twitter. After a long semester of stubbornly refusing to be pushed out of my college by the harassment and lack of support, I made the choice to leave. And I could leave the media behind me.

Knowing what I know about what victims face in the media these days, I can’t say that I would be brave enough to report the crime and to make it through all of that. I don’t know that I would want to report it knowing that for the rest of my life I would feel the way I feel going to a doctor for even a routine check up or having some stranger recognize my name from a news story about the college I attended.

I hope that if you’re reading this and you’re a victim of rape, you can find the courage to report the crime and the strength to go through with holding the criminal or criminals responsible for their actions. I hope that you will stand tall and know that I’m proud of you for being brave. That I believe you. And that nothing anybody in the media could possibly say will make me have less faith in you as a survivor.

Be strong and be you. Because you are awesome just the way you are.

KK

Moments of doubt

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Moments of doubt come at me when I least expect them.  Sometimes without me even knowing that it is doubt.  These moments feel like many things, none of them very pleasant.  I get tired of these moments.  I get frustrated and lazy and anxious.  I get unreasonable and crabby and negative.  I want to do nothing and just wait for the moments to pass.

Sometimes they do.

And sometimes they don’t pass very quickly, but fade into the background of my days.

I love to laugh and even on my worst days I can normally be found making jokes or having a good time.  But I still may be feeling lost inside.  Struggling.  Lacking the vulnerability that allows for full healing.  I ignore the moments and hide them in hopes that they will pass quickly.

Thankfully, I haven’t had many days like that for awhile and that is really nice.  The disclosure still comes to mind when I think of how far I have been able to go toward healing and not having to go back to certain doubts and certain thoughts that keep me from rediscovering the full me.  That disclosure seems so long ago and also seems like it was just yesterday.

Seeing The Monument Quilt was powerful for me.  I’m certain that it was not a mere coincidence that when I found out about the quilt, it was only weeks from being displayed in an area that I could travel to very easily.  An area that had additional anxiety and healing qualities for me.  It would be displayed on the very campus of my assault.  It never crossed my mind ahead of time that the location would keep me from going to see it.  I never felt a moment of doubt leading up to that day.

And then it was the very day I was to see it.  And then the doubt and the tears came as I decided I didn’t know if I could go.  But more of the fight inside me took over and I went.

I read stories and looked at the designs people made to release themselves from some of the burden of being a victim and becoming a survivor.  It is always difficult to read other stories.  I find myself thinking that some have suffered so much more than me and, at times, it is difficult to see other stories and not let the terrible doubts of rape culture creep into my head as judgment.  A terrible feeling and one I don’t allow to stick around for long at all.  It is so easy to pass judgment, on myself and on others, but in those moments it is SO important to remember that all suffering is terrible.  ALL trauma is true for that victim and I absolutely believe in every one of those people and their stories.  Our stories are no worse or no easier than others, no less rape and trauma.  The mind is so complex during trauma that many leave a situation not even fully understanding that what they experienced is rape.  THAT is why it is so important to believe someone if they tell you they were assaulted.  And to stand by someone who may be turning to you for support if they aren’t even sure that something happened or that what happened really was rape.  The feelings a victim experiences are so full of guilt, disbelief, shame, and so many other things, that many deny that it happened at all.

I believe.  I support ALL survivors.  And I was honored to see the quilt.  I’d like to reconnect with my group members to make a quilt square, but I’m not sure if I will or not.

I’m glad to have overcome my moment of doubt to see it.  There were squares for each city where it is being displayed and on those squares were blank fabric where anyone could write.  Part of my message was this:

It happened here and I will leave it here.  

And I am glad that I could do that.

KK

What needs to happen

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Read that a few times.  Give it some thought.  Now think about something that has happened in your life that you tried to wish away — the loss of a relationship, the death of a person in your life, an injury, a complete loss of a home from a disaster, domestic violence, alcoholism, child abuse, rape.  Now read it again.

Did those things NEED to happen?

There are several times I have struggled with this type of statement throughout my life, but clearly one of the most significant times this bothered me to read is after the rape.  WHY would anyone say that such a horrible thing would NEED to have happened to me?  Is there anything more awful than saying that NEEDED to happen to me?

A bitter pill to swallow for sure.

Except I completely agree.  Now.  Maybe not right after it happened when I was devastated, angry, disgusted, sad, suicidal, and horribly traumatized.  But now that I have gone through so much of my healing process, I can say something very close to that.  I can’t quite get to it NEEDED to happen, but I can say…

All things happen for a reason.

Is that the same as NEED to happen?  I don’t know.  In my head it isn’t the same.  But I do understand that all things happen for a reason.  And my being sexually assaulted is no exception.  I would not be who I am today if it hadn’t happened, that I can say for sure.  And after all that I have been through, I CAN say I like who I am today.  I want to be even more like the me I feel inside, but I am currently very satisfied and like the person I see in the mirror.

If I hadn’t been sexually assaulted, the rest of my life would have been different, I think we can all agree on that.  I would have stayed in school where it happened which means I would not have reconnected with a guy who later became the biological father of my son.  And that means I wouldn’t have my son, which would be NUTS because he is so awesome and has been an enormous part of who I did become and who I am today.  If I hadn’t had my son, I wouldn’t have moved to the town I grew up in to be close to my family.  And that means I would not have met the man I later married and he wouldn’t have adopted my son.  I wouldn’t have my daughter and the 20 years of memories that we made as a family.  And that would be sad.  Because my daughter is also awesome and I can’t imagine life without her.  Because we made a great family and had SO many fabulous years together. I wouldn’t change that part of my life at all.  The years I spent at home with our kids and building a relationship with my husband were GREAT years.  Now, there are many reasons why my marriage didn’t work, but I cannot say that me being sexually assaulted wasn’t a factor.  It was.  So I guess you could say that if I hadn’t been I might still be married, but you really can’t say that because of all the other things I listed which would have kept me from meeting my husband in the first place!

This next thing is difficult for me to say because I really don’t have any terrible feelings about my marriage ending.  I would say as divorce goes, ours was perfect.  We still have many nice conversations, can go out with our kids together, and we take care of each other dogs all the time for each other.  And I am very thankful that we get along that well and have respect for each other.  Clearly not everyone is that lucky.  Which makes it feel a little icky to say…If my marriage hadn’t ended, I would not be this happy.  Ewwww.  I don’t like to say that and considered deleting it.  But I can’t, because it is true.  I let myself fall by the wayside for most of the years of my marriage. I didn’t take care of me and I accepted things I would never accept now.

I lost me.

And now I am found.  And there is NO way I would give that up.  Ever again.

If my marriage hadn’t ended, I may not have ever reached the point in my healing that I currently feel and understand.  And going through that healing makes me the person I am today.  A MUCH more confident, healthy, satisfied me.  A me that has made so many awesome connections through telling my story and working through the challenges.  A me who has helped myself and others have an understanding of shame.  And an understanding of how to begin to let go of shame.  A me who is able to trust again and who is more willing than ever to step out of my comfort zone.

A rediscovered me.  A happy me.  A loving me.

If my sexual assault would not have happened, I wouldn’t be sitting in this cabin today in this beautiful place.  Reflecting on all my past and what I hope for in my future.  I wouldn’t be dating.  I wouldn’t have met the guy I look so forward to talking to and spending time with as much as we can.  And today, that is REALLY difficult to imagine because he has become so important to me AND to my continued healing.  He gets me, sometimes even when I don’t.  Starting a new relationship with this much exposure to what happened to me has been terrifying in many ways.  I can’t hide from it.  I am really thrilled that I don’t have to hide from it.  I can talk about it, answer questions about it, get mad about it, cry about it, and discuss it openly, with acceptance for his input.  And that is truly awesome.  WE are truly awesome together.

So today I am going to say…NOTHING has ever happened that didn’t need to happen.  And that’s ok.

KK

I did it!

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I did my disclosure yesterday.  I’m super proud of myself for standing up to the fear of judgment and for getting through the disclosure with honesty and vulnerability.  There were some moments I didn’t expect and some memories that I had buried so far inside me that they came out for the VERY FIRST time while I was talking.  It was extremely intense.

The response from my group was truly incredible and awesome.  I have formed new, and hopefully lasting, friendships with these women I have grown to learn from, admire, and cherish.  It is a group of ridiculously brave and beautiful spirits.  They helped me understand the victim I was at those times I described, and also helped me to see that the woman I have become is so much better than I feel inside sometimes when I wake up or feel triggered in daily life.  They helped me validate that victim inside me and see that I overcame a lot of injustice to be the survivor I am today.  Those women rock!

The heavy shame is lifted up to another level, a level where I can actually face it and begin to work through each piece of it.  I can actually see the future me enjoying daily living without that blanket of shame on my shoulders.  I can see myself dancing freely and feeling joy instead of hesitation.  I can look forward to being brave enough to fully trust and to love again, in ways I never really have before now.

Even after feeling so good, I could hear the tapes in my head starting to self-punish for not facing all of this sooner, not healing sooner, not trying hard enough.  The “I should have done something” starting to creep inside my head.  But this time I put a stop to it and spoke right out loud to those tapes to let them know I just did that – disclosed fully – and I will no longer be held hostage by those negative cognitions.  Sure, it will take some more work, I’m not under the impression that all of the burden left with the words that came out while I told my story.  But I have shed the secret in a way that feels like an ending to a lot of it.

That.  Is.  Awesome.

I feel crazy excited today like this is another new beginning for me.  A more aware me, a further healed me, a really, truly rediscovered me.

I did it!

KK