Thirteen years ago, that date changed everything, even though I didn’t realize it until months later.
At 24 year-old, I was a virgin. My best friend’s husband had a childhood best friend, who had been talking on the phone with me for a few months, when everyone pitched in to buy me a plane ticket to go meet him in person. I spent a week, staying where he lived with his mom, while saving up money to buy a place for himself and his two-year old son. In hindsight, there were so many red flags, but I trusted my friends, and I’d also recently been disowned by my dad, who has Narcissistic Personality Disorder. This guy said everything I’d needed to hear, and couldn’t stop gushing about how great it was to find a “nice, Christian girl”.
The last night I was there, we kissed and started making out a little, but I eventually pushed him off of me, and said I wasn’t ready for anything more. When I remember that night, that was the end of it, and then it was morning, and I was getting on a plane, to go back to living with my friends.
Fast-forward a month, and he calls and asks me to move in, because he just got full custody and needs help, and my little bleeding heart, wanting a place to belong, and being way too damn naive, bought a plane ticket. I thought that his mom living there, and having my own bedroom, would make it okay.
About a week after I moved in, I realized I’d missed two periods, and mentioned it to a female friend of his. She talked me into taking a pregnancy test, at Wal-Mart, of all places, and I figured I’d humor her, cracking a joke about virgins getting pregnant.
It came back positive.
It’s impossible to describe everything that went through my mind. I swore the girl to secrecy, and didn’t mention it to him. It wasn’t possible. The test had to be wrong.
I stayed in that place of delusion until the day he raped me while I was concious.
I can’t write the details of it, like so many other survivors have, here. I have to separate out just the facts of the events after that day. I should have left, then. I should have gone home, 3,000 miles away. But this was the best friend of a couple who was my entire support system, and prior to knowing them, I’d been homeless. I had nothing. I felt like I was nothing.
After that night, I told him I was pregnant. I showed him my protruding abdomen. He said I was crazy. I was tricking my body into thinking I was pregnant, because I wanted to be with him so badly. He wouldn’t allow me to go to the doctor. I never left the house, unless it was with him or his female friend.
Two weeks later, he stood outside the bathroom while I screamed for help, pleading with him to take me to the ER, while I miscarried at 14 weeks.
After that, he didn’t even try to hide how much of a monster he truly was. His mom wasn’t much better. He’d rape me in front of his son. I’d wake up with him inside me. I had a seizure disorder, and took medication, which he would pick up from the pharmacy. I didn’t know until years later (He told my best friend’s husband), but he switched out my medication for something else. When I started having seizures again, he’d rape me after a seizure, before I was fully awake. It didn’t matter that I cried, that I begged him to stop, that I’d crawl to the bathroom after, and hide. He told me it was just sex, that I owed him, for living there.
After a second miscarriage and a weeklong hospitalization, following a seizure on the side of a highway, where someone driving by called an ambulance, I left.
I’d like to say that I somehow found the strength to stand up to him, and say enough, but the reality is that my mom called, and said she was starting chemo for leukemia. A friend bought me a plane ticket, and I left behind everything that didn’t fit in my suitcase and carry-on. I never went back.
The road back to living again was tougher than words can describe. My mom passed a month after I came home. I decided to stay in that town, and got scholarships for college, studying psychology. A course on women and violence opened my eyes to the abuse cycle that had occurred, and helped toward understanding how my abusive childhood helped pave the way towards seeing the way he treated me as normal. I met an incredible man, whom I married, and we’ve been together 11 years, and have an amazing son. My husband went to my counselor, who specializes in sexual abuse, with me, and helped provide the freedom and support I needed, to start the healing process. I developed healthy friendships, and relationships with my husband’s family, and decided to go no-contact with my father. I am a teacher’s assistant, focusing on working with students who are dealing with trauma and/or developmental delays, and while some aspects of work occasionally hit too close to home, I’ve learned to have a balance, and give my emotions a time and place to be let out in healthy ways. I make jewelry, paint and write, as ways to heal and process, as well.
I will never truly know what happened that first night, on November 18th – if I blocked it out, was raped while I slept, or if I had a seizure. Many of the other nights are still quite vivid, though. Those memories, and the pain they bring, are still there. I think they always will be, to one degree or another. Most of the time, I’m alright with that, because they are a large part of what has made me the person I am today, and I’m proud of who I am. He doesn’t get the satisfaction of winning, or asserting control over me. I am not his victim. I’m a survivor. I am strong. I am healing. I am Brave.
— Survivor, age 37