I just finished watching this wonderful story and I was encouraged to, for the first time, speak publicly (albeit anonymously) about my rape at age 19.
I’m now 37 years old and in a relationship with a wonderful man but I am wondering if my coping mechanisms at the time when I was a vulnerable young adult might have caused me to suppress my ordeal and hence I haven’t been able to properly heal.
In 1996 I was already involved with my first boyfriend for 3 years. I had just moved out from my mom’s house a year earlier and was working, grabbing life with both hands and having fun with my friends and younger sister. One evening we w=all went to a young adults club and a girl friend introduced me to another friend of hers. We chatted throughout the evening and then a bit later, he asked me to accompany him home (about 10 minutes away) to pick up something.
Since he was friends with my friend, I felt safe enough and so I went. To my horror, he didn’t go home but stopped us in an open field and raped me. I still remember the cold grip of fear that coursed through me during the act, especially when he threatened that if I screamed, he would call out to his other friends and have them take their turn as well.
Inexplicably, I went back with him to the club and rejoined my friends acting as normally as possible. A few days later I realized that I had an STD. A week later I saw him again at the same club and when he tried to create a scene (saying we had sex and I had given him something) my boyfriend’s brother and his friends intervened – not knowing anything about the story – and he left me alone. A few weeks later I discovered I was pregnant.
My boyfriend and I were just discussing moving in together and getting more serious but because I couldn’t tell whether the baby was his, I made the very painful decision to terminate the pregnancy. To this day he thinks the baby was his and from time to time we reminisce about our son/daughter who would’ve been x number of years old now. In my mind, it was a very practical decision because 1, I wasn’t ready to be a mother; 2, I didn’t know who the father was and I thought it grossly unfair that I would put that burden on my boyfriend at the time; 3, there was never any thought in my mind that I needed to tell someone, not even my mom because I know I would be blamed for this.
To be honest, as a woman from the Caribbean, it is very easy to hide from situations such as these because we have seen the stigma attached to persons who have been victims of rape. There is no way that I would want to put my face to this story just for the sheer shame associated with something which I know was not my fault. I still wish him dead but I don’t dwell so much on that part of my past. TO be honest, I think because in my mind I “handled” it, it’s not a huge deal for me anymore.
I don’t think it affects my relationship with men, but I’ve been thinking that I might want to tell my boyfriend about it. It worries me that he might reject me at the end of that, but, we are very open with each other and I think this might be hindering our emotional connectedness if I’m not completely honest.
Thanks a lot for the encouragement and the inspiration that you give to women everyday. and I’m also grateful to the women who very courageously tell their stories so those of us who aren’t so brave can still get the word out vicariously through them.