Friday, February 3, 2017

the tough stuff, and why i'm not a wimp after all

"Rape: unlawful sexual intercourse or any other sexual penetration of the vagina, anus, mouth of another person, with or without force, by a sex organ, other body part, or foreign object, without the consent of the victim."

I decided quite a few weeks ago that it was time to tell my story. I went to see a V-Day production, and after curtain call they asked any survivors of abuse to stand up. For the first time, I had the guts to stand. The whole show I had managed to hold in my tears, but when I stood, I cried. Another participant of the show said it is part of the healing process to share your story, or at least to write your story down. I knew it was time for me to record what happened, to put it into writing if I couldn't say it out loud. I have felt so much guilt over the years, and also downplayed what happened because it didn't happen to me the way it happened to other people, but that doesn't make it any less horrible. Which is why I began this blog with the definition, in case the reader forgets exactly what it means to be raped.

Strong, independent woman. This is what I wanted to be. This is what I still would like to be. I also felt, at a younger age, that women were always made to feel ashamed for enjoying sex. Women were called sluts if they were promiscuous, but men could run around all they wanted and nobody thought twice about it. This is unfair, to me. I wanted to be a strong, independent woman with an healthy sex drive, and so I was trying to live a life I thought would lead me in that direction, but the inner shell of who I was did not create a good foundation for what I was facing, and I didn't have the strength I needed to continue with the independence or the healthy sex life. 

I was abused as a child. Physically and emotionally. I was disciplined for reasons I never understood (there was never a real reason), and roughly spanked many times for no reason at all. I can remember walking into the abuser's kitchen when I was little enough to still wear a diaper and being yanked up and spanked and being so confused, because I had no idea what I did wrong: I just walked into the room! I trusted this adult- and as a child you always trusted that the adults knew better and knew what was best for you, so if you got spanked, then you must have done something bad. I have a very foggy memory of being yanked up so roughly by one arm that my arm actually popped out of it's socket. My abuser got in my face and informed me that I was nothing, and that I would always be nothing, so I might as well not even try. Well, I was just a child, and this adult was telling me I was nothing, and adults know more than children, so why would I believe otherwise? Why would I ever think, at such a young age, that an adult could be wrong? That was unimaginable at that age. So I grew up thinking I was stupid, and unwanted, and nothing. What a great foundation to build a strong, independent woman.

Something in my head also told me that if a man wanted to have sex with me, then it must mean I was beautiful, and desirable. I desperately needed to feel wanted, to be accepted. I knew sex could be just sex, and I wanted to be that woman with a healthy sex drive, but I also had this other side of me that thought if I gave a man what he wanted, and if he wanted to have sex with me, then I was not as worthless as I had thought my whole life, and that in turn would help me become a stronger, independent woman. Never mind that I was also meeting men who were not interested in assisting in the creation of a strong, independent woman. The sex drive they were interested in, though. And then I met Blake.

Blake was fifteen years older than me. He was my neighbor, and I really only started hanging out with him because I was bored. What a beautiful beginning. Blake was unemployed when I first met him, and he spent a lot of time wearing sweatpants and drinking beer. I had moved back to Utah from Florida, and was missing my social life (and sexual life) and Blake was.... present. He was a perfect gentleman, when he was sober.

He wasn't sober very often.

We didn't spend time together like a normal couple. Blake really only ever called me when he wanted sex. I was just happy to have a man interested in me, so I didn't think about it. We would drink beer and watch a movie, then roll around and he would let me stay the night. I started to learn that Blake liked sex a little more rough than I did. He liked to bite. I didn't like the way the bites felt, but he assured me that I would learn to like it, after some time. So he kept on biting and when I tried to push him away, he was stronger than me. He kept biting. I would end up with huge bruises on my stomach, breasts, and neck. He bragged that he once bit a woman so hard he drew blood, and I hoped that wouldn't happen to me. I had to go to work and face my roommates with these horrible "love bites" that looked more like domestic violence remains and assured them that it was all in good fun. I really did think I would start to enjoy rough sex over time; kinky was part of being a strong women with a healthy sex drive, right? I thought so, somehow. I was conflicted, though: I thought if somebody cared for another person, they treated them with kindness, not roughness. Yet, some people liked it rough in bed, and that was considered caring... I was pretty conflicted and didn't know what I was supposed to like or not. I did know I was playing with fire, since we weren't using protection, and I wasn't on birth control, but I didn't know how to approach the topic of condoms. I bought a pack and put them in my purse, thinking one day I would bring one out and suggest we use it. I was always too nervous to speak up to him, so that opportunity never presented itself.

I remember one night Blake had purchased a bottle of vodka, and he encouraged me to take a shot. I did, straight out of the bottle, but then he held the bottle up and made me drink more and more until I was dribbling vodka down my chin. I think this was the same night he took a good look at me and said, "If you lost 25 pounds, you would be perfect."

There was another time he was drunk as a skunk and playing with his machete that he kept in his bedroom. He kept waving it around in front of his roommate, but somehow he allowed me to take it away from him. There was also the time he told me I knew nothing about the Beatles because I wasn't alive when they were still a band. I am still a bit confused by this statement. 

He talked me into coming over one night when my cousin was visiting. I told him I couldn't fool around because my cousin was with me and I respected her, and he agreed. We were all watching a movie in his room, he and I were cuddling, and he started to fondle me, with my cousin sitting on the bed with us! I tried to push his hand away and he was stronger than me and wouldn't stop. This was so uncomfortable for me and no doubt was for my cousin as well. I felt horrible for putting her in that position, and that he would disrespect her and me that way.

I still hadn't learned to enjoy the biting. He still bit me. I still tried to push him off when the biting began, and I still didn't have the strength to do so. There were some nights it would hurt so bad that I didn't want him to do anything at all. There was one night in particular where he was really forceful and rough and I told him to stop and get off of me, but he started doing all the movements, and as much as I tried to push him off me, I couldn't. I wasn't strong enough. I finally decided I would just lay there and let him do his thing, and hopefully he would be quick about it so it would be over quickly. It wasn't until years later that I even realized this was considered rape. There were at least two times I can remember where this scenario played out. Why did I keep coming back? I just don't know. I had no self-esteem, and I thought he wanted me, and that meant I was desirable, and maybe a little pretty, and not nothing.

Valentine's Day, 2004. A customer at work said something to the effect of me "being a pretty girl, surely I had plans for Valentine's Day." I had never had a boyfriend for Valentine's Day, and I had always wanted one. So I thought for once I would call Blake and see if we could hang out, instead of waiting for him to call me. He let me come over. We did the usual, drank beer, had sex, only this time was a little different. Usually when we had sex, Blake used the "pull-out method." Not reliable in any way, but I still hadn't had the nerve to ask him to use the condoms I had in my purse. This night, I couldn't tell if he had pulled out or not. Even more strange, he never called me after Valentine's Day.

Fast forward about a month later, and I am having some weird things going on. My nose is so sensitive to smells, especially the cleaning chemicals at work. One morning I ate an apple for breakfast and instantly threw it back up. Yet, I didn't feel sick, at all. I was so confused. I am not even sure what finally made my brain click, but I ended up buying a pregnancy test, and it was positive. I knew right away I was having a baby boy. I just knew. I was also scared out of my mind.

A lot happened. I planned to go to Las Vegas for an abortion, but my friend was being a flake at the time, causing anxiety and doubt in my mind. Then my friend's amazing boyfriend (now her husband) took me to lunch and said all the right things I needed to hear, offering great advice, love, and support. Somewhere deep inside of me I found some courage and went through with the pregnancy. I had to decide if I was going to keep the baby or place the baby for adoption, and I didn't allow any opinions or input from anybody. This was my decision and mine alone. In the end I knew without a single doubt that the best course for this child's life was to place him for adoption. So I did. I still consider him the best decision of my entire life, and the most amazing product of a bad, bad, bad situation. (Yes, I was right about the boy thing.) :) 

I still have many issues I am dealing with due to the abuse I received as a child, and the abuse I received from Stupid Head. He wasn't the only big mistake of a man I allowed into my life, but he was by far the worst. I hope someday I will be able to overcome the emotional damages, perhaps find and afford a really good therapist, but until then, I hope writing my story down will do me some good. Maybe it will help somebody else in the process.

*Note: I believe I began writing this in 2014... now it is 2017 and I am finally having the guts to post the blog. A march for women's rights has happened recently and I feel even more strongly about sharing my story. People think these things happen to only a small number of women, but the shocking truth is rape, domestic violence, and abuse happen to the majority of women in the United States, and I'm sure all over the world. I wasn't a drug addict, I wasn't drug at a college party, I wasn't walking home alone in a rough neighborhood. This happened with somebody I had a relationship with, albeit a rocky and unhealthy relationship. No means no, in any scenario. Even if you think the person saying no is being ridiculous or is teasing or doesn't really mean it. No means STOP. 

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