Tag Archives: victim

I was freed

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When someone says “back off” or “leave me alone,” they likely mean it.  Because for most people, it means they have put up with something or someone for some time before they reached the point of asking that person to back off.

In 2012, I made a wrong decision to speak to the biological father of my child.  The first time he contacted me, I was glad that he did and I remain glad that he did.  He contacted me to ask for my help in contacting my son because he felt quite sure my son would want to meet him.  Would want to know about him.  A valid request, or so it would seem.

During this first conversation I got a bit upset because he really started off implying that he knew better than I did what my son would want.  He called with a chip on his shoulder that he had allowed to be there for 18 years.  I can tell you with 100% confidence that he was crazy to think that.  My son and I are very close.  And on top of the fact that we are close, my son has known his entire life about his biological father.  My son doesn’t remember him at all because the guy chose a life of chaos over fighting for the right to be a father.  My son was barely over a year old the last time he saw this guy.  And when my son was only 14 months old, I met the man I would marry.  Later, when we married, that guy gave up his rights to my child, my husband adopted my son, we celebrated the adoption, and he became his loving and legal father.  The best part of being with the guy I married is that he 100% became a father to my son.  Because he wanted to do that.  Because he chose to love him as his own.   I’ll never stop being grateful for that.  And each year, up to and including this year, my son and his father celebrated Adoption Day.  And I love that.

So, in 2012, when the biological father contacted me I said I would talk to my son and ask him if he was interested in contact with the guy.  I also told him that I found it offensive that he would make the assumption that I would have spent all these years filling my son with hatred or not telling him he was adopted at all.  All these years, I have done an AWARD-WINNING job of biting my tongue and telling my son that this guy did a brave and loving thing.  That, because he was not able to be a father, he gave my son a great gift by letting someone else be his father.  I even told him some of the good things about the guy.  I never sat him down and bad-mouthed the guy.  AT ALL.

In any case, the short story on that is that my son wasn’t interested.  He sat down with me and we talked at length about the guy and the relationship I had with him.  I reiterated how, even though my son was not planned, he was the best thing to come out of the relationship with that guy and because of that, I would never say I wished I had never dated him.  But this time I did answer all questions honestly and include information about why the relationship didn’t last.  And why I was glad that the guy hadn’t stuck around at that time.  Ultimately, my son said he never felt he missed out on having a father, that my husband had been the father he felt close to, and that there wasn’t anything he needed or wanted from that guy.

And the guy accepted that.  Which I thought was weird, but he explained that he didn’t know my son and hadn’t seen him since he was a baby.  So he wasn’t losing out on a relationship because there had never been one.  Whatever.  Not my decision or concern.  I don’t agree, but I don’t have to agree.  I didn’t miss out on that great kid, he did.

So, he called to request the contact and I called him back a few days later to say that my son had decided against any contact.  The guy agreed to honor my son’s decision and said he would not ever bother him again, but that he would be more than happy if my son ever wanted to contact him.

And then life went on as it had been before the calls.  I put it behind me and felt good about how I had handled the contact.

Not long after, I got a text from the guy saying it was good to talk to me and he would like to talk further.  I froze when I got the text because I worried first about my child and my family.  He had left us alone since the adoption years prior and I was happy about that.  I can honestly say I didn’t think about him much while raising my child because I was able to raise him with my husband.  And when I got the text, things were in chaos in my house.  I had filed for divorce the year before that and my husband and I went to counseling and had the divorce dismissed after working a lot on things between us.  We were moving and our son had turned 18, and our daughter was just going to enter her high school years in the fall.

In any case, I didn’t respond right away and then I finally responded that I thought us talking further was a bad idea, but that I’d think about it.

And then we did start texting a bit.  Just general information about how life was going, where we lived, and things like that.

And then just like that, I was talking to him a lot.  Telling him things he never deserved to know about me.  Excusing things he did and making it ok that he lied and manipulated and abused me.  At times, when we first started talking, I would shut down because I would start to feel that nagging in my gut saying I was walking a path that was dangerous for me. But I also felt a strange sense that the forgiveness I was expressing was more for me than him and I began to feel a release of emotions that had been stuck so deep for many years. 

I began to recognize…myself.  The girl in the corner and the current me all in one package.  I was empowered by how I started to feel. 

That guy was around when I was raped in college.  And he was strangely supportive.  By that, I mean he supported me the best ways that he knew how, while also having been a large part of the first sexual abuse I ever experienced.  And as he talked with me about my college assault, I began to realize that connection.  I began to realize that I didn’t need to reconnect with him because I wanted us to share some fond memories of the love we once shared.  I was glad he came back into my life because it shook me to my core.  It forced me to see what I had never wanted to face before that time…that he assaulted me on a regular basis for years before I fell in love with him.  

The day this became clear to me was a day I will never ever forget.  A day one of my friends had to rescue me from myself on the side of the road as every bit of confusion and self-hatred sunk into me like the weight of the world.  I punished myself that day for every single thing I ever said or did that was related to him in my life.  I called him the same day and let every bit of emotion come out the way he should have had to hear it when I was 20 years old.  

That day I became a victim all over again.  A victim who all at once believed that I was not good enough.  And because I wasn’t good enough, I deserved the abuse from him for all the years I suffered.  

And the strangest, most traumatic, most horrifying, but also the greatest part of it all, is that in the midst of the realization that he was not ever anything to me but an abuser…

I was freed.  

I remember thanking him one day when I was with him because in that moment I knew, as I flooded back into myself, that I was going to be ok.  That I was as far away from me as I would ever have to be and that I could now turn around and start back on the path to the Girl in the Corner.  Back to myself.  And I’m so thankful for the day I fell apart because it was my beginning. 

I saw and talked with him after that only a few times.  He didn’t know it, but I was so clear in those moments and I got exactly what I needed from our conversations so that I could truly heal from all of the abuse.  

I took back me and I began to heal and then I left him behind, where he belongs.  Where he always deserved to be–in the past.  With the other people who abused me and tried to make me to blame. 

And then I healed.  

As I did, he tried to contact me and I was thrilled to find out that I didn’t care.  At all.  I told him to leave me alone.  To back off.  He didn’t get it at first, even tried to be my FRIEND, but I had the support of a great friend and a great therapist to end all contact.  

I was free. 

I am free.  And I AM good enough.  

I am strong.  Strong enough to know that all of his ridiculous attempts to get my attention after that time don’t matter.  I’ve blocked him out and I am done. 

Forever. 

KK

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Taking on the girl in the corner

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***I kind of feel like this post, and many to come, should have some kind of trigger warning in addition to the fact that sometimes I will add sexual assault disclosure warnings.  But I am not sure what kind.  So let me just say please be self-aware when you are reading this post and any posts going forward for awhile.  This is very new to me and I have not spoken about it with the majority of people in my life or disclosed it publicly.  I have barely been able to recognize and name it and accept it myself.***

Well, here it goes.  I have committed to another 12-week Adult Sexual Assault (ASA) therapy group and it starts a week from today.  It is technically the same group I did last year.  The topic and goals will be the same and there will be a disclosure.

But for me, and I can’t even believe I am saying this, I think it might be scarier this time around for me.  The last group was extremely tough in many ways and disclosing that college rape experience was SO challenging.  However, even though I needed to rid myself of some blame, guilt, anger, fear, and shame, the completely logical side of me lived every day knowing that it really had not been my fault at all.  Getting through the group last year was about making a declaration, shaking off the shame, and recognizing that I have the right to complete healing in order to rediscover the me that was lost and ashamed and terrified. The level of healing that I have experienced from completing that group has been just awesome. I am thankful every single day for that group therapy success.

This time I will tackle some experiences with a specific person from my past that in my head are much more complicated AND that will force me to examine, discuss, accept and cooperate with that girl in the corner.  The one I avoid and ignore and cover with laughter.  And for the last 7 months or so, I have gone back and forth in my individual therapy between being ready to tackle this and trying to convince myself (and my therapist who wasn’t buying it) that it’s fine if I never deal with it because it doesn’t really affect me on a daily basis.  But it does and I don’t like that.

The worst part of taking on the girl in the corner is that I don’t like her and I don’t even feel like she is worth my time.  And I am ashamed of her.  And I sometimes even hate her.  And I don’t feel like anyone will believe her.  I judge her and disregard her.  I call her names and I blame her.

For anyone reading this post who hasn’t followed my previous posts and feels confused, that girl in the corner is me.  A younger me.  Somewhere between 16 and 20 most of the time.  And once in awhile she’s 38 year old me.  And I shoved her in the corner a long time ago, never to be dealt with again.  Or so I thought.

For this session of group, I may be disconnected or distant or crazy or mean or many other things.  Maybe I’ll be fun and happy most of the days.  Maybe I’ll look like I’m listening to you and have to ask you to repeat yourself.  I really have no idea what to expect.

So for now, I just want to say that I have great people around me and you each know who you are and what you mean to me.  If I don’t call enough, or laugh enough, or respond enough, or reach out to you it is NOT because you don’t mean the world to me or I don’t trust you or want and need your support.  This fight for healing is going to be difficult.  Because today, I can’t even talk about the experience as rape or sexual assault without immediately victim-blaming my very own self.

And that is a miserable feeling.

One I am proud to say I am ready to leave behind to continue rediscovering me.

So look out girl in the corner, I’m coming to rescue you and learn to love you again.

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

Creepy quiet

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I have not one, but two repair people coming to my home today.  This gives me a lot of anxiety.

I think when people think of survivors of sexual assault, they think of people who have anxiety related to walking alone at night, going to nightclubs, excessive drinking at parties, and other situations the victim “shouldn’t have been in” which put her at risk and now cause anxiety.  I can’t say that I feel comfortable walking alone at night because I don’t.  I won’t walk my dogs at night, I don’t like coming home after dark from being out somewhere, and I don’t enjoy complete darkness in my house.  I even have trouble exercising in my own neighborhood during the day when I’m alone because, at times, my mind starts to wonder about my safety.  Thankfully, I am not completely controlled by my level of anxiety and I am still able to get myself to do many of the things which make me anxious.  In addition, in my rental home and now my own home I feel completely comfortable even when I am alone.  I LOVE that feeling because it gives me an enormous “marker” of how far I have come in my healing.

I think what people don’t think about in terms of survivors of sexual assault is that it can affect EVERY single area of life from then on for many survivors, not just those “risky” environments.  I am one of those people.

Going to the regular doctor is horrible for me.  Being “put under” at a doctor or dentist is just an awful feeling.  On one such occasion, I had to reschedule because I just couldn’t manage to calm down enough to have the stupid procedure.  Being on college campuses is not enjoyable for me.  I have trouble in elevators sometimes.  And being in my house alone when repair people have to come in is REALLY difficult for me.

With repair people, I think I felt a bit better when I was married.  Which is strange because I was still alone in the house during the day when repair people would be there.  The way I deal with it now is to make sure I ask a lot of questions about the person before they come out to do the work.  I always expect to know the name of the person who is coming to my house, I do NOT accept a company telling me just the company name and an “I’m not sure who will come out.”  And when that person arrives, they had better have some ID and some personality.  I won’t be keeping you in my house to do whatever it is I’m supposed to pay you to do if you are super creepy.

Since buying my house, I have had to deal with a lot of different people for different house stuff.  Most have been fine and I get through it ok the majority of the time.  Lucky for me, the only guys who kind of gave me the creeps (so far) were here on a day when the best boyfriend in the world (mine) was here, and even though he was supposed to leave to get home for some appointments of his own, he stayed until they left.  I didn’t even have to ask, he just gets me and could see my discomfort.  He absolutely rocks.

The guys were creepy quiet.  I hate that.  If your job requires you to go into the homes of people every single day, please learn how to look at and talk to people so you are not creepy.  One had shifty eyes too.

In any case, I am waiting for 2 separate repair folks to come today.  I hope they aren’t creepy.

Fingers crossed.

KK

Success, Healing, Connections

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My group is over this week which is really difficult to believe and a little sad in some ways.   I can’t believe that 12 weeks has gone by so quickly!  I wasn’t sure I could get myself to go and now I am looking at the ending of the process and the beginning of renewed hope and healing.

We will have a celebration and wrap up for the last time together and it is really difficult to imagine not seeing these amazing women each week.  There is no way I can describe just what these women mean to me and how much I admire each one of them.  They are beautiful people, courageous, strong, and inspirational.  They have touched my heart in ways I can never thank them enough for even if I have a lifetime to do so.  They are no longer victims, but survivors and friends.  People I will think about often and cheer for even from afar.

We all began this group worried and feeling defeated by our stories, by the victims inside of us.  We pushed against the process and tried to get out of the toughest parts of facing our pasts.  We made it!  We pushed past our fears to our disclosures.  We owned our stories and released the shame from ourselves to give it back to the criminals who deserve to carry that burden.  The shame is not ours anymore.  I am so very proud of each and every one of us.  The power in the room each week as we reclaimed ourselves and took control of our lives and our stories is something I will never allow myself to forget.  The support I received from these women as I began to rediscover myself without the burden of the sexual assault shame will remain a powerful force for me each and every day.

I have begun to heal in ways I never realized I needed to and in ways I never imagined were possible.  Healing has opened my heart in a way that makes me feel completely ready to trust and love myself and others.  I don’t wake up anymore with the heaviness that I have carried for over 20 years, and that is absolutely the best feeling in the world.

This week is a big ending to an emotional process, but an even bigger beginning to the rest of my healing and the rest of my life.  I love that group therapy was placed before me and placed on my heart as something I was ready to accept and trust.  I love that I understand healing now and that I understand that I am no longer a victim, but a survivor.  I love that I can now leave the shame behind me for the most part and move on to the rediscovered me.

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

Disclosure **trigger warning**

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****TRIGGER WARNING****this disclosure is about sexual assault

Here it is, my disclosure.  I’m writing it out in order to decide what I need to say out loud for healing.  Maybe writing it down will give me some insight on what I really DO need to say out loud in front of my group so that I can heal and move forward.

During my freshman year of college, I had a lot of fun.  Some would say too much fun, except that I still got good grades and cared about being there to learn.  My party nights were spent with many friends, mostly somewhere in the dorm or at a few specific houses around campus.  I loved to dance and dance I did.

One specific house had a lot of parties with a lot of dancing, so that quickly became my favorite spot.  I danced with anyone who was interested in dancing and I had more fun doing that than drinking since I didn’t like beer and most of the parties in college revolved around beer.

I was a great dancer.  I laugh as I say that because saying things I am good at makes me uncomfortable, but it is totally true.  I always had a lot of attention on the dance floor because I loved it and was good at it and I knew how to have fun dancing.  I always felt free to dance.

I had a roommate.  I struggle to even say that because the thought of her makes me furious.  She was a friend since junior high and we went to a lot of the parties together.  One night she asked if I wanted to go over to the house to hang out with another girl and some of the guys.  Of course I said yes, I loved to dance!

When we got there, it was just some of the guys who lived there, a few who didn’t, and the three of us.  I thought that was disappointing, but I still stayed to hang out because I generally considered these people my friends.  We were upstairs in the house and some of the guys were drinking and some smoking pot.  There was some music on as well.  We sat and talked while they passed around beer and pot.  I took a few sips of beer, but was generally grossed out by it being passed around and as I said, I don’t like beer.  I took a few turns smoking pot because I did have some history of smoking pot and enjoying that.  But it tasted funny.  Since there was music on I moved to the side of the room and mostly danced a little by myself while listening to people talk.

Eventually, my roommate and the other girl said we should go, so we started to leave the room.  As we did, one of the guys said I should stay and dance with him.  I always liked him and he was frequently one of the guys I danced with, but I wasn’t going to stay if everyone else was leaving so I followed my roommate down the stairs.  He came down after me and put his hands on my shoulders to slow me down and said again that I should stay because my friends left me anyway.  When I reached the bottom of the stairs, I saw that he was exactly right about that, the kitchen was empty and my roommate was gone with the other girl.

The guy pushed me with his arms still on my shoulders toward the stairs and I started to protest, but he said just stay to dance awhile and then you can leave.  He kept his hands on my shoulders as I climbed back up the stairs, protesting a bit but kind of happy to have his attention.  Only we did not go to the room where everyone else was still gathered.  He steered me to a room on the right which he said as we entered was his room.  I remember my heart racing at this point.  I turned around and tried to leave, using the excuse that I knew he had a girlfriend and I was not that kind of girl.

He said “your dancing says you are.”

I’ve never forgotten that phrase and I’ve never danced as freely again.

He pushed me onto the bed and that is when I remember completely freezing inside.  I wanted to yell and couldn’t make sound.  He was pulling off my clothes, and began touching me and taking his clothes off as well, holding me down, and it was as if it was happening to someone else.  After awhile he yelled for a friend of his to come into the room, asked if I wanted to pick a person, and I couldn’t speak while he laughed and talked to some of the other guys in the house who had all gathered around the door of the room and were looking at me as he continued the assault.  Another guy got onto the bed and he pushed me down onto his friend and he was still on top of me and I could see people at the door.

Watching.  They stood there and did nothing to stop it.  They watched it happen.

When it was over he told me to get dressed and asked if he was going to get a disease or if I was going to end up pregnant.  I said nothing, just gathered my clothes and got the hell out of that house.  It was dark out and as soon as I was out of that house I just started walking back to my dorm.  Horrified as I passed a few people here and there.  When I reached my dorm, some people I knew were coming out and I wish I would have just collapsed in the horror I was feeling so they would help me. I walked past them and continued past security to the elevators.

When I reached my dorm floor I went straight to the bathroom and just broke down in a stall, thinking I was going to throw up.  It is there that my roommate and the other girl found me, and took me back to our room.  They didn’t know what to do and I remember talking to my best friend on the phone.  I remember calling my boyfriend.

I remember the next several hours of additional hell.  My roommate took me to the hospital and I remember very little of how I got to her car or the drive to the hospital.

But I will NEVER forget how I felt while I was there.  I remember seeing police on the way in and being led to a room.  I remember the staff was less than compassionate and I just remember the heaviness of the guilt setting in along with complete disgust for myself.  They told me to get completely undressed.  Are you kidding me?  Oh and make sure you undress carefully on top of this mat so your clothes can be sent to the police.  The last thing I wanted to be was naked.  I was given an exam by a doctor.  The process of the exam was just awful.  Collecting evidence, looking at every inch of my body, touching me.  The doctor that came in the room to do the exam was a man.  A man! I felt horrified, disgusting, dirty, very much like I wanted to die right then.  But it wasn’t even close to over.

After the hospital I was taken to the police station.  I asked for my cigarettes and nobody bothered to tell me I probably shouldn’t start chain-smoking because I had given blood during the exam.  So I felt sick, but just kept smoking.  I had to tell them everything I could remember over and over again and give a description of the guys and the house.

My parents and my sister came to get me from hours away and they took me home.

I was able to see some friends after a day or so, but it was difficult to speak.  I had to decide if I was returning to school.  It was difficult to see friends because I felt so disgusting and so empty.  I felt like the me I knew and loved was completely gone and I was filled with shame for what had happened to me.

I returned to the campus to continue school, but it was awful.  I couldn’t go anywhere without eyes on me.  The school newspaper and the local tv news had printed my full statement, minus my name, but it had gotten around who I was and it was complete madness.  I had one teacher who really supported me and several friends who stood by me in support.  My roommate was not one of them.  She was dating someone from that house where it happened.  She was absolutely horrible to me over the next few months and the betrayal was just devastating to me.

I would not be pushed out of that school.  I was not the person who did anything wrong.  Logically, I knew that.  At least on the outside I would present that belief.  Inside I was a mess.  I had to go to the district attorney and tell everything all over again to prepare for hearings.  I never felt safe.  I had to explain myself over and over again.

My roommate supported the guys.  I’m not kidding when I say she actually asked me if I thought that one of the guys was really great as a sex partner.  She brought people from that house back to our room sometimes.  I stayed other places and did the best I could to get through the semester.  I also prepared late entry paperwork for another school in another state so I could leave.

The preliminary hearing was a complete circus.  Preparing for it, reading my statements over and over was awful.  I had a boyfriend doing the best he could and a completely supportive family, but nobody can be prepared for something as horrible as rape.  Nobody knows what to do or say.  And I was slowly drowning in pain, guilt, and shame.

People had to be turned away from the courthouse due to so many people coming to the hearing.  News and many supporters of the two criminals.  Two people sexually assaulted me while others watched.  Nobody who stood there and watched was charged.  I testified for many hours.  I had to explain myself.  ME.  They were never questioned.  They just got to sit there staring at me and writing notes to their attorneys.  During those hours the court hearing had to be stopped many times for people to be warned about their inappropriate behavior.  People made sexual gestures at me during the hearing and were warned to stop, but never thrown out for the behavior.

It felt like I was a victim of rape all over again.  I can’t honestly say I could ever suggest to anyone that they report a rape at the risk of having to go through something as awful as the court process.

One night I took part in a rally called Take Back the Night with a girl I met who stood by my side all the way through.  Thank goodness she was there with me as we marched because we marched right into a building where the two guys who assaulted me stood watching.  I froze, but she kept me moving and kept me safe, putting herself between them and me.  I would do anything to be able to remember her name and be able to thank her for that compassion and unwavering support.  She didn’t even know me and she believed and supported me.  Unlike my roommate who I had known for many years. The betrayal of that friendship destroyed my ability to trust myself and others.

When the semester was done, I left the school and I never returned.  I moved to a different state and attended another university and the case settled out of court that fall with each guy getting a plea bargain to misdemeanor sexual assault.  A slap on the wrist.  I heard that one guy left the school and one guy stayed.

They raped me, and I was the one put on trial and made to leave the school.  I was the one who faced a lifetime of guilt, shame, relationship issues, suicidal thoughts, and loss.   I hadn’t done anything wrong, and my logical side understood that, but it sure felt like I did. I couldn’t trust myself, I questioned my own judgment over and over again. Had I given consent by dancing? Had my clothes been too tight? Had I not said no enough or tried to leave enough times? Was I to blame for what happened?

Rape changed my life forever.  But I will no longer let it define me.  I will not let them win.  I didn’t heal after it happened because I tried to ignore it and just go on with life, even though the me I was before it happened was gone.  It has buried me in shame for a lot of years and enough is enough.  These issues came up again for me in 2012 and I will work hard for whatever amount of time it takes for me to be free of the feelings of guilt, judgment, and shame. I will never forget and I can’t make it go away, but I will rediscover those parts of me that they tried to destroy with their crimes.

I will learn how to trust myself and others again. I will regain full control of my feelings.

I will overcome.

If you are a victim, or you know a victim, get help.  Find resources to support yourself or that person.  BELIEVE THEM and support them every single step of the way.

KK