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Exploitation Was My Lifestyle

When I was 14, my parents got a divorce because my mom had an affair. her boyfriend moved in with us and I just wanted to be away from home. always. i had older sisters but they had moved out to college. i was alone. my mother was too busy with her boyfriend to worry about where i was or who i was with. I was a freshman at my christian school dating a senior. everyone had a problem with it but he made me feel like i was important during this time in my life. i ended up hanging out with a lot of seniors, older people, adults at only 14. i ended up getting into drugs and alcohol and it started taking over my life. by day i was a good christian girl at school, and by night i was high and drunk and drowning out my sorrows. when i was 15 i lost my virginity to my boyfriend who was 18 and when the drugs started to really take over, it changed him, or at least revealed the real him. he exploited me to his friends. they were given permission to rape me in exc hange for drugs. i would not be aware of this plan until it would happen. it happened 3 times on different occassions with one man. i still blame myself to this day for letting it happen. once should have been enough for me to say i need to walk away. but i didn’t. i was addicted to this lifestyle of being an adult and drinking and doing drugs. i couldn’t go home. i couldn’t tell anyone. i would continue going to parties, whether he was there or not. a few months later, i found out i was pregnant. my best friend and my boyfriend both told me i was getting an abortion. there was no option. i could just drink it away and kill the baby. that’s what i should do, they said. i was so terrified. my boyfriend even said it wasn’t his, it was his friends, because i was a whore who slept around… yet his friend was the one who raped me. before he raped me, he would come on to me and try to get me to do it, saying my boyfriend gave him permission. then the first time h e raped me, i was passed out drunk and i woke up to someone pushing me face down into a pillow and raping me. i couldn’t move. i couldn’t breath. i passed out. i woke up the next morning in a puddle, no panties, and my boyfriend was nowhere but his friend was right there sleeping away. the second time it happened, we were outside around a bonfire with dozens of other people, when i went inside to use the bathroom and he followed me. he grabbed my hair and forced me down into the nearest room and raped me on my best friends bed. did i mention that he was her much older brother? the worst part is, the last time he raped me my best friend and my boyfriend both got me extremely drunk and convinced me to sleep with this man because it would score us a lot of drugs. i was hesitant but drunk. when it came time to actually have sex, i stopped him and told him i could not do it. it was too hard to just have sex with someone who was not my boyfriend, not someone i trusted. and that was it. he raped me one last time. told me to just take it and then he wouldnt have to hurt me. but it hurt. every single time. the next day i was told that he had been killed in a drunk driving accident that same night. i never spoke to my best friend after that. she pushed me away. to me, he was dead and gone but in my head i knew i would never forget it all. months later, i continued my lifestyle and continued getting drunk and high. then my boyfriend had a plan. first of all, shortly before this, we had broken up temporarily and in one of my drunken nights, i slept with his friend, a friend that i saw at parties often and i trusted. he was always friendly and never pushy about anything. my boyfriend was angry when he found out and i had felt tricked by his friend because then i found out he had a girlfriend and was just using me. weeks later, at this next party, i had no idea that he would be there, let alone convince this friend to rape me while he held me down. he had a gun at his side and i was terrified of being killed but in the same moment, i hoped he would just end it for me because i was already dead inside. if he would have killed me, justice would have been served but unfortunately, i could not put him behind bars. he had waved this gun at me before and others but i think he was too much of a coward to every actually use it, thank god. his friend ended up driving me home from that party after i had been raped by them both. it was the middle of the night and i snuck inside my house and sat in the bathtub hoping to wash away the dirty but it wouldn’t go away. it was always there. days later, i mustered up enough courage to tell my mom about the other night. in my head, the first man was dead and irrelevent so when the court process began, i never mentioned him. if i had, they may have been able to piece this whole thing together and help me. but i was young, naive, and scared. even the detectives and police officers made me feel so badly, lik e i should be ashamed of my lifestyle, like it was my fault. “you shouldn’t have done this….” that’s all i heard from everyone. i knew it was my fault. i began cutting myself to help cope with the pain. i had to switch schools when they found out about the pregnancy which ended shortly due to a miscarriage which i also blame myself for. i dyed my hair and wanted to kill myself. my life was over. a while later, i found out that the first man was never dead. they only told me that to keep me quiet because they worried i would snitch. he was still alive. he was out there with the rest of them. free to hurt anyone. it has been 6 years now since it all happened and i struggle with depression and anxiety badly. i have a son and a husband now, but it has been very hard for me to talk about it. even my own mother has called me a slut and y family doesn’t even want to talk about it because they think i’m a liar and a whore. they don’t tell me they love me . they don’t care. i feel so alone in this world and as hard as i try to move on and enjoy my life with my son and my new family, my husband doesn’t understand and i always push people away so i don’t have to tell anyone. i have barely talked about it with my husband but enough for him to understand it. he has doubted my story many times as well and honestly, i don’t blame people but this is the truth. i always hope that someday i will heal but i remember that this is who i am, my past will never change, i will always be a rape victim, survivor. but being a survivor has never been so painful. i feel like a victim over and over every single day.
this movie inspired me to not hide anymore. i am so scared but i know i need to heal. i want to help others who feel alone. because it is the worst feeling ever. but i need to learn to heal and move on and be happy with life myself first. although my attackers are all still out there with their families, and they are happy, and they can be free, i need to be happy too. they took my life from me and i want it back. they can move on. they probably don’t think about me ever but their names are names i will never ever forget.
my ex has haunted me, and i have ran into him a few times where then it has turned bad. he calls me names in public, starts a scene, follows me, stalks me, threatens me, and tried to hit me with his car in a parking lot. he has even assaulted other boyfriends and my husband, which obviously is the reason my relationships failed but not with my husband. he knows it’s not my fault but even sometimes i feel like he is thinking the opposite. “dammit, you shouldn’t have lived such a life because now you have such pain….” but i can’t change any of it. if i wouldn’t have made those mistakes, i wouldn’t have met my husband and had my beautiful son.
the first man that raped me that i thought was dead but was not, has actually died now. he overdosed on heroine last year and i saw the actual obituary this time. so i know he is dead for good. but my ex boyfriend got married and had three kids, but is now on trial for abusing his wife while she was pregnant. i blame myself for that too.
the other friend of his is married and has a son. they are happy. it sickens me to hear their names, see their faces, or if i even get wiffs of smells or fragrances of them. if i see a car that looks like theirs, or hear certain voices. sometimes somebody can look like them and i freak out and walk the other direction. it’s a terrifying life i life and i hate it. i wish i wasn’t me. i struggle with depression and anxiety and ptsd with flashbacks and nightmares. i take medication now for it and i believe i will get better… hopefully one day. but this is my past. it will never change. their names are names i will never forget.

— Danielle, age 22

1 comment

  • Alissa Ackerman


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