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Taking Back My Life

5 1/2 years ago, I was raped by someone I had hoped to have a relationship with. This is my first time sharing my story in a public forum, outside of therapy or close family or friends. We had been dating for a few months when he told me he didn want to see me anymore. I accepted it, and shortly after, perhaps later that week, I got a phone call from him. I didn want to talk to him, but still I answered. He wanted to come over and I told him no – I reminded him he broke up with me. I told him no, and he didn’t listen. In retrospect that was a big red flag. He showed up uninvited. I opened the door but told him I wanted him to leave. I felt unsettled. What was happening didn’t feel right, but at that moment I wasn’t scared – I was annoyed. He said if I just let him in for a minute, he would leave. It didn’t make sense, but I did let him in. He sat on the couch. Annoyed, I refused to sit and let him sit for a few minutes. Then I reminded him he said he was going to leave. Then he seemed annoyed, like I was bothering him and said if I just sat next to him, then he would leave. I sat down, and again asked him to leave. I was starting to get nervous. I had never been in this sort of situation and I had never seen this person annoyed or mad – I had no frame of reference to predict how he might act or react. Also, it seemed he was either drunk or under the influence of something. Things progressed from there in similar fashion. I made the comment that I could call the police and they could make him leave. He said he bet no one in my building would react if they heard me scream. An odd thing to say, I thought. Eventually we were in my room. Thats when he started trying to kiss me and touch me. I pushed him away every time and told him I didn’t even want him there. At some point he removed his pants and to my shock, he was wearing a diaper. At that moment I began to panic. My heart was racing and I was finally really afraid. I finally realized that things had escalated to something I didn’t know how to deal with. I realized I didn’t know who I was dealing with. I tried to think of a way out of my room but there was only one entrance and exit. I considered that there was the balcony and played thru my mind what that would look like. Would I get stuck out there? Would i have to jump? Would I be okay if I jumped? I had no neighbors behind me – just a pond. I realized my cell phone was in another room, I wondered if I could make an excuse to get to the bathroom and maybe get my cell phone. I wondered if he would hurt me, if I did try to get out or call the police. While my mind was racing he had gotten on top of me and I was handcuffed. I told myself that this was bad but I was going to be okay. I remember thinking I would do whatever it took to help myself heal. I knew he was going to rape me, and he did. I tried to move and block him from being able to enter me. I remember telling him he was a horrible person, that he knew what he was doing, that I couldn’t believe he would do this. He didn’t react. Not with words, not with his eyes – nothing. I’m not sure how long it lasted, but from his expression it was like I wasn’t even there. When it was over he rolled his eyes and un handcuffed me. He couldn’t believe I was crying. I asked him what was wrong with him – he thought I was being dramatic. He told me he was going to stay the night but sleep on the couch because I had rejected him. It was the most bizarre thing. I was incredibly confused. I don’t remember much but eventually telling him he had to leave. This time, he said he would. Then said I had to drive him home because he hadn’t driven himself to my place. Couldn’t I tell he was drunk he asked. I didn’t know what to do. The idea of driving my rapist home was preposterous. But I played through the scenarios and I wanted him out – this seemed like the quickest way. So I drove him home and in the drivers sit in control. I yelled at him. I told him what he had done. I threatened to crash the car. He said he didn’t understand why I was so mad. I dropped him off and driving away I called him and told him I was going to the police. He cried and begged me not to. By the time I got home I decided not to for: I had heard horror stories of how police treat victims; I was afraid people would find out; I was embarrassed; I was confused; was I really raped?; what was rape?; and finally I thought if I called the police I might ruin his life. I didn’t consider MY life, my feelings I considered his. And I chose to protect him instead of myself. I told myself that I would live with it and let him move on. I did this for about 4 months. In that 4 months I suffered health problems; I began clenching my jaw and developed TMJ; I had nightmares; I quit my job; I quickly became overwhelmed in public places and often burst into tears; I started sleeping all day and going out at night to avoid people; I started cutting myself to divert the pain; I used alcohol for my anxiety and on and on. I would often cry myself to sleep and began thinking that I may be responsible for someone else getting raped. I finally called the police and made a report. It wasn’t easy but it was my first step in healing. The police could have been better and more sensitive but I got through it. The worst was over. They were largely dismissive especially due to the amount of time that had passed. I contacted local non profit agencies to help me with the police and they did so freely. I contacted a lawyer that deals with sexual assault civil cases and had her draft a demand letter – I never sent it, but this too helped my heal and helped me express my anger. Having my experience in words, in the demand letter and in the police report helped validate my experience. When I read it I knew without a doubt that yes I had been raped. I was a rape victim. I told my sister and just a few friends. The majority were supportive. Through one of the local non profits I found a phenomenal therapist that I saw every week for two years. My rapist wasn’t punished, at least not through the justice system, I don’t know what his life looks like today. I thought I would think about him every day – I don’t. On the one year anniversary I mailed the police department a letter, explaining the devastating effects of rape, explaining why I as a victim behaved the way I did. I needed them to understand that just another night for them, was hell for me.; that I mattered and am someone to somebody even if I was no one to them. I understood their decision. I understood I wasn’t the “perfect” victim, but I wanted them to understand the psyche of a rape victim. I wanted them to have the tools to treat the next victim more gently. Today I am happy, I am healthy and I am thankfully, not the same person I was. The decisions I made after this experience made me stronger. I thought there was no hope left in life – I thought I was done and doomed – There are so many blessings waiting if you take care of yourself and listen to what you need to heal – only you can know.

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