The scent of Camel Menthol cigarettes triggers me into anxiety. They say that smells can spark memories more than any other sense. Id say theyre right. Thats what he smoked. Camel Menthol. I met him at my neighbor’s house one night. One time. The only time that mattered I guess. I had never been to my neighbors place before. He had a few friends over and we were all drinking. I probably should have fixed my own drinks. I probably shouldn’t have drank so much. But the retrospect second guesses make no difference now. Some say I was targeted because I’m a lesbian. The investigators think the whole thing was a set up. For some reason i would prefer to think of it as an impulse action. Its less settling to imagine that those three men planned and plotted my pain and fear.
Anyways, some time into the night i completely blacked out. Most likely because he slammed my head into the wall as I was walking towards the door, as he stated to the jury. Don’t remember. Don’t remember much after that. Just bits and pieces of flashbacks. I can see broken glass and plates mixed with blood that cakes on the white tiles. I remember lying on my back feeling like I was in a dream. It felt like I was watching a movie. I remember him climbing on top of me time and time again as I limply tried to fight back. Even the wrenching feeling as he entered me vaginally and anally wasn’t enough to allow my body to retaliate fully. I was empty. I can remember seeing one of the men walk by with no cares as i lie in my own tears and blood. I remember pain all over my body. A crack in the kitchen wall.
The weeks and months that followed left me in a deeper haze. Trying to explain the 40 something bruises that painted my body to family and strangers as they prodded at my body left me bare. I had no answers, no recollection. I was nothing. Hospital beds, district attorneys and therapists tried to piece me back together. They found it difficult to relate to the fear that left me permanently anxious. I could barely relate myself.
The bit of solace I hold onto is that he is in jail now. Thankfully, my confused studders and pathetic tears infront of a court room found my favor. I did the one thing I never thought I could do. I faced him again. I looked him in the eye and decided he couldn’t take anything else from me. Not anymore. Yea i was beaten severely. Yea i was raped. Yea I cried. But I will never call myself a victim – not anymore!
— Ren, age 25