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I have not had an easy road. My mom had a lot of mental health issues that she didn’t deal with properly, so I, as an only child, was usually the target of her screaming, anger, and hatred. My father was there mostly as disciplinarian, but at least I felt like he loved me.

As I got into my teens I searched for attention. I was always looking for male companionship to boost my self-esteem. At age 15 I met, dated, and lost my virginity to a jerk that was a year older than I. He was my first boyfriend.

After we broke up, I started being pursued by a guy friend from school. I’d always thought he was fun to be around and he seemed the warm, friendly, protective type. One day he showed up at my house and asked to take me out, but his idea of “taking me out” was to take me to his house where he had been drinking with some friends who were a couple. I guess he was just looking for someone to be his drinking/sex partner for the night. I’m guessing that my ex-boyfriend had done a good job letting others know that I had willingly slept with him.

Sex with this guy was disgusting. He really just wanted oral sex and plied me with beer until I consented. That was my first experience with it, and I was so disgusted. I felt really used when I realized that he didn’t really “like” me like I had naively thought. I don’t really remember him taking me home. That bad experience got worse when he started spreading rumors around school, claiming I had done more things with him than I actually did.

There was another guy I worked with at a local fast food place, and things were just as bad there. He would alternately flirt with me, and yet urge on a co-worker who was treating me badly. This other guy would grab my chest or shove me around. He seemed really angry, and I was scared of him. I was also afraid to tell my manager, because he was a favorite of hers.

Not long after all of this, I also dated a guy that was 23. I thought an older man would be more mature, instead he was controlling. I ended up breaking it off with him on New Years Eve. I promptly started dating a guy that I’d had a crush on at work. He was 21. And he was a little weird. We dated on and off for a few months. When I broke up with him for good, he started stalking me and mailed me this crazy letter along with all the drawings I had done cut up into little pieces. My mom had to change our phone number because he wouldn’t stop calling.

About a month before I turned 17, I was invited by a friend to stay the night at her house. Our plan was to sneak out the window, after her parents were asleep, to go to a party at her boyfriend’s uncle’s house. This was a small, ramshackle house in a very, very small town out in the country where no cops would interfere with the underage drinking.

I remember sitting by the fire listening to Zeppelin (that probably shows my age), drinking beer and smoking weed. Somewhere along the line the guy that had spread rumors about me showed up. He immediately sought me out. Maybe I sought him out. I’m really not sure. My self-esteem was so low that if anyone was friendly to me I loved the attention in spite of past offenses.

He had brought a bottle of whiskey and I remember adding this to six or seven beers I’d already had. I went into another room and started talking with the older brother of another friend. He was a very nice guy. I’d always wanted to hang out with him, but again, my low self-esteem told me he wouldn’t like me. The alcohol told me he did.

Some time later the uncle barged in and accused us of having sex in his house. We weren’t, ironically. The guy was always a real sweetheart. I can’t blame him for what happened next.

We all went outside. One of my friends was sitting in a chair by the fire. He talked me into sitting in his lap, and I remember drinking some more. I remember kissing him. I also remember him trying to put his hands down my pants and me telling him to stop. I remember trying to pull away his hands.

After that, all I remember is waking up on the wooden floor of the dining room wearing nothing but my t-shirt and some shorts that were too small. I smelled like vomit, so I stumbled to the bathroom and washed my hair.

I had no idea what had happened. I think I was still drunk. I laid down by my friend’s boyfriend because I couldn’t figure out where anyone else went, and he was like an older brother figure. When he woke up, he asked me if I remembered what had happened. I said, no.

My friend showed up and told me what had happened. Apparently, when she came in the house, she saw me laying there with just a shirt on, so she took her shorts off and put them on me. I kind of put two and two together and so had she. After she found me she freaked out and told her mom that I had been raped and her mom called my parents. My dad was on his way.

To make matters worse, she had also called my crazy ex-boyfriend and he showed up and demanded that I get into his car. It got a little intense, so I decided to just go, because we were making a scene. We drove about a quarter mile away where we fought for a few minutes. When I demanded he take me back to the house, he refused to let me out of the car. My dad pulled up just as I punched the guy as hard as I could.

The ride home in my dad’s truck was the longest drive of my life. Total silence. When I got home, my mom left me to take a bath and actually let me go to bed in piece. Any other time she would have delt out punishment in the form of chores, criticism, and lack of sleep. I guess maybe she felt sorry for me. But said something I’ll never forget, “Well, that’s what happens to girls who sneak out to go to parties.” It was just a done deal after that. Life went on. I never forgave her for that.

I had a nightmare of a boyfriend after that who got me pregnant. At age 18, I had my first child. Six months later, I met my husband. It’s been a series of ups and downs with him. Fifteen years of drug addiction, two more children, and some domestic violence. I turned to dancing at topless clubs when I was 23 to feed my drug addiction. Working in the bars made me think that I was in control of the men, but it was just a farce. It made me feel more degraded and used. I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to overcome that feeling.

In 2000 we moved to a different state. I halfway tried to get my life together, but I couldn’t fight the addiction. In 2006, I lost my mom in March, and my dad in May. It was somewhat expected, yet unexpected at the same time. I have always struggled with depression, had attempted suicide once seriously and one half-heartedly, but losing my parents sent me into a downward spiral. I didn’t think I’d ever be able to pull out of that one, but I did.

In November 2007 I got on my knees and asked God to forgive me and to help me get clean. As of today, I’ve been clean six and a half years. I still take anti-depressants off and on, and I struggle with depression and anxiety.

Last year I was diagnosed with Rapid-Cycling Bipolar, Type 2. Fun. Good times man. I’d like to be doing better than ok, but I’m working on it. That is what led me to The Band. I saw an article on Rosa Parks which mentioned a rape trial that she helped defend. In the process of reading about the trial, I realized, not for the first time, that I really need to deal with my past. A Google search for help dealing with date rape brought up this website.

One of the first things I saw mentioned was agoraphobia. Yeah …I haven’t been able to go outside or leave a door unlocked when nobody is home in a very, very long time. At 40 years old, I depend way too much on my kids to do things like call people or go in the store with me. It really sucks, and I’m tired of being a prisoner in my own home. A prisoner of my own making. If I get really depressed I have a space between my bed and the wall that I can lay down in that’s nice and dark and secure. My past is affecting me to the point that I’m not enjoying my life anymore.

I’ve decided to go back to counseling, and I am determined to work on this. It can’t get any worse. It has to get better. It has to.

A Letter To My Younger Self

Dear me.

I see you, you know. You may think no one really sees you, but I do. I promise. I see all of the things you try to hide. I see your scars. I see it all. You are hurting. So, so much. I know, I get it. But you need to stop hurting yourself. Stop the cutting, stop the drinking, and stop all of the meaningless sex. It is not okay to try and drown your feelings in the bottom of a bottle and it is not okay to cut yourself just to feel alive. I know you want to be numb and I understand, but sex isn’t supposed to leave you numb. It is a beautiful thing, and you will understand what I mean later in life.

Contrary to what you may believe, you are NOT alone. You are loved. People care! Stop drowning yourself in alcohol, stop going to school drunk. Stop taking handfulls of pills. Just STOP!

You are pushing your closest friends away. They don’t want to watch you slowly self destruct anymore.

You are about to make the biggest and greatest mistake in all of your life. It’s dangerous and damn near-deadly, but I won’t stop you. You need this, you’ll see why. Not right away, but you will. I promise.

This guy you’re with? He’s bad. Worse than any of the others. He is going to use, abuse, and destroy you. He will sell you out to push himself ahead in the blink of an eye. This isn’t love and he isn’t worth your tears. We can get through this. Together.

Someday, when you are older, you will thank me for not stopping you from making that mistake. I know you believe in fate, and I am pretty sure this is fate stepping in to make sure you don’t kill yourself (accidentally or on purpose). This is your rock bottom.

I promise you, you will find happiness someday. When you least expect it, it will come.

I promise you, there is a lot of work to be done, so start now!

I promise you, things will stop hurting soon.

I promise you, you are not alone. Ever.


Love always,


Protect Your Kids From Porn

While we, at The Band, work tirelessly to bring you expert resource pages, sometimes the best advice is from someone who has been where you’re standing.
What follows is a mixture between a resource and a post.
I introduce to you, The Band, a Demo Tape.
Take what you need and leave the rest.

Children are naturally curious about everything – including human sexuality. They are also very familiar with accessing information about virtually every topic via online resources. It doesn’t take much for children and teens to access pornography online. As a parent, it’s your job to make sure that your child isn’t exposed to harmful things and at the same time gains the confidence and knowledge to navigate the way toward adulthood.

Protecting your kids from porn is a big part of that journey.

There are many studies that reveal how exposure to pornography in children and adolescents can foster a skewed view of sexuality, relationships and intimacy. Children are simply not mature enough to separate the sexual imagery in pornography with actual adult relationships. Make sure your child gains a healthy attitude toward sex by protecting them from pornography.

3 Steps Parents Can Take

So how can parents protect their children from porn? There are 3 steps that any parent can take to reduce access and minimize the impact of porn exposure.

Step 1. Establish rules on electronics

Parents should establish rules on the use of electronic media at home, which is easier said than done with today’s technological advancements. Some ideas include restricting the use of personal devices after a certain time in the evening, unplugging the router overnight, placing home computers in public spaces, and disabling data plans on smartphones.

Rules should be consistent and age appropriate, but keep in mind that when rules are too restrictive, children and teens will work harder to seek ways around them.

Step 2. Set up filters and access controls

Many parents are in denial about what kind of children look at porn — they think it is only children from broken homes or the neighborhood delinquents. The realistic answer is that every child will be exposed to pornography at some point — it’s prevalent and easy to access.

It may seem like the simple answer is to just block your child’s access to electronics and media, but children and teens have everything from iPods and MP3 players to computers. Chances are, children will be exposed to pornography, either accidentally or on purpose. It’s a good idea to learn about various free or purchased parental control and access regulation software and use them.

When these types of restricted access steps are in place, it makes it more difficult for children to stumble onto porn sites and gain access to sexually explicit material.

Step 3. Talk to your children about sex and pornography

Parents should never let the internet become their child’s teacher about sex, sexual identity and sexual relationships. However, too many parents, especially ones from strict religious backgrounds, are not comfortable even saying the word “sex,” much less discussing sexual dynamics with their children.

When parents are unwilling to talk frankly about sexual expression and healthy sexual relationships, children will seek out other sources to satisfy their curiosity. Good parenting means that it’s important to have conversations about sex and healthy vs. unhealthy sexual relationships over and over again using age-appropriate language. Parents must communicate to their children that pornography is an unrealistic version of sex and sexual relationships.

Protect and Educate

When it comes to minimizing harm from exposure to pornography, parents must use a combination of protection and education. The top goal of parents everywhere should be to help their children navigate the difficult path from childhood and adolescence to adulthood. Sexual education is a key part of developing a healthy attitude toward sex and not allowing pornography, with its artificial depictions of human relationships, to be the teacher and usurp the parent’s job of educating their children.

I Find Myself…

I was fifteen, and I thought I had met the love of my life.

Of course, when you’re fifteen, everything is the end-all, be-all of your life. You think that the day you fail your history exam is the worst day of your life; that your first job will kick-start your career as a successful businessperson; and the boy sitting at the outdoor table by the bus ramp with a cute smile and big arms is your future husband. At fifteen years old, I was sure I would love no one else but him for as long as I lived.

Because I was not raised a Christian, abstinence to me was always more of a personal preference than a spiritual promise. At fifteen I was not ready to have sex. I’d had only two boyfriends before, and only one of them ever got close enough to kiss me.

And then it all changed.

He was 6’3″, Hispanic, and had no plans for the rest of his life. He had a beautiful smile, was the ultimate smooth talker, and he loved to hold my hand. In short, I was doomed to fall for this guy. I met him at lunch one day; he offered me his seat. I guess that was the first time I ever liked a guy at first sight. Four days later he asked me out. Within two months of dating, I knew I loved him.

He was not a virgin, while I was as virgin as it got. I told myself I was okay with that, but honestly, it kind of bothered me. It made me feel like I had some sort of unknown standard to live up to. Within three months of dating, sex naturally came up as a topic of discussion. It made sense, of course; I was a girl, he was a boy, and we were in high school.

Still, I was really not ready to have sex.

We had been dating about six months when he started to complain about not having sex. I made it very clear to him I wasn’t ready. He’d tell me he understood, and that would end the conversation for the day. By the second or third time we’d argued about it, he told me he was tired of doing it for himself.  He wanted his girlfriend, the woman he loved to make love to him.

It made me feel guilty.

When we had been dating about seven months, he sent me a text message saying that I was the best thing in his life and if I left him, he’d probably kill himself. I was in class when I got the text and had to ask to be excused so I could figure out what was going on.

That was the last time he mentioned it, but it stayed on my mind always.

By nine months, I would catch his hand traveling a little too far for my comfort and I’d stop him. One night, after the homecoming dance, he asked me to take off my dress, but swore he wasn’t trying to sleep with me.

Later, his family moved and he had to change schools. I promised him we’d find a way to see each other. I’d visit him at his new home every weekend. We would lay on the couch and he would hold me all day. Our relationship was more innocent than it had ever been.

For a while, we were just content to spend time together. For our first anniversary, he took me to a nice dinner and asked me to prom. We had a relationship based on honesty, and I told him he was the one I wanted to marry.

After that, he began to bring up sex in conversation again.

We would argue about it, and then not talk for days. But no matter how I fought or said no, I could feel my defenses slipping. He knew what to say to make me feel like maybe I was wrong:

“But you love me, and I love you, and I want to show you that.”

“It wouldn’t be a terrible thing, it would be you and me becoming one.”

“It’s meant for two people who love each other. You do love me right?”

We would argue and then he would stop speaking to me. He would start to say something about sex and then stop, making me feel like he felt he couldn’t talk to me about it. I thought I was losing him.

Finally, I compromised: we would do it on prom night. Not long after saying that, his hands began to wander again. When I’d stop him, we’d fight and he’d pull away from me.

I fought with myself on a daily basis, telling myself that if I didn’t do it, he’d leave me. I thought I couldn’t live without him. And so one day, I didn’t say no. He convinced me that I’d enjoy it, so I gave him my virginity.

That night, I cried myself to sleep. I wasn’t ready, and it sucked. He said he felt closer to me, and I said the same. But I never told him how I really felt. He started to ask more often, even demanding it once. I’d give some lame excuse, he’d see right through it, and I’d sleep with him. This happened for another six months.

Just before our second anniversary, he had gone a short while without asking for sex. I found out he had been sleeping with his ex-girlfriend. She confronted me at school one day, revealing it to me publicly.

I was mortified.

I left him eight months ago. I recognize that even though I loved him, I was not ready to lose my virginity at such a young age. For a long time, I blamed myself for it, saying I’m the one who should have said no, I should have stayed strong. But then again, I was afraid he would leave me.

Now I know I am not at fault. I learned that what he did is called sexual coercion. I was nothing more than another conquest. I have trouble getting close to men, and not trusting many people. I am clinically depressed and in college, still in love with a guy I wrongfully had sex with. I am seeking help. In sharing my story, I have found myself again.

The Rest Of My Life

Anyone who claims the teen years are the “best of your life” is lying.

This is his struggle:

I was born in 1998, and until fourth grade, I was the big kid everyone knew and liked; I was popular and well-respected. No one bullied me. That all changed in fifth grade when I moved to Arlington, WA and started over at a new school.

My first – and worst – mistake was mistaking a jackwagon of a “friend” (who’s not much of one now) for a girl I liked.

You see where this is going – I was called “gay” and “bisexual” until the end of seventh grade when people forgot about it.

In the summer before eighth grade, I had my first real girlfriend. Over that summer, she sexually abused me, and I was traumatized.

After I ended it with her, I was scared of girls, until I met my previous girlfriend whom I dated for seven months. She was too scared to tell me when I was doing something that made her uncomfortable, so she left me. She broke my heart when she told that I made her feel like a “slut.”

It killed me to hear that.

After that, I screwed up, continued texting her, tried to be around her. That was a colossally bad idea. Things got so much worse.

People who’d been my friends turned on me because I’d hurt her, even though I wasn’t aware I’d been hurting her. Only few people tried to comfort me, trying to help my broken heart.

One day after a long track practice, I was finally getting over her, and a few buddies were fooling around, relaxing and telling stories. We were chatting about cars, girls, and fishing and I brought up some stupid (yet true) things about my ex-girlfriend. One of those guys told her.

After a month, I texted her, asking who’d told her what I’d said. She confirmed it was one of the guys from my track team. I lost control and punched him in the mouth – not because he’d told her, but because he’d lied to me; telling me he hadn’t told her.

Her parents showed up at a fourth of July parade and stopped to pet my dog. I looked in her Mom’s eyes and shook her Dad’s hand. My ex hid her face behind her hair.

I learned that her new boyfriend is one of my most trusted (well, WAS trusted) and close friends. I have ADD, an unusual form of OCD, which means that it’s far harder for me to get over things. Something a normal person forgets about in, say a week, takes me months. Since what I’m trying to get over is heartbreak, it takes more than months to work through.

I was sentenced to eight hours of community service for juvenile assault. I’m finding ways to express myself – music, friends, and cars.

I’m now helping a friend who was sexually abused get back on her feet, and spending more time with my girlfriend. Wish me (and my friend) luck, The Band!

Thanks for reading, The Band.

Do you have any advice for me?

Looking Over My Shoulder

We were the best of friends through high school – “The Three Musketeers”. We were going to be best friends for life. Sometime during senior year, they started changing. Drinking. Smoking. Having sex with anyone who looked their way.

That wasn’t for me. I chose not to party with them. They teased me about it, joking that I was the “good” one.

Not long after graduation, there was a situation where I chose my family over them. It all blew up, and the bullying and stalking began.

They prank-called me. They pitted our mutual friends against me with ridiculous lies. They showed up to my workplace and said they were going to kill me. They sat behind me in college classes and loudly whispered to others about how horrible I was. How I was an ugly, sad person. How they had just “pretended” to be my friend for all those years. They told all my secrets to anyone who would listen.

This continued for almost two years.

After the death threats at my workplace, I let them know that I would take out a restraining order if they ever contacted me again.

I blocked them on Facebook. I graduated from that college and went to another one in a different town. I changed my phone number.

Though I haven’t heard from them for years, I still feel sick when I think about them. They caused me incredible stress, self-doubt, and loneliness.

I don’t talk about it much, because I don’t want to give them the pleasure of knowing that they got under my skin. I left out many details of the story, and details about who I am, just in case they find this.

I’m now a happily married woman with a great career, an amazing husband, and a great group of true friends.

But I feel like I’ll always be looking over my shoulder, waiting for their next move.