*Trigger Warning: Self injury, sexual abuse. Please take care of yourself when reading, make sure you are in a strong place/being supported.*
When I was newly 19, I was not thinking about College or University. I was not picking courses or working a steady job. I was living on the couch of a family I knew, whom had dubbed me, for better or worse, their “couch-surfing teenager.”
I had been cutting myself regularly, almost daily, in fact. I had carved the word “ALONE” into my arm, and I was attending a recovery program called “Celebrate Recovery” at a local Alliance Church. I am pretty sure I was the only one there under 30….and the only one there because of Self Injury. On the outside, it looked like that family were saints for taking me in. I looked like an emotional basket case, a psycho, a hopeless addict who was ruining their lives. And perhaps I was all those things, it certainly seemed so. There were fights, there were times where things got physical. There was an occasion when the bathroom door was flung open, and I went flying and crashed into the tub, and ended up huddled on the floor, hyperventilating in a ball. I was accused of “theatrics,” while I was struggling with reliving a similar situation from my childhood. Of course, I understood her reaction, as did everyone else. She was overwhelmed, and I clearly needed more help than she knew how to give.
What no one knew, was what was happening behind closed doors.
It started one day when I was trying to run out the door with a knife. I had been told they would not allow me to cut under their roof, so I had been sneaking out to a park bench to cut. I wanted to stop, desperately, but I could see no way out. I struggled almost daily just to breathe, I fought the voices in my head, tooth and nail, just to stay alive, to not just end everything. Cutting was the only way that I could think to make that happen, while also screaming physically to everyone around me, “I am hurting! I am drowning! Please help me! Please care! Show me I am worth saving!”
They did not understand this. They thought I was Crazy. Theatrical. Possessed.
The woman, “G,” was sleeping in her room. She was sick, if I remember correctly. The husband, “J,” was awake, and saw me trying to sneak out. He stopped me, demanded to know what was behind my back. He asked me to give him the blade. I said no.
He did not take no for an answer.
He lunged for me, hand around my back. The next thing I knew, his mouth was on my cheek.
Except, it was open. The kiss may have appeared innocent, but it felt wrong. Seductive. Dirty. The “kiss,” involved a tongue.
I froze. It worked, I suppose, in that he was able to take the knife away, as my body went limp. I was confused, my head was spinning. The only clear fact that remained, was that this man, whim I had seen as a protector, had now become just like all the other men.
The ones who had used friendship and trust as a means to and end. Like my arm said, I was alone. I let him hug me, and that was the end of that occasion.
It was early morning, and through the blur of half asleep fog, I saw J on his way into the kitchen, getting ready to leave for work. He stopped and stared at me. I pretended to still be asleep, hoping to avoid a conversation, as I was not in the mood.
He climbed on top of me, and laid there. Once again, I froze. The only language I understood in those days was, play dead. Maybe if I played dead, he would go away. I know better now, and I strive everyday to make sure others know that too.
As his hand slides around my back, in what he would later claim was a “hug,” I had the idea to act as if I was just waking up. I stirred and let out a mumble, and he jumped up as if he had caught fire. I said nothing to him, and he said nothing to me. What could I say?! I had nowhere to go.
Later that day, J started acting strange. When G finally asked him about his quiet, strange restlessness, he asked to speak to her privately. I was told to stay there and distract their two young children.
When G finally came back, she was angry ..but not at her husband.
She told me I had a spirit of seduction following me around that I needed to have cast out of me. She claimed this “spirit” was making me appear helpless to men, win their sympathy, and eventually get them to sleep with me.
Essentially, I was a whore, but it wasn’t my fault…it was the devil’s. I needed to find somewhere else to go, because her husband was just too vulnerable. I eventually got away from them, with the help of another family. Yet, that ugly label has continued to haunt me, and I continue to be falsely accused.
Many people I know think this man is a hero. You see, this man is very actively pro life. It is wrapped up in almost every part of his life. It consumes him, like the whale consumed Captain Ahab. He sang about it, spoke about it, wrote a documentary about it…
When I started getting physical with my not-quite-boyfriend, his first reaction was, “She could have gotten pregnant!” And yet, he himself tried to sleep with me. At least the guy I was with had the decency to stop when he saw I was under duress, and could not consent. Not only that, he was actually my age, not old enough to be my father.
That was the only role I had ever seen this man in: a father figure, and his wife, a mom. I had felt like a big sister to their kids, but they were beginning to resent me. Perhaps they seemed the tension, heard their parents talking, and thought I was to blame. Whatever the case, his pro life ideals were “the big picture,” and they made it clear at one point that I was a distraction, and they had to get back to “the business of saving lives.” I was not currently in a crisis pregnancy, so I was not part of that plan.
Now, I come to today. I have seen this man argue on a mutual friends’ timeline that the women’s march was wrong and misguided. Because, the unborn.
Never mind the abused women. Never mind the injustice of rape, of assault, of people hating LGBTQ and Muslim’s, never mind the wage gap. No, the “only issue” worth talking about was abortion. I actually started to confront him, but he erased everything he wrote in reply. He scolded me, told me, “That’s Enough,” and “This conversation makes me sad.” Then, he erased every single comment he made.
So, this is where I shall take my stand. This is where I will say, I stand with those women. Yes, I am a mother, and yes, I love my children fiercely. I am a mother, but I am also a woman.
A recovering rape and molestation victim
A human being
He will not take those things away from me. He tried to tell me he understood, but he can’t, and never will. In some ways, I regret continuing to engage with him at all. In other ways, though, I don’t, because it led me to write this.
And in writing this, perhaps I can finally be free.