Tag: PTSD

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.

Dear Readers

triggerwarningThis month at The Patchwork Diaries we’re discussing some very intense subjects. Please be aware that any and all posts during the month of April could be triggering to survivors and those recovering from sexual abuse.

Also, due to the highly emotional nature of our survivor stories comments have been disabled on certain posts. If you would like to reach out to us please feel free to contact us via our Facebook page: The Patchwork Diaries.

We will return to our regular posting shenanigans on May 1st.

Thank you,

The Patchwork Diaries

The Music Makers

Spending my early adulthood in the 2000’s, when I very first began to branch out away from my mother, music was very important to me. I think the same can be said for most people learning to navigate the world at that phase of their life. Music still holds a very special place in my heart and life (I married a guitar playing audio engineer after all) and learning the news that another influential musician took his own life Thursday morning really hit home.


Chester Bennington of Linkin Park. I wouldn’t call myself a huge fan of their music in recent years as I grew past the angst, anger and resentment which defined my youth but their music was a backdrop for many important moments in my life. I enjoyed listening through their singles and new albums over the years, although I can’t say I purchased one relying on my Spotify subscription instead.

Minutes to Midnight was the most poignant album for me, I think, followed closely by LIVING THINGS several years later. Each album representing a different phase in my life and the battle I’ve endured fighting my mental illness.

Back in Summer 2007 when Minutes to Midnight was first released a plethora of changes were happening in my life. Changes that were necessary but oh so uncomfortable. I could sense the massive shift about to happen in my life, but contributed to cling hard to my denial and superficial happiness. I was very happy on a conscious level. Subconsciously the stress and unresolved trauma was wearing me down. I wanted so badly for the toxic relationship I was in to holdfast, to mask my own internal emotional storm. If we could just get away from my mom, if we could just get our own place, if he could just get back on track after his own turmoil, if I could just find a better job… all of these external things I clung to hoping that they would sooth my troubled mind and soul.

Looking back on it now I can see that what was actually going on was a dissociative defense, denial in other words, an extremely unhealthy coping mechanism. It’s how I survived those tumultuous years in my life, and in 2007 the defenses were beginning to fall. I actually hadn’t thought of this specific moment until I went through Linkin Park’s catalogue Thursday night, but I felt it was worth sharing here.

Minutes to Midnight was released in May 2007. I returned from a family reunion trip to Southern California with my parents and sisters a few weeks earlier. My boyfriend at the time picked me up from the airport and on the drive home we heard the most popular single from the album on the radio.  (Yes back in the day when radio was still decent. I feel old?!) We had been talking, but after the song played the car was filled with an eerie silence.

My parents had offered to pay my boyfriend’s way to join us in California for the week, and he had declined. I don’t remember what excuse he gave, but he didn’t want to go. I was disappointed but whatever excuse he gave made sense to me at the time and I didn’t really think too much about it. My Uncle John on the other hand, immediatly knew that my boyfriend was trouble. My dad had talked to him about other details I’m certain, but Uncle John only approached me about one: the fact that he had the opportunity to vacation with me and my family and turned it down.

We were sitting at the kitchen table for breakfast one morning, and in true Twomey, career military, no nonesense fashion Uncle John told me point blank: “Kelli, he doesn’t love you. I know you love him, I know you think he loves you, and hell he might even act like he does most of the time, but any man who turns down a chance to spend the week with his girlfriend and her family isn’t interested in love.”

Then he made some joke about military service and different branches being less than the other. Having served in both the Army and Navy it was expected for Uncle John to poke fun at his fellow serivce members.

The moment passed, and while I didn’t agree with my uncle, his words resonated with me and I confronted my boyfriend on the phone about it later that afternoon. He didn’t really agree or disagree with my uncle. He said a lot, but didn’t really say anything at all.

Now that I had returned home and we were together in the same space after such a confrontation made silence awkward and uncomfortable. On some level I knew my uncle was right. I think my boyfriend knew his ruse/indecision had been exposed too.

It wasn’t until a week or two later that we found ourselves in the car once again. He picked me up from my apartment and we’d made plans to spend my days off together. We were on the interstate and he grabbed a CD case from the back seat; then popped it into the player. It was Minutes to Midnight.

We discussed the album itself for a few tracks until we once again found ourselves in an eerie silence after the album’s most popular single track had played through. My boyfriend paused the music and started rattling off statistics about how women rarely stay with the partner who took their virginity. It wasn’t the first time we’d had that conversation, and I was immediately annoyed with him.

I listened to him; then tried to comfort his insecurities with the fact that he actually didn’t take my virginity but he wasn’t listening. Soon the conversation developed into an argument. He kept insisting that statistically our relationship was doomed before it ever really got started, and I was having none of it. He was trying to avoid the ugly details of our situation, for his benefit or my own I’m not certain, but eventually he just blurted it out: “Okay, so I didn’t take your virginity but what about the first time we slept together?! That wasn’t okay even if you weren’t a virgin. You weren’t ready. You were crying. I hurt you.” He yelled at me.

“What the hell are you talking about? I didn’t cry and you didn’t hurt me. It was awkward, but it wasn’t awful.” I argued.

“No, not that time. I’m talking about the first time.” He insisted.

“That was our first time.”

“That was not our first time.”

“Uh I think I know when our first time was. I was there.” I huffed, swinging around in the passenger seat to face him as our argument grew ever more heated.

“No, not really. The night I thought you were my ex?” He attempted to clarify.

“Oh…” I answered, having not thought about that night in years. “But that wasn’t sex. We didn’t sleep together, so it doesn’t count.”

“Yeah we did. That’s what I’m talking about.” He laughed, out of amusement or nervous guilt I’m not sure.

“No we didn’t!” I continued to protest.

“Okay, Kelli. Enough with the bullshit. We need to talk about this. Our relationship isn’t healthy and it’s because of that night.”

“Because you thought I was her? We already talked about that. Besides that we didn’t even sleep together. It wasn’t our first time, so I have no idea what the hell you’re going on about. I know you were going through a hard time right after your break up. I knew that before we started dating, it’s not a big deal. I love you. I’m not going to leave you.”

“Yes we did! Are you serious right now? You aren’t just bullshitting me? You really don’t remember?” He asked, getting more emotional the longer we continued to argue about it.

“Yes! Yes, I remember that night! I remember you thought I was her, I remember you apologized the next day, but I also remember it wasn’t the first time we slept together. I was fucking there, don’t tell me what happened because I remember what happened! I’m happy with you, the only thing that drives me insane is when you do this. Why you go on about how horrible our relationship is all the damn time. Stop fucking telling me what “really” happened or how I “really” feel. Until we’re fighting about stupid pointless things like this, I’m happy!! Can’t I be happy?!” I screamed at the top of my lungs.

“Okay. I’m sorry. You’re right. You’re right. We don’t have to talk about it anymore. Just listen to this song, okay?” He finally conceded, before reaching down to hit play and allow the music to once again fill the car. He skipped back to one track, the most popular single, and let it play through again.

That was that. He kept his word, never mentioned it again as long as we were together, and in doing so kept my denial blissfully intact.

Later that night he took me to a local park which shares the name of the band. Lincoln Park. After our fight over Minutes to Midnight, I was less than thrilled being brought to the park assuming that my boyfriend was trying to get his point across.


“Lincoln Park? Really? You’re bringing me here while we’re fighting about this music?” I spat as we pulled into the parking lot.

“Well yeah… that’s not why I brought you here. I just forgot about it until we were listening to this, and I think you’ll really like it here. There’s a little pond, and it’s open all night so when you work late and want to go do something when you get home we don’t have to walk around Walmart or Meijer. We can come here.” He explained.

Which is precisely what we spent the rest of that short Summer together doing. It quickly became one of our regular date night hang outs, and eventually became one of my favorite places to spend time with or without my boyfriend along. Whether he planned it or not, the park always held associations with the music. Every subsequent time I drove through the park entrance which bore the name immediately, I thought of Minutes to Midnight. 

Thinking back on that park at the beginning of my recovery journey, when the chains of denial finally fell free and I was able to unlock the complete memories of the violent assault my boyfriend alluded to with his confession is what lead me to my second favorite album LIVING THINGS.

There were four albums that really resonated with me over the course of my early recovery. Linking Park’s LIVING THINGS, Blue October‘s Sway, and Hurt Vol I & II. They inspired me to keep going through the pain of severing my unhealthy coping mechanisms and realigning my thought process. The pain of accepting my rediscovered memories that had been repressed for so long. I could go into depth about each track on every album I’ve listed, but I’ve already strayed enough off topic. I’ll focus on LIVING THINGS.

Victimized was my battle cry as I first tried to make amends with my ex, and truly became aware of how abusive many of his behaviors were, how dishonest, and manipulative he could be, and how his behaviors had damaged me even in the midst of what we called love.

Powerless reminded me that as much as I loved my ex, I couldn’t be the one to save him from his past. I couldn’t continue to hold myself hostage and internalize my wounds for his benefit.

Lies Greed Misery spurred some of my initial anger, even though it was fleeting, it began the long process to accepting the difference between violence and healthy anger. I’m still working on this aspect of my recovery, and every once and a while I will return to this track trying to grasp ahold of the feeling of anger.

Roads Untraveled helped keep me from turning the healthy anger into unhealthy revenge or violence. It kept me grounded and reminded me that the damage done between my ex and I wasn’t necessarily permanent. I wasn’t doomed to a life of misery due to his poor choices and behaviors. With a lot of work I’ve been able to rise above it and work past it. There is no reason to grieve the life that I lost when we parted ways. My life now has become infinitely better, and if the time comes when he reaches a similar place of healing, desiring absolution for his transgressions, I would be open to at least hearing him out. The reason I kept and published his thoughts on my recovery journey has a lot to do with this song.

Castle of Glass is another one that has kept me grounded and focused in the midst of publishing all of my recovery here publicly. My ex hates it and by default me for publishing it. If the sentiment he expressed during our conversation in the car was genuine, at some point he did want me to get better. I don’t think he ever expected me “getting better” to include a public blog and book about our life together. It’s not about revenge, and I’ve done everything I can to protect his identity, but I’m still a crack in his glass house.

Both of those albums have had such a huge impact on my life, and it’s difficult to think that the voice behind it all succumbed to the very same feelings that his music helped me conquer before taking his own life. Especially so for me, a casual fan who hadn’t heard anything more recent than Battle Symphony, a song speaking about not giving up, continuing to fight and then all of the sudden tragedy. So often that’s how suicide happens. There is one final great effort pushed forward, but for whatever reason it isn’t enough. I think that’s the greatest tragedy of suicide right there. It’s never the weak who succumb to their demons. It’s the ones who have been fighting viciously for so long that they just grow tired.

SAAM 2017 Review 

April is a weird month for me. It’s always been a fairly triggering month even before I became involved with SAAM.

Long story short, my second assault happened in December. I lived with my attacker in an undefined sexual relationship until late February when we got into a fight where blows were exchanged. I moved out, but still owed him rent. So I met him at work one afternoon in late March to set up a time he could come pick up the money. After that we began talking again fairly regularly and ended up renewing our sexual relationship with a MUCH better definition in April.

When the complete memories of my assault surfaced years later, it also happened in April. That was extremely difficult knowing April was when we got back together in the first place. It really took me a few years to come to terms with the fact that I willingly went back to bed with the same man who raped me only a few months before. Especially considering that it was just sex with no strings attached before it took a nose dive into abusive dysfunction, and false promises of a more serious, committed relationship.

I still don’t really know why I went back to him. The memories of the actual assault were repressed. That was a big part of it. It wasn’t as shocking back then as it would be now for me to boomerang back to him. Yet, it bothers me none the less. The best sort of thing I can come up with aside from the repression is that I felt so broken, and worthless, and he was the only person who’d ever shown any sort of interest in me. A violent, toxic and unhealthy interest but I didn’t understand that until many years later. I was craving intimacy to feel whole again, and he was the only guy I knew willing to provide it. Plus, the idea of sex with a different partner was scary and made me sick to my stomach. Which should have clued me in that something was wrong, but it didn’t. PTSD memory repression at it’s finest.

It all happened in April, and now that I’ve come to terms with everything and really decided to move forward, choosing to use April, SAAM, to tell my story and raise awareness… it brings up a lot of those misplaced feelings of guilt. For a long time immediately after I began my treatment I felt guilty for falling in love with him. Like it was my fault that my brain shut off access to the traumatic memories, and I should have had a way to unlock it sooner. That, plus the questions of why did I go back at all, why didn’t I remember what happened to me, why didn’t I go to the police sooner, why did I stay with this guy for so long, why… why, why? From a scientific, psychological stand point it makes sense. I completely grasp the science behind it. It’s the emotions that I can’t wrangle or figure out. I already talked about that in my series this year in regards to my feelings toward my attacker. In essence it’s the same in regards to my feelings towards myself.

 I’m nearly 30 years old and I have no idea who I am. Still, have no idea who I am. I know what I do, I’m a mother, wife, author, artist, but those things don’t make me who I am. I don’t know that I’ll ever figure it out. I know I’m happy with the life I’ve made, that I have goals for my future, I’m actively (albeit slowly) working toward them, I know where I fit in the universe, I have comfort in my religion, but I still feel lost. Not nearly as much as I used to as I’ve learned to navigate much better after therapy, and with the support of my husband. Maybe that’s just part of the human experience all together…

Anyway… thank you all for reading and sharing in my journey during SAAM 2017. We’ll be back to our normal posting shenanigans on Monday.

SAAM: Born for Greatness 

If there was a theme song for SAAM 2017 I think it should be this. Every time I listen to it, I think of all the other survivors of sexual assault out there bravely sharing their stories against opposition, victim blaming, and shaming. Fighting through the mental illness that often accompanies survival of any trauma. Even those who carry the secret within them, unable to share their stories for whatever reason.

We’re not just statistics. We’re not nameless, we’re not faceless. We were born for greatness.

Guest Post: “Sunday Message: Sexual Assault and Me”

Up first on my roster of guest posts for SAAM is one of my long time blogging buddies CWMartin from Tilting at Windmills. He’s been a follower since my blogger days, and has even become a close friend over the years. I respect his opinion a whooooooooole lot so he is one of the only people I asked to write from a specific view point. 

The following post contains something you rarely see, a Biblical perspective on the topic of sexual assault. Many people are quick to point out all the instances of assault and/or rape through out the Bible as a reason why Christianity is an outdated and flawed religion, but Chris sheds light on the other side of the coin. 

Comments are OPEN this year, but will be strictly monitored. Respectful debate is welcome! 

You can find more of CW’s writing over at:

http://humbleauthorbsp.blogspot.com/
Sunday Message: Sexual Assault and Me

A friend of mine on The Patchwork Diaries asked me to help her out with a guest post for her annual series on Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Specifically, she wanted a Biblical perspective. Now, this is a very serious, very emotional subject that requires a more sober hand than the snark that pervades even my Sunday Message posts, so I asked a time period to pray over whether I was qualified to do such a post. But in my very first cursory research, I hit a verse that so convicted me, that I knew I was going to have to do this. And, I knew things would never be the same afterwards. But I’ll get to that on the other end.
Sexual Assault comes up many times in the Bible. Everybody is familiar with the egregious example of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 19; many may know about the very similar case of of the near-destruction of the Tribe of Benjamin in Judges 19-20. Both of these dealt with a culture of debauchery, an evil so great that- at least until the stories the last two New Years Eves in Germany- we would find hard to even wrap our minds around.
Many would be familiar with the story of David’s son Amnon, who raped his half-sister Tamar in 2 Samuel 13; and there are other examples. I want to look at a few things in these stories, and a few others that you might not necessarily put into the topic.
First, Sodom and Gomorrah. Two things about this story jump out to me. First, these people had a total lack of respect or regard for anything and anyone. And that fits most predators well. But what allows for such a climate? Well, how about the attitude of Abraham’s nephew Lot? For when the mob came to demand Lot’s angelic guests, HE was ready to comply, sort of, by passing them his virgin daughters instead. This kind of societal attitude can only grow when good people give in to the morals of the evil around them. And God’s opinion on the event? He let the mob spend their last hours on earth as blind in their eyes as they were in their souls.
Now, before you think societal attitudes didn’t matter in this story, let’s look at Ezekiel 16, wherein the prophet is told exactly why God destroyed Sodom:

49 Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughter had pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. 50 And they were haughty and committed abomination before Me; therefore I took them away as I saw fit.

The Benjamin story is nearly a mirror image, except it is a concubine who actually does get sent out, actually does get gang raped and murdered, and the payback comes from the rest of Israel rather than directly by the Hand of God. The one additional lesson in this story is that Israel had no luck eradicating the evil until they “inquired of the Lord.” Get that? This is not a battle against a foe you can face down alone- and God is more than willing to help- IF you ask Him.

The story of Amnon and Tamar is also well known to many who have suffered assault by, as 3 out of 4 rape victims do, someone they knew. Tamar begged him not to do it, he did anyway, convinced he “loved” her. Afterwards, he saw her as garbage. Sadly there is no happy ending in this tale. She ended up “desolate”, and he ended up dead. One more point pertinent here- Amnon acted after being “egged” on by a cousin. How many men wouldn’t have the “courage” to commit the crime were it not for someone who, silently or verbally, encouraged the act?
But now let me look at some passages that tell a bit different story. If we learned anything from the recent elections, is that sexual assault need not always be physical, or carried out “all the way”. It can be a grope, or a “locker room conversation.” Here are some more examples in that vein.
Judah had three sons. The first born, Er, married a girl also named Tamar, whose story ends in the genealogy of Jesus himself. But for our purposes, we stop partway through the tale. You see, Er was evil, and God “killed him” before he was able to consummate his marriage. So Judah, as was his right, passed her on to the second son, Onan. In their culture, the brother had a duty to raise up children in his dead brother’s name. But Onan was a piece of work as well, and he availed himself of the pleasure, but “spent his seed on the ground.” And this is abuse of another shade- let’s call it dereliction of his duty to his wife. He was willing to take what he wanted, but not to give what he was bound to. You’ll find this story in Genesis 38.
Our next story is of Judah’s sister Dinah. A foreigner from the city of Shechem “fell in love” with her, and raped her. He apparently did love her, and in his mind apparently the ends justified the means- just say no not being a consideration in the culture. After admitting the crime, he, his father, and their entire city were willing to do the penance her brothers demanded- they would all be circumcised. As the story plays out, though, the brothers attacked while they were recovering and killed them all. Takeaways here are two-fold- if you DO love her, the ends do not justify the means, and no means no even if; and, this sort of thing will rarely end well.
Two stories left. The first, and it may surprise you, is David and Bathsheba. The Bible narrative (2 Samuel 11) never really paints Bathsheba as unwilling; she seems all right with everything. But ask yourself- what would it have mattered if she wasn’t? David was KING; he could do what he wanted. He could have raped her, had her husband murdered, and forced her to marry him, and she couldn’t have said a word. How interesting, then, that in the narrative, she DOESN’T say a word.
An additional thought at this point: David, for all of being “a man after God’s own heart”, failed to set an example for his sons. He had eight wives and an affair. Of his sons, Amnon raped his sister; Absalom killed Amnon for the crime, revolted against his father, and slept with David’s concubines IN PUBLIC just to rub his face in it. And Solomon? He had 700 wives and 300 concubines! And at the end of his life, all his great forgotten wisdom could teach him was how vain his life had been. Sexual sin doesn’t rob your example; it just makes it a horrible example.
Finally, how about Jesus and the adulteress who was about to be stoned in John 8? Here’s the thing here- maybe there wasn’t an assault; maybe the woman was just as guilty as the men said. But the men were basing the stoning on Leviticus 20:10, where it says BOTH parties are to be stoned. WHERE WERE THE GUILTY MEN? Their society had assaulted women by making the “law” change until it was SOLELY the woman’s fault. We were speculating on what Jesus was writing on the ground as they listed the charges against her- I’m betting it was a list of the men in the group who had slept with her, who would be called into the circle next. And I’ll bet that, upon reading the list, they were the first of the group to melt away after Jesus told them to let the one without sin cast the first stone.

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Okay, now we get to the personal hard part. As I said, I was doing a little research, I soon came to one of those “annoying” sites that name a Biblical subject and then throw any and every verse that can remotely be tied to to it. And the first of those verses damned me to the core:
Matthew 25:40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

Wow. And He’s right.
I have bent to the mob rule. Not out of fear, but of how it flatters my pride. I’ve accepted things because they were “acceptable”- and because they made me look good, feel good. Guilty as charged.
I have joined in the “locker room conversations” and done inappropriate things, encouraged by those I surrounded myself with. Guilty as charged.
I have treated women as objects. I have been the leering one, the “objectifier”. Guilty as charged.
I have been derelict of duty. If I have learned anything from David Jeremiah’s series on Agape love, I have learned that I have NEVER really known the kind of love that I SHOULD have given to a woman- any woman for that matter. Guilty as charged, in every sense.
I have taken advantage, trusting that the ends justified the means. Take, take, take, and never knowing what to give, how to give, or even TO give. And really never caring. Guilty as charged.
I have used my power in a situation to get, or attempt to get, my way. Guilty as charged.
I have played the hypocrite in defending myself- to God and to myself- many, many times. Guilty as charged.
I have DEFINITELY set the bad example. The times I have let my son down in this regard have been an ongoing and constant thing. I can only praise God that God did a better job with him than I did. Guilty, guilty, guilty as charged.

I know I am not alone in this. You never raped a woman, groped a woman, whistled as she walked by? Good for you. Have you used your power, to watch porn and take advantage of women who would never be on that screen if not for men like us providing them a reason and teaching them that’s all they’re good for? Have you truly loved your wife as Christ loved the Church- do you even realize what all that entails? Have you just went along with the standards of the day, in your mind if not in deed? Guilty as charged.
Women, I hope you draw from this story one clear fact- God is there, He cares, and is waiting only for you to ask to start helping you in whatever healing you require.
Men, I hope you draw from this TWO clear things. First, that assault covers a LOT of ground, and it may well be that we are ALL guilty at some level. And second, if you are doing it to HER, you are doing it TO JESUS. And that should chill you to the bone. It certainly did to me.

S.A.A.M. 2017

For those who aren’t aware the month of April has been set aside by NSVRC (National Sexual Violence Resource Center) as a month dedicated to bring sexual assault awareness to the forefront of conversation. Two years ago I used the platform as somewhat of a spring board in telling my own story, and sharing several submissions from fellow survivors. I didn’t really do much last year preparing for the birth of my twins, but this year I’m back in full advocacy swing with once again sharing my own story.  The only way to make a difference in these horrendous statistics, is to keep talking about it. To keep bringing awareness to a crime that goes unreported more often than not, and even when it is reported gives victims little legal recourse to see their assailant brought to justice. Sitting idly by in the shadows hoping that someone else can speak up and make the change isn’t going to accomplish anything. I’ve been given my gift with words for a reason. So far I haven’t found a much better reason than this: to speak for those afraid to use their own voice. As long as I possess the ability to share my story, I will.

Comments are OPEN this year, but will be strictly monitored. Respectful debate is welcome.

 

***Trigger Warning***

**NSFW**

***The following contains graphic reference to sexual violence. Reader discretion is advised.***

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I am a survivor of not only one, but two separate sexual assaults. I don’t know why the second event is seared on my memory, and the first passed with out hardly a memory at all. My therapist seems to think I was drugged the first time around, as the complete memories simply are not there. I remember before, I remember after, but the event itself is lost. Something happened in those few hours between 4am and 8am leaving the back door unlocked, my underwear strewn across the room, and the scent of a strange cologne on my sheets, but the details of exactly what are lost forever.
The second event I can still remember as if it had happened yesterday. I can remember the scent of the room, the color and pattern of the sheets, exactly what I was wearing, and exactly when it happened. I wasn’t always able to recall it so clearly. It met me mostly in flashbacks, and nightmares. Pieces and fragments of the entire memory lost in my trauma cycle.
These are the moments exactly as I remember them. It has been quite a long time and few details may be blurred, but that doesn’t discount the validity of what happened. Rape, is rape, is rape. I rejected my attacker’s advances and he continued on despite it. The how, why, or mechanics are pretty much irrelevant to all but those of us who have to live with them repeating in our heads.
I had fallen asleep in bed next to a close friend. The same situation had happened many times before with out consequence. We spent a lot of time together, and late nights often turned into early mornings when I was too tired to drive home. He was my mentor, my confidant, my hero. I admired him, but most of all I trusted him. We were comfortable with each other, familiar like the oldest friends. Our friendship was physical as far as hugs, sharing each other’s personal space, and playful bantering back and forth went, but we had remained platonic. There was no indication that it would change, and I was perfectly content with what we had. I was young, just starting to branch out on my own away from the watchful eyes of my parents, and painfully innocent. It genuinely never occurred to me that he could want something more from me, least of all anything sexual.
I’ve always been frowzy, and back in those days I was caught between wanting to flaunt my feminine sexuality and hide my ample figure under baggy shapeless clothes. There were days when I would venture out in a miniskirt and tank, but they were fleeting and far between. I didn’t even know what I wanted from myself, and especially not how to read/determine what others wanted from me. I don’t want to say that I walked right into a trap, or that he intentionally set me up to take advantage of me, but looking back on it now older and wiser I have to wonder… The person I innocently encountered through mutual friends, and the person who I grew so close to seemed to be two entirely different entities.
He was so dramatically different alone in his own home. As if he became a different person when outside of the imposing and constant eye of the public. It was both comforting and a little disconcerting as he began to open up to me. He had recently shared that life hadn’t been going very well for him in the months prior to our meeting and pursuant friendship. His mood swings were frequent, and he was often unstable at best. Watching the happy go lucky, confidant, often arrogant boy I had grown close to, become scared, insecure, and melancholy in the blink of an eye made my heart ache. I had experienced a few of these episodes prior to the attack. Even though some of them were intense and frightening it gave me a deeper appreciation for his struggle. He hid his strife and pain so well in the company of others, but one on one when everything was still he broke out of his shackles; the constraints of society. He became real, raw, and so completely human. I had never felt more intimately connected with anyone than I did with him in those moments spent soothing a tortured soul back into the quiet rhythm of stability. Watching him endure the prison of his run away emotions reminded me of myself. It was morbidly comforting to see that I wasn’t alone in my emotional suffering, even if the reasons we were suffering were different.
After we had fallen asleep I had my back turned to him as usual, having shed most of my clothes before climbing in his bed, I was left in nothing more than my tight fitting cotton tee shirt and plain cotton panties. I had worn the same thing many nights before with out thought or consequence, but that night as he rolled over putting his arm around me, he slid his hand across my chest to rest on my left breast. I was startled from my sleep. Things had happened so quickly, and without any discussion. I wasn’t even truly sure what was happening.
While I had lost my virginity during my previous assault, I didn’t remember any of the specifics of intimacy. I had known my first attacker since childhood, but beyond acquaintance we never developed a close friendship. Perhaps that’s why it was so much easier to forget everything in relation to the first event. The second assault was quite different. As I lay there next to someone whom I had become resoundingly close to, with his hand touching me in such a personal place, everything was completely new. Physically I was not a virgin, but emotionally I was. It felt good, in a confusing dangerous way. I lay there waiting to see if he would realize what he was doing, or if he had merely rolled over in his sleep unaware of his actions. After a few moments of awkward waiting to see what was going to happen I gently removed his hand from my breast and managed to return to sleep if only momentarily before his hand found its way back. This time instead of just resting his hand on top of my shirt, he slowly worked his hand underneath. Starting gently on my back and slowly moving his way around again to my breast where he began to caress me. That startled me. It was one thing if he had accidentally rolled over unaware of his actions, but the caressing signaled a deeper, darker intent. Instead of waiting to see what happened next, I again removed his hand, this time a bit more forcefully hoping that he would get the message that I was not interested, but instead almost immediately after I tossed his hand away, he returned to grab me in a much more forceful way that before.
I tried to push his hand away yet again, but this time he completely refused. I struggled briefly before his hand left my breast and he forced it between my thighs running his fingers up and down my vagina before penetrating me. With that I gasped and arched my back trying to scoot away as he forcefully rolled me from my side onto my back, holding both of my arms above my head. He continued to roughly violate me with his hand not even bothering to remove my panties, merely pushing them to the side until there was a transition. No longer was he violating me with his hand, but instead had forcefully penetrated me.
It seared with a burning pain as he continued harder and faster. I yelped, struggling to free my arms and tried to use my feet to push myself away from him, while trying desperately to close my legs and end the painful penetration. I managed to scoot a few inches, my head becoming pressed uncomfortably into the headboard of the bed, my neck twisted at an uncomfortable forty five degrees. He then released my arms, as he grabbed my hips and pulled me back onto himself, using his arms for extra leverage making each thrust even more painful. I raised my arms, trying to push him away from me, off of me, but instead he pushed my arms away and leaned in putting his full body weight on top of me, giving me a forced kiss. I couldn’t breath, whether it was the weight of his body on top of mine, or the emotional weight of what was happening the kiss caused something to snap inside of me. I yelped again as tears began to run down my face and I fought harder finally succeeding in pushing him away as my knee connected with his rib cage.
Still trying to emotionally process what was happening, or had happened, to me instead of leaving the room and getting away I merely returned to my side of the bed, curled myself into the smallest, tightest ball I could manage and continued to sob. I had no idea where he had gone, or if he was still laying in bed next to me. The realization that he could still be in bed with me made me quickly stifle my sobs. It was quite a bit more difficult than I had anticipated, but eventually I was able to quiet my sobbing and fell into a fitful sleep.
By the time my alarm went off, the sun was high in the sky and my friend had disappeared. He was no longer in the bed beside me, and I couldn’t hear any tell tale signs that he was at home. It was a little odd that he had just left without telling me, but not completely unusual. As I stirred from sleep, and rolled over in the bed the events of the night before became blurry and distant as if they had all been just a bad or over exaggerated dream. I stared at the ceiling trying to process everything flying around in my head. The more I thought about it, the more I began to justify his actions. We were both single, spending a lot of time together, and intimate in every other sense of the word save for sexually. Would I have been hurt or betrayed if he had made a sexual advance toward me during the day? Was it only because it happened somewhere in the space between sleep and waking that it seemed so skewed and inappropriate? Inappropriate. When that thought crossed my mind, I sat up in bed and made my way into the bathroom looking at myself in the mirror.
My breasts were hardly shrouded through my tee shirt which exposed my navel and low cut panties. I stared a moment longer and then closed my eyes hanging my head in disgust. I might as well have climbed into his bed naked. After becoming so close, then throwing myself into his bed in such a suggestive outfit, to use the horrible cliche, I felt that I was asking for it. I felt that couldn’t blame him for acting on impulse the way he did. If I truly hadn’t some how wanted him to make a move, I should have slept in my own bed, or on the couch. Instead of taking action against him, I fell into the trap of victim blaming. It was all I knew, growing up in a society that places so much weight on women to bare the responsibility of crimes against them.
Not once did the word rape cross my mind in all of my mulling and evaluating as I stood in front of the mirror, with bloodshot eyes and a broken spirit. Even though now I can see what had happened was most certainly a violent rape, I instead chose to think of it as “previously undiscussed intimacy”. I shook my head, angry and frustrated more with myself than him as I quickly undressed and hopped in the shower. I was due to report to work and staring at myself in the mirror wasn’t going to pay my bills. As I lathered up up the loofa and began to run it over my body I winced encountering bruises that I had yet to notice. My lower back and both hips had light purple and blue marks. On my left hip I could clearly see the outline of his handprint, where each of his fingers and thumb had pressed into my flesh to keep me from squirming away.
For a moment I stared at the marks on my skin as emotion began to overwhelm me once again. Something about seeing the evidence of the violence shook me to the core. I dropped the loofa, and grabbed one side of the shower to steady myself, as I moved my other hand to my lower pelvis pausing before I gently touched myself in a further examination of the damage. The moment my fingers touched the sensitive skin of my labia I winced almost doubling over in pain. My genitals in their entirety were bruised and swollen, my vagina raw and so swollen that I couldn’t actually tell how extensive the damage really was. The inside of my thighs were also beginning to turn a light shade of purple brown sensitive to the touch. At that moment I collapsed to the bottom of the tub. I could emotionally deny what had happened between us, but I couldn’t escape the physical evidence.
I began to sob once again sitting there watching the water run down the shower drain as I curled up as tight as possible while sitting on my knees. It was then that I also noticed bruises on my wrists, which made my sobs even more intense. What did it all mean? Where did I go from here? I couldn’t run away. We were friends, but more than that he was my closest friend. My best friend. The only whom I could tell all my secrets to with out fear of judgement or retribution. Where could I go now? Who could I turn to now that HE had hurt me? Even then as I was still struggling to comprehend what had happened I was sitting in HIS shower, with HIS scent lingering and wafting through the steam slowly filling the room, HIS hair lingering around the shower drain.
That’s when the panic began. My heart began racing as my head began to spin, nausea and the inability to breath caught me off guard. I closed my eyes, the only thing I could think of to do as the water slowly began to fade from warm to cold. I was numb. Physically and emotional, numb sitting there in the darkness overwhelmed by reality and the trauma I had experienced.
As the water lost it’s last trace of warmth, my head stopped spinning and I opened my eyes. I stared at the drain a few moments more before I was finally able to pull myself off of the bottom of the tub. The panic had passed and I had decided that there was nothing that could be done. What had happened was now in the past and I was determined not to let it destroy me. I had to get to work. So I climbed out of the shower, quickly dried myself, found my uniform, dressed and left not sure if I would ever return to that place again.
As I continued on with my day, steadfast and determined the memories began to fade. My mind was occupied with the present, circumstances at work, and everything else in between. The overwhelming emotions began to subside the less and less I thought of the event. A few things remained, his hand on my breast, the kiss, his hand between my legs, but the violence and depravity of his willful disregard of my humanity faded into oblivion. So much so that when he called me later that evening and invited me to come over I happily agreed.
I had been working the late shift so by the time I arrived at his apartment the lights were low and he was getting ready for bed. The door was unlocked and I walked in just as I had so many nights previously. I called his name, and he replied from the bedroom. I balked slightly at meeting him in the bedroom and my heart began to race once again, a feeling of apprehension building in the pit of my stomach. It lasted only a moment as I made my way through the apartment and into the bedroom. He was laying on the bed, with the saddest most distressed look on his face I had ever seen. He patted the empty spot beside him motioning for me to join him. I kicked off my shoes and did just that.
As I crawled in beside him he took a deep breath before spitting out a rushed and frantic apology as he stared straight ahead, either not wanting to or unable to make eye contact.
“About last night. I’m really sorry.” he said nervously.
I tensed up nervous with anticipation, and replied: “What do you mean?” It was quite possibly the dumbest reply ever to an attempted apology/confession but in the overwhelming situation my mind was racing so fast and furious it didn’t occur to me the what the apology was actually for. I had spent the entire day trying to repress and forget the memories of the night before, building up my courage to see him again, then this apology was thrown into my lap.
He paused, taking a few breaths, working up his own courage to continue and eventually said: “Last night, I got really intimate and… I… well… I thought you were someone else, and that you wanted to sleep with me, but you weren’t. You weren’t her and… you were crying. I mean… I’m really sorry, are you okay?” He stammered, finally turning his attention toward me, a look of grief, remorse, and a tiny bit of fear spread across his face.

I sat there momentarily trying to figure out if I was actually okay, or how to respond to his question accurately if I wasn’t. The moment passed briefly before I scooted over closer to him and answered: “I’m here, back in bed next to you aren’t I? If I wasn’t okay I wouldn’t be here.”
He looked at me searching my face for the truth, before he once again began to stammer: “Are you sure, because I mean… I never would have forced you to do anything if you didn’t want to. I mean… you didn’t really protest so… You… you like me. You wanted to sleep with me the first time you came to bed with me, didn’t you?” He said trying to justify his actions more to himself than to me.
I wasn’t really sure how to respond, still to this day, if I were placed in the situation again I don’t know how I would respond. All in all what happened was rape, but was is really? He wasn’t completely lucid mistaking me for another woman as far as I could tell, and he appeared to have great remorse for what had happened. If I hadn’t made the choice to spend the night sleeping in his bed it never would have happened, so was he really the one who should bare the brunt of the blame, or was I? At that point in my life, I felt the blame fall squarely on myself, even though I had rejected his advances by pushing him away that night, and there had never been any discussion of sexual intimacy before hand.
After a few awkward moments of silence I said, “Well no, but I was in your bed and we never really discussed where our relationship was going so… it’s okay. I mean I don’t DISLIKE you, but I shouldn’t have been half naked in your bed if I didn’t want to give you the wrong impression.”
In that moment, that was exactly how I felt. I felt that instead of holding him accountable for his actions, I should instead blame myself. It was easier to accept the blame and fall into self loathing, further removing the event from my mind, blurring and repressing more and more as each fleeting moment passed.
He looked at me with the most sincere look I have ever seen from anyone, and said, “Well, I’m truly sorry, and it will never happen again. Can I have a hug?”

I obliged and he held me in silence restoring my sense of security until I fell asleep, once again in his bed.
Our friendship continued despite the attack, eventually blossoming into a dysfunctional romantic relationship. Through out our time together the sex was frequent and often rough, some falling into what I believed at the time was the “grey area” of consent. None of the other events were nearly as violent nor dehumanizing as the first, but damaging just the same. He was my first recurrent sexual partner. The only relationship I knew was ours. It never occurred to me that something was wrong. It was all what I had perceived as normal, grew accustomed to, and even enjoyed.
While I was completely unaware, he knew what had happened was wrong and he often brought it up in conversation. He would constantly question my motives for staying with him, and had completely convinced himself that the love I felt toward him could not be genuine. As much as he kept bringing it up, I never remembered the most violent rape as being our first sexual experience. Some things remained about that night. His hand on my breast, the kiss, his hand between my thighs, and the apology the next day but for whatever reason my memory recall stopped there. Whenever he referenced the first time we slept together a calm, tender, albeit incredibly awkward moment always came to mind.
When discussing the discrepancy in our memories became an issue, he often chose not to argue with me. The one time he pressed the issue I became greatly upset, firmly rooted in my denial. We never argued about it again, yet he continued to bring it up. Perhaps he was hoping that I would figure it out on my own, or perhaps he was protecting himself and his guilty conscious, either way I went on in blissful ignorance for many years even after our relationship ended and life took us in different directions.
It was only after I began treatment to address PTSD for reasons completely unrelated to him or rape that the real memories began to surface and the dissociation began to fade. I can remember exactly what I was doing when the full memory of the assault broke through to my conscious mind. My current husband and I had just moved into our first home with our young daughter. I was unpacking some boxes and found my old CD binder. I popped in a CD that my attacker had given me toward the end of our relationship. I hadn’t listened to it in years, but it was some what significant and nostalgic. As I listened closely to the lyrics I really hadn’t paid attention to before, everything about the relationship began to run through my head. I remembered where we had our fist date, the circumstances that lead to us briefly living together, a few of our worst arguments; then suddenly as I was mulling over the memory of how our sexual relationship began, it hit me. I remembered his hand on my breast, I remembered his hand in between my legs; then instead of skipping like a broken record straight to the kiss I remembered the distinct transition from his hand to the forceful penetration of his penis, I remembered fighting, trying to get away, my head being smashed against the headboard. I almost started screaming as tears erupted from the bottom of my heart. I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t move, I couldn’t speak, all I could do was sit there and cry. My husband at work, and my daughter sleeping soundly in her crib.
I didn’t know what else to do. I didn’t know who to tell, or if I should tell anyone. I was still in the early stages of my marriage relationship with my husband and talking about the relationship I shared with my attacker before had caused unnecessary stress between us. I didn’t know what else to do except write everything I remembered down in an attempt to heal wounds that I had been ignoring since the end of the relationship. Which is exactly what I did, in addition to seeking professional help.
The first time I wrote everything down, I had intended to publish it on my personal blog, which my attacker’s wife had found and been following for sometime. The way I met her and reasons she is still following my blog are a tale in themselves, but it’s not appropriate to share here. What’s important is that she was following, and before I began publishing the ugliness of what happened between myself and her husband I decided to contact her, allowing her to make the choice to continue or stop reading. Instead of avoiding conflict, I think it only inflamed it. Where she had only been following before, soon he and several of their friends were watching every step I made for the duration of my recovery. It took me two years before I felt comfortable enough to pen the words written here, and my attacker tried every trick in the book to get me to remain silent, barely stopping just short of physical violence.
I pressed on and continued writing and publishing various memories between us including the account of the assault enduring their harassment until this past summer. As I was finally reaching a place of closure on the horror show that was the relationship with my rapist, I wrote a very defiant post detailing how I felt about their treatment of me during my recovery, and attempt to emotionally manipulate me. It ended with a very long comment from her, and the first ever comment from my attacker on my public writing. In his comment he finally confessed his true desire for me was purely lust. I was a sex object to him, nothing more. While he denied the assault it self, he confirmed every other abusive aspect of our relationship. In addition to that he also denied the existence of any sort of sleep disturbances. It was then that another revelation smacked me awake from my post trauma stupor. The story he told me about mistaking me for someone else the night of the assault was just that. A story, to keep me around for his sick sexual fantasy. It took me several days to come to terms with that, especially since I’d spent the better part of my recovery defending him based on the fact the most violent acts only occurred between us at night after I had fallen asleep. Once I came to terms with it, and after several vaguely threatening emails from him, despite my repeated request that he not contact me further, I went to the police.
3,894 days after the assault, 1,825 days since the end of the relationship, and 1,095 days since the memory returned to my conscious mind. In the United States the statue of limitations vary from state to state, crime to crime. Where we were when the attack took place has a statute of 20 years. I got lucky. Showing up to file my report was one of the most panic inducing things I’ve ever done. I showed up at the local police station and told the officer that I needed to report a nearly 11 year old rape. He was very kind, and encouraged me to stay, but he was honest and up front. After so much time had passed, with out any physical evidence it was really up to the prosecutor to determine if the case would move forward or not.
Every officer I spoke to was very kind, and encouraged me to pursue the full extend of the law. I submitted copies of everything I had written about the assault, as well as an official statement, all of the contact I had between myself and my attacker, plus everything I’ve written here and that was that. I was told a detective would contact me, warned again that nothing much was likely to come of it with out hard physical evidence, and sent on my way. It was three weeks before I heard from the detective. By that point I had assumed that seeing the date of the crime, my report had been filed or tossed aside to make way for more current crimes. It was something I was prepared for as I took the step to make my report, and I felt comfortable simply knowing that I had done the right thing even if it was too late for my attacker to see justice. Until I got a phone call from the detective that is. I missed him the first time, and another week went by before we were able to reconnect. One month after I filed my report, the detective the next step of gathering a statement from my attacker.
Thankfully, because the police were now involved the immediate fall out from my attacker and his wife was minimal. Where they had previously contacted me directly, or posted things here they left it alone even as they still continue to visit the site daily. It was the best, most liberating, feeling I’ve ever had. The weight has been lifted off of me, the memory is just a memory now, not a flashback or overwhelming experience. The fact that my attacker is still following my blog, no longer bothers me. Whatever he might say, as crude, abusive, or threatening as it might be no longer bothers me. Even on my worst days when the PTSD I inherited kicks in and starts shuffling through all of the various traumas in my life. His part no longer bothers me.
What does bother me is seeing so many other women, or even men, suffer in silence because of the shame associated with speaking out about sexual crimes. Even as a victim myself, I wasted so much time trying to rationalize and justify what happened as something other than rape, because it’s easier to talk about. “He threw me across the room into a dresser” is so much easier to say than “he raped me.” I still physically choke on the word: rape. I have a very hard time saying it out loud without tears and heart racing full of panic. That is exactly why we need to talk about it.
Even in the current climate, where the circus that was the United States 2016 election, continues to bring sexual assault to the forefront of discussion, victims will cry out momentarily only to slip back into silence shortly after. Personally, the more I thought about it, the more I wondered why I didn’t hesitate to fight back during the act of the assault itself, but stopped fighting when it came to speaking out. I’ve been through a lot in my nearly 30 years, enough that I’m more comfortable facing adversity than with out it. I’m a fighter, I’m a survivor. I’m not going to remain silent about this anymore. I will take any and every opportunity to share my story. Not out of hatred, or jealousy, or revenge, attention seeking, or any other excuse that is tossed around as victim blaming or shaming. I’m never going to stop talking about it because it matters. It needs to be said.

I’m Kelli, I’m 29 and I was raped by a man whom I later fell in love, and entered a consensual sexual relationship with. The memories were repressed for five years after the attack itself, I chose to remain silent for two years after they resurfaced, and waited an additional year after first speaking out to make my report to law enforcement. I will remain silent no more.

That Moment

That moment when a post on your FB page gains new life and helps fellow victims speak their truth. All the feels!


Over the weekend I had the privilege to watch this badge (which you can find with many others at End The Stigma) that I posted back in January gain new life. It was heartbreaking and encouraging all at once to see each share pop up in my notifications and read through some of the stories of fellow victims who used the post as a jumping off point to start conversations with their friends and family.

I had planned to publish an article detailing my own survivors story in April for Sexual Assult Awareness Month, but with this influx of new fans who so bravely shared their own stories I think publishing it now is appropriate as well.

***Trigger Warning***

***NSFW***

***The following contains graphic depictions of sexual violence, reader discretion is advised***

I am a survivor of not only one, but two separate sexual assaults. I don’t know why the second event is seared on my memory, and the first passed with out hardly a memory at all. My therapist seems to think I was drugged the first time around, as the complete memories simply are not there. I remember before, I remember after, but the event itself is lost. Something happened in those few hours between 4am and 8am leaving the back door unlocked, my underwear strewn across the room, and the scent of a strange cologne on my sheets, but the details of exactly what are lost forever.

The second event I can still remember as if it had happened yesterday. I can remember the scent of the room, the color and pattern of the sheets, exactly what I was wearing, and exactly when it happened. I wasn’t always able to recall it so clearly. It met me mostly in flashbacks, and nightmares. Pieces and fragments of the entire memory lost in my trauma cycle.

These are the moments exactly as I remember them. It has been quite a long time and few details may be blurred, but that doesn’t discount the validity of what happened. Rape, is rape, is rape. I rejected my attacker’s advances and he continued on despite it. The how, why, or mechanics are pretty much irrelevant to all but those of us who have to live with them repeating in our heads.

I had fallen asleep in bed next to a close friend. The same situation had happened many times before with out consequence. We spent a lot of time together, and late nights often turned into early mornings when I was too tired to drive home. He was my mentor, my confidant, my hero. I admired him, but most of all I trusted him. We were comfortable with each other, familiar like the oldest friends. Our friendship was physical as far as hugs, sharing each other’s personal space, and playful bantering back and forth went, but we had remained platonic. There was no indication that it would change, and I was perfectly content with what we had. I was young, just starting to branch out on my own away from the watchful eyes of my parents, and painfully innocent. It genuinely never occurred to me that he could want something more from me, least of all anything sexual.

I’ve always been frowzy, and back in those days I was caught between wanting to flaunt my feminine sexuality and hide my ample figure under baggy shapeless clothes. There were days when I would venture out in a miniskirt and tank, but they were fleeting and far between. I didn’t even know what I wanted from myself, and especially not how to read/determine what others wanted from me. I don’t want to say that I walked right into a trap, or that he intentionally set me up to take advantage of me, but looking back on it now older and wiser I have to wonder… The person I innocently encountered through mutual friends, and the person who I grew so close to seemed to be two entirely different entities.

He was so dramatically different alone in his own home. As if he became a different person when outside of the imposing and constant eye of the public. It was both comforting and a little disconcerting as he began to open up to me. He had recently shared that life hadn’t been going very well for him in the months prior to our meeting and pursuant friendship. His mood swings were frequent, and he was often unstable at best. Watching the happy go lucky, confidant, often arrogant boy I had grown close to, become scared, insecure, and melancholy in the blink of an eye made my heart ache. I had experienced a few of these episodes prior to the attack. Even though some of them were intense and frightening it gave me a deeper appreciation for his struggle. He hid his strife and pain so well in the company of others, but one on one when everything was still he broke out of his shackles; the constraints of society. He became real, raw, and so completely human. I had never felt more intimately connected with anyone than I did with him in those moments spent soothing a tortured soul back into the quiet rhythm of stability. Watching him endure the prison of his run away emotions reminded me of myself. It was morbidly comforting to see that I wasn’t alone in my emotional suffering, even if the reasons we were suffering were different.

After we had fallen asleep I had my back turned to him as usual, having shed most of my clothes before climbing in his bed, I was left in nothing more than my tight fitting cotton tee shirt and plain cotton panties. I had worn the same thing many nights before with out thought or consequence, but that night as he rolled over putting his arm around me, he slid his hand across my chest to rest on my left breast. I was startled from my sleep. Things had happened so quickly, and without any discussion. I wasn’t even truly sure what was happening.

While I had lost my virginity during my previous assault, I didn’t remember any of the specifics of intimacy. I had known my first attacker since childhood, but beyond acquaintance we never developed a close friendship. Perhaps that’s why it was so much easier to forget everything in relation to the first event. The second assault was quite different. As I lay there next to someone whom I had become resoundingly close to, with his hand touching me in such a personal place, everything was completely new. Physically I was not a virgin, but emotionally I was. It felt good, in a confusing dangerous way. I lay there waiting to see if he would realize what he was doing, or if he had merely rolled over in his sleep unaware of his actions. After a few moments of awkward waiting to see what was going to happen I gently removed his hand from my breast and managed to return to sleep if only momentarily before his hand found its way back. This time instead of just resting his hand on top of my shirt, he slowly worked his hand underneath. Starting gently on my back and slowly moving his way around again to my breast where he began to caress me. That startled me. It was one thing if he had accidentally rolled over unaware of his actions, but the caressing signaled a deeper, darker intent. Instead of waiting to see what happened next, I again removed his hand, this time a bit more forcefully hoping that he would get the message that I was not interested, but instead almost immediately after I tossed his hand away, he returned to grab me in a much more forceful way that before.

I tried to push his hand away yet again, but this time he completely refused. I struggled briefly before his hand left my breast and he forced it between my thighs running his fingers up and down my vagina before penetrating me. With that I gasped and arched my back trying to scoot away as he forcefully rolled me from my side onto my back, holding both of my arms above my head. He continued to roughly violate me with his hand not even bothering to remove my panties, merely pushing them to the side until there was a transition. No longer was he violating me with his hand, but instead had forcefully penetrated me.

It seared with a burning pain as he continued harder and faster. I yelped, struggling to free my arms and tried to use my feet to push myself away from him, while trying desperately to close my legs and end the painful penetration. I managed to scoot a few inches, my head becoming pressed uncomfortably into the headboard of the bed, my neck twisted at an uncomfortable forty five degrees. He then released my arms, as he grabbed my hips and pulled me back onto himself, using his arms for extra leverage making each thrust even more painful. I raised my arms, trying to push him away from me, off of me, but instead he pushed my arms away and leaned in putting his full body weight on top of me, giving me a forced kiss. I couldn’t breath, whether it was the weight of his body on top of mine, or the emotional weight of what was happening the kiss caused something to snap inside of me. I yelped again as tears began to run down my face and I fought harder finally succeeding in pushing him away as my knee connected with his rib cage.

Still trying to emotionally process what was happening, or had happened, to me instead of leaving the room and getting away I merely returned to my side of the bed, curled myself into the smallest, tightest ball I could manage and continued to sob. I had no idea where he had gone, or if he was still laying in bed next to me. The realization that he could still be in bed with me made me quickly stifle my sobs. It was quite a bit more difficult than I had anticipated, but eventually I was able to quiet my sobbing and fell into a fitful sleep.

By the time my alarm went off, the sun was high in the sky and my friend had disappeared. He was no longer in the bed beside me, and I couldn’t hear any tell tale signs that he was at home. It was a little odd that he had just left without telling me, but not completely unusual. As I stirred from sleep, and rolled over in the bed the events of the night before became blurry and distant as if they had all been just a bad or over exaggerated dream. I stared at the ceiling trying to process everything flying around in my head. The more I thought about it, the more I began to justify his actions. We were both single, spending a lot of time together, and intimate in every other sense of the word save for sexually. Would I have been hurt or betrayed if he had made a sexual advance toward me during the day? Was it only because it happened somewhere in the space between sleep and waking that it seemed so skewed and inappropriate? Inappropriate. When that thought crossed my mind, I sat up in bed and made my way into the bathroom looking at myself in the mirror.

My breasts were hardly shrouded through my tee shirt which exposed my navel and low cut panties. I stared a moment longer and then closed my eyes hanging my head in disgust. I might as well have climbed into his bed naked. After becoming so close, then throwing myself into his bed in such a suggestive outfit, to use the horrible cliche, I felt that I was asking for it. I felt that couldn’t blame him for acting on impulse the way he did. If I truly hadn’t some how wanted him to make a move, I should have slept in my own bed, or on the couch. Instead of taking action against him, I fell into the trap of victim blaming. It was all I knew, growing up in a society that places so much weight on women to bare the responsibility of crimes against them.

Not once did the word rape cross my mind in all of my mulling and evaluating as I stood in front of the mirror, with bloodshot eyes and a broken spirit. Even though now I can see what had happened was most certainly a violent rape, I instead chose to think of it as “previously undiscussed intimacy”. I shook my head, angry and frustrated more with myself than him as I quickly undressed and hopped in the shower. I was due to report to work and staring at myself in the mirror wasn’t going to pay my bills. As I lathered up up the loofa and began to run it over my body I winced encountering bruises that I had yet to notice. My lower back and both hips had light purple and blue marks. On my left hip I could clearly see the outline of his handprint, where each of his fingers and thumb had pressed into my flesh to keep me from squirming away.

For a moment I stared at the marks on my skin as emotion began to overwhelm me once again. Something about seeing the evidence of the violence shook me to the core. I dropped the loofa, and grabbed one side of the shower to steady myself, as I moved my other hand to my lower pelvis pausing before I gently touched myself in a further examination of the damage. The moment my fingers touched the sensitive skin of my labia I winced almost doubling over in pain. My genitals in their entirety were bruised and swollen, my vagina raw and so swollen that I couldn’t actually tell how extensive the damage really was. The inside of my thighs were also beginning to turn a light shade of purple brown sensitive to the touch. At that moment I collapsed to the bottom of the tub. I could emotionally deny what had happened between us, but I couldn’t escape the physical evidence.

I began to sob once again sitting there watching the water run down the shower drain as I curled up as tight as possible while sitting on my knees. It was then that I also noticed bruises on my wrists, which made my sobs even more intense. What did it all mean? Where did I go from here? I couldn’t run away. We were friends, but more than that he was my closest friend. My best friend. The only whom I could tell all my secrets to with out fear of judgement or retribution. Where could I go now? Who could I turn to now that HE had hurt me? Even then as I was still struggling to comprehend what had happened I was sitting in HIS shower, with HIS scent lingering and wafting through the steam slowly filling the room, HIS hair lingering around the shower drain.

That’s when the panic began. My heart began racing as my head began to spin, nausea and the inability to breath caught me off guard. I closed my eyes, the only thing I could think of to do as the water slowly began to fade from warm to cold. I was numb. Physically and emotional, numb sitting there in the darkness overwhelmed by reality and the trauma I had experienced.

As the water lost it’s last trace of warmth, my head stopped spinning and I opened my eyes. I stared at the drain a few moments more before I was finally able to pull myself off of the bottom of the tub. The panic had passed and I had decided that there was nothing that could be done. What had happened was now in the past and I was determined not to let it destroy me. I had to get to work. So I climbed out of the shower, quickly dried myself, found my uniform, dressed and left not sure if I would ever return to that place again.

As I continued on with my day, steadfast and determined the memories began to fade. My mind was occupied with the present, circumstances at work, and everything else in between. The overwhelming emotions began to subside the less and less I thought of the event. A few things remained, his hand on my breast, the kiss, his hand between my legs, but the violence and depravity of his willful disregard of my humanity faded into oblivion. So much so that when he called me later that evening and invited me to come over I happily agreed.

I had been working the late shift so by the time I arrived at his apartment the lights were low and he was getting ready for bed. The door was unlocked and I walked in just as I had so many nights previously. I called his name, and he replied from the bedroom. I balked slightly at meeting him in the bedroom and my heart began to race once again, a feeling of apprehension building in the pit of my stomach. It lasted only a moment as I made my way through the apartment and into the bedroom. He was laying on the bed, with the saddest most distressed look on his face I had ever seen. He patted the empty spot beside him motioning for me to join him. I kicked off my shoes and did just that.

As I crawled in beside him he took a deep breath before spitting out a rushed and frantic apology as he stared straight ahead, either not wanting to or unable to make eye contact.

“About last night. I’m really sorry.” he said nervously.

I tensed up nervous with anticipation, and replied: “What do you mean?” It was quite possibly the dumbest reply ever to an attempted apology/confession but in the overwhelming situation my mind was racing so fast and furious it didn’t occur to me the what the apology was actually for. I had spent the entire day trying to repress and forget the memories of the night before, building up my courage to see him again, then this apology was thrown into my lap.

He paused, taking a few breaths, working up his own courage to continue and eventually said: “Last night, I got really intimate and… I… well… I thought you were someone else, and that you wanted to sleep with me, but you weren’t. You weren’t her and… you were crying. I mean… I’m really sorry, are you okay?” He stammered, finally turning his attention toward me, a look of grief, remorse, and a tiny bit of fear spread across his face.

I sat there momentarily trying to figure out if I was actually okay, or how to respond to his question accurately if I wasn’t. The moment passed briefly before I scooted over closer to him and answered: “I’m here, back in bed next to you aren’t I? If I wasn’t okay I wouldn’t be here.”
He looked at me searching my face for the truth, before he once again began to stammer: “Are you sure, because I mean… I never would have forced you to do anything if you didn’t want to. I mean… you didn’t really protest so… You… you like me. You wanted to sleep with me the first time you came to bed with me, didn’t you?” He said trying to justify his actions more to himself than to me.

I wasn’t really sure how to respond, still to this day, if I were placed in the situation again I don’t know how I would respond. All in all what happened was rape, but was is really? He wasn’t completely lucid mistaking me for another woman as far as I could tell, and he appeared to have great remorse for what had happened. If I hadn’t made the choice to spend the night sleeping in his bed it never would have happened, so was he really the one who should bare the brunt of the blame, or was I? At that point in my life, I felt the blame fall squarely on myself, even though I had rejected his advances by pushing him away that night, and there had never been any discussion of sexual intimacy before hand.

After a few awkward moments of silence I said, “Well no, but I was in your bed and we never really discussed where our relationship was going so… it’s okay. I mean I don’t DISLIKE you, but I shouldn’t have been half naked in your bed if I didn’t want to give you the wrong impression.”

In that moment, that was exactly how I felt. I felt that instead of holding him accountable for his actions, I should instead blame myself. It was easier to accept the blame and fall into self loathing, further removing the event from my mind, blurring and repressing more and more as each fleeting moment passed.

He looked at me with the most sincere look I have ever seen from anyone, and said, “Well, I’m truly sorry, and it will never happen again. Can I have a hug?”
I obliged and he held me in silence restoring my sense of security until I fell asleep, once again in his bed.

Our friendship continued despite the attack, eventually blossoming into a dysfunctional romantic relationship. Through out our time together the sex was frequent and often rough, some falling into what I believed at the time was the “grey area” of consent. None of the other events were nearly as violent nor dehumanizing as the first, but damaging just the same. He was my first recurrent sexual partner. The only relationship I knew was ours. It never occurred to me that something was wrong. It was all what I had perceived as normal, grew accustomed to, and even enjoyed.

While I was completely unaware, he knew what had happened was wrong and he often brought it up in conversation. He would constantly question my motives for staying with him, and had completely convinced himself that the love I felt toward him could not be genuine. As much as he kept bringing it up, I never remembered the most violent rape as being our first sexual experience. Some things remained about that night. His hand on my breast, the kiss, his hand between my thighs, and the apology the next day but for whatever reason my memory recall stopped there. Whenever he referenced the first time we slept together a calm, tender, albeit incredibly awkward moment always came to mind.

When discussing the discrepancy in our memories became an issue, he often chose not to argue with me. The one time he pressed the issue I became greatly upset, firmly rooted in my denial. We never argued about it again, yet he continued to bring it up. Perhaps he was hoping that I would figure it out on my own, or perhaps he was protecting himself and his guilty conscious, either way I went on in blissful ignorance for many years even after our relationship ended and life took us in different directions.

It was only after I began treatment to address PTSD for reasons completely unrelated to him or rape that the real memories began to surface and the dissociation began to fade. I can remember exactly what I was doing when the full memory of the assault broke through to my conscious mind. My current husband and I had just moved into our first home with our young daughter. I was unpacking some boxes and found my old CD binder. I popped in a CD that my attacker had given me toward the end of our relationship. I hadn’t listened to it in years, but it was some what significant and nostalgic. As I listened closely to the lyrics I really hadn’t paid attention to before, everything about the relationship began to run through my head. I remembered where we had our fist date, the circumstances that lead to us briefly living together, a few of our worst arguments; then suddenly as I was mulling over the memory of how our sexual relationship began, it hit me. I remembered his hand on my breast, I remembered his hand in between my legs; then instead of skipping like a broken record straight to the kiss I remembered the distinct transition from his hand to the forceful penetration of his penis, I remembered fighting, trying to get away, my head being smashed against the headboard. I almost started screaming as tears erupted from the bottom of my heart. I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t move, I couldn’t speak, all I could do was sit there and cry. My husband at work, and my daughter sleeping soundly in her crib.

I didn’t know what else to do. I didn’t know who to tell, or if I should tell anyone. I was still in the early stages of my marriage relationship with my husband and talking about the relationship I shared with my attacker before had caused unnecessary stress between us. I didn’t know what else to do except write everything I remembered down in an attempt to heal wounds that I had been ignoring since the end of the relationship. Which is exactly what I did, in addition to seeking professional help.

The first time I wrote everything down, I had intended to publish it on my personal blog, which my attacker’s wife had found and been following for sometime. The way I met her and reasons she is still following my blog are a tale in themselves, but it’s not appropriate to share here. What’s important is that she was following, and before I began publishing the ugliness of what happened between myself and her husband I decided to contact her, allowing her to make the choice to continue or stop reading. Instead of avoiding conflict, I think it only inflamed it. Where she had only been following before, soon he and several of their friends were watching every step I made for the duration of my recovery. It took me two years before I felt comfortable enough to pen the words written here, and my attacker tried every trick in the book to get me to remain silent, barely stopping just short of physical violence.

I pressed on and continued writing and publishing various memories between us including the account of the assault enduring their harassment until this past summer. As I was finally reaching a place of closure on the horror show that was the relationship with my rapist, I wrote a very defiant post detailing how I felt about their treatment of me during my recovery, and attempt to emotionally manipulate me. It ended with a very long comment from her, and the first ever comment from my attacker on my public writing. In his comment he finally confessed his true desire for me was purely lust. I was a sex object to him, nothing more. While he denied the assault it self, he confirmed every other abusive aspect of our relationship. In addition to that he also denied the existence of any sort of sleep disturbances. It was then that another revelation smacked me awake from my post trauma stupor. The story he told me about mistaking me for someone else the night of the assault was just that. A story, to keep me around for his sick sexual fantasy. It took me several days to come to terms with that, especially since I’d spent the better part of my recovery defending him based on the fact the most violent acts only occurred between us at night after I had fallen asleep. Once I came to terms with it, and after several vaguely threatening emails from him, despite my repeated request that he not contact me further, I went to the police.

3,894 days after the assault, 1,825 days since the end of the relationship, and 1,095 days since the memory returned to my conscious mind. In the United States the statue of limitations vary from state to state, crime to crime. Where we were when the attack took place has a statute of 20 years. I got lucky. Showing up to file my report was one of the most panic inducing things I’ve ever done. I showed up at the local police station and told the officer that I needed to report a nearly 11 year old rape. He was very kind, and encouraged me to stay, but he was honest and up front. After so much time had passed, with out any physical evidence it was really up to the prosecutor to determine if the case would move forward or not.

Every officer I spoke to was very kind, and encouraged me to pursue the full extend of the law. I submitted copies of everything I had written about the assault, as well as an official statement, all of the contact I had between myself and my attacker, plus everything I’ve written here and that was that. I was told a detective would contact me, warned again that nothing much was likely to come of it with out hard physical evidence, and sent on my way. It was three weeks before I heard from the detective. By that point I had assumed that seeing the date of the crime, my report had been filed or tossed aside to make way for more current crimes. It was something I was prepared for as I took the step to make my report, and I felt comfortable simply knowing that I had done the right thing even if it was too late for my attacker to see justice. Until I got a phone call from the detective that is. I missed him the first time, and another week went by before we were able to reconnect. One month after I filed my report, the detective the next step of gathering a statement from my attacker.

Thankfully, because the police were now involved the immediate fall out from my attacker and his wife was minimal. Where they had previously contacted me directly, or posted things here they left it alone even as they still continue to visit the site daily. It was the best, most liberating, feeling I’ve ever had. The weight has been lifted off of me, the memory is just a memory now, not a flashback or overwhelming experience. The fact that my attacker is still following my blog, no longer bothers me. Whatever he might say, as crude, abusive, or threatening as it might be no longer bothers me. Even on my worst days when the PTSD I inherited kicks in and starts shuffling through all of the various traumas in my life. His part no longer bothers me.

What does bother me is seeing so many other women, or even men, suffer in silence because of the shame associated with speaking out about sexual crimes. Even as a victim myself, I wasted so much time trying to rationalize and justify what happened as something other than rape, because it’s easier to talk about. “He threw me across the room into a dresser” is so much easier to say than “he raped me.” I still physically choke on the word: rape. I have a very hard time saying it out loud without tears and heart racing full of panic. That is exactly why we need to talk about it.

Even in the current climate, where the circus that was the United States 2016 election, continues to bring sexual assault to the forefront of discussion, victims will cry out momentarily only to slip back into silence shortly after. Personally, the more I thought about it, the more I wondered why I didn’t hesitate to fight back during the act of the assault itself, but stopped fighting when it came to speaking out. I’ve been through a lot in my nearly 30 years, enough that I’m more comfortable facing adversity than with out it. I’m a fighter, I’m a survivor. I’m not going to remain silent about this anymore. I will take any and every opportunity to share my story. Not out of hatred, or jealousy, or revenge, attention seeking, or any other excuse that is tossed around as victim blaming or shaming. I’m never going to stop talking about it because it matters. It needs to be said.

I’m Kelli, I’m 29 and I was raped by a man whom I later fell in love, and entered a consensual sexual relationship with. The memories were repressed for five years after the attack itself, I chose to remain silent for two years after they resurfaced, and waited an additional year after first speaking out to make my report to law enforcement. I will remain silent no more.

PTSD Support and Insight

So vlogging is a thing right? I threw together a vlog post for a mental health support group I’m part of last week, and decided to share it here as well. B1 smacked me in the face with his bottle giving me a wonderful bloody lip, and I’m operating on four hours of sleep, looking like a damn hot mess, but hey. #momlife lol.

A loose transcript:

Hi everyone. I’m a writer by nature and expressing myself vocally is kind of hard, so this is a huge step for me to sit and actually TALK about my PTSD. It’s actually one of the most obvious signs of my disorder: the inability to articulate my emotions. 
A little bit of back story: the roots of my disorder come from a childhood of emotional neglect, and abuse from my mom. Most of it was purely mental, but as I got older and gained more independence the abuse became more physical. I was also homeschooled through all of this, so my entire world consisted of my mom’s views until I turned 18. 
It was then when I met the man I experienced my first long term relationship with. I felt like he was my hero, literally picking me up off the floor when my mom’s abuse became too much and I wanted to end my life just to escape it. He welcomed me into his home, and protected me from my mom’s retaliation as I finally broke free of her control. Unfortunately I kind of jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire so to speak. Three weeks after saving my life, the man I was living with raped me, and continued to sexually, physically, and emotionally abuse me for several years, calling what we had a “relationship”, myself too naive to understand otherwise. 
The relationship ended on bad terms, nine years ago Monday actually, and ever since he’s been continuing to threaten and intimidate me via cyber space. At one point he was driving by my house yelling at me, and even went so far as to slash my tire. 
While the relationship with my ex isn’t the cause of my disorder, the trauma I endured while with him is where most of my other symptoms manifest. The flashbacks, nightmares, intrusive thoughts, and a lot of the anniversary dates I struggle with mostly surround my time with him. That’s what lead me to seek treatment and my eventual diagnosis three years ago.
My inability to “move on” and “forget” all of the trauma I endured with my ex began to cause a rift between my current husband and I. He didn’t understand my disordered behaviors, and neither did I until I received my diagnosis. Reading the symptoms and information about PTSD was like opening a treasure chest into my soul. It just made sense, and with a specific condition I could TREAT it. I wouldn’t just be “crazy” I could explain why I displayed disordered thought processes. I thought just receiving my diagnosis was the key I needed for my friends and family to understand too. Another part of society I was really too naive to understand at first. 
I think that’s really one of the most important things loved ones can do to support those of us diagnosed with PTSD. Acceptance of the diagnosis no matter what the trauma might be. A lot of the misunderstanding I think comes from societies unclear definition of trauma. Certainly being in the military, enduring the horrors of war, life and death for months sometimes years at a time is traumatic. Being a law enforcement officer, or a first responder dealing with life and death daily is traumatic. Surviving an accident or crime with lasting physical damage is traumatic. Those are all of the things that society readily views as “acceptable” trauma. Something that you can tangibly hold, or visually see, an experience where physical damage is caused or highly probable. 
Where PTSD’ers often get left in the dust is when the trauma endured is the result of emotional manipulation, and abuse. The clinical definition of trauma is an emotional response to overwhelming circumstances. Emotional damage isn’t always easy to see, like the physical damage many of those with “acceptable trauma” endure, yet it’s just as damaging. It doesn’t make the diagnosis any less valid simply because someone doesn’t wear a uniform, or doesn’t bare physical scars.
One of the most detrimental things I hear from friends and family trying to offer their support is a comparison of my trauma to their own, or someone else’s. Being an emotional response, trauma is a deeply personal thing, as unique to the individual as the color of their eyes, or fingerprints. What is traumatic to me, may not be to someone else and vice versa. If someone you love has been diagnosed with PTSD the first thing to do is accept the situation as real and valid. It’s easier said than done, especially considering it turns your world upside down receiving any new diagnosis. It won’t happen overnight as you work through your own emotional response to the news, but being willing and making the effort will mean the world to those affected by the disorder. 
The second piece of advice I have to offer is this: listen. When they are ready to talk about their trauma, be patient and listen. Even if they tell the same story 100 times, about the same traumatic event, years and years after the imminent danger has passed. Being able to process emotions that get locked away when the brain kicks over into survival mode is one of the best ways to manage acute PTSD symptoms, but it takes time. Sometimes even when we feel ready to talk about things, actually talking triggers anxiety so consuming it’s easier to shut down; than continue forward. Sometimes it takes years of passing that date on the calendar, and a thousand times telling the story before the trapped emotional energy is released, and the pain and anxiety subside.

Finally, I think another really important thing to keep in mind helping a loved one navigate through their disorder is to understand that there is no cure. There are many different ways to manage the symptoms, quiet effectively to where you kind of reach a remission status, but the possibility of a relapse is always there. I just recently went through my first instance of relapse since entering treatment this past year and it was brutal. I think personally it was more difficult for me to have the stability, have the remission and then to lose it, even understanding that it’s the nature of the beast so to speak. It’s a part of the disorder, a package deal. Relapse will happen, and it won’t always be predictable. What helped control symptoms the first time around might not work after relapse. It’s a constantly evolving thing, and the best way to offer support is to keep offering it, through the bad days, and the good days. The relapse and the remission. 
Anyway… I feel like I’ve been talking for hours. I guess I have more to say than I thought when I started. Thanks for watching everyone. I hope this helps provide some insight.

Truly Lost

An interesting picture popped up in my social media news feed the other day, and it really got me thinking. The question posed was this: “Would you lose your virginity to the same person again?”

It got me thinking because I lost my virginity several times. Not in the literal sense, as that’s only physically possible once, but it was more in three different parts. First physically, second emotionally, and third mentally. Making it more complicated is the fact that the very first time I was involved in a sexual act of any kind was rape, and I have essentially no memories of it. I remember going to sleep fully clothed with the door locked, and waking up with my pants on the other side of the room, the scent of a strange cologne on my sheets and the door unlocked and slightly ajar. That’s all I remember. I was… 16 or 17 at the time. That was the event that physically took my virginity.

The second event was another rape, by a different man. That one, I’ve finally brought forth to my conscious memory. It was so violent and so traumatic that I repressed it for many years after the fact, only coming to terms with it fairly recently. I was 18, living with an older man, and extremely naive to his true intentions. He said he merely wanted to be roommates, and friends, but his behavior didn’t indicate that. Inviting me to sleep in his bed, and encouraging me to “get comfortable” by shedding my clothes each night. To anyone else it would have been quite obvious, the same way it’s obvious to me looking back on it, that he really just wanted sex. We never openly discussed it, but one night he decided to take what he wanted, in a very brutal and traumatic fashion. So traumatic in fact, that as soon as the next night I was right back in his bed, with no conscious memory of the event at all. That event left deep, and lasting emotional scars. I still struggle with them sometimes even being intimate with my husband whom I have three children with and have been married to coming up on six years this Spring.
The third event is the first time I gave consent for a sexual act, and the first one that immediately stuck in my conscious memory. It was calm, endearing, tender, gentle and sweet. If it hadn’t been with the same man who violently raped me a few weeks prior, I wouldn’t be ashamed to share that experience with him again. That’s when I really changed my mentality, and truly experienced sex for the first time. Unfortunately, the experience was shared with the same man who was also my rapist. Myself having no immediate memory of the rape, instead remembering the consensual act as our first time, it wasn’t long before we started an extremely unhealthy and damaging sexual relationship. That relationship still has lingering repercussions present in my life even now, nine years after it ended. Emotionally more than anything else, but repercussions all the same.

That’s the reality for so many victims of violent, traumatic rape. Memories are repressed as a survival response when you’re emotionally unequipped to handle them. Having no memory of the event makes future choices involving your rapist, like dating them, or continuing a sexual relationship complicated to say the least. In emotional terms for certain, but also in legal terms if you ever come forward and file a police report. From a scientific, psychological stand point it makes perfect sense. From the standpoint of law enforcement or the public at large? It appears to make victims seem jealous, scorned, looking for revenge, seeking attention, or anything else that can be negatively associated with coming forward years after a crime occurs.

I wish it was as simple as so many other crimes. Someone steals your car? Go to the police, receive victims resources. Get punched in the face? Go to the police, receive victims resources. Get raped? Go to the police, receive unrelenting interrogation and if you’re lucky maybe a pamphlet about victims resources. Even when the crime happened immediately prior to contacting the police, the emotional hoops a victim has to jump through for many prove to be unbearable. It’s often easier to live with the fear of being victimized again; than it is to deal with the scorn and shame of coming forward.

It’s no wonder so many sexual crimes all over the world go unreported each year. How so many rapists are allowed to walk free, even being completely aware of the crime they have committed. How so many young women like myself can lose their virginity, something that is supposed to be sacred, to rape and nary anyone bats an eye.

It’s unacceptable, it needs to change, but many of the very same reasons that keep victims from going to the police keep them silent all together. If every single person who’s been the victim of a sexually based violent crime, took the time to stand up and say “me too” society wouldn’t be able to continue turning a blind eye and enabling a culture that finds it’s easier to teach “don’t get raped” instead of “don’t rape.”