1) Sometimes you just know it is time. Just like you know it's time to eat or time to sleep or time to go pay a bill. This is my time to say anything and everything I feel inspired to say.
2) I have made peace, so to speak, with what I have been through. I do not have hatred, or resentment, or an immense pain attached to this moment. I know that I was healed through the prayers of my pleading heart and I want to be able to do something to show I am grateful. And how I am going to do that leads into my third point.
3) I want my story, and the not yet finalized outcome of my life, to help others. Not because of things I did to heal, or how I acted after, or what I say and have said to people up to this point, but because I know, with every fiber of my being, that you are NOT alone. I want to inspire people. I want people to know you will make it out of this mess and you will ONE DAY be okay!
4) I truly believe this will be my final step in being able to 100% heal. This really could be my final piece of closure.They always say that helping people, and being open helps you heal. That is so crucial.
So here goes nothing. I just ask anyone that reads this keeps an open mind, and be patient with me as I continue to learn, grow and recover.
On May 17, 2011 I was raped. I was 19 years old.
I had dated Tom* for some time. The relationship was fine, in the sense that he knew what my boundaries were, what I was comfortable with, and what was not acceptable for me. The envelope never got pushed. I wouldn't go as far to say that it was an abusive relationship in the moment, but looking back on it now I can see some serious red flags that should have raised some concern. I used to beat myself up for not seeing those. I used a lot of the phrases like "if you only" and "you should have" and "if you weren't so" but now I see that as a human (let alone a young one and not fully developed mentally), I'm not expected to know all these things. You learn and understand things as you grow with time and create your own experiences, with successes and failures. I was 19, out of high school for two years, and had been in college for a year and a half. In that year and a half my depression and anxiety got so bad I was on a suicide watch and pulled out of school for a medical leave. It was a very dark place and I don't have much recollection of that time. Not to mention adding the adjustment to being away from home, receiving contact from my biological dad's brother for the first time in ten years, having that go south in what felt like 0-60 miles per hour, and struggling with a relationship with my sister who was very dear to me. So with all of that going on (severe depression alone) I cannot expect myself to have been able to recognize those red flags. But they most certainly were there.
Red Flag #1:
There came a point when it became a thing for us to go to Tom's house more than mine. In dating I always made sure to bring my significant others' to my home a lot. It was always so important to me that they knew my parents, and were well acquainted with my brothers who truly are my closest companions (other than my wonderful [now] husband). Establishing those relationships early was a top priority. And 99% of the time people loved being in my home (1% is left out cause no one ever told me they didn't, but hey, you never know). It was a place filled with joy and laughter and a loving spirit. So having this person say we were gonna start spending more time at his house when people were rarely ever there was odd to m
Red Flag #2:
Me having good relationships or speaking to other men "x" amount of times was not okay. It made Tom mad and he became more angry in his voice and actions. He would say, "If you cared about me you'd do it because it makes me uncomfortable when you chill with other men."
I'm a people person. In my heart I am. I love them, genuinely love them. I love the joy people bring to my life and I love having so many friends. In school my best friend was male. We lived in the same building and each apartment had six tenants. Due to us being so close I was naturally close with his other roommates, and therefore close with their friends that would come over. So by default, I had a lot of male friends. My best friend was very near and dear to my heart from the get-go. But even more so when I left school. As I continued to get better, I realized all the things he did for me when we were at college. He'd check on me every morning and night, give me my medications everyday (having them in my possession was too risky), and make sure I was eating. He'd get me out of the house when it'd been too many days inside, and sit in a dark room with me in silence on the days when I literally couldn't do the world anymore. Giving up his friendship was not an option. Yet it was asked. I never gave it up, but I pulled away. Bit by bit. Tom was getting his way.
Red Flag #3:
He started pushing the envelope. I was having to remind him more of what was not okay to me in a physical relationship. And when I told him, he would either get angry and stop with the silent treatment (which is not okay) or coax me with sweet words and pet names to keep going (which is REALLY not okay). He would say things like, "Baby it's okay", "We care about each other that's how it's supposed to work" or, "Baby I love you and it'll be a good time I promise." And although it never worked on me I found myself second guessing my standards or entertaining the idea of a "slip." That scared me to death, but I never did anything to fix it.
I ended our relationship when I was asked to cut all ties with my male friends. To me that wasn't a fair trade, and if that's not something I was willing to sacrifice for my relationship with Tom then that relationship was not one that I cared enough to last. In my eyes, having friends, regardless of the gender and regardless of your seriousness with your significant other is not an issue. It should never be an issue.
I remember the night I brought him over to talk about ending things. It was way more prolonged than necessary. My family was out and we were arguing, which I hate, but what I hate more is ending things on bad terms regardless of the person. It's a weakness and a strength. Even if things didn't work out with him I wanted us to be civil. To still text one or the other and see how they were. I was determined to get it to that point. In reality I should have asked him to leave. Right then, cut him out. But I didn't see it as an issue like I do now. He left my house angry and in a hurry after yelling and him personally taking the gifts and things he'd given me and throwing them away in my own trash can.
I won't lie, I was a mess. I called my mom (who was out of town) and told her what happened. I could hear the relief in her voice (mom's always know when something is not good) but sympathy for my heartbreak. Regardless of our relationship I cared for him and this hurt.
The next day I woke up to texts and missed calls galore. "Baby I'm sorry, I'll be different." "I'll make it better if you take me back." "Miquelle pick up the phone!"
I chose to not answer until I called him that night. I told him I need some time to think and sort it out and in that time I need him to not call, text, Facebook, or stop by. He wanted to argue and this time I wasn't going to allow it. I was out with my sister at the time and she whispered to me that I don't have to listen to the argument. I politely told him I was going to hang up and he needed to respect that what I wanted. He didn't so I hung up.
At this point I was STILL thinking things could end well. And to my knowledge they did. Tom gave me a three day cool down period and we were friends. Just friends. We still hung out and we still talked, just not as we did before...not as a couple. I thought it was a great solution. He wasn't a member of my church but he was still attending church with me and making friends with my friends. He was still doing things with my brothers and spending time with me and my family. This was good. This was going to work out.
On day my depression was thick. The great thing about depression *sarcasm* is it comes in waves. Some days I am okay and others it's all I can do to get out of bed. This was one of those days. I had been learning in my counseling sessions that on days like that, right when you wake up and can feel it, make plans. Make plans with someone you know will hold you to them. So I called Tom. He didn't come get me till late afternoon but that was okay because I was getting out. His older brother (who I had never met) just had a baby. So we were going to his house to see the baby and just hang out. He lived about 15-20 minutes from me so the drive wasn't long, and conversation was okay. I just didn't like talking much when I was in a mood. We got to his house and, well honestly, I can't tell you much. I don't remember most of it. I think we saw the baby but I know his family was in the house. Tom wanted to watch a movie. This was normal, so we did. This was my second biggest regret on this day. He lived in a small apartment with his parents and little brother and sister. The TV and couch happened to be in in his and his brothers room where his bed also was. This was the usual place for our hangouts. Tom started the movie and a few minutes later he left to use the bathroom, or that's what he said. Thinking about it now, I don't know if that's where he actually went. When he came back he shut the door. I didn't ask why and I didn't find out till later the door had been locked.
I remember the next moments in time in pieces and blurs.
I remember my heart instantly racing as he walked towards me. It beat so hard it physically hurt.
I remember him pushing me over and onto the bed as I asked him what he was doing.
I remember saying "no" and "stop" over and over.
I remember the aggressive behavior that he would exude every time my voice uttered any hint of a word to me begging him to stop. My body tried to fight back once. I got hit. I wanted to do more but it's like my body and mind couldn't communicate anymore—like every time his hands pressed so hard on my chest I couldn't breathe it would sever another brain to body connection transmitter. Every time I felt the pain in my wrists and arms from being pinned it'd sever two more. And every time my head moved I got hit or pinned down harder.
So I shut down.
And I let him finish, holding back my tears.
I couldn't scream, I couldn't move.
I remember being so frustrated, thinking, "I tried but it didn't work", confused as to why my body wouldn't get me out of there like I wanted it to, and completely and utterly terrified, like I'd never known before.
Later down my road of therapy and groups I remembered more. Tom did things and forced me do things that I don't think are necessary to talk about regardless of the audience. The point was I said no. Over and over again.
He finished with me on the bed and got up and told me to put my clothes back on so he could take me home. This was my biggest regret of that day . . . I got in the car with him. The 15 minute ride was the longest ride of my life. There was no conversation and I didn't shed a single tear. My level of shock was probably not record-able on any scale. The only words that were spoken were from Tom. He said, "That was hot." I can hear that in my head clear as day even still.
He dropped me off and I got out of the car and went inside to find my parents gone, and my brothers in the living room. I ran straight upstairs to my room, changed my clothes, laid on my bed and cried and cried. I didn't know what I was doing. The room was spinning, I was having a massive panic attack and I had no idea what to do. I messaged a friend and told them what I thought just happened. At this point I didn't even know, I couldn't wrap my head around the concept. They came to my house and drove me to a nearby gas station where we talked for a minute, I sat there really struggling to find words and they got me a bottle of water. They convinced me to tell my parents and took me back home. I don't remember how long I waited for my parents but eventually they came home. I tried to tell them, just to blurt it out but I really found it so difficult to get it out. My mom thought that I was saying something entirely different, and at that point I fell into her lap sobbing and "I said no so much . . . I said no."
The rest of the night is one huge scary blur. We want to the hospital and police showed up in my room asking a dozen of questions and having me give as much of Tom's info as I had. Doctors hooked me up to machines and ran tests and tried to keep me warm. Later we were at another location, like a hospital. Some young people came in to give me pamphlets and a change of clothes and offered some counseling services. I didn't even comprehend what they said, I couldn't even comprehend where I was. My eyes burned from tears that had now finally escaped my eyes, my whole body hurt, and I just wanted to go home, lay in bed and never come out. But that reality was a long ways away. I was taken to this room with my mom and from there into a bathroom where I could change, pee in a cup and return to the room where my mother and a doctor was waiting. I laid down on the table when they started taking pictures of every bruise and hand print on my body. They performed a full rape kit and took more pictures. I remember that being painful. I had never had sex before so I was already in a lot of pain and the kit wasn't helping. I recall my mom seeing the bruises and damage done to my body and she cried. I think that's when it set in for her.
We got home around 4 am and I had to be at the police station the next morning. My parents tried to get me to eat something so I could take the pills they gave me and I couldn't no matter how hard I tried. I felt too sick. I showered before I crawled into bed. I remember being in that shower for a very long time. I turned the water as hot as my body would allow to try and mask some of the irreplaceable pain that I was feeling. My parents laid there with me for a long time crying and holding me. I don't remember falling asleep but I must have because mom woke me up in the morning.
The police at the station asked me even more questions and had me go into detail and draw things out and kept me in a small lifeless room with a tiny camera in one corner of the ceiling.
The questioning was done and I thought the hard part was over. I was very wrong. They needed a confession from Tom. They needed him to acknowledge what he had done and I was the person to do that. With a break for lunch (which I didn't eat) we moved into office spaces and they hooked my phone and ear up to a device that would record mine and Tom's conversation. The detective had written up a sample of things to say. I had to choose my words carefully. I made the call with my mom holding my shaking hands and I had to sound as normal as possible. I tried to get him to talk about what happened but no bite. Finally I had to say, "Tom, you raped me." He argued, and eventually said "I'm sorry." The detective nodded and I hung up the phone. I broke down into tears and the detective told me how strong I was and how brave I was and that took so much courage. I didn't feel strong or brave or courageous. I felt weak and helpless and broken.
My memory is so clouded from other things. I fell back into severe depression. I had nightmares every night. So many things were triggering. My brothers couldn't even touch me for some time. We told my family and dear friends and people would call or stop by but I didn't do much other than lay in my bed. My favorite was when people would just come into my dark place, when they didn't mind laying in my dark room for hours with me. When they didn't mind my sobbing and yelling or when they just let me sit in silence.
I started some therapy, slowly and with simple classes just for awareness. It let me know the stages of grief and we talked about my family needing to go through them too. This class was for survivors of rape and for supporters as well. My sister Mallorie came with me to every one. Having her there meant more then she knew or that I even knew at the time. It's good to have someone there to help you stay calm and listen and discuss what you learned after. Plus we always went for Mexican food after. ;)
One day the instructor drew a pie chart on the board. It looked something like this.
It's a chart of your life before your rape. Everything had balance. You spent time with friends and worked and laughed and loved the same as any other being. There was consistency and no pieces outweighed the other.
Then she drew this one.
This one shows what happens to your persons world when something that tragic happens. It takes over everything. It doesn't diminish it, they still exist but the rape is so overwhelming it consumes all of our senses. It dulls our desires and heightens our negative beliefs. It makes you feel like everything else is no longer worth while. It's so daunting and very damaging. I remember her drawing the picture up there and me thinking I'd never get over it. My pie chart would always be black.
She then drew something like this on the board.
She said we wouldn't believe it now, but one day out black would be just a sliver. It's such a big moment in your life (even if it's awful) it will never go away. It will always be there, but one day it will just be a faded back story. One day it won't dictate your life and one day it won't hurt so bad. I remember being angry. There is no way this will ever not hurt. There is no way this will ever be a sliver. Then she said something else. She said "It will be the hardest thing you do. But eventually, when you're done hurting (because it is important to hurt and to feel the pain) you have to fight for your slices of the pie back."
It takes so much work. I will always be working. I am not done healing and I don't know if there will ever be a day when it is not in some form of thought. But I'm fighting. Fighting for my pie. I want it to be whole and good and I want my rape to be just the slice of the pie that I learn and grow from.
I want people to know who are going through this now or have been through it years ago or that have someone they love going through this, that you will be okay! It will be so hard and so painful but you will make it. There are so many resources to help you, with wonderful people who have so much love for you and your success. Reach out to them! You will meet the most amazing people who inspire you and pull you out of your dark places beyond words can say.
I know what it is like to read those words and be angry and think that people just don't understand your situation or where your head is at with all of this. I know what it is like to look to the future and not see one. I know what it is like to feel surrounded by black and I know how awful it feels to see the world moving on as you remain so stagnant you could start growing mold. I know how bad this hurts.
Please know you're not alone. Please know you are loved and wanted on this earth. The truth is, this is a quiet fight. Very few people that know me know that I have gone through this. I have always had hope in my fight and I will continue to have hope in mine as well as in the many people I have met, and will meet fighting the same fight.
You can do this! Fight for your pie!
*Name has been changed.