Intimate Partner Rape
Most of us, well, we've been through some garbage in our lives - and we've given power to a lot of people who simply don't deserve it.
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. We here at Band Back Together are shining the spotlight on ALL survivors. Depression, Abuse, Trauma.
It's time to take back the power. Tell us how YOU have taken the power back in your life!
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
As a survivor, April is the month I join with others to spread awareness and education. I firmly believe that not only do we need to teach our girls to be strong and show them the signs to recognize an unhealthy relationship, but we also need to raise our young men to treat everyone with respect. If we can do this, we can raise young people that have healthy relationships and who respect each other.
Last year, I wrote about my intimate partner rape. I also wrote about learning to be a survivor. These two stories are important pieces of me. Even more important is this story of how to survive.
Rape, in any form, leaves scars. Those scars will never go away, though with time they will fade. Like any trauma, rape can cause the survivor to struggle with PTSD. Triggers and flashbacks are a very real likelihood.
In the years right after I left my abuser, I had frequent flashbacks. It seemed everything was a trigger. A green semi truck on the road, men who walked or talked a certain way, a song on the radio, even certain foods or restaurants. I struggled each time something triggered me. It would take all my strength to stand my ground and not go running.
Over time, some of these triggers have faded. The flashbacks are less frequent. So infrequent, actually, that it takes me a few moments to recognize them for what they are.
Last week while napping with my fiance, something triggered me. Whether it was the feel of a rough sheet under my cheek or the way the air brushed my hair across my face, I don't know. All of a sudden, it was a different voice whispering “I love you” in my ear, it was a different hand that rested on my hip.
As the memory faded, and I could once again see the here and now, I was left near tears. My fiance held me as I tried to make sense of what had just happened. And as he rubbed my back, all of a sudden, it didn't matter. I realized those flashbacks only had power if I gave it to them.
I am a survivor.
I have overcome so much, surely I will not allow a bad memory to bring me to my knees. I have someone who truly loves me now, who will never hurt me. His love and understanding give me strength to stand up to those memories of my past and shove them away.
I have the power over how I allow my past to affect me. And I refuse to allow my abuser to have any place in my life, not even in my mind. He is nothing and he no longer has any power over me. This is part of my path of healing.
I am in charge of me. I've taken back the power.
One in five women reported she had been raped or sexually assaulted in her lifetime. Many more are afraid to report it.
This is her story.
I was only 15 when I got raped by my boyfriend.
I didn't think it would ever happen to me.
He knew that I didn't want to have sex until I was married and he said he was fine with it. He seemed so perfect, and he made me happier than I thought I ever could be. He was the sweetest and nicest guy that I thought I could have in my life.
Then things changed. He thought that we needed to hang out everyday, so everyday he would come down. He would follow me everywhere I went. I couldn't go anywhere without him or he would get mad and accuse me of cheating.
One night I stayed at his house. He got drunk and wanted me to have sex with him. I said no. He pushed me on the bed and got on top of me. I tried to push him off but he was too strong and he wouldn't let me get up. Screaming wouldn't have helped me because no one but us was at his house. I didn't know what else to do so I just laid there scared out of my mind.
He pulled my pants and underwear down and I pulled them back up, so he took them off again and threw them across the room. I was so scared. Then he was in me and it hurt so bad that I started crying. I was paralyzed the whole time. Finally he got off of me and I went and got my clothes. I laid in the bed, shocked and horrified.
I didn't know what to do and it hurt so bad that I just laid there curled up and crying. He took my phone so I couldn't find it to call for help or call my parents.
I've held this in for 8 months because I was so scared, and my family had enough problems to deal with before this all happened. I'm not with him now because he was doing drugs and I didn't need that in my life.
Before, I was a very bright and outgoing person. I would do stuff with my family and friends, but after the rape I am so depressed and suicidal that I just don't know what to do. It's so hard to deal with something like this. It's hard for me to sleep at night because I have nightmares about the whole incident.
I just needed to tell someone my story.
Three out of four victims of sexual assault are attacked by people they know and trust.
This is her story.
I was so young at 22.
I had never had a boyfriend, had never been kissed, had never had anything truly bad happen to me.
I met him on the first day of law school orientation. He was sweet. He was leaning into my conversations, going out of his way to talk to me. Within a month we were dating. He was wonderful in every way; always taking care of me, listening to my worries, making me laugh. I knew that all the years of holding out for a good one had paid off.
From the beginning he said he wanted to take it slow physically, knowing about my lack of experience. He knew I wanted to save sex for marriage. He didn't agree, but he went along with it. At first, at least.
Slowly he started pushing me to do things I didn't want to do. When I told him no or pushed his hand away, he would persist. These were little things though, in the "gray area," so eventually I would give in. If I didn't, I had to deal with his anger and pouting.
I was becoming more and more depressed, but I didn't know it.
Sure, I cried when I was alone. But I just hated school so much. I was stressed all the time. Not sleeping. Not eating. I just needed to toughen up. He was right there the whole time, making sure I ate, walking my dog, letting me cry. He was a godsend.
It was around this time that he began the emotional abuse.
I never appreciated him enough. I was selfish. There was no end to the ways that his ex-girlfriend was better than me. I spent my days tiptoeing around, never sure what would set him off. He was wonderful, though. We were just going through a rough patch. I needed to be the bigger person, forgive, and move on. He was so good at apologizing after a blow-up. He didn't mean any of it.
Slowly he started pushing harder and harder and wanting to go farther and farther physically. Four, five, six times I would pull away, but he wouldn't relent. What was I supposed to do, scream? He was my boyfriend, he loved me. He just got carried away. I talked to him about it on several occasions, explaining that what he was doing wasn't right. I tried to explain that "no means no."
"Do you know what you're accusing me of?" he exploded.
"I'm not accusing you of anything, I'm just trying to tell you how I feel."
It didn't matter. I learned not to bring it up. I blamed myself for it. After all, a guy will go as far as a girl lets him, right? Each time he pushed, I eventually gave in. It was my fault. I had trained him not to take my protests seriously. If only I were stronger, it wouldn't be a problem. But it was too late now.
I began not to protest at all. I couldn't understand what force was keeping me silent, but I was paralyzed when he touched me. I tried to accept that these were things I did now. I tried to put it from my mind.
One night, he took my clothes off. When it was all over, he said that he had entered me. I was confused. I hadn't felt anything. The next day I talked to him about it. I told him how upset I was. I reminded him, for the thousandth time, that this was not what I wanted our relationship to look like. I told him again, as I had in the beginning and so many times in between, that this was the final, absolute line.
This was not a gray area, this was wrong.
In response, he berated me for "ruining his first time." He brushed aside my distress, telling me how special he wanted his first time to be and how I had ruined it by not being there emotionally. How could I be so selfish?
I begged him that day not try it again. I told him it would destroy me. I told him I would never be able to forgive him or myself. That very same night he pushed me into going all the way. This time I felt it; the pain. I felt so helpless. Silent, paralyzed, horrified at my weakness, I let it happen. As usual, it was my fault.
With the support of my mom and a therapist, I finally left him, but the damage remains. The worst part is not having a name for what happened. Rape isn't quite right. But I felt so forced, so helpless. It would almost have been better if he had held me down screaming. At least then I would know.
I tell myself it wasn't my fault, but when my guard is down that little voice still whispers, "You let it happen. Slut. Easy. Weak." I just want to feel wholesome again.
I'm not sure I ever will.
In the course of the last four days, I have read every post on this site (thank you OCD). I was searching for resources regarding mental illness deriving from childhood sexual abuse and Google was kind enough to direct me here.
I've always thought that my issues were inconsequential. That I have had no worse experiences than any other soul on this earth. I've shared some of my experiences with a select few people, and the look on their faces has always puzzled me. This is my life, what is there to be shocked about?
Back on point. Spending these last four days reading about all of your joys, heartaches, pain and recovery has jostled a few memories of my own. Some things are always at the back of my mind, but others have been dredged from the depths.
Let's start with my diagnoses.
I've been diagnosed as Bipolar twice (but I contest it), Anxiety and OCD. The Bipolar was diagnosed during two full fledged breakdowns. The first was after a half-assed suicide attempt during a bad marriage at age 24 and the second during the first five minutes with the WORST PSYCHIATRIST EVER. Seriously. This guy grandly announced I was Bipolar after I mumbled it was a previous diagnosis.
But that's a story for another day.
I feel it's time to finally tell my story. I've avoided seeing this information in print for years. I've carried so much shame, self-blame and self-doubt that my soul is weary. While I'm not yet ready to delve deep into my experiences, this is a good place to start.
I was sexually abused by our 16 year old neighbor and his 15 year old sister somewhere between the ages of two and four.
My parents separated for work for six months and I witnessed my mother's breakdown when I was eight.
When I was fourteen, I had my first suicide attempt which was, thankfully, a rather pathetic one. When I was fifteen I had my first attempt at therapy but I did not say one word for the entire six sessions.
At seventeen I was raped for the first time at gunpoint by a "friend." The same year, one of my best friends committed suicide. I was the last person to speak with him. He told me that he was going to do it, but I did not take him seriously.
I made a second suicide attempt at age nineteen. Swallowed over 400 aspirin and ended up in the ICU for four days. There was some limited therapy to follow but I don't remember much about that. I told my parents at this point about the sexual abuse. It was the worst thing I have ever had to do in my life and 20 years later my mom still cries. It kills me.
When I was 24 I got married for the first time, and at 25 I had my first affair. I also tried to commit suicide for the third time. I was driving my car over 100 MPH on curvy back roads and attempting to run it into something. This landed me in a psychiatric ward for two weeks, with a Bipolar diagnosis. My marriage ended two years later.
At age 28 I was raped a second time by two men while I was drunk and in a foreign country.
When I was 29, I found out I was pregnant and had an abortion. The man that I assumed to be the father threatened to kill me if I even thought about having a baby while the man I am dating tells me that he will leave me if I have this baby. I was wrong. About it all.
I got married for a second time when I was 32, and it took all of three days for it to go to hell. Three years later I began having daily panic attacks, and within two months I am unable to leave the house. I developed paranoia and severe depression. I started seeing the WORST PSYCHIATRIST IN THE WORLD. Because of this man, I lost my job.
Shortly after losing my job, my husband told me that he really never loved me and that he just used me to get our house and the money I made. This does not assist with my recovery. He raped me. I moved back in with my parents.
After three more years, I was finally free of that man. I was broke as hell, and my credit was ruined but I was extremely happy.
Now at age 39, I have been out of work for two months with an injury. I am thankful that I have support, but the depression that started last April has blown up. I feel lost.
There is more, if I only could remember.
Thank you, all of you, for inspiring me to start this.
Band Back Together has been nominated for Best Group or Community Weblog in the 2013 Bloggies! Visit their site to vote and check out the other categories!
Band Back Together has been nominated for Best Group or Community Weblog in the 2013 Bloggies! Visit their site
to vote and check out the other categories! - See more at: http://bandbacktogether.com/all-posts/#sthash.iZSQRkS1.dpuf
Here at The Band, we believe in kicking stigmas to the curb, flinging glitter, and shining a light into the dark. And now?
Your bandmate needs a sounding board.
It's time to Ask The Band!
We were together nearly three years.
I loved him.
A few days after we got together, our sophomore year in high school, he professed his love. I told him I didn't feel the same. A couple of weeks later, he convinced me that I did. I still wasn't sure.
After we'd been together a month and a half, he pressured me into sex with him even though I wasn't ready. Somehow, he'd convinced me that I wanted sex as badly as he did.
Later my sophomore year, he convinced me that I might be pregnant - he thought the condom broke. I was terrified.
Finally, I told my mom, who went out to buy me a pregnancy test.
I wasn't pregnant.
He'd created this pregnancy scare so I'd feel I needed him. That's who he was: he'd do anything to make me feel like needed him to survive.
On my sixteenth birthday, he raped me for the first time; no, that's not true, he'd raped me well before that. See, shortly after we began having sex, I realized that I hated sex and I didn't want to do it. He'd managed to con me into it by making me feel guilty.
He'd even cry.
Not because I wouldn't give in, but because he felt bad for wanting sex when I didn't. Or, at least, that's what he told me. Now I can see he was manipulating me.
Eventually when he wanted to have sex, I'd say "I don't know" or nothing. He'd end up having sex with me no matter what my response was.
Four times (including my sixteenth birthday) he forced me to have sex after I'd clearly said no. Other times, I told him I didn't want to have sex, and he'd reply that he wasn't going to make me but he wanted to "lay" with me. "Laying with me" meant he wanted to lay naked together. He'd say "trust me," but eventually, he'd "lose control" and force me to have sex. I still can't hear someone say "trust me" without crying.
He isolated me from my friends; manipulating me into ditching them because he didn't "trust them." If I wanted to hang with them, he'd make me feel guilty
That's how I lost my best friend. Twice.
I didn't realize he was emotionally controlling; abusing me.
On the other hand, he was always saying things to make me feel special, "I will always love you and only you," and "If you ever break up with me, I'll be dead mentally and emotionally, but not physically because you asked me not to kill myself."
He claimed he'd been suicidal when we started dating; that I'd saved his life - he planned to kill himself the night he asked me to homecoming. When I said yes, and agreed to date him, he decided he wasn't suicidal. I still don't know if that was a lie.
After I broke up with him in June - I told him I didn't want to be in a long-term relationship for awhile - my mother informed me that he'd been abusive and controlling me. Looking back, she's right.
He'd "buy" my love after he'd abuse me so I'd stay. I'm ashamed that it worked. I dated him longer than I should've.
After our break-up, he stalked me.
He'd show up at my house at all hours. He'd visit my campground. He'd even show up at work. Eventually, I had to hide from him.
I thought I was over him.
I'd had a fling with a guy who broke my heart. Another guy used me. Stupidly, I made out with another guy.
I'm now a freshman in college, finally in a healthy romantic relationship. I still don't enjoy sex; I'm petrified of having another abusive relationship. But I know my new boyfriend would never abuse me.
Lately I've been thinking about the good parts of that relationship; I find myself missing him. I think about the good times; how he'd been practically family.
I learned he'd been planning to propose before we broke up. He'd been looked at engagement rings and was planning to ask my dad for his blessing.
I feel like I'm betraying my new boyfriend, even though I've already told him this - I don't want to keep secrets. He told me not to worry about it; he wasn't upset, he was glad I'd told him.
I want to get over that relationship - to stop missing it. That relationship damaged me. I know I did the right thing by ending it. When I'm home, I miss him.
He's in a new relationship with a friend of mine. He loves her, but I'm afraid he's abusing her. I'd love to warn her, but I know she won't believe me, and I don't want to ruin their relationship if it's healthy.
I feel stuck. I desperately want our relationship in the past, but I don't know how to get over it.
The Band, do you have any advice for this young woman? Getting over a relationship - any relationship - is tough. She could use your love and wisdom.
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