Rape and sexual assault take many forms.
This is her story:
When I was 19 years old, I couldn’t leave the house for anything important. That’s the rub. For anything important. I was still able to go out, and have a beer at the pub, or go shopping, or visit friends, but as soon as it came time to do something official, like pay a bill or get a job, or go to a Centrelink meeting, I’d dissolve into a bubbling pit of terror and tears and hide in the shower for as long as I could without freezing.
The thought of dealing with someone with authority scared me so much – I felt judged before I even got there. Dealing with unsympathetic bitch government workers didn’t help either. They made me feel like because I relied on their help, I was somehow less than a person.
I hid, and cried, and my fiancé at the time worked his arse off to keep us housed and internetted. The more he worked, the guiltier I felt, the more I drank and the worse we got. Eventually he convinced me to try for my security license, and I did. It was a job I could do – sitting on my arse in a car for $20 an hour, not having to talk to anyone. I traveled to Sydney every day for a week to do the course and get my certificate, and on the last day when I graduated I partied with my fellow students and teachers, celebrating that I finally had managed to do something constructive for myself.
He loved me, and was happy for me, and so he came in to Sydney to party with me. To combat his own fear of dealing with people he didn’t know, he drank himself stupid, and caught the train in. I didn’t want to deal with him. I sent him home. I cried. I drank. And instead of going home that night, I stayed at my teacher’s place and slept with him.
I made us break up. He begged me to reconsider but I couldn’t believe what I had done. I couldn’t allow myself to stay with him and infect him with my wrongness, and I didn’t want to have to deal with a rotting relationship while I tried to sort my thousand and one problems out.
So we broke up, and I started working for his boss – a man we had both known for over a year.
The Boss and His Wife knew all about what I had gone through. I told them everything almost straight away, and they professed sympathy and understanding. And then they made their advances. They had given me a job, and an income, and somewhere to live while I got my life back on track, and I was so, so grateful for that, and I can’t help but think that they knew what they were doing the entire time.
I was too scared to tell them “no,” in case I lost it all again, and I was also slightly interested. Never had anyone shown a sexual interest in my before. My fiancé was more of a confused little boy, and The Boss and His Wife were experienced, strong people who thought I was hot and sexy.
But I didn’t want to. I wanted to be alone for a while. I wanted to just be free. I wanted to know why everything about me was so broken. But if I lost my job I would lose my mind, and if I lost my mind I would never get better. So I did what I had to do to keep my sanity. And I would do it again.
After a few months I managed to break away, and sure enough they fired me for some made-up excuse within a week. By that time I had managed to work myself out a little bit more – enough to function as a human being again – and I could handle starting again.
To this day, I feel raped.
I feel like in the most vulnerable moments of my life, someone who I thought was my saviour took advantage of me. The thing is, knowing that I made the choice, and knowing that I did have that little bit of curiosity, and knowing that I would do it all again because I was right when I thought it would destroy my mind if I lost it all again so soon – it makes me feel as though my rape is not as valid as another woman’s. No one held me down, or hit me, or forced me, but I feel violated nonetheless.
I joke about it sometimes – it makes it easier to deal with – but it still makes me fall apart late at night. It still makes me cry like a baby sometimes, and it still ruins my sex life whenever I have bouts of memories. And it’s the conflict of feelings that makes me feel worst – feeling raped, and feeling unworthy of the title of “rape victim.”
And I’m back to not knowing what I am.
A wise woman told me to write up my story and tell the hell out of it. So, here I am.
Sometimes, I feel like I have the only kid like mine. My son was diagnosed between 3 and 4. He is one of 3 I have, with special needs. For the time being, I’m focusing on my oldest.
We knew something was not right with him. He threw an 80 lb. mattress across the room at me. How does a 3 year old do that? He never slept. He would have meltdowns and throw things at me. I have gotten black eyes from everything from a book to an army boot to the back of the head.
Thankfully, I had a wonderful doctor tell me how to deal with the meltdowns and those came less and less often. However, he would wander. We had two incredibly scary events where he wandered off when he was 5, but he had angels and off duty police officers watching out for him.
When we got the Autism diagnosis, I knew nothing about Autism. Most people equate it to the movie Rain Man. I had never seen the movie so I had no clue. All I knew was Doug Flutie, an NFL football player, had a cereal that’s proceeds went to autism awareness. The only reason I knew that is because I saw the commercial once while my husband was watching a game. That’s all I knew. Nothing else.
So, the journey was rocky and hard. The first year my husband was stationed in Korea, so he was not around to learn what I did.
I relied on “friends” I thought that I had to help. Instead, I got investigated by CPS (child protective services) for making everything up. The only thing that was founded was that I was stressed. (Gee no idea why???)
My son’s first year in school was horrible. Open classroom and he would have meltdowns. They did not want to deal with him, so 5 out of 5 days he went to school, he was sent home early. I had no idea what I was supposed to be doing or how the school should have been handling him.
Thankfully, the school he was moved to had a wonderful Spec Ed teacher that knew what she was doing, to this day, I will still kiss the ground that she walks on.
He improved and stayed in school. Had messy moods and lack of sleeping so we had to join the medicine bus. So many doctors and specialists, “you should do this” and “don’t do that and this and that.”
The kid is a loving, sweet amazing kid. He has a hard time showing that. He has many co-morbidities along with his autism. ADHD, ODD, Anxiety, depression, hypermobility, OCD, etc.
In our journey with him, we realized he wasn’t like most kids with autism. So many can use an iPad and it’s nothing. A phone and no problem. With my son, he can not tell the difference between reality and what’s on the iPad or phone. We tried. We tried so many times, so he could be like his friends or brothers. But it ultimately turned out so, so, so, so bad.
When he was 11 a child that bullied him at school told him that triple x rated stuff on the internet was bad and if you looked at it you were super special because not everyone’s computer can look at it. Ever since that day, my son has been fixated on it. At 11 he had no idea what it was, just that it was special and not everyone could see it. As he grew into puberty it got worse and worse. I still don’t think he knows exactly what its supposed to mean to a person, because his thinking age is around 10, but he knows its bad, he’s told his therapist it’s bad. He’s tried to look at it on the internet at school.
We had everything on our cable blocked so that he could not watch it or order it and somehow he got around it and we had a $900 bill. (I’m still drinking coffee to cope with that one)
Now he’s in a dark, dark place. He’s obsessed with death. He writes and writes and writes about death scenes. Then he tears them up. He talked to his therapist, but he sees no problem. We can not even let this child watch cop TV shows it’s that bad. Nothing to do with magic, or death.
My husband and I have been watching his behavior as of the last 2-3 months and I’m not liking what I see. Neither does my husband.
His moods are very erratic. One minute he’s happy, the next he’s angry and ready to fight. Then he’s happy. (Note: he has not touched a soul, just has gotten angry with words) These mood changes make me think he’s bipolar. We were warned that he probably was a few years ago. We knew it was coming.
Now we’re questioning the doctor, because my husband and I are so completely and mentally drained from dealing with his moods and trying to keep his brothers from upsetting him. The doctor is trying to tell us that he’s making it all up and that we just have to deal with it. My first thought, no lie, was, “The fuck you mean deal with it? I’ve BEEN living with it! We came to you for help on how to KEEP dealing with it, asshole!” I, of course, did not say that, because I was too tired.
This kid has been in-patient 7, lost count after that, times for being bullied and being suicidal. I’m scared to death something is going to set him off. Granted all sharp instruments are kept under lock and key. We continue to try and understand what is going on, but our son can not tell us because he does not remember the mood swings.
His doctor said, because he does not feel bad for being angry and mean, he is not bipolar. DUDE, he’s autistic, he’s not going to feel bad.
I had 2 major surgeries and he bumped what I had surgery on, I started crying and he didn’t give two craps. That does not mean he’s not bipolar!
It’s hard to keep him busy. He gets bored with puzzles and crosswords and TV, because we have seriously toned down everything that he can watch. I’m just at a loss on where I should go from here. There’s probably a lot I left out of his story, I’m sorry for that.
Here’s another twist on his story. He legit thinks he’s from another dimension. He thinks he is a female from another dimension, that he will leave to find when he is 18 years old. There are artifacts all over the world that he has to collect in order to remain safe in this other dimension. He thinks that the here and now is just temporary. Because of his beliefs with this, he can not watch or read anything that involves fantasy. Because he can not and will not be able to tell the difference between what is real and what is not.
His therapist and I had a long talk today about it. I had to stop from bursting into tears, because I have never heard of another child like mine. I explained that to him and asked what do I do. He said I do what I’m doing… Be mom.
It did not help when he said that in the 13 years that he had been doing what he does, he had never met another kid like my son.
Sometimes, being a mom is rough as hell when it feels like no matter what you do, it’s out of control. You know all those books you read before you have kids? I never read any chapters on Autism or special needs and I sure as hell never read any on how to deal with this kind of life for your child.
I guess I should add that I am dealing with my own depression and anxiety right now. My anxiety is off the charts and my shrink threw me into counseling. Didn’t even ask just threw me in. I also have a chronic illness and it flares up in the form of pain when I’m extremely stressed out, the last 3 months I’ve gotten little relief.
It’s sad to say at this point, I’ll deal with me as it comes. I just want my son to be okay. I know I need to worry about me, too. If he is okay, then I can be okay.
Basically, I’m writing this because I just need to know I’m not alone. I’m so tired. My gut instinct with this kid is never wrong. My gut says he needs help with this anger thing and his doctor is being stupid.
The only thing I’d wanted was another baby.
So when, after meeting a good guy, marrying him and buying a house in the suburbs with a yard (like I was Suzie-freaking-Homemaker), I found myself knocked up once again just like I’d wanted, I couldn’t begin to understand why I was so miserable. After living through my first pregnancy — something that can only be described through a particularly bad country song — raising an autistic child, escaping my alcoholic parents and finally having another baby, this time the way I thought it was “supposed to be,” my feelings were beyond bizarre to me.
Certainly, my life was stressful. But my life has always been stressful. I’d had to quit my job and money was tight, something my new husband worried about often and loudly. When we’d moved to the ‘burbs, we’d left behind our friends so my support system of single friends was gone. We’d occasionally talk on the phone but it became more and more obvious that we were no longer on the same page. It stung more than I’d thought it would.
Day after day during this pregnancy I sat alone on the couch, or praying to the porcelain gods, while my husband worked 14-hour days. My distant son, never a source of emotional comfort anyway, was in school all day. These were the days before I’d adopted the internet as Your Aunt Becky, so I was Becky, As Herself. I had no one to confide in, no Band of Merry Pranksters to confess my feelings to, and now neatly severed from all of my support systems, I floundered.
I’d been depressed before, but the feelings I was experiencing were new. I felt like I was mired in quicksand, rooted in one spot, unable to move forward. Always a social beast, I could barely leave my house. A simple phone call became too much to handle. The isolation bred isolation and now a trip to the store exhausted me for days beforehand and afterward.
It was all I could do to get out of bed in the morning.
Sleep was an elusive mistress. Night after night, as my son churned in my belly, I tossed and turned, unable to ever fall into that deep REM sleep that the doctors insist we need to survive. I remembered that sleep deprivation was a technique that soldiers used on POW’s to drive them slowly insane, which was precisely what was happening to me. Each morning, I dragged myself out of bed, unrefreshed and sad, filled with a sense of impending doom.
Finally, untrusting of my OB, I turned to Dr. Google for advice. While I wasn’t yet Your Aunt Becky, I was a blogger and I knew that the beauty (and horror) of the internet is that there’s always one soul that no matter how depraved you’re feeling, can sympathize with you. Setting my search to “antepartum depression,” I was confident that I would find something.
Nothing came up. Well, okay, there were a couple of things, but mostly with “antepartum” and “depression” mentioned in the same article.
Not exactly helpful, Dr. Google.
Fine, I thought. I’m a freak.
Ben, my first, had been born after Andrea Yates had her bout with postpartum psychosis, so I’d had no end of pamphlets shoved at me to help me combat any urges to hurt myself or someone else after he was born. We’d studied the spectrum of postpartum mood disorders in nursing school as well. But antepartum depression was a big question mark.
So what did I do? NOTHING. I wore a groove on the couch where I sat miserable and sad until my second son, Alex, was born squalling and healthy. Almost instantly, my mood improved.
When I got pregnant with my daughter, I expected the antepartum depression to return and it did. By this time, I had become Your Aunt Becky and shared my troubles with my Pranksters. Many stepped up and said that they, too, had experienced the same types of feelings. It was wonderful to feel less alone; less like a circus freak. I went onto an SSRI in my second trimester to try to combat the antepartum depression, but even with that on board I didn’t feel much better. Pregnancy, it seems, doesn’t agree with me.
What shattered me was after I shared my experiences about antepartum depression, the usual search terms that brought people to my blog (boring things, aunt becky sucks, mommy wants a vodka) were replaced by these: “antepartum depression,” “depression during pregnancy,” and “sadness in pregnancy.” Knowing that there were other women sitting on their own couches struggling the way I had broke my tiny black heart into a billion pieces.
The isolation I experienced was devastating and while I ended up walking away from the experience with only a little darkness on my back, I hate to imagine others out there suffering the way that I did. I’m thrilled that postpartum depression has gotten so much support. It should get all that it does and more. Women supporting other women is beautiful. I want antepartum depression, which they now call antenatal depression apparently, to get some of that support, too.
I hope that for the next pregnant woman who sits on her couch, crying and feeling as desperately alone as I did, I hope that she can find the light.
Because there is light. And it is so, so good
It happened in 2008.
I was an ocean away from home, an exchange student in a small Southern college town.
I felt lonely and isolated, met a guy who started doing nice things for me – driving me places (I didn’t have a car, and it was a driving town), inviting me to lunches, and other entertainment activities.
He was short, and out of shape. I was a tall, athletic blonde. I felt pity for him. We went jogging. I told him I would help him get in shape, so he could get a girlfriend.
We became friends, he joked around that one day he would marry me. I said, no way.
On Christmas break, I felt lonely, everybody else I knew was out of town, so I agreed to go on a road trip with him to an entertainment park. And then, to a remote state park to spend a night camping.
My instincts were against it, but alas, there I was, in the middle of nowhere, without any way of getting away, and drinking an excessive amount of vodka that he had brought from home.
We were sitting on a bench on the camping ground, talking about boyfriends and girlfriends. I told him there’s somebody I have a crush on, back home.
He said, I want you to be mine, but if you have somebody, and that can’t happen, then I still get something good – I get you as a friend. I felt so relieved when I heard those words! I thought, “Great; so he appreciates me as a friend, so he’s not going to make unwanted sexual advances, I’m safe.”
I remember stumbling to the tent, not being able to walk straight, laying down.
Next thing I remember is him on me, and in my body, going in and out, in and out. With a kind of a look of a happy surprise on his face.
My body just didn’t do anything. It didn’t protest. It didn’t scream. It was unreal.
God knows, I have hated and blamed myself for seven years for not fighting him. For giving up so easily. But back then, in that moment, I was SCARED. Scared to run away, scared to make a fuss, scared I wouldn’t be able to get back home without a car. Scared of having to confront him. Scared of being accused of leading him on, and being told that it’s all my fault.
I was already thinking, this is all my fault. What was I thinking, getting into a situation like this? I could hear my mom’s voice in my head, telling me, “What did you expect? Now, get over it, and move on.”
In the morning, feeling dirty, vulnerable, and pissed, I told him that I was angry that he took advantage of me while I was drunk. He shrugged his shoulders, and said something like, hey, it is what it is.
He drove me back home.
The thing I still don’t understand is why I accepted him as my temporary boyfriend after this. I continued dating him, like a child coming back to a parent who beats him. As if I was saying, you broke me, now you owe me – you have to heal me.
And he treated me nice. Complimented me all the time, and didn’t push me to have sex. It wasn’t about sex after all. Like he said, he wanted ME. All of me, for himself.
The worst part is, I found it flattering. I thought his desire to own me was love.
I thought my temporary status and leaving the country would provide a natural end to this relationship.
In my heart, I longed for that moment to come. Longed for being away from him, and close to my family and friends.
As you can expect from the title of this post, the story doesn’t end here.
I need to take baby steps to learn how to talk about this. Feeling nauseous from going back to this place and time in my memory.
But I know, step by step, I will tell my story, as if I’m vomiting out what has been poisoning me. I hope somebody benefits from this.
I have been fighting writers block for the last two weeks. I closed down my first two attempts at starting my own blog and started a new one but haven’t even posted anything to it yet. I need to figure out where to start – where to begin.
And I want to post here. And I want to comment on the posts I read that make me smile or think or emote. But I don’t. Or I haven’t been anyway. I’ve been lurking… reading a lot but not posting, that is.
The truth is I don’t feel good enough or interesting enough to join in the fun.
Let me clarify: I DO NOT believe I would be, or will be, judged for posting whatever is on my mind at any time. At least not here. I trust Aunt Becky and her merry band to keep us safe from the Mole People. I’m not scared of what might be said in response to what I write.
The truth is I am absolutely terrified of opening up the can of ghosts and demons inside of me. I’ve shared a little of it with my boyfriend, who is the closest thing I have to a best friend too, but even with him I’m scared to share any more.
Honestly, the sheer quantity or ghosts and demons I need to face and fight and get through is staggering me blind most days.
Partly, I am afraid of rejection. Rejection by my wonderful boyfriend, the “friends” in my life, people on Facebook, even here. And by rejection I don’t mean mole people hating for no reason.
I mean losing people. No one caring about me. Or people only caring enough to help a little bit and when the burden gets to be too much they stop trying to help anymore. I’m afraid of alienating people or hurting someone else. Part of me is terrified to even look at this shit myself, so how can I subject anyone else to it?
But at the same time, I know I need to face these things. These ghosts and demons haunting me – some for years and years. Some things as tiny as committing a social faux pas in elementary school all the way up to things as huge as trusting the wrong person with a secret – and losing my job after she shared that secret with my bosses.
The truth is I’ve been on a downward trend for years now. I thought I hit bottom when I went into the hospital last year (psych ward). I thought I hit bottom when I was fired six weeks later and the bills for the “coinsurance” portion of my hospital stay started showing up. I thought I was recovering from those and getting some shit together again. But no. I’m unemployed again. And barely keeping my house clean enough to keep CPS at bay. And relying on my boyfriend and my brother to cook and clean the kitchen. And relying on my parents to pay my bills.
When I start to hit bottom, I start to hide. I haven’t called a single one of my friends in months – granted none of them have called me, either – but two or three did reach out on Facebook to me and I failed to follow through on calling them back too. I’m hiding hard. Even with a fully anonymous email account attached to my as-yet unwritten blog.
I need to start doing something proactive to change.
So I’m reaching out into internet-land, sharing something just to prove to myself I can.
And I’m making a pledge to myself to do three things during the hours upon hours I spend every day with my laptop on my lap each day.
1) I will post SOMETHING either here or on my blog everyday. Something that is honest.
2) I will comment on someone else’s blog (at least 1) every day, just to show some love to people.
3) I will try to share something on Facebook with the people I know IRL.
Someone once told me that we don’t grow unless we do something that scares us. I’m scared shitless right now just typing this. I haven’t even thought about hitting the submit button yet. But I’m going to click that button when I’m done typing (and probably some editing, but if I’m too scared I might skip that step) because I need to put myself out there. I need to be honest for once in my life and share what’s going on inside my brain and body and life with SOMEONE or I’m pretty sure it’s gonna kill me one day.
So here I go off into the unknown. I’m gonna face some ghosts and some demons. And I’m going to share honestly and openly. And as Aunt Becky and her Pranksters so eloquently put it “Fuck the Haters”. I’m not doing this for them or for anyone else. I’m doing it for me.
And that’s scary as hell too…
PS. Thank you Aunt Becky for your post today about your upcoming procedure. Your honesty helped me to make this decision. You’re doing something scary to get better and so am I. You’re my hero.
(ed note: I’m honored and blushy and even crying a little. I love you. Fuck the haters. Most of us have been here before, too. Being brave is hard as fuck, but it’s also strengthening. I promise. Loves you. Be brave. Scare yourself. You can do it).
The first time I was molested, I was 6 years old. My step-dad was a controlling, abusive asshole and had been grooming me over the few years he’d been married to my mom. It started as tickling, then moved to a touch here, me touching him there, and everything you can imagine in between.
At 6, I had no idea this wasn’t normal interaction. He was the only dad I knew.
At 8, I knew how to give a blow job, at 10 he was attempting penetration (poorly), at 12 when I got my period, I got worried. A substitute teacher covered a chapter on sexual abuse in health class and I realized that this wasn’t normal at all. I told my mom that afternoon, he moved out that night, I got lots and lots of counseling.
At 14, I was raped by a 21 year old that was my “boyfriend.” We met through a mutual friend, he got me drunk on Everclear and told me if I didn’t let him put it in one hole he was gonna put it in the other, whether I liked it or not.
I thought it was a compelling argument.
I remember he had big speakers under his mattress and he put on something with a shit ton of bass and it made me so nauseous that I spent 20 minutes puking on his back porch. I didn’t tell anyone. In fact, I continued to date him for an additional 6 months.
During that time he fantasized about moving to Alabama (where 14 is the age of consent) getting married and having babies with me. At the end of those 6 months he nearly got arrested for threatening a secretary with bodily harm for not allowing him to bring me flowers to my class… in middle school.
My mom found out and then I spent 4 weeks as an inpatient at a juvenile psychiatric facility. I started my long journey of anti-depressants and self-medicating.
At 15, I walked over to a boy’s house that I had a crush on to “hang out.” We were making out and he got my pants off. I let him know I wasn’t interested in having sex so he decided that putting his belt inside me was a better option? I was known as “belt girl” (probably still am, honestly) for a number of years after that, to our group of mutual friends.
At 31, I got locked into a hotel room with a smooth talker (stalker) who had me convinced we were in love. The next 8 hours were filled with things I never want to remember and that my brain won’t recall. I left sore and mentally broken, but I never told a soul (until now).
These are of course only the major offenses. I’m not including the literal hundreds of unsolicited dick pics, “accidental” gropings, catcalling, and unwanted sexual advances that occur from randoms quite often.
Why didn’t I report it at the time?
Well it depends on the occurrence. The first time I didn’t know any better, the second time I was in love, the third I was embarrassed and ashamed, the fourth I was terrified of ever seeing him again. I definitely didn’t want a court case. I never filed charges on any of them. Even the long-term ones.
I remember vividly talking to a counselor who warned me of the long court process to press charges against my dad, how it was my decision (AT 12), and whether they should file charges with the DA. Seems like something an adult should’ve decided, no? That stayed with me through all of my assaults. I felt powerless and guilty. I blamed myself for my poor decisions. Surely, I mean, it was my fault, right?
So now PTSD is a real thing I live with every day as a survivor of multiple sexual assaults. The triggers are never expected or convenient. Depression and anxiety go hand-in-hand with that. Once, a psychologist mentioned her surprise that I didn’t have a personality disorder, so there’s that, I suppose?
This is why the #MeToo movement is so vitally important.
The shame, the bureaucracy, the headaches, the guilt, it’s not worth reporting. This is what I’ve been told time and again as a victim. Maybe not in those words, but certainly with that intent. Someone didn’t want the paperwork and i didn’t want the trauma of retelling my story time and time again.