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.

SAAM: Draining the Wound

This is a complicated and deeply personal post I wrote immediately following the last confrontation with my rapist. He wrote out a comment on a post here I wrote several years ago and I responded. At first I kept my response private, discussing it only with my therapist while trying to move forward from it all. The post that I wrote initiating my rapist’s retort was written during an exceptionally vulnerable time when I was overwhelmed with other emotional things far removed from my toxic relationship with him. It was the most severe PTSD relapse I’ve had since starting my treatment in 2013, and I’ve since removed it from my public archives. I didn’t delete it but I felt that it didn’t have a place on the blog after I worked through the crisis with my therapist. Publishing it was a mistake. Plain and simple. I know better now, and I try to do better when filtering my emotions and thoughts on to the page.

A short synopsis to give some context to the following passage: Basically, I took the wrong approach in confronting his current wife about her manipulative and abusive behaviors toward me, and in turn assumed that she was also abusive toward him. It’s probably a fair assumption, but it wasn’t my place to speak out about in the way that I did. She also responded. Her response was a whole lot to say about herself, but not really in context to the post itself. I read it, but didn’t feel like it warranted a response from me having felt that everything I needed/wanted to say had already been addressed.

His response triggered my PTSD even further than the initial crisis that spawned the post in the first place and I felt compelled to respond. I’ve included most of the exchange here.

His words are in italics, mine are bold.

Kelli this is the first time I have ever commented on your page/blog or whatever. For some strange odd reason you hold me at the highest pedestole (*pedestal) for men. I was an asshole, jerk,selfish, blunt, honest to you about never loving you,dated mutable (*multiple is what he means here. Mutable would have been much to his benefit) women while together, had permission from you to be with other women when I went to the USAF. (Under very specific conditions)If anyone has any issues its you. You were a pussy pillow from the start, and I was a jerk enough to let you know up front. My first wife and I broke it off after 8 years of being together and that sent me into a bad place (you were never legally married, and the relationship was five years not eight. Eight years from when you and I started working together would have put you in high school. You always told me you met her when you were 19, not 17 unless you lied about it. She would have been 22 at the time and if you did begin your relationship when you were 17 itwould have made her a statutory rapist herself, so maybe you did blur those details a bit to protect yourself. Either way, for someone to accuse me of making up a relationship that never happened, it’s weird to be so inconsistent with your own previous relationship.) and I even told you that I don’t want a relationship just a friend with benefits. I even told you that if she wanted me back I would be with her in a heartbeat and you said “lets hope that day never comes”.(I did say that because we were joking back and forth prior to the conversation switching to a serious nature. Once I realized you wanted to have a serious discussion I encouraged you to pursue repairing your “marriage”. Which I already wrote about months before this comment)

Now about these blogs that are about me, first off you were never raped, matter of fact if I recall the next morning when I said to you “you are not going to read too much into this are you” and you said “no are you?” plus if I recall right you came over that next night. (This is a true account of the first time we were together after our fist fight and falling out, but NOT the account of the assault which occurred as our ACTUAL first time ever, several months earlier. I’m not sure why you left out those first few months we were together other than it verifies my version of events) Actually a lot of your stories are just that stories with new and exciting twists that never happened. Here are some of my favorites I purposed to you, my father speeding, my mother changing clothes or dressing down to make you feel better that’s my #1, you being raped, my current wife slashing your tires, that I could possible cut/hurt myself, (this one wasn’t written by me or about you at all, and I called you out about freaking out over it)suffer from depression, night terrors funny that hasn’t happened in 10 years for some reason, you helping me through anything the only thing you help was you opening your legs when I asked, and this could go on and on. (Everything else is accurate to my memories of events. You did admit to lying to me just to get me in bed in a private email, so I’m willing to say some things I shared are untrue. Not because I created them, but because you did. If you lied and I trusted you, recounting your lies makes me foolish not crazy) You and only have made yourself remind yourself about the past but your stories are not 100% true, why is that? (They are 100% true from my point of view. Difference in perception does not a liar make. Also, PTSD is what keeps me coming back. Duh, read the DSM diagnosis criteria) Personally for me I could care less, and you know that. I mean you were never important to me, write all you want about me and make up more stories. HAVE A BLAST! I just don’t understand, no I am dumbfounded that you actually have a man that cares about you and three children now I guess? A family to care about but you would rather announce to the world that you still love me and care for me and that I am not being loved right. Also that there is some chance in a very cold and dark hell that I am going to feel like “WHAT IN THE HELL WAS I THINKING”. The answer to that is no I would take my chances swimming across a shark infested ocean with an open wound than to ever be with you. Its like the song I don’t care, “If you were dead or still alive I don’t care”. This bullshit of you desperately trying to get into, be apart of, or around my life is OVER.(I’m blogging 200 miles away, in a different state, recollecting my own thoughts and feelings. I’m not tagging you, I’m not sending you emails or making weird phone calls or whatever else you’ve accused me of. I’m writing, you choose to be here reading. Hmm… Who’s inserting themselves where?) I don’t care if you call me and say your kids are in that burning building, over there! I will hang up, walk away, never speak to you. I don’t want to be friends with you, I HATE you WAY TOO MUCH! When I mean HATE, its the deepest HATE AVAILABLE because when I asked you to please leave me and my wife/family members alone and to stay out of our lives, you kept pushing through as if you were making some sort of progress, like a “I am almost apart of his life”.You caused me and my wife to go through some hard times as if you had a chance if Jess and I were to split but we have came out stronger and happier. When the days comes that you leave this earth is the day I am truly at peace. I don’t want you to talk to me, my family, be around be family or anything just move on with your life, oh wait you can’t. I want you to pretend that I don’t exists. I have one major regret in life and that is meeting you. I wish I would have never told Steve to send me to Lebanon, doesn’t mean we would not have met but if I could take that away I wish I could. Matter of fact I wish I never left Rent a Center then I would have never worked for taco bell and problem solved we would have never meet and you and you psycho mother would still be stalking Little Jon (*Littlejohn) at Kings Island Taco Bell. The cherry on this is I hope somebody investigates the Little Jon thing and finds out how crazy you really are.(Yes, because rumors from a tiny Taco Bell franchise that no longer exists are such substantial proof that I was ever involved in any sort of “stalking”. It might help if you want someone to investigate if you could spell his name correctly. Don’t worry, I cleared it up for you when I went to the police myself.)I wish I never met you and I just kept my dick in my pants, but NO you were easy. (You and me both, buddy. Keeping your dick in your pants and never asking Steve to assign me to TYLERSVILLE to work with you, would have saved me a lot of grief. I would have just offed myself being overwhelmed with my mom’s bullshit if you hadn’t been there to save me. Winning for everyone!!!)
 I mean if I was this horrible person all this time and a sexual abuser then why be around me and live with me for 2 YEARS! I mean come on that makes no sense what so ever. “Help me you raped me, oh wait its love, I love you” Kelli you telling everyone that I sexually abused you then proceeding to go over your good times and bad and over the years should prove to readers you are FUCKED UP IN THE HEAD. It makes no sense but “You hurt me so you raped me, you rapist!”(That’s why I went to therapy in the first place. I didn’t understand why I loved someone who raped me, and abused me. According to science everything you just listed there is proof that the mental damage you caused was real. Go figure.)I wish I could go back to Andre’s driveway and break it off with you when you wanted too.(Another thing we agree on. Why the hell didn’t you just fucking end it when youhad the opportunity? The first time we talked about it I was a mess, I already dealt with that, and even wrote about it here. Standing in Andre’s drive way all you had to do was say no, it’s over and we could have gone on our merry way separate from each other with out all this drama and animosity.)There was a reason why I lived with Andre and not you because I did not want to be with you plus I was with someone else. There was a reason that you had my dog because my parents could not take care of him because they were out of the country but when they got back, SURPRISE my father came and picked him up. (Nope, I went up to your parents house and dropped him off. The look of horror on your dad’s face when he realized you hadn’t broken up with me was priceless. He was PISSED) Also if I raped you then why be with a predator? Strange when I was with Jess for the first time I was nothing but a gentlemen and asked her, “Is this okay”,” Are you sure you want to do this”, and my favorite “can I kiss you”. (I’m not sure how much you can count being gentlemanly going home with a stripper for an orgy with her husband and another girl. She told me when she called me back in 2008. Funny that you BOTH told me you kept calling her Kelli… Not Amanda, Michelle, Lindsey, Stephanie, Sharron, Erin, Angela, Annabell, or Carol… Kelli. But I guess that makes sense knowing I was just the person that you fulfilled your sexual fantasies with)Because my Father taught me to always ask before doing anything. (This is true. Your father is a good man. Too bad he wasn’t around enough for his manners or morals to rub off on you. I will say after this I understand why he is/was so hard on you) You may be asking yourself “if you don’t care as much as you say then why are you responding? I am glad you asked! You see your readers only get the made up fictional version as if you were a victim of sexual abuse. I want your readers for once read what I have to say but I am sure you will be a coward and will take it down. And what is this PTSD bullshit you are talking about?(The PTSD I’ve had since I was 4 because of my mothers abuse? The PTSD that’s always had very little to do with you, aside from the way it kept me from emotionally dealing with the way you treated me? The PTSD which repressed the memories of the violence, and details of the rape until 2013 when I started therapy? The PTSD I’ve been officially diagnosed with, and is written multiple times in my medical records since 2013? That one? Yes… Well…)The only PTSD you would have is when I lied to you and told you I was in Colorado (You told me you were in Nevada, not Colorado. You can’t even keep your own lies straight anymore)for 2 more weeks but really was home in Ohio coming back from Michigan with my wife from visiting her family and when I got to Detroit I decided right then and there its time to break it off with you and I wanted nothing to do with you. (When your dad made you call me to break it off, yes. You were thrilled making that phone call) I remember the conversation, its was like you knew it was coming,(your dad again) and then you started crying as if that had an effect on me. Right there when I said “its almost like you knew it was going to happen”, because you knew that day would come. When you said I love you I would say I don’t and then you would say can you pretend because it would make me feel better. (Hmm… Now it’s interesting that you avoided the first few months we were together at the beginning of this debate, starting with our “dating” relationship, but here you do goback to those first few months. This was a few weeks post rape when I was super fucked up emotionally. I did and said a lot of unhealthy things during that time, leading up to our eventual fist fight and falling out. I’ve addressed that in my writing) That should have been my red flag to get the hell out of there. I don’t believe you anymore or trust you anymore and If you are really sick,PTSD, or mentally unstable because I don’t care. I cant deal with your lies, fictional stories, or your desperate attempts anymore. (So stop reading, and sending people in to spy on my life??) Jess and I have tried friendly talking,you getting closure, and saying we want to help so you leave us the FUCK alone and nothing is or wanting is helping you.(Have you tried going the fuck away and letting me deal with my shit my own way? I guarantee that will help everyone out. Give that a try) Maybe its you can only help the people who wants to be helped, and you Kelli do not want help. You desperately try to get under my wife’s skin, push her buttons, and or get a reaction out of her because YOU KNOW SHE IS THE ONLY ONE THAT WOULD GIVE A SHIT! NO one else gives a shit, comments on your post or shows any interest.(What the hell even is this blurb? You admit she’s obsessed, but I’m the one to blame for your suffering?) Also just to answer the what if question of if Jess was never in the picture would Kelli be in the picture? I am glad you asked because I only told one person about this. From the beginning I planned on leaving Kelli once and for all. When I left and or came back from the USAF, yes I meet Jess while in the Air Force but we did not announce our love until after the new year. We hung out a lot but as i did not say I love you until it got closer for me to leave the base. But before that I came back to Ohio for winter break and I was dating a fitness Girl named Amanda, and her and I saw each other the whole time I was back. Dinner, movies, romantic walks, ice cream. remember when keebler and I made a huge deal about dropping you off on new years eve because you were underage, yeah Amanda was waiting for me. (You must have done this with all of your girlfriends when you came back, because we did this too. We saw Sweeny Todd. You hated it. We also participated in all the various Christmas celebrations with our families and your friends. FYI: Everyone got really tired of theway you were treating me at the end. Wes told me you were cheating when you went outside to take a call at Waffle House, and Keeb stopped teasing me and told me to dump your ass when you went into Speedway and left us sitting in the car. That would be why I had tears on my face when you got back and he was pretty much quiet the rest of the way back to my apartment. Steve told me you came home early too, but when I confronted you about all of thoseaccusations you denied them. Keeb was just pissed at you for being a douche, Steve let it slip before he realized I didn’t know, but Wes… I should have listened to Wes. He was just looking out for you. Everyone knew we didn’t have a healthy relationship, but no one aside from Wes really cared enough to call you out. Besides all of that, remember when we were arguing about going to the laundromat on New Years Eve, and I accused you of going to see another girl? Not a sarcastic joke. I was confronting you. I already knew the truth. Instead of just being honest with me, you caved and helped me with the laundry. Plus you told me about Amanda practically a million times!! I didn’t remember her name, until you wrote this out but I did remember it started with an A. I thought it was Angela… unless there was an Angela in there too with all the other girls. “This girl at the bar, Amanda, was sitting on my lap and threw red glitter on me. I was pissed. I told her I had a girlfriend to get away from me, but she didn’t listen.” When I heard a girl in the background of our phone calls? I asked who it was every single time and every single time you told me it was Amanda. When you would get distracted on your phone, and I asked who you were talking to and you answered “my girlfriend” WHEN I WAS SITTING RIGHT THERE IN FRONT OF YOU AND MY PHONE DIDN’T RING. You told on yourself forever before anyone else told me. Come on, dude! I was definitely foolish to stay with you, but I wasn’t stupid. I ignored your cheating, but I knew about it from day fucking one. Confronting you isalso why I called you a million times on New Years because I heard you with her in the back ground the first time you answered and immediately hung up on me. Remember how I packed your bags,including all of our photos together and everything else that reminded me of you? But you came home, apologized for not answering my calls, dried my tears, unpacked your bag and held me until I fell asleep. I should have kicked you out and never looked back)As it got closer to leaving to go back to my base Amanda told me was falling for me and she wanted to be series (*serious)when I get back. My eyes were set on Jess but if I could not have her then I could settle. You see Kelli was never going to be in the picture even after the multiple fake pregnancy scares, when we had sex and she desperately tried to get pregnant, having sex with me while I sleep, (Now this one straight up made me laugh out loud.Actually, when I wasn’t interested in fucking you, your go to manipulation was always “I’ll cum inside you” because I did want kids with you. Thank God that never happened!! I’m not sure what all this “fucking you in your sleep” business is about, because that was always your thing. I’d be asleep and you’d come home to have your way with me whether I was entirely awake, consenting or not. My husband can’t even kiss me on the forehead after I’ve fallen asleep now, thanks to your weird sleep sex fantasies. Those times can also be considered rape if we want to get super technical. That would bring the tally up to four that I can remember, and God only knows how many more times I didn’t partially wake up or have any memories. I’d say multiple non consenting sex acts would most DEFINITELY classify our relationship as sexually abusive among other things) and my favorite is when we were at a mall and she wanted to look at rings and I said “Well that’s never going to happen”. (After discussing plans for marriage and our future the night before, which is why I suggested it in the first place. Pretty obvious now that was just bullshit, my bad. What about that afternoon we went to Lorelei looking for rings before Christmas? Hmm? After eating our ice cream and stopping to visit your mom at work.) I truly wonder if your husband knows that he is second best to me, because if I were him and you started proclaiming you love to another guy, talking about/blogging about another guy that you cant get over mind you, I would leave your ass so quick. (Would you? Would you leave some one who constantly reminds you of an ex? Hmm… Don’t think so, because if your wife is the only one who reads my blog… And has for nearly a decade, you swear you want me out of your life, but you haven’t left her the only one keeping me in your life. But that’s what I said here to begin with) Personally I don’t have to cause you pain or remind you about painfully memories, you do it for me. Regardless of what you think or believe what really happened in your life Kelli I personally and only me WINS everyday because you put yourself through your own shit, depression, misery, PTSD, and GOD knows what else and I get to hear how horrible your life is and it brings a smile to my face and if that is not CHECKMATE then i don’t know what is. On an ending note you never had Jess in CHECKMATE either just in case you forgot she has the lest name Helt you have Hale. CHECKMATE KELLI! 

I almost didn’t date my husband because of the similarities between our names honestly. I knew, just knew, that you’d take issue with it being so similar. Thanks for that. I also love that you think the game I was referring to had you as the prize. 

I’ve never needed you to love me, I’m fine on my own. I wanted to show you why you deserve to love yourself. The very first time we were in the car together coming back from picking up product at King’s and you played your favorite song, telling me how much you related to it, that’s thefirst moment my heart broke for you. Explaining to me about your Badtz Maru shirts, telling me all the stories about being lonely and ostracized as a kid because you were different, those moments are what kept me around. Maybe it was all just bullshit to earn my sympathy, and I was just gullible enough to fall for it. Sure, but having a huge issue with me, and my capacity to forgive you after everything you put me through, speaks volumes more than these words you wrote.

LOVE YOUR GODAMN SELF. Love your goddamn, SELF. I don’t want your love, I don’t want your friendship, I don’t wantyou back. I never, NEVER, want to see, speak or read from you again. I loath your attention and wish to all things holy that you would finally leave and stop hanging around the fringe of my life the way you have been for almost a decade. 

When I first published this last summer, I still felt a lingering need to validate my own experiences with him, my abuser. He denied them so vehemently yet I know that my memories are as accurate as memories can be ten years removed from the events themselves. I felt my words, and my need to validate my experiences burning in the back of my mind.

It was shortly after discussing other events with my therapist that this realization hit me: the only thing I know for certain about this man who took up so much of my young adulthood is that he is a compulsive liar. He can’t be trusted to tell the truth, even if his life/livelihood/marriage depends on it. As such, his current wife and her experiences with him don’t invalidate my own. On the other side of the coin, her experiences aren’t any less valid either because he can’t be trusted.

That’s very important to remember in the transition from victim to survivor. Your experiences are valid. Full stop. It’s the one thing that I’ve struggled with more than anything else over the course of my healing adventure. Maybe my rapist really did change after he left the military. Maybe he’s never been dishonest, unfaithful, violent, and abusive to his current wife the way that he was to me and  handful of other women. I haven’t been directly involved in his life for many years, and it’s possible that what we experienced in our short time together was a fluke or lapse in his character.

Regardless of whether the experience I shared with him is a reflection of his true character; it doesn’t invalidate what happened. He raped me. He abused me. He struggled with black outs/night terrors/dissociation/brain injury/something that caused him to become violent toward me at random. He has no memories of many of those aforementioned events. Those are my experiences with him, and I’m done tiptoeing around about it.

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.

SAAM: The Hardest Part

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SAAM: Why Women Don’t Report Part 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

*************************************
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.