With the help of God, I can finally write this down. I watched Brave Miss World the same year I confronted on of the men who raped me. This site has allowed me to find strength and solidarity among the words, the deeply respected and haunting stories of others who have experienced being violated, having their identities stolen or put through crisis; those who wake up with PTSD, anxiety, suffer from panic attacks, substance misuse, depression and social isolation. Some of those, who like me, blamed themselves for something you ask.. couldn’t I have prevented?
This is for every girl, who didn’t get to choose, and for every person who loves her and also, didn’t get to prevent what happened to her. It’s also for anyone who has ever raped, violated or participated in anything that led to someone being violated. I hope that you become better than you were, and seek forgiveness.
I am 36 years old, and 2 1/2 years ago for the first time, I began to talk about being raped. I hate the word, and I do not feel empowered using it. But I feel the need to tell the truth; and rape unfortunately, is the truth here. As a child, I grew up in a small town, the product of divorced parents. I lived with my mother, who has a mental illness although it’s never been identified. I was sexually, physically and emotionally abused by her boyfriends, by my babysitters, and by some people I will never know, have no faces for, and only have gripping and nauseating physical memories of. But as far as I know, I was raped for the first time when I was 12.
I didn’t know I was raped. Years of being abused, had somehow convinced me I asked for it, and that it was entirely my fault. I thought I was a slut. My brother who was 15 at the time, woke me up in the middle of the night and asked me if I wanted to go for a drive. I looked up to him, and for the past several years he had distanced himself from me, and I was never cool enough to even talk to him at school. This opportunity seemed like .. ‘he wants to hang out with me?!” So I went with him. He picked up a few of his friends through the night (yes, he had illegally taken my dad’s truck, and yes, I knew it was wrong, but I was a kid, and I didn’t understand the consequences). My brother drove to the end of a dark road that led into an orchard. It was the middle of the night, and it was late October early November. He told me to get out with this friend of his, and that he would be right back. He left me alone, with his hockey player friend, and they both had planned this event. I had no idea. I do remember some of the physical pain; but mostly, I remember being completely frozen. Just like an icicle, to afraid to speak, or move, or do anything but lay there. What happened, took twenty more years, and 4 more rapists for me to admit to myself, or anyone else.
After that night, my life changed. Inside, I started to self-loath. I believed 100% that this was all my fault. At school, all the kids knew by the next day. They kept calling ‘frigid’ down the hallway at me. I was called a slut, a whore, ‘smells like fish’, and on the complete opposite, I was called a liar and that I only wished I was good enough to be even raped by this hockey player. I was 12 years old. I had dolls in my room.. my favourite doll had a blue dress, and I named her Annie. I had snow globe that played the “Easter parade”. I eventually ran away from school, from home, and couch surfed. I eventually landed back in the town I grew up, in living with my mom again.
For the rest of high school in a new town, I tried to forget what happened. I tried to pretend I wanted it. I tried to understand. But I didn’t.
I had a baby when I was 18. Saved my life, really. I moved to a bigger city, went to college, and then eventually to university to study social work and child trauma. Somehow though, I never associated what happened to me, with anything I was studying. I had completely disassociated my true life, from the one I was actively imagining I was living. Like many people, I thought if I just forgot about my past, it would be behind me.
But then at 24, having been single since 17, I met the beginning of the end. I had social anxiety, major social anxiety. I used to have to bring 2 or 3 black shirts to school and change through the day because I would sweat right through them. I had no idea what I had was anxiety! I was completely a recluse. I didn’t socialize (for obvious reasons), and when I wasn’t studying in university, I was working part time and with my son. So when asked to go to a birthday party by one of my classmates, I worked up the nerve to go. That’s where I met my next rapist.
He was an honours psychology grad, several years older than me, and from a different country. This is where the past came back to haunt me. He was (as I later found out) a true narcissist, manipulative, opportunist. He looked at me, and within a month I was convinced by him that I wasn’t safe without him, and that I couldn’t trust myself because all the abuse I had been through had made it impossible for me to see things clearly. This guy was a pure sociopath genius. We were married within the year. That would have been one thing; but from the day I married him, convinced he would show me the world and save me from loneliness, he became a complete sexual deviant. He raped at least once per month for 3 years, and forced me to have sex every single day. Not every time was rape, but after the first time, I was so destroyed inside that every time felt the same. It took me 3 years to confide in anyone what was happening to me because I was so ashamed. He used to drug me, and r ape me when I was passed out. And the few times I woke up, I played dead I was so afraid. No one can tell you what that feels like, or how it destroys you until it happens.
When I did confide, it was because he told me I was going insane. I confronted him, and he told me it was all in my head. So like a zombie, I drive to the police station, shaking. I asked to speak with an officer, and told her I was either insane, or I needed help. She looked me straight in the eyes, and told me I was being raped, manipulated and abused. She told me to go home, pack my bags, and get out. 3 weeks later, with a new baby and my son, I left.
For the first year I was ok. Again, I tried to move on. I went to counseling, and victims services. They asked me if I wanted to press charges, but I was still in denial that if I was married I could be raped. I again, blamed myself. I blamed myself for everything. So then, after a year of counseling, I thought I was ok. I enrolled in a masters program and went back to school. But my anxiety turned into panic attacks. And I started drinking. One glass of wine, turned into two bottles of wine almost every night for 2 years. I hated myself. I could function, raise my kids, teach yoga, meditation, be a social worker during the day.. but when darkness fell, I had an uncontrollable fear and anxiety that paralyzed me, and I drank to escape it. But what happened next only made it worse.
I went out with a girl friend from school one weekend, to a professors house for what I thought was a student/prof social gathering. So I brought wine, and had a couple of drinks before my ‘friend’ picked me up so I had the nerve to at least go- because I never went anywhere. She took me to this professor’s house, and I had a few more drinks. The next thing I knew, she said she had to go get something and would be right back. She never came back. This professor was MY professor. I knew him, and was taking studies in child trauma. He knew a bit about my past from general discussions. He used that against me. He drugged me, raped me, and then told me the next day it was all my idea. I got pregnant, and had an abortion.
I grew up a Christian Jew. I believed I deserved to die. I spiralled out of control. I could never go back to school, and dropped all of my classes. In fact I just stopped going. I failed everything that year; and I was an A student with a 3.75 GPA. I started to think maybe my counsellor was wrong, that I was the sick person. It was all my fault.
I never went out again. For 2 years, I didn’t leave my neighbourhood. I was pretty athletic, so I ran a lot. But I stopped interacting with life. My landlord, who happened to be a man, asked me one day why I was so sad. I just answered that life was hard and I was dealing with a few things. He knew I had a drinking problem because the recycling was always full of wine bottles. And so when he asked me to join him upstairs, and said it would cheer me up, I though it was such a kind gesture. I had lived there for a year, and he was a short, fat, unattractive and unassuming man. But he too, was an opportunist, He got me good and drunk, and then he had his way with me.
I lived downstairs. And while I can tell you, I should have know the fuck better, I didn’t. He treated me like a piece of dirt after that. I’m sure now, he couldn’t stand the sight of me and having to realise he raped his tenant. A couple of months later, I was in the kitchen. I started sobbing uncontrollably, until my legs gave out and I landed on the kitchen floor. I was ready to die. I hated myself, and thought I was a monster. I stared to contemplate how I could commit suicide, and who I would will my children too. There was just no light at the end for me. And everyone who hurt me, made it out to be my fault. And I believed them.
I got help with my depression. I quit drinking 5 years ago. Life started to get better SLOWLY. I still hadn’t opened up to anyone about what had really happened to me, ever. And then one night, just over a year into my sobriety I got invited to a dinner party with some new friends, invitation by my new landlords. They were realtors, good people I thought. And my boyfriend and I weren’t getting along well so I decided to just go and have a night off from the drama. When I showed up, they offered me a drink. Feeling comfortable with my landlords there, I agreed to have a drink. I hadn’t admitted to myself I had a drinking problem then; but I quit drinking because I assumed that everything that happened to me was my fault because I had been drinking. So believe it or not I quit drinking because I thought I was a bad person! Anyway… 2 bottles of wine and many hours later, there sober friend who didn’t drink offered to drive me home (I was going to take a ca b). He never took me home. And to this day I can’t remember what happened that night.
I woke up and didn’t know where I was. I was naked except for my underwear. I looked at him, and all I sad was, ‘thank god nothing happened’. He relied, ‘but it did!’. That was the moment. That moment I felt myself break. The pain was of every time I had ever been violated happening in one moment. I broke up with my boyfriend, because I hated myself. And I pretended to date the sober man who raped me for 10 days. I tried to make myself believe, that if I could change what happened, and pretend there was something there, that I could forgive myself and make the pain go away. I actually thought I owed HIM, my rapist, an apology!!!!!!
And then my boyfriend called me 10 times in the middle of the night. My amazing, best friend who knew nothing of my past, and who I had only known 6 short months, wouldn’t give up on me. So I told him to his face, his beautiful face, that I had slept with someone else. He, hurt and angry asked me for every detail of the past 10 days, And I mean every detail. I thought he was doing this as some sort of punishment and at the end would slap me, dump me, call me a whore and never speak to me again. And I believed that’s what I deserved.
What happened, was quite different. He took me back through every sexual experience I had ever had, and asked me for details. I was sick to my stomach. A few times I passed out from crying so hard. And then after the first 24 hours he looked at me with disbelief, sadness, rage and a broken heart and said, don’t you understand, you were raped”. There was that word again. I argued, I threw things, I said no I hadn’t been. But inside I knew. Inside, that feeling can have many names, but it always is rape. It took me 2 years of intensive therapy. I had to quit my job and leave the field of social work because I couldn’t handle any more stress. I confronted the professor with a human rights lawyer, and informed the university and he was suspended for 2 years without pay. I wrote letters to all but one of the men who raped me, and told them I knew what they had done to me. And for a while, I fell so far apart that I didn’t believe I would ever come back again .
No one told me when I was a little girl that I had been molested, abused, exploited. And because I didn’t understand, I continued to live my life as a victim, constantly being re-victimized. When I started looking for help online, I hadn’t seen any stories like mine. I felt ashamed, and like maybe I didn’t deserve compassion because I hadn’t been held at knife point. There was a knife pointed at me; but it was in the shape of a penis.
I am working on forgiving those men. Some days I do, other day’s I don’t. But I keep trying. I try to remember that they are victims too. No one who is healthy would ever do such things. After so many years of internalized self hatred, it’s still hard some days, to remember that it’s not my fault. I’ve had several counsellors, lawyers, police, friends, and parents all of whom know all my history now, tell me it’s not my fault. But the little girl inside me fights the woman who once she learned, wishes she had known. If only I had know, could I have saved myself? And when I get stuck in that thinking I remember this: I did not consent. I was not asked. I was raped. It’s not my fault.
Every day gets a bit brighter. Some days I get really low, anxious, depressed. And when I do I have to fight, I have to pray, I have t work really hard to pull myself out of it. Some days, I get really MAD that I have to fight to be happy, to just be peaceful because of what other people did to me. But then I remember, if I let go, they win. If I stay sad, they win. If I don’t share, they win. And then my heart softens again, and I look at my husband who is a good, wonderful man, and I smile for him, and for my beautiful boys who will never hurt a woman, and who have become young men who want to protect women, and stand up to what’s wrong. And I smile, and in those moments, I have peace. And I think, that while I wish I could change my story into something better.. if my true story helps anyone, than it wasn’t for nothing. Then I can take something good form it.
All my love, to all survivors.
— Survivor, age 36