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Shelter My Soul

Only 13 years old and I had run away from my home. Where my mother would beat me and drag me around the floor because I refused to understand her. I ran away and hitchhiked on the highway right before marathon, 7 mile bridge. A man stopped and asked me if I wanted a ride. Indeed I did with such adrenaline and innocence. I believe in my heart this man was no threat. I was wrong he drove slow on the 7 mile bridge and asked me for a favor. I didn’t understand what he meant but he said 100 dollars and hearing that all I can think of is money for me to buy clothes or eat food. Of course he placed his right hand on my left knee. It is so vivid because what I was feeling at that moment is that I did not understand at all. Why does his hand feel clammy and icky? Why all of a sudden I can hear him breathing. No at no point did I think he was going to rape me because I did not understand that. I was a virgin. What the hell is sex? I shook my head and was almost going to burst into tears. That’s when he dropped me off in the middle of the 7 mile bridge. I got out and he drove off. He stopped while ahead and then backed up and said he will give me a lift to next town. I accepted. Still not understanding the devastation of my choices. I hate myself for not caring, for not choosing to be afraid. I was supposed to be afraid. All I feel is disgust in how I didn’t care of what the future can hold of my actions. But he did not rape me he dropped me off. You can see his guilt and the perversion that I could not wrap my mind around was fading. There was this scent I can smell from his nostrils and I can’t explain it it’s the same in any encounter I am in. It could be the hormone…I don’t know. I was a constant runaway and my story is larger than this but for now it’s about this pain that eats at me. 13 years old and my first encounter with a pervert didn’t scare me enough but encourage my curiosity. Because of my run aways. I was sent to the children’s shelter in the keys. I was attending the school there until several high school boys held me down and ripped my shirt off and put their hands inside me. My bottom was wet but in a strange icky nonstop supply of wet. My feelings were terribly hurt and I was terrified to go to school. I became truant and at this time truant added to your time in the shelter. I lived in Florida. The director ended up sending me away to another shelter called the bridge. The most terrible place I could have ever been too of my life. I was still a virgin and I never had sex. I was 13 years old at that point I was desiring sex because I’d hear about it. Sex was painted on walls and admired. Woman were painted beautifully because of sex. While in the Shelter which was located in homestead, I had refused to eat. I was terrified to eat. I don’t know why. When it was time to do chores, I cleaned the bathroom where a boy pulled me in the bathroom and started grabbing my little breast I had. I was silent and just observing what he was doing. I don’t understand why I froze. I simply just did not try to stop him…I hate myself for this because I always do it and I don’t know why I do. A staff member came and the boy removed his hands from my shirt. When he left I dropped to my knees and started crying because I say I would defend myself but when something happens I just freeze like an idiot. I went to lay down on a couch. This was several days later. I had fallen asleep and awoke with a boy on top of me. He was rubbing his private part on my bottom and I didn’t do anything. I turned my head and pretended I was asleep. I kept telling myself hurry up, hurry up. So that it can be over so I can be alone. A fool I am that I did nothing once again. These boys treat me like how I felt about myself, like nothing. My mother treating me like worthless shit and of course these guys feel the same way she does. The next day I met a girl in the shelter and she asked me if I would love to run away. I’m 13 years old, it’s the year 2001, and I was at the Miami Bridge located in homestead. I chose to run away.

She brought me to a house where I and she were side by side. And there were about 5 men. Of course much older than us. They poured us drinks and passed around the blunt they rolled. I was laughing and feeling good but it was happening to fast. I was getting drowsy. Then bam my life at that moment blacked out. I woke up but I can only move my eyes. My body felt dead and powerless. A man was over my head with his penis in my mouth. I was frozen and yet was frozen even if I was forced to be frozen. I soon passed out again. I couldn’t move my lips. They were as dead as my soul in that very moment. I can hear porn and a man whispering “can she do this”. But it wasn’t clear It just sound like they were comparing. I knew it was porn because the boyfriends of my mother would sit in the room on the bed and put on porn. We would watch it together. So those sounds of background music with moaning and slapping sounds is what I heard in the back ground. I had woke up again. I’m not sure what day it is or time but I know that I had no clothes on and 2 men put a bottle inside me. I can feel pain and sharp burning and something very hot in between my legs. There was a huge burning sensation. I told them stop and they replied to me “ok I’m sorry”
I could never move. I’d simply just wake up and have a bit of strength to say a few words and go back to sleep. What’s worse is that I would wake up not feeling them raping me. I would see it. How he was looking into my eyes and I wanted to cry but I couldn’t cry. Whatever I drank or smoked has trapped me in this cycle. I’d see pubic hair as I looked up and id fall asleep instantly but with what I saw I buried in my mind as fast as I could. Almost as if my soul did it without my permission. Like it was trying to protect me. In a moment I wanted to die but then instantly that emotion erased from my mind. I couldn’t cry or be upset all I simply did was fall back asleep.

I woke up again and looked around. This time I can actually feel the fabric under my skin and it felt like I was on a stage. I had to really look this up in my future because this fabric I felt was the rough fabric you would put on speaker systems and huge amps. I was lying on the floor and while I can feel myself on the floor I could not speak or move. An overweight man came in and I swear I couldn’t even feel. I could not freaking feel upset or sad or scared. I don’t know what was wrong with me but I should have been terrified. I couldn’t be terrified. It felt like it was night time but how would I know. It was dark in the room I was in and there was a floor lamp. I was in a daze but I know that a florescent light aimed towards the ceiling and the texture and fabric I felt under my skin. It was hard to believe but I knew I was naked and not sure if I’m alive or dead but I tried to pray that I go to sleep and forget. That’s all I needed to survive. The man got on top of me and he was very heaving where I was having a hard time catching my breath. I went to sleep. He then came in a second time and I could feel his heaviness a lot stronger. I tried so hard to get words out but I couldn’t say anything I was too exhausted and drained. From god knows what. I knew I was drugged but I can’t remember how I was. He came in a third time he got on top of me and proceeded to rape me. Was it rape? I didn’t fight. I ended up saying no and for some reason I was strong enough to say no. He said sorry and left me alone. He just said sorry. He told me sorry and I can’t fathom why he said sorry knowing what he has done to me. I turned over and went to sleep it felt like a nightmare and for sure it would end.

I woke up again and noticed I was in a bed with the wall and corner on my left side. My eyes were aware and men were in an out on me. One man put his hands on my eyes I was relieved because it helped me cry. I haven’t been able to let tears out. Every time I shut my eyes I wake up in a different place. And time has gone by, I was a runaway…from the bridge. And the fears of many came true. I wanted to go home but the hate I had for my mom wasn’t enough for me to fight.

I woke up and the guys that were watching me were watching TV. There was a red banner, and it was the news station. I didn’t know at the time but it was the September 11th, 2001. I’d tell myself today. While I was being raped and drugged people were dying. How could I complain or be in pain still.

I woke up again and I heard Spanish conversations around me. I was lying in a bed and I was able to move better this time. I truly felt able to get up. A man came inside, his name was Francisco. He grabbed me with both his hands and dragged me to bathroom and he showered me. I didn’t cry or scream or anything…who would come to help me? No one. HE picked me up from the bath and raped me and this time it hurt. I could feel the ache and soreness from inside me. It hurt so bad that id scream. I couldn’t help it. He slapped me and asked me why I’d scream. I said it hurts really badly. And he didn’t care he faced me on the ground and raped me with my face on the floor. What was the point of the shower? I kept thinking that. Then he left. I put on my clothes that I have been wearing since. I don’t remember. But my shirt was a Horace o Bryant middle school shirt and it was the color green. And my shoes were slip on clogs, and my pants they were dark f aded purple jeans. It’s crazy how I remember that. It was the safest moment I felt when the door was locked and I was putting on my own clothes…and I was alone. My hair was pouring wet. I walked outside and I started seeing more men coming into Francisco’s house. I looked around and saw a back door. My heart pounded. I wanted to leave but I didn’t know where to go. I left anyways. And I ran. I ran as fast as I could. A police officer who saw me running chased me down. I got into the cop car and he asked me questions like my name an age. I gave him a fake name and age. And he tried to have a talk with me about prostitution and living on the street. He thought I was a prostitute. All I can think of is that what I am now? I got out and became afraid if he drove off that it would be my last. I threw a rock and he backed towards me. He was pissed off at me I can feel it cause he yelled at me. I admitted everything. I said I was 13 and from the BRIDGE in homestead. He brought me back and the bridge refused me because I wasn’t in their files. They deleted me. They put me in the garbage. Like I was just some dead girl who is never coming back. The cop yelled at the staff and threatened her. I was a minor and have nowhere to go. So I was brought back in. The world was different now. It was like I can see what these girls see. What sex is and what everyone faces but only in the shadows is where we face it. I answered a questionnaire after a staff member woke me up from a 105 fever in my bed. The answer I wrote down for the questionnaire brought hell on the shelter. The next morning detectives, police department and the director of the shelter came in. The police officers were asking me questions I couldn’t understand. And wanted to take me back to where these men raped me. They asked me what they looked like and I said black…They started laughing at me like it was a joke. Because the officer was also black. But I’m not racist and I promise these men who raped and stole my peace were black men and Mexican men and they controlled woman but not any woman. Young girls. During my time with these men I overheard one saying I was a princess. I asked the girl I had ran away with what that means and she said that means underage. The girl I ran away with disappeared. She was beat up a couple times that I can remember but those moments never lasted long enough for me. It’s all in pieces for me. I showed the police the spots I remember that these men would gather up and do their dealings. I think I asked for this. I ran away and I paid for it. Maybe it was better to let my mom beat me up and hate me then now live with real hate every day. I was taken to rape treatment center in Miami but I couldn’t go forward with it. They were cold and serious and I can feel. I can feel anger and humiliation and hate. I couldn’t look at any one’s eyes longer then a second. I felt every quest ion I was asked was a demand. And I can feel it. Before I couldn’t feel it. I was on drugs. I couldn’t feel choices. But at that moment I could feel words like a trigger of pain. The doctor told me to take my clothes of and I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t do it. If I did maybe I could’ve caught who raped me. All I have is blurry faces in my flashbacks….my dreams and I have them when I’m awake while in conversation. The detective who drove me to RTC-Rape Treatment Center took me to homestead to release me into my mom’s custody. I went home to Key West which is where we lived originally. As I was detoxing I started feeling everything. Pain in urination, pain in my throat. I had to face all this pain that was hidden while it was happening. My mom took me to lower keys Medical center. I had several STD’s and gonorrhea in my throat and an STD that I have to live with everyday till I die. I was 13 years old with diseases, urinary tract infection and damaged urethra and vaginal opening. Two years went by and I was in extensive therapy. I was assigned a jpo, Cins/fins, dcf, there was 6 total agencies on my case…believe I have the proof. I opened up to one of my case managers. He was in a wheel chair. As an adult I confiscated all my paperwork and court hearings and cases to read what I couldn’t read as a minor and the man in the wheel chair. Used my disease as a means to lock me up and my mother was contacted by police to talk about the rapes and she sent them away. My case worker who I opened up to wrote that I bragged about having sex with 10 different men. As an adult reading this I couldn’t believe how I had no say or anyone defending me, not even my mother. Within those 2 years I was sentenced to 8 different programs with intensive therapy. I wasn’t diagnosed I was just always being treated. I was sent to Excel in Kendal, FL where a man named Willy who was the staff there was molesting the girls there. The director offered me and other girls an option to leave. I chose (JARF) Juvenile Addictions Receiving Facility. Where then I was placed down stairs to be hospitalized in the newly S.I.P.P program. I was 15 when I got out of these programs and started school in 9th grade. While being out in an aftercare program I was also placed in drug court program. My first year of high school and I was set on track, still PTSD but I was better. My mom dropped me off at the movies. Little did I know there was a man watching me? I know this because after 2 weeks since the movies he told me. He called me on my mom’s phone. My mom was and under the table business woman who helps immigrants and those who need help. Getting her number wasn’t hard. This man his name is Jean, he was 26 at the time. He would follow me while I was walking in Stock Island coming from burger king. He grabbed me and told me he would hurt my mom. But that threat was scary to m e because I hate my mother…and he then started saying he would hurt my grandmother, who I dearly love. And see threats aren’t terrifying what terrified me into submission was the details of my life he was telling me. He said my mom’s number, my address, the car my mom drives so I froze and he took me to a place and raped me. I couldn’t look at him. His penis was very small so feeling it in me wasn’t as painful, it was just disgusting and I wanted my bed and my home. He drove me to the park and that’s when a police officer found us and consoled him. I was taken home. He was arrested and restraining orders were placed. He was later departed back to his country. Still to this day he looks for me. I stay hidden because of him. At the same time in my life after I put that monster in jail and he was departed I still went to high school. I was in 9th grade still and still 15 I had missed the bus to get home. I was in front of the high school calling my mom but she was at work still till 5pm. Then my cousin stopped his car and asked if he can give me a ride to my grandmother’s house. He called her Fela, which only close family would. So I trusted him. No one in my family is bad. Or so I thought. He was driving towards the beach. I told him he is going the wrong way and he wouldn’t listen to me. He parked somewhere in a parking lot. I don’t know where because my mind was racing and I’m confused. He tried to kiss me and I fought him off a couple times. I can’t believe I fought him off…I never have done that before. But he kept insisting and his kisses were extremely sloppy and it was like he was drooling. Like his spit was stringy and getting in my mouth. I was about to vomit. Then he reached his left arm over me and I tried to get out the car but he shoved me down and pulled the car seat lever to lean me back. Of course I was wearing a skirt because I couldn’t freaking block him from going in. So I stopped fighting before it gets worse. I just turned my head and burst into tears. I can remember everything. The way he raped me the way he just was oblivious to me saying no. like it didn’t matter at all. The world slowed down for me. All I think is “is this my life” it didn’t matter if I thought I was ugly, fat, or gross” Rape is following me. These men don’t care if I’m chunky. The movies make beautiful skinny women get raped. I wasn’t skinny and these men were playing with my body. The thoughts that I could share is too dangerous sometimes even for me to think of. My cousin’s name was Elvin and I ended up telling my high school counselor the next day. He was arrested. I went home and stood up to my mother from years of beatings and mental and physical abuse. I hit her back…..because I said no!!! No more hitting me, no more men raping me, no more no more. She had me arrested and given the traumatic events in my life it didn’t matter if I was a first offender the judge put me away anyways. My life has been ruined and I live with this ruined life.

I’m 27 right now I have spent the last 10 years putting together all my missing puzzle pieces. From my first rape I don’t remember ever using the bathroom. Did I pee my pants, pee the bed. Sometimes my memories are mixed in my dreams and I wake up thinking its real. I can’t see or trust my family ever again.

I created a life, a blessing I call my own and she is 9 years old and she is my light, my peace, my damn serenity. I try hard to hide my pain from her but at times it bleeds out and she sees me in my darkness. She comes and gives me a hug and tells me that it’s ok. She has such a big heart. Every day I face terrors in my mind because of my past and every day I have to wear my cape and become my heroine to my dark evil. I don’t know how to heal from this but my life is a bit better than it was and it lives with me presently every day. All I could say is I’m used to it and I cry every week, every year, no matter what. But that’s it. I don’t kill people, I don’t be racist, I don’t hit my child, I don’t hurt myself. I would’ve thought that my life should be that way but for some reason it isn’t. This pain is a disease I can only talk about it, there’s no cure, and it just can be treated. Well that’s my story. I mean there is more to it but it’s so much and to be frank I am very exhausted, I tried to skim over all these events without digging too deep into it.

– Natasha
Age 27

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