Category: politics

Wrapping Up: S.A.A.M. 2018

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Wow, from April of last year until this year sexual assault has been in the news more often than it hasn’t. Which is an overwhelming, amazing, and disheartening thing all at once. I always dreamed of having a lasting impact by choosing to speak out about my own victimization, but never would I have imagined being able to witness the turning of the tide so to speak when it comes to this very important issue.

Over the last year I’ve been involved in many spirited debates about the subject of sexual assault, harassment and sexual violence. The most common denominator I’ve heard from people who don’t support victims coming forward is this: “if those women are telling the truth, why are they just now coming forward? Why wouldn’t you go to the police immediately after such a horrible crime was committed against you?”

My answer: “It’s not that simple.”

Even before the explosion of media attention a lot of people have asked me why it took me the better part of ten years to share my story. In addition to why I keep sharing my story over and over again, but mostly the question I hear most frequently is “why now?” I’ve been thinking about that aspect of regaining my voice for the past few months trying to come up with an answer.

Like any crime of an intimate nature such as sexual assault or rape there are many intricacies involved in the incident itself and the time immediately surrounding it. A big part of the reason it took me several years to begin to speak up about what happened to me is the fact that I repressed the memories for so long. The incident itself happened in December of 2005, and the first memory that resurfaced from the fog of repression happened in April of 2013. It took me an additional two years before I felt comfortable publishing my account, and an ADDITIONAL two years before I told my family what happened. Twelve years from the time I was violated so violently, until I built up the courage to inform my family. I didn’t even tell them, I printed out and shared what I wrote here to the world with them.

Why? Why did it take so many years before I was ready to confront what occurred and heal from it?

A lot of it stemmed from the fact that I entered into a relationship with my rapist soon after the attack. If I hadn’t been so busy loving my attacker, I’m fairly certain that the memories would have resurfaced more quickly. Instead I spent the next two years immediately following the attack, deeply in love with my rapist. That contributed a lot to the denial I eventually faced once my memories resurfaced, the guilt I felt if I were to “oust” him as it where.

The deeper intricacies surrounding that stem from my lifetime of emotional abuse at the hands of my mother. I felt that love was entirely self sacrificial and I maintained that stance until I began therapy in August of 2013. I was still very much in love with my attacker, even after our relationship ended. I felt that to remain true to my feelings of love for him and “prove” how much I cared about him that I had to maintain my silence. That is the biggest emotional reason I waited several years after my memories resurfaced.

There were also many logistical reasons that I didn’t immediately run to the police to file a report. For one, immediately after the relationship ended I moved to a different state. I returned to my hometown for visits here and there but never moved back making the legal system fairly defunct. I saw no point in reporting the case when I couldn’t follow through with pressing charges. I also saw no reason to drag up the past and put his family life in jeopardy. I thought that I was coping just fine and didn’t need to stir up emotions that I thought I had already dealt with. I was wrong. I hadn’t been properly coping, nor had I addressed all of the repressed emotions that accompanied the assault.

The third and final reason that made going to the police one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to do in my adult life was fear. For all intents and purposes I was Emily Doe, and my assailant was Brock Turner. His father is an educated, successful, decorated military hero with many legal resources, money and political connections at his disposal. At the time I was a stay at home mom, who hadn’t yet finished my high school diploma let alone continued my education. My marriage and family was just getting started, and financially we ran a tight budget. Plenty of money to live comfortably, but not enough to spend on attorneys for a court case that would last several months at the very least and no political connections in my old home town. When I first walked through that door at the police station telling them that I wanted to report a crime, I was terrified that I would see jail time and my assailant would go free based simply upon his social status compared to my own. I’d like to think that my assailant’s father has more integrity than Brock Turner’s father, but I’ll never know since my case never made it in front of a judge.

The fact that I couldn’t be sure how much sway my assailant’s father would have over a judge caused my anxiety to spin wildly out of control, my PTSD to explode out of remission, and me to hesitate when calling the police for anything related to my assailant and his influence over my life. Twelve years later, I’d finally had enough. It got to the point where I would rather spend time in jail than have to endure my assailant harassing me and cyber stalking me any longer. I had reached my absolute whits end.

My fears weren’t exactly unfounded. As I said the case never went before a judge. If my assailants father had any involvement in the matter it happened entirely behind the scenes never making it to public knowledge. I was at least vindicated of my own alleged crimes even if I’ll likely never see justice for those committed against me. I was cleared of making false accusations, and I can speak my truth without fear of the legal system throwing me under the buss. That’s about as good as it’s going to get for me.

Would it have been any different if I hadn’t endured memory repression after the trauma, or if I had gone to the police immediately after the memories resurfaced? I can only speculate at this point, but no I don’t believe it would have. In fact, I think twelve years ago if I had come forward immediately after the crime I would have ended up in jail for “making a false accusation” or at least in a mental hospital against my will for incorrect treatment of a disease that wasn’t widely diagnosed in the general public until five years after I was raped.

This is where things get infinitely complicated… I regret that I didn’t recognize and get out of the toxic relationship sooner. I regret that I wasn’t able to come forward immediately after the crime took place. I don’t regret waiting to go through my most important phases of treatment and recovery before I came forward and I’m not ashamed that it took me eleven years to do so.

If I had one parting word of advice or encouragement for victims it’s this: take time to feel and process your emotions before jumping into the court system if at all possible. Police are trained to mess with your head as part of the interrogation process. It’s not easy to endure even with the confidence and undeniable proof that you have been victimized. If it takes you two months, awesome. Two years? Okay. Two decades? Great! In order for rape culture to finally reach it’s demise we have to be stronger. In order to speak your truth loud and proud, you have to be healthy. Take care of yourself first. Even if your assailant doesn’t see justice in this world, your recovery is the most important outcome of all.

SAAM: Denim Day

There was an ad displaying the exploitation of Denim Day that came across my feed on Facebook a few weeks ago. At first I was more confused than offended. I knew Denim Day was associated with SAAM and sexual assault awareness in some way, but everything I had seen about it didn’t share the real reason behind why Denim was so important to the cause. It didn’t especially stand out since most women wear Denim as a casual fashion choice, so choosing Denim seemed like a weird choice to bring awareness to anything.

I did a little digging into the event and found that in the late 90’s a young Italian girl was assaulted, her assailant arrested, tried, and convicted but the conviction was over turned at the judges discretion based on the personal opinion “her Denim jeans were too tight, and she would have had to help her attacker take them off, which would imply consent.”

In response to this outrageous decision all of the women in the Italian Parliament showed up to work the next day in Denim jeans, showing their solidarity for this poor girl. The event was international news, and once it reached the US, it started with our own women in government on the West Coast eventually spreading to a nationally organized awareness day.

It kind of knocked the wind out of my sails there learning the origins of the event. It also really surprised me that it wasn’t more widely publicized. The event itself is all over the place, but the origins aren’t widely discussed. I guess when it’s been ten years people would just assume that everyone already knew or remembered what happened.

It also made me very angrad. I’ve made up my own word to describe the feeling between angry and sad. I was sad because while the intentions of Denim Day are good,  the beginning has been lost after so many years unless you take the time to research as I did.

I am angry that a high ranking legal official could make such an outrageous claim that this poor girl had to help an older adult man remove her jeans and allow him to assault her. Or that the removal of her clothing at all some how implied consent.

In my own personal experiences my pajama pants were removed once, and during the second assault none of my clothes were completely removed at all, merely pushed aside. That right there should have been the biggest indication that the second assault was completely intentional, not a semilucid case of mistaken identity. I guess it was fairly obvious to everyone else except myself clinging to my attackers lies for dear life until I was ready to accept what really happened.

I wish soceity would just drop this “what where you wearing” bullshit already. In Islamic countries where women are covered from head to toe rape is still a prevalent crime. It has nothing to do with clothing of any kind, anywhere! The crime of rape is committed when a predator makes the decision to put their own sick pleasure and gratification ahead of another person’s humanity. Gender is irrelevant. Men can be sexually assaulted and raped too, by other men or by women.

In the mind of a predator, a burlap sack could be seen as provocative, because they don’t see another human being before they attack. They only see themselves and how good it will feel, or how their sick sexual urges will be satisfied. That is the true root of this issue. I’ve said it before once this month and I’m going to say it again: it’s predator vs prey. Not man vs women, or man vs miniskirt, or woman vs man, man vs man, women vs woman no! None of that. It’s personal responsibility. Clothing is just a convienet scapegoat used by those too ashamed, or cowardly to face up to their own actions.

Think about that today, Denim Day 2018, before you put on those jeans.

SAAM: Why Women Don’t Report Part 2

Monday I reposted an article I wrote a few months back focusing on a social media trend #whywomendontreport, which was the blanket many people needed to speak up about their own sexual assaults.

Today I’m going to go a little bit more in depth to my personal story, and why I didn’t go to the police until nearly 11 years after the assault took place. Yesterday I kind of talked about what eventually lead me to report my assault to the police. Today, I’m focusing on why it took so long to do so.

The assault happened one evening in December 2005. I was living with my attacker after enduring an extreme falling out with my mom. (Yes, I’m aware that’s not what my previously published accounts say. We’ll get to that in a moment.) I had literally no where else to go. I was employed full time, but my salary was next to nothing. I couldn’t afford an apartment on my own, but I could afford to pay a few hundred dollars a month to live with a coworker and someone whom I considered a friend.

We shared his bed after I first moved in. I had my own room, but I didn’t own any of my own furniture. He had a mattress stashed in the second bedroom, but it wasn’t made readily available to me at first. Besides that, I felt safe sleeping next to him. THAT turned out to be a giant mistake, but I digress… we were sharing his bed for several weeks after I moved in. We hadn’t discussed any sort of sexual relationship or activity prior to the assault. We were roommates, and being naive as I was I assumed that nothing would change.

After the assault occurred, my entire world was shattered yet again. I say again because  the second reason I ended up moving in with this guy in particular, aside from my financial status, was the fact that I couldn’t endure the verbal abuse from my mother any longer.

I spent the night with him one evening, just because it was late and I didn’t feel like driving home after spending the evening watching movies. When I woke up the next morning I found several nasty voicemails from my mom which almost pushed me over the edge. It was the first time my life had become so overwhelming that I wanted to end it. If my attacker hadn’t been there to pick me up off the floor, calmed me down, and offered me a place to stay I probably wouldn’t be here writing this. That event is what made me feel safe sleeping next to him, until he raped me anyway.

On the heels of my first bout of suicidal thoughts; then being violated in such a personal, and horrible way  by the very same person who had saved me just weeks earlier, I quite literally could not cope with it. The memories were almost instantly repressed, I returned to our apartment, and his bed the next night nary the wiser that something so violent had happened the night before.

Fast forward to the end of our relationship (because we did end up in a consensual sexual relationship AFTER the assault) when I was finally free from the constant triggers that came with living with, and being in love with my rapist; slowly the memories began to resurface. At first they were flashbacks. My current husband would say something or touch me in a certain way while we were intimate and I would have a panic attack, start crying, or just feel an overwhelming depression come over me. I didn’t understand why or what was happening, I just knew certain things and phrases were off limits for a comfortable experience.

Once the flash backs subsided, I was met with these haunting memories in nightmares. The same scene playing over and over again in my head. Hand on my breast, hand between my thighs, pain, sobbing into the pillow. The night mares were much less frequent and not triggered by anything specific like the flashbacks were, but they were still an ever present thing in my subconscious thoughts that I couldn’t understand and couldn’t get rid of.

Eventually, five years after my attacker and I ended our relationship, nearly 8 years after the assault itself had happened the full memories resurfaced. I remembered everything in vivid and graphic detail as if it had happened the day before. I was more confused than anything, doubting the validity of my own memories. It couldn’t be real. This man that I still felt such a strong attachment to so long after the end of our relationship couldn’t also be the man who raped me in such a violent, dehumanizing way.

It was that moment that spurred my initial idea to write everything that I remembered about our relationship down in an effort to heal. I began my journey on my own, unguided. When after a few months of wrestling with it (and enduring massive opposition from my attacker and his current wife who are still here reading my blog) I happened to look up the DSM criteria for PTSD. I don’t remember exactly why or what initiated my google search for information but once I found it, I felt like I was punched in the gut. Reading more in depth about it, was like reading into my own thoughts. All of these things that were swirling around in my head made sense when viewed through the lense of a PTSD diagnosis.

So, I set off to find a mental health professional to see if my hunch was correct. If I did in fact suffer from PTSD, a disorder I had ignorantly believed was only attributed to service men and women in the Military or law enforcement. The very first time I sat down with my therapist to discuss why I felt that I needed to be there. I spoke of the rape and how it caused so much continuing conflict in my life. I couldn’t come right out and say that what had happened was a rape for a long time. Almost a year into my treatment and recovery actually. Speaking to my therapist was the first time I had spoken the word “rape” out loud in a very long time.

It took a lot of soul searching to come forward about what happened to me. Not in the sense of going to the police, but just speaking the words out loud. Telling my story for the sake of being heard and putting the internal emotional turmoil aside. Especially since my attackers current wife began to blame me for her own emotional turmoil after many of the ugly events between her husband and myself came to light. The absolute last thing I ever wanted was to cause him any pain as I went through my healing process. I tried to skirt around the issue as much as possible for a very long time, desperately hoping that she would stop reading.

That day never came, and finally in April 2015 I decided I could wait no longer. I’d put my recovery on hold long enough. So I published for the first time the altered account of what happened. I changed and blurred what I deemed as unnecessary details to give my attacker the benefit of anonymity. I was foolishly trying to protect him from the consequences of his own actions. More than just wanting to protect him, I was also severely concerned as to how he might retaliate for me exposing the last dirty secret between us. After enduring his abusive behavior during and after our relationship I was terrified that if I called him out specifically, that his reaction would be swift, violent and angry.

Much to my relief he pretty much ignored my first retelling of the event, which gave me the courage I needed to continue writing and finally put an end to my own internal turmoil. I had put most of my turmoil to rest until about this time last year. A whole bunch of life situations had put me and my children back in close proximity to my attacker, when I hadn’t been as I began my healing journey. It was the first time we had lived in the same state for nearly ten years, and making things worse we were less than 10 miles apart in neighboring suburbs. Running into each other was pretty much inevitable, and I knew it before we made the decision to move.

Trying to put my mind at ease I contacted a mutual friend and explained my fears. Well, I thought he was a mutual friend, but as it turned out he went directly to my attacker with every single thing I had confided in him making my situation even more volitile that it would have been otherwise. Soon my attacker and his wife were driving by my home, sometimes (but not always) yelling derogatory things in my direction which sent my anxiety into overdrive.

The kids and I moved, not once but twice through out the year. There were other factors contributing to each of our moves aside from my attacker and his shenanigans, but the stress from it all caused me to reach my limit of compassion towards mostly his wife. It was one thing dealing with my attacker being upset, denying everything I had published and recollected about our short life together. I lived with him and know him very well (although he’ll deny that too) I knew what to expect from him. His wife was meddling. She had no business getting involved in something that was clearly an issue between he and I. I could ignore the victim blaming and shaming from him. It isn’t any different than the abuse I’ve already survived. From her? I’d had enough, and I let her have it in a very long, very angry, rant here.

Now that, actually solicited quite an angry response from my attacker. Which makes sense, as he viciously defends his family and always has. There was a time when I was on the other side and he came to my own defense, but this time was the first time I had been on the receiving end. I was actually relieved that he finally dropped his facade and told me the truth about our “relationship” which he had been hiding or twisting around for so long. Before his last rant (which I shared part of yesterday) he had always maintained the “I loved you, but…” explaination for our break up. The “but” changed every time we spoke about it, and never being a consistent story I knew he wasn’t being honest with me. FINALLY having him come out and admit that he had been using me from day one, confirming my suspicions and the conclusions I’d already reached, was exactly what I needed to hear. His intention was to be hurtful, but instead I felt a sense of freedom that I desperately needed to move onto the next phase of healing. Instead of hurting me with his caustic words, he inadvertently provided me with the key I didn’t know I needed to unlock more of my repressed past.

Of course he also verbally attacked my own family and abilities as a wife and mother which I felt the need to respond to. I did, really not feeling any hatred toward him all, merely standing my ground and defending my own. After I hit the reply button and thought about it, I remembered the last time we fought he had attempted to file a false harassment claim against me. I had spoken the reporting police officer several years prior and had been under the impression that charges had been filed, which I was unsure if I had violated by responding to his tirade.

Yes, that’s actually the thing that finally lead me to the police. Making sure I hadn’t broken any laws because my attacker had tried to intimidate me by filing false accusations. THE IRONY IS REAL HERE. I called the local police department and an officer came out to speak to me. I’d printed everything out for him, he checked to make sure no formal charges had been filed and that I wasn’t in violation of anything. He asked me about the assault and if I had ever thought about filing a formal report but beyond that nothing really happened. I wasn’t in violation of anything since no formal charges had been filed against me. It was misinformation from my attacker, and an attempt at intimidation plain and simple. THAT made me angry, so I set about furthering my reply to my attacker’s rant. It wasn’t the brightest idea I’ve ever had, but my emotions got the best of me. I responded again, linking back to an article I’d written months before the confrontation. I had forgotten that all of my posts here have a limited time frame which comments can be left by the public, at least until I checked my email a few days later and saw a rambling note from my attacker, calling me crazy among other things for having the compassion to forgive him, and the gall to hold him accountable for his crimes. More of the same old story I’ve heard from him for years, both during and especially after our relationship.

I replied respectfully, told him continuing the conversation was pointless and asked that he not contact me further. He ignored my request, and emailed me again, which lead me back to the police. Once again I called the local department and an officer came out to speak with me. This time, the officer that came out suggested that filing a report about the rape would be the best way to build a case and get my attacker to back off.  My attacker was ever so careful with how he worded his emails as to not include anything that fell into the definition of a criminal threat. Every officer I spoke to knew his intent was to threaten and silence me, but none of them could help me in terms of the law.

Basically, I was shuffled from one department to the next. The local police couldn’t do anything more than take a report of the emails and my desire to have communication cease, but if I traveled from my home to the town where the assault took place and filed a report there I was told maybe that department would have different resources available. It took me about two weeks to decide to do it, but eventually I did. I packed up my kids and drove to the town where the assault took place, shuffled all of my kids into the small police station and initiated my report hoping to finally put an end to the years of harassment and bullshit threats from my attacker.

It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do, especially after reaching out for help before and getting continually shuffled around from department to department. By the time I filed my official report I had been “redirected” four different times by four different jurisdictions. At least the department in the town where my assault had actually taken place took things seriously and didn’t try to pawn me off on someone else. The investigation is ongoing and I can’t discuss the details of actually giving my report and all of that right now. Eventually when things stall or move forward I’ll get around to the specifics.

As if the emotional turmoil wasn’t enough of a struggle to over come before giving my report, I also had logistical issues. Pretty much immediately after my attacker and I ended our relationship I moved out of state. It was another inappropriate coping technique. Instead of facing all of the pain, and working through it immediately as I should have I ran away. I did. I straight up ran away. Hoping to leave everything behind.

If life hadn’t brought me back home, if  my attacker hadn’t threatened to file false accusations against me, if I had never pursued therapy, and the memories never resurfaced, I honestly don’t know if I ever would have pursued filing the report. Especially after so many years and so many different people telling me to just shut up and forget about it, like he was a bully on the play ground not a violent, and abusive criminal. I won’t say that I regret it, because I don’t. I do catch myself sometimes wondering if I did the right thing. If coming forward so many years later was the best way to handle the situation, the best way to end any further harassment from my rapist, or if I’ve only delayed the inevitable. Self doubt constantly creeps in, no matter how much evidence I have to the contrary, how much support I have for pursuing a case against him.

For the longest time I felt like I was doing something wrong even just by speaking up and not allowing this to pass by unaddressed. It’s only been recently that I’ve realized I’ve never been wrong, but it’s society and the shame continually heaped upon victims of sexually based crimes that is wrong and the only way to change it? Speaking up, loud and proud as long as I am physically able even despite fierce opposition. I am just one tiny voice lost in a sea of different opinions, but my voices matters. Every voice of every survivor matters, and don’t you dare let anyone convince you otherwise.

SAAM: Why Women Don’t Report Part 1

This trend… Interwebs I love you. I love this, giving people the ability to speak out. This trend killed me to look through, especially on the heels of my personal struggling this week. I can’t think of much else to say on the matter other than sharing the screen shots that maxed out my phone memory of various tweets, simply scrolling through the trend.

These are all so true. Every single one of them, reflecting thoughts that went through my own head as I was trying to come to terms with my assault. In the end, it really boils down to this for me personally:
First off, it was so traumatic I repressed it until many years later. Secondly, when the memories did resurface I remembered this as well: He was recovering from major head trauma, and explained the event away as a sleep disturbance. All of the violence I endured with him happened at night, and it made sense. Until he denied everything years later. Not just he assault, (which is fairly obvious he would deny) but the night terrors, and other sleep disturbances as well.

“I was an asshole, jerk,selfish, blunt, honest to you about never loving you,dated mutable (*multiple is what he means here) women while together, had permission from you to be with other women when I went to the USAF. (Under very specific conditions) If anyone has any issues its you. You were a pussy pillow from the start, and I was a jerk enough to let you know up front….

Now about these blogs that are about me, first off you were never raped, matter of fact if I recall the next morning when I said to you “you are not going to read too much into this are you” and you said “no are you?” plus if I recall right you came over that next night.(This is a true account of the first time we were together after our first fight/temporary falling out but NOT the account of the assault which occurred as our ACTUAL first time ever, several months earlier.

Actually a lot of your stories are just that stories with new and exciting twists that never happened. Here are some of my favorites I purposed to you, my father speeding, my mother changing clothes or dressing down to make you feel better, you being raped, my current wife slashing your tires, that I could possible cut/hurt myself, (This one wasn’t written by me about you at all. I called you out for freaking out about it forever ago) suffer from depression, night terrors funny that hasn’t happened in 10 years for some reason, you helping me through anything the only thing you help was you opening your legs when I asked, and this could go on and on. (Everything else is accurate to my memories of events. You did admit to lying to me just to get me in bed in a private email, so…)  

I mean if I was this horrible person all this time and a sexual abuser then why be around me and live with me for 2 YEARS! I mean come on that makes no sense what so ever. “Help me you raped me, oh wait its love, I love you” Kelli you telling everyone that I sexually abused you then proceeding to go over your good times and bad and over the years should prove to readers you are FUCKED UP IN THE HEAD. It makes no sense but “You hurt me so you raped me, you rapist!” (That’s why I went to therapy in the first place. I didn’t understand why I loved someone who raped me, and abused me. According to science everything you just listed there is proof that the mental damage you caused was real. Go figure.)   Also if I raped you then why be with a predator? Strange when I was with [my wife] for the first time I was nothing but a gentlemen and asked her, “Is this okay”,” Are you sure you want to do this”, and my favorite “can I kiss you”. (I’m not sure how much you can count being gentlemanly going home with a stripper for an orgy with her husband and another girl. She told me when she called me back in 2008. Funny that you BOTH told me you kept calling her Kelli… Not Amanda, Michelle, Lindsey, Stephanie, Annibell, or Carol… Kelli.) Because my Father taught me to always ask before doing anything. (This is true. Your father is a good man. Too bad he wasn’t around enough for his manners or morals to rub off on you. I will say after your most recent bullshit I understand why he is/was so hard on you) You may be asking yourself “if you don’t care as much as you say then why are you responding? I am glad you asked! You see your readers only get the made up fictional version as if you were a victim of sexual abuse. I want your readers for once read what I have to say but I am sure you will be a coward and will take it down.” 

If his denial hadn’t been attached to that rambling diatribe (which I did edit removing a lot of the personal details for this post. Those interested can find the original still in my comments where he left it) detailing his over all poor treatment of me during our relationship, it probably wouldn’t have changed my mind. Seeing it in context next to his repeated admissions that he lied to me about almost everything, he never cared about me, he just wanted to fuck me, it became fairly obvious that what happened during those nights was intentional, and that he should have been held accountable. Which makes me feel incredibly foolish for defending him all these years, and somehow guilty for loving him and giving him the benefit of the doubt. Like it’s my fault for the way he chose to victimize me, my fault that he got away with it.
I did finally report it a few months ago. Ten and a half years after the event, and three years after the fog of repression lifted. I found my courage, pulled up my boot straps and did what I should have done ages ago. If nothing else comes from it, I at least have a greater sense of closure. Not a complete sense of closure, because I’ll never have that as long as I continue to blog. My internal conflict between morality and compassion has been put to rest.

The entire process of making a report is so much more complex than calling the police, pointing fingers and saying: “this crime happened!” with rape and sexual assault. It shouldn’t be, but it is.

These following tweets illustrate that better than I ever could.

The saddest part of all of this is how quickly #whywomendontreport stopped trending. It was a flash in the pan, just enough to catch my attention when I logged on that morning, and by the time I sat down in the afternoon to gather some tweets for this post it was gone. Shuffled off and buried under everything else. So many people in so much and different levels of pain crying out for a moment, only to return to silence.
Because when it’s not a trending topic or political game, no one wants to talk about it, forgetting that in order to see a change we so desperately need to. I know it’s not easy, I’ve had to step away from this several times to let the emotions and anxiety subside. I’ll probably have to log off social media all together for a few days to recover, but I do it anyway. I keep talking, after the trend is over, after it’s not news, after veiled threats, flash backs, and insomnia BECAUSE IT MATTERS.

SAAM: The Hardest Part

The hardest part of recovery from sexual assault, at least for me, has been defining my feelings towards my attackers. The first assault happened, and shortly after my assailant disappeared from my life. He never stuck around after the fact, which I think is what’s helped me “get over it” so quickly. Well that, and the fact that I haven’t been able to recall the full memories of what happened. I only have bits and pieces here and there, beyond that the rest of it is lost. I focus mostly on my second assault for SAAM, and all of my other awareness endevours because that’s the one that I have been able to remember. Having complete memories of it has made the impact on my life much more profound than the first assault. Forming a relationship with my rapist, battling feelings of genuine love vs anger. Knowing that I was merely an object to him, but choosing to believe his lies of love and a future together instead.

All of those things, consistently rattle around in my head after a triggering event. Not daily, thank God, but consistently every time I’m triggered. You know the things that hurt the most? It’s not memories of the trauma. I can sit here and preach about that all day long without shedding a tear now that I’ve accepted it and moved forward. It’s the memories of the good times. The days when he treated me well, and did everything right. Everything that you would expect from a genuine, loving, partner who truly cared about your well being. The reasons I fell in love with him despite the assault and the cheating and every other toxic, abusive trait he displayed. The days that kept me from completely losing my shit and going insane. The very same days that he now uses against me, trying to disprove my claims of abuse and rape. Those things hurt more than any trauma he ever put me through.

I thought I was prepared to deal with that facet of my recovery journey as I gather my writing for my book, but I’m not. I’ve been working on one chapter all week, and I just can’t move forward. There are no written words to convey my feelings, to describe his deception accurately with out tearing open the wounds all together in the first place. Reliving those good memories boil my blood. I know, it’s pretty much opposite of how most people react. The fact that he raped me doesn’t inspire the same level of anger as the fact that he aided in the repression of my memories by being a perfect example of a gentleman the next time we were together. That brings out my Hulk Smash.

The fact that so many people look at our relationship collectively and can only see either the black or white forgetting that the reality I live with is firmly mired in grey. I didn’t just experience horrors unspeakable with this man, staying with him out of some misguided cognitive dissidence or codependency. There were an abundance of good days too.

On his good days he did live up to every expectation that someone looks for in a potential partner. He took care of me when I was sick, he helped around the house, he called me through out the day just because, he paid for most meals unless I insisted otherwise, he interacted well with most of my family, he even dropped my little sister off at prom because she didn’t have a date and didn’t want to show up alone.

And he raped me, he cheated on me consistently, he lied to me about our relationship. He used me, took full advantage of my innocence, robbed me of what could have been some of the best years and experiences in my life and never even thought twice about it. Well, no I can’t say he never thought about what he was doing, because he did. He just never acted on putting a stop to it until the very last possible second, for whatever his own reasons may be.

All of those things are true. I know now that the likelihood of his good days being genuine is a stretch at best. They were probably just something convenient to keep me around, the typical cat and mouse, predator and prey scenario. My intellegence KNOWING that, and my emotions FEELING that aren’t cooperating and it really kind of pisses me off. More so as time marches forever forward putting more distance between me and the events of my past.

Making things infinitely worse are those well intentioned folks who ask me: “He raped you, how the hell can you still have compassion for this guy? He deserves to rot in jail! He’s a slime ball! Revenge! Karma! Anger!” Who immediately jump to the conclusion that I must not be telling the truth about some facet of our relationship when I tell them I don’t necessarily want him to suffer, even though I want accountability for his crimes.

It’s like that song I shared a few weeks back. Everyone was supportive, and excited when I shared something stating that rapists should suffer, but the article I posted stating how it was wrong to wish rape on rapists went ignored as if there is something wrong with reaching the level of healing that transcends anger. Because moving forward past the stage of anger is merely a part of the healing process. It’s a part of the process that many people never reach, but when those of us that do are ridiculed for it… it’s really no wonder why.

I have experienced the anger that so many other survivors use to fuel their movement forward. I recognize that I’ve been victimized by this guy on more than one occasion. I understand that having compassion, and offering my forgiveness does nothing to change the situation current or past between us. I get it. I just don’t have that lingering hatred or anger that society thinks I should have, as a “genuine” victim of this kind of crime, and in a way it makes me feel even more broken. Then I have to wonder if the abuse was really so bad that my anger response has been completely brainwashed out of me. If I am really that “crazy” to forgive despite the atrocities.

That’s been the hardest and only part of my recovery that I can’t seem to master, no matter how hard I try. Love, hate. Black, white. Up, down. Jeckle, Hyde. Yes, no. Or something in the middle… I do know for 1000% sure, that I never want to see, speak to, or hear from him again. Whatever compassion, fond memories, or nostalgic stories about our time together I might have, will never change that. Even if I do have them lingering through my conscious thoughts anytime I’m triggered.

12

*** TRIGGER WARNING ***

I usually don’t mark this date as anything significant. One reason being that I don’t clearly remember if this is the exact date that I endured a profound traumatic event. I remember it being three weeks post another trauma anniversary and that date falls here on December 13th. At any rate, even if December 13th is merely around the date of the event and not the anniversary of the event itself I’ve set aside December 13th to grieve for several years now. I generally don’t note it here on the blog, opting to save what I have to say about the matter for my annual Sexual Assault Awareness Month series in April.

This year, in the midst of the downfall of many powerful men due to allegations of sexual misconduct of varying different intensities I thought it was important to share now. Here. On the day that I reflect on my own victimization, and survival of such a heinous sexual crime against me. A lot of people are questioning the legitimacy of many claims of sexual abuse coming from victims several years after the fact. “How can you say that’s true if it happened so many years ago? Why are they just coming forward now? They just want something.” Is a running victim blaming theme that I keep seeing in the midst of various discussions I’ve had both on and off line.

It’s funny how cavalier people are to speak about things they haven’t experienced, until you point out your own personal experience with the issue. I waited 11 years to come forward with a formal police report against my rapist for a million different reasons that I’m not going to get into in this current post. I believe everyone who’s made accusations against Harvey Weinstein, or Bill Cosby, or Matt Lauer, or Kevin Spacey, or anyone else for that matter. Even if it’s been years since the alleged crime took place. It should be as simple as going to the police after you’ve had a car or purse stolen from you to report any sexually based crime, but it’s not.

Today marks the 12th year since I was raped by a man whom I thought was my friend. Someone I trusted completely, who literally saved my life only weeks before he became my rapist. Foremost I repressed the memories of what happened leading to our continued friendship and eventually a severely unhealthy, abusive relationship. Secondly, when the memories did eventually resurface I blamed myself for what happened because I chose to stay in a relationship with him. Because I truly fell in love with this man who raped me so violently on more than one occasion, who abused me and endangered my life with his callous disregard of my humanity. Our time together was rather short lived, but the fall out of our break up and mental wounds that I endured during that short time of my life have lingered ever since.

You see, predators are just that. They prey on the innocent and make their presence known even if they aren’t directly in your life anymore. It’s rarely one act of violence that keeps people silent for years. Even if it is just one act of violence, that doesn’t make it any less valid. I want you, my audience, to know that speaking up is important no matter how long it takes to reach the safety and security of healing necessary to do so.

Kelli Goes to Court

Another old post that didn’t make it to publication last year. I held this one waiting to see the outcome of reporting my rape to law enforcement. Since things have pretty much settled down on that front I felt comfortable publishing the details of my case here. Not that I have any details that will affect the case. It’s still open, but it’s not likely to move forward. Unless my assailant has another mental breakdown followed by several WTF moments and gets caught anyway. Possible? Yes. Probable? Not likely. At least he’s not likely to pursue me anymore if his head gets away from him again. I’ve accepted the “end” to my case. But now I feel comfortable publishing it too. 

Omg this summer has been ridiculous. I’ve spent more time in legal battles over the past summer than I’ve ever been entangled in the court system before in my life. Now that I can finally talk about it…

The whole thing started with my mom and the assault. That was weird being swept up by the state and county prosecutor tumbled headlong into the most drawn out, court case I’ve ever seen. Of course before that incident I hadn’t been involved in any court preceedings lol. I’ve always been threatened with things, but this was the first time I actually went through everything.

Then, our builder tried to ghost us and leave our contract in limbo. That was an entire fiasco in itself holding everything up as far as purchasing a new home went. So I’ve got criminal court over here with my mom, and small claims court over there with the builder. I wanted to take it further and report him to the licensing board, county, state, BBB, you name it but I couldn’t because everything was in Hubs’ name. He just wanted to be done so we could buy a home. The more rational decision for sure, but my inate sense of justice was crushed. That happens a lot so I’m rather used to it by now lol.

THEN… things exploded with my ex and I finally filed a report about the rape/abuse I endured during the beginning stages of our relationship. That was the icing on the cake so to speak. The entire reason I ended up reporting the incident in the first place is because we got into an argument here on my blog. Instead of leaving me alone after we each said our piece, he continued to pursue me by sending me several emails. He wasn’t threatening by the legal definition, but his intentions were clearly implied. I responded to his emails asking that he discontinue further contact. He didn’t. So I called the police and submitted all of our most recent contact for them to review. Of course the fight we got into was about my S.A.A.M. advocacy and finally speaking up as a victim of a violent crime at his hand.

During the entire fiasco with two different police departments trying to get everything sorted out in the right jurisdiction, several officers asked me if he had indeed raped me. I answered honestly that he had which is why I began writing about it in the first place. The only thing that each jurisdiction could agree on is that I needed to go forward and file the report making my claims official. Off I went to a THIRD jurisdiction to file the report. It had been almost eleven years since the crime had occurred at that point, and while I was within the statute of limitations for that jurisdiction they still didn’t have enough physical evidence to build a solid case. The investigation is still technically open, and each jurisdiction has my name and contact information so I can testify if he finds himself in trouble again.

Which is absolutely killing me. I only wanted to take the appropriate steps to get him to leave me and my family alone. Now I’m wrapped up in three different jurisdictions for at least nine more years when the statute expires on my case. I appreciate the effort made by each officer, prosecutor and victims advocate I spoke to. They want to help me. They know that I’m a victim, but their hands are tied in bureaucracy. I don’t have any physical evidence that is solid enough for the US legal system to go on. It’s enough for law enforcement to verify that I’m not making false accusations, but it’s not enough for the lawyers and prosecutors to take the case in front of a judge.

It’s political. No one stands to gain anything from my case going forward. They’re keeping it on the back burner on the off chance that they need something highly publicized to boost their career. Maybe during the next election cycle the file will be opened again, but until then I’m just left in limbo with countless other victims who couldn’t come forward immediately or didn’t have “enough evidence” when they did. It’s disheartening to say the least, but it’s the way things are. This is why I continue my advocacy. This is why I keep on telling my story. It may not make a difference in my lifetime, but it will make a difference over all. Eventually the politicians won’t be able to ignore the Voice of the Innocent any longer.

On Their Knees

I’m not a fan of football. I never have been, and probably never will be beyond my kids potentially playing for school someday. Even so, it’s been impossible to ignore the conflict that’s been part of the NFL for the past two seasons. I’m going to share a status that a friend of mine who served in Afghanistan wrote on Facebook, because his sentiments pretty much match my own, with the exception that I never served in the armed forces.

“I served in the Army in Afghanistan and I gotta say. I don’t feel disrespected when people use their first amendment right to kneel during the national anthem at a football game. I personally don’t think that’s gonna change anything. No asshole abusive cop is gonna be watching the game in his Cheetos covered boxers and see players kneeling and go ” damn I’m an asshole maybe I should stop. But it’s what they choose to do and they aren’t destroying our country like the increasing debt we are acquiring. Or the wars/ conflicts we keep plunging ourselves into.”

I do understand why people are upset. I understand how it’s perceived as disrespectful to kneel during the national anthem and why so many people feel as though it’s a slap in the face of our service members. I also understand why Mr. Kaepernick began his protest, and honestly I’m not upset by it. I’m not upset by his motivations, nor am I upset that he chose to kneel during the anthem. Why should you salute an entity that grants you the freedom of choice not to upon a moral disagreement? Like… I mean it’s a big part of the reason the country is what it is. Granting it’s people the ability to say: “hey, y’know what? I don’t respect what this flag has come to represent in terms of treatment for people of color. I’m not going to pretend that I do by standing in salute to the flag.”

That’s what makes the US, what it is. Taking that away from anyone (yes, unfortunately that even includes the ass backwards racists, white supremacists, and facists) destroys the core of why the US is different than many other countries in the world. If we begin to demand undying, and unwavering loyalty to the State, we really aren’t too far off from Russia or North Korea. At the very basic level of concept, seriously. It’s no different.

I know it’s infinitely more complicated than that. There are different nuances that can be debated and argued for eternity. I’m only saying that I think this division and drama over something so trivial, and speaking on behalf of “ALL veterans” or “ALL people of color” is presumptuous to say the least. Those who chose to kneel have the right to do so, and those who are offended have the right to be so.

Continuing to bicker over it week after week is ridiculous. If you don’t like why these athletes are choosing to kneel, how about you listen to what they have to say? They want to see a change for the better in their communities. It’s not like they’re kneeling because they’re lazy or want an extra million tacked on to their already, outlandish salaries. Mr. Kaepernick has spent his time off the field donating hundreds of thousands of dollars to charity, and participating in positive community events around the country. He’s a rare breed of celebrity who actually wants to use his status to make a difference. He isn’t trying to sell himself by being as outspoken or outlandish as possible (Kardashians anyone?) he is standing up for his beliefs. Beliefs that will better the world as a whole. 

On a personal level, watching this debate unfold over the course of a week or so on my social media has really opened my eyes. I was very skeptical, from my privileged point of view, that racisim did in fact still exist in the United States. Now? I get it. I can stand here and say that racism and oppression of minorities does, in fact, still run rampant in the thoughts and minds of America. I can say that I was blind in my privilege. I can’t speak for the majority of the American population, but if nothing else Mr. Kaepernick’s actions have made a positive difference in my own life. So thank you, Mr. Kaepernick. #takeaknee