Monday, January 17, 2011

My Life is an Oprah Episode - RAPE

It happened when I was twenty (20) years old.  It was not a stranger, nor was it a date rape.

I had broken off an engagement because the relationship had become abusive.  During jealous rages that my fiance would have, he had begun to hit me and as typical with abusers, had also become remorseful and apologetic saying it would never happen again.  Little was discussed back then about spousal abuse, and in fact, there was minimal support from legal authorities.  There was even less understanding, from almost anyone, if  you were only the girlfriend.  As confused as I was, I knew that this was not the life that I wanted.  This was not the love that I wanted or dreamed about.  I was miserable and hurt, so I ended the relationship and returned the ring.

We would run into each other often; we had some of the same friends and socialized in the same spot (bar). It was a place like Cheers -- everyone knew your name.  One Saturday night, about six weeks after the breakup, we ran into each other at the bar.  I was there with several friends, and as we all parted to go home in the early morning hours, I walked outside to catch a taxi home.  He saw me and offered me a ride home.  While I was a bit nervous about going into the car with him, it was really because the breakup was still fairly fresh.  He had been drinking, so arguing with him was pointless.  It was about a five minute drive to my home; I slide into the passenger seat.  Only, he did not take me home, but, to a local "parking" area near the river wherecouples often go.   Although it happened so many years ago, I can recall every senseless detail. When I repeatedly asked him to take me home, he became angry that I did not wish to be with him. And madder still he became, as I tried to get out of the car.  He threw me over the console and pinned me down, and while I don't wish to be too uncomfortably graphic, he tore my clothes off, punched me in the jaw, and when I screamed he began to strangle me to the point that I had blacked out for a few moments, and he raped me.  When he was done, he put his hands on his head and said that he would take me home.  When I got home, battered and bruised, walked into my bedroom, quickly told my sister what had happened.  If you have seen movies or tv shows depicting rape victims, often they will be in the shower or bath crying and scrubbing themselves.  That did not happen with me.  I took the rest of my clothes off, which I never wore again, and slid into bed.  I stayed there for the next 24hrs, when on Monday morning I got up and went to work.  On Monday evening, he called to apologize, however, wanted to assure me it had not be rape because we had already had sex.

The point of this is not to allow a voyeur's look into what happened, but, rather to share how the rape had affected me.  I had remained mostly controlled and numb about the incident, and I rarely spoke of it.  In fact, until just a short time ago, there were only four people in my life who even knew about it.  I was broken; I had a fractured soul and I was sure that everyone I knew somehow could see through this.  The shame, guilt and disgust I felt would remain part of my daily makeup.  I was tainted; I felt less than, and felt I would never heal from it.  The journey toward healing came many years later, when I realized that the cause of so many of my personal issues, mainly, issues in relationships, were rooted with the rape.  I have never told any one I was involved with, no matter how close we were, what had happened, fearing I would  be seen as damaged.  There was always that wall, and even though some men have tried to figure it out, I would not own up to it.  I had acutely suppressed the emotion I was feeling.  I know now, that talking about it has allowed me to finally feel free....that, and of course, knowing that I did not share any of the blame.  This was something that happened to me at the hands of someone else.   It has taken many years, some with therapy, to come to the healing place and that is why I am talking about it now.   Because, I need to.  Because it has helped free me of it.  And while my first thoughts were not to make the reader uncomfortable, and proactively say I'm sorry, I offer no apology.  There is a small sense of fear, that anyone having this knowledge about me, will look at me differently or feel sorry for me.  Please don't.  I am okay.  I promise.

The shattering of trust has caused intimate relationships to be diluted.  As a survivor, there was always a heightened suspicion of others motives and feelings. This is an issue that I continue to work on, but, I know now that my belief system allows me to be open and receptive to sharing,  and I remind myself that trust is possible.

Sexual assault is a crime motivated by a need to control, humiliate and harm. Perpetrators use sexual assault as a weapon to hurt and dominate others. Approximately 90% of rape victims know their attacker, and one in six women in the United States are raped.  So it is likely that some of my readers share the same experience as I. Know that you can heal and experience recovery - 100%.

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