Victim to Conquerer’s Story

Thank you for letting me share your story on my blog here. Original post can be found here. You should definitely check out the rest of her blog, I find it so inspiring and empowering….

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Warning this story does contain some graphic details. Please only read if you are safe to do so***

I am sharing my story, because I want to show it is possible to overcome, there is victory. That this is just one part of my story. It maybe have started another part of my book, but it is only the beginning. There is more yet to come about moving on from this December night in 2012. This is only the beginning. And I am so thankful what Satan intended for evil I can now say God has started to use, that there is victory. And that is why I can share, because I am confident in that victory. So here is my story:

I went to a movie, and saw Les Mis with a dear. It was a great movie, one that left me thinking, about grace and forgiveness. A movie that left me wondering if I could ever show the kind of forgiveness. After the movie, I wanted to think and I had time. It was a cool, crisp night in December. I went on a walk to think about how crazy God’s grace and forgiveness is, to talk to God about all of that, It was a time when I was so focused on God, and just wanted to talk to him like a friend. That was what I was doing.

So, I was walking, heading towards the round-about. And that is where it all changes. A car pulls up from behind me right next to me. A dark mid-sized SUV, that’s all I can remember, the lights shining from the car and then making eye contact with him. The passenger window was down and he said, “get in the back of the car I have a gun.” I froze. Like a deer in the headlights. My mind went blank. It was like watching a horror movie at the climax. My heart was racing but my mind frozen. Everything I was ever taught about paying attention to details, about fighting, about staying safe, about screaming for help. Everything I was taught from the time I was little, gone just like that. Again, he says “get in the car” this time his voice more angry and agitated. I watched as I got in the back seat. He said “lay down on the backseat and don’t say a word.” I laid there, with nothing and everything running through my mind at the same time. I laid there praying whatever happened, that it would be quick. That if he was going to kill me that he would just do it. I thought about how I would never see my family again. That maybe if I listened, and just did whatever I was told that I would maybe make it out alive. I was lost in my thoughts, I don’t know how long he drove, but the car stopped. I didn’t move. I just laid there, too afraid to do anything. Frozen, yet again.

He climbed in the back, the smell of whiskey was strong. He made eye contact with me, it was like his brown eyes pierced into my mind. Like he knew everything I was thinking. He told me, “don’t fight and this will be easy and painless” He had music playing, and his demeanor changed. He became gentle. He took off my pants and

got on me. He didn’t wait, he didn’t hesitate. He just put himself in me and raped me. It hurt, it was like I was being torn apart, but I was far away, like I was watching. I was silent, silent tears fell. I just wanted it to stop, but I couldn’t even find strength to tell him to stop. My mind was far away, yet racing, wondering if it was ever going to stop, or what else I was going to have to endure. All the while my body, it didn’t align with my mind. It was like my body liked it. He knew it too. He said “you obviously know your place. You owe me, now show me how thankful you are” I laid there far away. I heard what he said but it meant nothing. He tells me to show him I’m thankful and he has maneuvered so he is over me. I opened my mouth and he put himself in my mouth and down my throat. I felt like I couldn’t breathe, he went in and out and deeper until he was satisfied. He left himself in me until after I swallowed. I never said no. I simply did everything he said.

Then he told me to just lay there in the back seat. He went to the front of the car and drove. He pulled over and said for me to get out of the car. I did, and just like that, he was gone. That part is just a daze. I walked, I don’t even know from where, but I walked home. I got home, said nothing and got in the shower. I just stood there. And let the water cover me. I couldn’t even cry. I just got lost in the water. And I felt so disgusting. I washed my hair 3 times, I washed my body three times. I got out of the shower and threw all of my clothes into the washer. I went straight back to the shower and just sat in the tub letting the water just cover me. I got out and went and started the washer again. The thought of anything he touched being there, the thought that he had touched me, that he had done more than that. I paced around my apartment trying to just understand what had happened, trying to even figure out what I was doing. It was like I wasn’t even thinking, simply doing. The sound of the washer stopped and I went over and started it right back up again. I went back into the shower, it seemed like the only thing to do. I showered until there was no more warm water left. Then I walked over to my phone and stared at it.

I heard my roommate start to get up and I closed the door to my room and just laid on my bed, staring at the ceiling. It was like time was just passing by. It felt like my brain was overloaded that it just froze. I laid there listening to her get ready and leave for work. At that point I decided to call a friend. This friend, she was only 5 minutes away and I knew she would be up. She answered and once she answered I was silent. I couldn’t say anything. She asked if I was there I said yes, she asked if I was okay, I said no. She asked what happened and all I could say was “a guy told me to get in his car and then” that was it. I couldn’t say any more. She got it though, she asked, did he rape you? I said yes. She said she was just pulling up to work and they had a mandatory meeting but right after she would take me to the hospital. I didn’t want to, she said we could talk about it. She told me to call the police. I didn’t want to do that either, especially working there. But she convinced me to. So after I was off the phone I called crime check, because I didn’t think it was an emergency. They couldn’t change anything at the moment. I had to find a way to say what had happened, but when I made that call it was like watching it all happen, like it wasn’t even me making the call. I gave them my name, my address, phone number, and that I was reporting being raped. They said they would have an officer there soon. Normally those calls sit for awhile before an officer responds. Officers hate taking the report calls. They especially hate taking rape calls and tend to avoid them. But there was an officer at my door in under 10 minutes. I thought I would have time to change my mind.

The officer came up and he said he could wait and sit outside my apartment until a female officer showed up. I didn’t care and told him to come in. He asked me so many questions. He would ask me the same thing multiple times. He asked questions about details that I didn’t know. He asked what kind of car, he asked for details on what he was wearing. All I knew was jeans and hoodie. I didn’t know anything else. I knew his eyes were brown, that he was white and he seemed to be in his mid 30’s. That was it. Nothing else. Nothing helpful. It was about the time we had finished that a female lieutenant showed up. The sent her because I worked for dispatch. So a supervisor had to be there. He went out to where I said he had picked me up and looked, but there was no snow so no foot prints or tire prints. While he was doing that she was talking to me. Trying to convince me to go to the hospital with them. I didn’t want to. I simply wanted to wait for my friend and lay in my bed. The thought of leaving the apartment seemed like way too much. She then wanted me to call someone to be with me. I didn’t want to tell anyone else. The two officers then asked if I would talk to the crisis line. I didn’t feel like I was in a crisis, but they wouldn’t leave until I either called someone to come be with me, or called the crisis line. So I opted for the crisis line. Once I was talking to someone they left. The person I talked to listened to me talk about how I didn’t want to talk to anyone. And she listened to whatever else I rambled about. Once that call ended I called my dad, I told him I wanted to be alone. And asked him to tell mom and told him I didn’t want to talk to anyone. Mom called me right away. She wanted to take me to the hospital and wanted to come over. I told her no to both things.

Then I laid in my bed under the covers, because that seemed safest. I laid there feeling so far away, and just let time go by. I would doze off for a short amount of time and wake back up and just felt confused and overwhelmed. It must have been sometime in the afternoon and my phone rang and my friend was off of work an on her way to my apartment. Once I heard her at the door I dragged myself out of bed and let her in. She asked if I wanted anything, if I had eaten. I hadn’t, but I didn’t want anything. She asked if I was ready to go and I said no, but she helped me lock up the apartment and go to her truck. As soon as we pulled in I told her I couldn’t do it that we needed to leave. But she is stubborn and said if nothing else just get checked. So we went in and I signed in, they put a bracelet on my arm. And then I had to sit. I know we sat there for 3 hours before someone saw me. I watched people come in, I paced, I wanted to leave, it was loud, it was busy, it was crazy. I had times where I thought for sure something else would happen. I watched the clock, I watched it change from 3 to 4, from 4 to 5 and just as it was almost 6 they called my name.

I went back and the nurse was very friendly. She brought me warm blankets, and had me change to a gown, she asked if I wanted an advocate, my friend answered for me and said yes, so she called one. I sat there curled up under the blankets. My friend put on a basketball game and we sat there. Then I had to tell what happened all over again. This time they didn’t ask for details over and over again. Just listened and notated. Then asked if I wanted to do a kit or just be checked. I didn’t want to do the kit. I knew I had messed that up, and didn’t see the point. They didn’t argue, left and came back to do the exam. They had me put my feet in the stirrups, and the doctor explained everything before and then explained everything as she was doing it. I had tears going down my face as the exam went on. I just laid there, frozen, distant, and everything was so sore. I know she was being gentle, but it all hurt.  And just like that it was over. It was right after the advocate showed up. She came in and talked. She asked if I had eaten, I said no, she went and had someone bring me food. I kind of nibbled and listened, she was talking to me about things, but I wasn’t even really listening. I just wanted to be done. They gave me some pills, I don’t even know what all they gave me, I just said ok and took them. Then they said we were good to go, that all paperwork was done. And we left. I went to my friend’s I ate dinner at her house. Then I went home. I curled up in my bed and just was in and out of sleep all night. That was the longest day of my life.

Speak Out: Ashley’s Story

“Hello, my name is Ashley and I am 19 years old. I am writing to you all today to tell my story, thanks to the wonderful creator of this page. Who happens to be my best friend 🙂
My mom has always been verbally abusive. As I was growing up I struggled with learning how to respect my mom because she would always say things to hurt me and my way of defending myself was talking back. Others found it offensive and still do. They believe that every child should respect their parents. I do agree with that but it is hard to do when you are a victim in the relationship. Sometimes some people are opinion based on the old fashion morals and beliefs that every child should respect their parents. Those same people either blind themselves from witnessing a verbal attack or they don’t care.
My grandmother, my father’s mom, lived with us until she got sick and had to live with my aunt in Reno when I was 8. She raised me more than my mother did. My mom would work and when she came home she would want to relax and be left alone. My grandmother died when I was 9. When she left I lost a mom, the mom I grew used to spending time with, watching TV, playing games, sharing affection. My mother continued on her work routine and still does it till this day.
The years I had with my grandmother are the only years I have of experience of having a real mother. I do love my mother but we say I hate you more than we say I love you. It hurts me to say that but it’s the truth. My mother was raised the same ways by her parents that she’s raised me and my older sister. We know she loves us to the moon and back but her way of giving love is replacing love with money and if she hurts our feelings we can’t be mad at her because she buys us a lot of things. Her parents bought her and I am struggling with the same method my mother is trying to pass on to me.
I have grown up to accept that I don’t have a mother like others do. Warm, affectionate, peaceful, patient, understanding, selfless, compassionate, empathetic but instead selfish, verbally abusive, loves when is convenient for her, judgmental.
I started cutting when I was 10 years old but stopped a short time after. I didn’t realize what I was doing because I was so young. It didn’t last long but it started up again when I was 14. When I reached 14 I would cut myself just about every day. I used to wear a bracelet to hide it and I wore it so much that in two years the bracelet was so worn that if you tugged on it, it would probably break. When I was fifteen I started drinking. I would sneak into the liquor cabinet to start my drinking routine then after taking a few shots I would drink around 6-7 beers. There were many times where my older sister had to clean me up and my mother would have to watch me while I slept to make sure I didn’t throw up over myself again.
When I was 16 I had finished off a bottle of golden tequila and had a few beers. Friends of the family came over that day and brought her little daughter over. I was drunk before they got to our house, I had no idea they were coming over. I went out to socialize with them and at some point in the little conversation I remember, her daughter wanted to go to the bathroom. Our dog wasn’t fixed and at that time he really didn’t like little kids. They asked if they could go in the house and I said, “Sure, I’ll hold the dog.” When they got in the house I had my dog in my arms, he kept fighting to get out of my arms but I just kept holding on to him. When they left the bathroom to go back outside the dog started stirring more in my arms as he spotted the little girl. Foolishly, I had my head right next to his. He turned in my arms and grabbed onto my nose, yanking it back and forth. I don’t remember it well, I don’t remember feeling pain but it must have put me in shock because I passed out. My dad walked into the house just as I was gaining conscious. He was so disappointed; he kept asking me what I did. When I finally got my conscious I looked down and saw a large puddle of my own blood soaked into my white jeans and another large puddle of it on the side of my thigh on the floor. I still didn’t feel any pain but I felt a lot of shame and that’s what made me burst into a sobbing mess as I kept asking how bad did it look. I almost needed stitches. I should have gone to the hospital but I had too much alcohol in my body. My mom had to come home from a ceremony that was honoring her friend. I didn’t know where she had gone or my sister had gone but my sister came home with her friend, whom both had to shower me once from another drunken incident.
My mom was concerned about me but she gave me more of a lecture for doing something stupid that made her leave her friend’s party to come home. I later found out that our friend who brought her daughter over had gone outside to alert my dad, she was crying really badly in our yard when my dad went to help me; I remember a small memory of that. What’s worse is the little girl adores and loves me. The shame hurt far worse than the bites and disfiguration of my nose that my dog gave me. My nose is crooked now at the bridge, if I bend it slightly the cartridge shows and there are a lot of times where I have trouble breathing. It wasn’t my intention to cause hurt for everyone and disfiguring my nose. I just wanted a drink.
Sadly that wasn’t even the last drunken incident. The last time was when a few months after when I was 16, I drank seven beers and walked outside at eight in the morning and stumbled back and forth between my dad’s truck and my grandpa’s trailer. I would go in and out of the house to grab another beer. Finally I grew tired and cold and went back into the house to go to bed. I thought I was doing fine until the nausea hit me so I yelled for my mom from my room. She always asked me why I did it. It was a bit of a lot of things. I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety at the age of twelve, I overdosed on over 160 pills when I was fifteen, I was losing a friendship with my best friend at the time, and I felt totally unwanted and lost in the world, with no purpose or ambition to live. That mixed with not having a positive mother figure in my life made it a hundred times worse, along with fighting with her daily (which still goes on today). My mom did and still does try to help me with my depression, she lets me go to a psychologist and a psychiatrist when I need to and she took me out of public school for my freshmen year then sent me to a Independent Study school for my sophomore year in high school because of my anxiety.
I stopped cutting when I was 16 along with drinking. Because I have been addicted to both it is really hard not to reach for both when I struggle with something again. I am really close to my dad and his sister. I go to my aunt whenever I need motherly advice, help, and comfort. She lives in Reno so we talk on the phone a lot. She asked me to place my blades and razors somewhere that I couldn’t reach in a short amount of time; she knew I couldn’t throw them away. I can’t even after over two and a half years of being self harm free. She made me promise her that I would never harm myself again. For a long time I hadn’t even though recently I’ve been going through a lot. Thursday, October the 2nd, my best friend got in a car accident. My mother and I had been in a long fight before I found out she was in an accident. My best friend, Shelby, called me right after she told me she was hit. She’s okay, she didn’t have to go to the hospital but she did receive injuries. Because I wasn’t speaking to my mom to prevent any more drama for that day, she didn’t tell me that my friend was in an accident. As soon as I found out I went to go back in the house when I saw her speed off in the car. She didn’t take me with her to see my own best friend. I was crying so hard that I was shaking to the point of passing out and losing my voice from trying to find a way to get to the scene of the accident so I could be there for my best friend. That was the worst thing she did to me, for the first time in over two and a half years I broke my record of no self harm and cut myself with a can I had been holding and crushed during the crying. It wasn’t a deep cut but it was a cut. I broke the promise to my aunt and myself. I called my aunt a few hours later crying and she told me she wasn’t mad but she was disappointed.
October is always the hardest month for me because it was when I overdosed at the age of 15. On Saturday morning, October 22, 2010 at two in the morning I was sitting on my bed listening to music. Unintentionally the songs I was listening to expressed a lot of my feelings and desire of wanting to leave. Impulsively I took eight pills of Tylenol from my purse. Now having started I wanted to make sure it worked so I took over 60 pills of Motrin from my night stand drawer. I feared it wasn’t enough so I ran into the kitchen and snuck a big bottle of Tylenol in my room. I took handfuls and shoved them down with warm old soda and water. It took me a long time to drink Pepsi again. By the time I was done I had taken over 160 pills. I kissed and hugged my two dogs, my sister, mother, and father then rushed back to my room. It was really hard saying goodbye to them. I didn’t really say goodbye to my mom, she overheard me sobbing in the hallway, so I hugged her and told her I loved her then went on to saying the rest of my goodbyes. After saying my goodbyes I went to sleep holding pictures, sending a text saying “I love you, don’t ever forget that,” to my loves ones. I had Reba music on, thinking it would be the last time I heard my hero’s voice, the last time I would see the faces of my loved ones in pictures that were covering me up like a blanket. I hugged a picture of my grandma and me and I waited, ready for peace and the ending of my misery and pain, ready to go, ready for my last breath. After twenty minutes I smelt the toxic from the pills in my body and nausea began. I tried standing up but I fell to the ground, I crawled to the door and I yelled for help and was taken to a hospital. It’s a hard month because it’s more than a anniversary of what could have been my death, it’s a reminder that I have made it and even though I am doing a lot better than I was, unwanted feelings come back because the memories come back more than any other month. It’s almost like a magnet; my feelings are drawn to it stronger in October.
The second worse thing my mother did was when I went with her and my father to a show in Reno. I didn’t want to go even though I love Reno. I didn’t want to go because I worried that I would be in the way of my parents having their own time together. They insisted I go, so I did. They went gambling with their friends while I went down and did some bowling. I felt so free, independent, and proud of myself for being alone in a social place without having an anxiety attack, I also didn’t take any anxiety medicine, and I was handling it without anxiety. I went back up to the room to freshen up and as I was on my way out my mother called me to tell me to stay in the room because she was having fun with her friends and didn’t want me down there with them. It hurt me so much that I changed into my pajamas and went to bed. She had destroyed the first happy moment of feeling like an adult and on my own without having to have an anxiety attack and she made me feel unwanted. My dad and their friends asked me why I didn’t go back down to visit with them, they had waited for me. My mom told them what she said. My dad tried calling me but the night was over for me, I didn’t want to intrude their time together and because I felt like a burden, I just wanted sleep and to go home. My mom got mad at me when I ignored her calls; she said I was being a brat for spoiling her evening.
One of the many reasons I love my favorite show, Major Crimes is the relationship between Rusty and Sharon. Rusty is a eighteen year old boy who was abandoned by his mother at the age of 14. He lived off the streets, trading sex for money so he can eat and survive. His mother comes back (whom is a drug addict), she is in rehab because she got caught stealing at a store and was caught with drugs. For the time she has been in the show she has used Rusty so she could get drugs and so she can appear as healthy, trying to get her life on track and getting sober so she can be with Rusty again. Because he was a witness in a murder trial, a police woman, Sharon Raydor became his legal guardian until he became 18. Sharon Raydor now wishes to adopt him. My other hero, whom I wrote my story to (and will be sending it soon) is Mary McDonnell, she plays Sharon Raydor in the show, Major Crimes. If you are in the same boat as me I recommend watching this show, the transition from strangers to a mother-son bond is beautiful. The show is wonderful. While it is emotional for me because I’ve never experienced the thoughtful, always present but at a comfortable distance with my mom, it helps educate me on what kind of mother I can be someday. I’ve never really had a good influence or role model with my mother so I always search for it and observe it when I find it. I think Rusty is very lucky and I love the great progress they have made together. The writers do a great job! Along with the many great performances the cast gives. Sometimes my mom will watch Major Crimes with me. A few days ago I was watching the “Letting It Go” episode where Rusty confronts his mother. They were fighting and my mom was standing close by in the kitchen, I started crying because that was us, and later in the episode when Rusty was talking to Sharon, that’s what I am missing out on.
When I was growing up, to this day of course, I needed positive role models in my life. I have been a Reba McEntire fan since I was in the fifth grade and she has helped me get through the next six years.
The first movie I saw of Mary’s was Dances With Wolves. My dad would watch it whenever it was on TV and because I am a Daddy’s girl I would watch TV with him a lot, still do. It wasn’t until 2013 where I became a big fan of her work and of her compassionate nature. She has helped me in many ways; the first major way she has helped me was by going to college. When I saw her portray of Dr. Virginia Dixon on Grey’s Anatomy it inspired me to go to college. Because of my anxiety disorder and my depression I never thought I would even make it to my high school graduation. But now I’m in my eighth week of college. My family and friends are very proud, and I am proud of myself too. I thank her for giving me the courage to make the steps towards college. I don’t know what I would like to be yet but I am in the process of exploring.
I used to get judged a lot for having heroes, my mom makes fun of me every now and then but I know it’s only to hurt me in an argument. It’s why I can’t go to her when I am sad or need advice; she uses what I tell her against me in arguments. Because she does many things that are bad influences I needed women role models in my life, I needed a mother figure. Because I have grown used to my mother’s way I have learned to not let her nature upset me too much but it wasn’t until recently that the sadness of it all hit me. I realized that yes I do have a biological mother that does love me and provide for me, yes I do love and appreciate her but I am going to live a life without knowing the kind of mother and daughter relationship that I see from movies, shows, and my friends. My mother is more of a roommate that argues with me every day. I learned very young that I couldn’t respect someone who didn’t respect me but it wasn’t until I started watching Major Crimes that I learned from Sharon how to compose myself in an argument, how to control my temper and hurt, and how saying nothing can be more irritable to a person rather than saying something back. It’s a classy and mature way of declining drama and restoring strength in myself.
She is helping me learn how to become a woman now that I am reaching adulthood and how I can be a great mother some day. I don’t think I can ever thank her enough for the inspiration and strength she gives me. I hope I can grow up to be like her and be the kind of mother like her that I never had.
Though I have lived through some very rough things I know I can use my experience as help I can give to others. If my children go through anxiety and depression, I’ll know how to help them. I also write poetry and I am in the process of writing a novel. My goal is to write a book of them, I currently have around forty poems. I have written two poems about my mother but she hasn’t read them or most of my other poems, I’ve volunteered to show them but she never showed interest.
I am doing a lot better than I was a few years ago, I don’t drink unless supervised and that’s only to have a good time. I try my best to avoid drinking for the wrong reasons again even though I do get triggers along with cutting. I was two and a half years of self harm free but I broke that record and promise due to the car accident I mentioned. Because I did that and it being the month anniversary of my attempt at suicide from four years ago, my triggers are very sensitive. But I’m still here and I’m still fighting. I call my aunt and go to my dad whenever I need help, I turn on music of two of my other role models, Loretta Lynn and Reba, I’m a Country nut. Lol I go watch Mary’s movies and shows when I need to take my mind off of things.
I can’t say that I haven’t spoken before her that lead to an argument. I get so tired and exhausted from arguing with her daily that I get short tempered and lose patience with her. That’s something I am working on.
A lot of people judge those who have heroes/role models because they don’t understand or take the time to understand why someone may need that in their lives. People call it an obsession but I think maybe it’s the one thing in their lives that push them forward so they tend to cling to the light that moves and strengthens them. It offends me when that happens but as long as I am moving forward, I try to block out all negativity around me. And since I can’t block out the negativity of my mom because I have no way of moving out, I block it out with my heroes, family, and friends.
It hurts when people blame me and insult me if my mom and I are arguing in public because this isn’t the person I am or want to be. My mom won’t end a argument unless she gets the last word and she’ll use every bad word, sad past experience, secret, vulnerabilities, something important to me as a way of hurting me to get the last word. I try to not speak out but I’ve always learned (due to being bullied in elementary school by students and staff) that if someone is bullying me I should speak up and defend myself instead of standing there and taking punches (figure of speech but I have been physically bullied at school too). So when I defend myself from my mother, because I’m the child, my mom is the victim and I’m a disrespectful “child”.
We can’t control what others think, we can’t help what they think of us. If they look at us but choose not to see us, we should try to not let it get to us. It’s hard not to care what others think of us but if they don’t know us then odds are what they think they see is not who we really are.
If you are in the same boat or feel like harming yourself again or worse, please don’t follow your feelings. I recently had a horrible dream of losing my aunt, it woke me up with tears streaming down my face and left me shaken all day. I don’t know what I would do without her and she says the same thing about me. If I was affected like that from a dream I can only imagine what she would feel if I succeeded.
I am a survivor and so are you. We are fighting it every day despite how tired we may get or how doubtful we may get sometimes. We are here, we may not be in the best place we want to be right now but with a positive mind we can make it. Speak out, don’t let your feelings silence you.
Thank you for reading my story and letting me show it.

XOXO

Ashley”

Everyone Has a Story

Everyone has a story. A battle they are fighting. Things that happened to them to make them a certain way. Unhealthy habits they form to deal with things. Everyone has a story, and that’s okay. What’s not okay, is to judge people because there story isn’t yours. Their battle isn’t the same as yours. Their habits are worse then yours. That’s what’s not okay. Don’t judge them because their journey is different than yours.

Stop the judging and start the loving.

Those are my thoughts for today.

PS. I quit my bad nicotine habit cold turkey last night. I was tired of being a slave to it. Here’s to being free!

Speak Out: Jessica’s Story

“When Katie asked me to share my story on her blog I was elated. I had shared parts of my story a few months prior on my own blog (girlwithamission.org) so I was ready to jump right in and share even more of myself with you.

I had a pretty normal childhood. I grew up with parents who gave unconditional love, a younger brother and sister who copied everything I did (it was annoying at the time- but they’re my best friends now!), played sports and had a few friends. When I was about 10 years old until I was 12 I was sexually abused by my neighbor. He was about 4 years older than me, and he was cute. Of course I had a crush on him. He was the older boy next door. He also had 2 older brothers and my brother and I would play basketball with them all the time. They were older than us, but they let us play with them. We had fun. One day my brother, myself and Henry were playing video games at my house. We were goofing around and laughing. Next thing I knew Henry grabbed me and through me on the ground tickling me. He started getting rough. Next thing I knew his hands were down my pants. I tried to scream but he he put his hand over my mouth and started choking me. This went on for 2 years (we moved or the abuse probably would have continued). At the time, I was so young and didn’t know what sexual abuse even was. I knew what he was doing was wrong but I thought it was my fault and I would get in trouble. So I kept quiet. I had blocked out the memory and refused to let myself think about it. Everything was fine. If I kept telling myself nothing happened then it really didn’t happen, right? It wasn’t until a few years later that I realized what he did was actually crime. I was in health class and we were learning about sex ed. Consent and nonconsent. This was a turning point. I had to face that it happened to me and I had to deal with it somehow. Still, I kept quiet. I was so ashamed. It must have been my fault. How could I let that happen. I should have told him to stop (I did but he never listened). I was afraid of what people were going to say to me when I told them so for years I said nothing. Sometimes I wonder what he’s doing now, if he hurt other girls the way he hurt me.
Much of my teen years would pass much the same. Silent. Living in shadows. Depressed. Angry. Hateful. Got into fights with the people who loved me. Pushed those people away. Shut down. I had no one to talk to and I felt so alone. I didn’t know how to process the fact that I had been violated. I desperately wanted to tell someone, but who?
When I was 19 I started dating a guy named Joe. Red flags were up from the start, but I didn’t listen. I was in a dark place. He was in a dark place. It was a mess. One night he had a party at a hotel. His friend Dan was there. I only met him once prior to this party. He was nice. Joe and I got into a fight so I walked out crying and drunk. Dan came out after me and convinced me to go back inside. Joe’s an idiot. I went back to the room where Dan kept handing me drinks and was telling me to relax, not to worry about Joe. I had gotten so drunk that I must have blacked out. Because when I came to Dan was on top of me, kissing and touching me, and asked me if I wanted him to get a condom. I said no and turned over and tried to fall back asleep. I was tired and drunk. I heard him get out of the bed, and must have gotten a condom. Next thing I knew he was on top of me again. I tried to push him off, but I had no energy left in me. I told him I just wanted to sleep but he said, “I’ll be quick I promise.” (He had no pants on at this point and was pushing himself against me).. When I blacked out earlier, somehow I ended up with no pants either. He was touching me through my underwear. I froze. I couldn’t move. I just closed my eyes and prayed he would stop. And the next thing I knew he was inside of me. It wasn’t long before Joe came back in the room and he stopped (thank God!). I left the room and called my best friend crying. She picked me up and I went home. I tried to tell Joe the next day what happened. But he didn’t believe me. He said I wanted it and that I asked for it. I felt so hurt and alone.
The next few months would pass. I started drinking and partying hard. Blacking out almost every night and waking up naked in someone else’s bed. With no memory of how I even got there. I went into a dark depression. I woke up everyday thinking, “How can I kill myself today?” I was so alone and no one would even care.
A year later and my mom was desperately trying to get me to talk to her. She still had no idea what was going on. She only saw the partying, the fights, this angry person I’ve become. She asked me time and time again if something had happened to me. But I said no each time. Finally she was so desperate she said, “If you keep going down this road you won’t get to see your sister grow up.” That struck a chord with me. Because my little sister was everything to me. She was the reason I woke up every morning. She was so innocent and gave me big hugs and told me everyday how much she loved me.
When I was 21 I really started to work on myself. I started journaling, reading self-help books and surrounding myself with the right people. I started sharing my story in the hopes that maybe it will help someone else. I started to love myself again. I believe that changed everything for me.
Age 26 and I’m not only surviving but THRIVING. I became an entrepreneur, started a business and started helping other young people to live into their power, find their voice and OWN their story no matter what. Now, I honor and appreciate every part of my story.
I am grateful that I didn’t give up. I am grateful that I am here today to share my story. Healing IS possible. I am living proof of that. You don’t have to go through life in silence. Speak up, you never know who’s life you’ll change.
Jessica”

Speak Out: Stephanie’s Story

“When I was in my mid-teens, I was sexually assaulted. When I was in my mid-teens, I was taught my sole purpose on this earth was to be of service to men, to be a sexual object, not a human being.
After being assaulted, everything I thought I knew about myself crumbled. I became an object, not a person.The deep seeded shame society taught me was mine to bear crippled and silenced me. I was taught that what happened to me was my fault. I walked the hallways at school with my head tilted to the floor and my books tightly wrapped around my chest. I didn’t have to look up to know everyone was whispering to each other about me as I walked by. “Did you hear, she cuts herself, what an attention whore”, “Did you know she was drinking the other day in class? She’s crazy”. Little did they know about the pain I was feeling inside, how every day I would wake up hoping it would be my last. After my assault, I felt so alone and the only way I could release my pain was to wage a war against myself. It wasn’t long before I started to realize that physical pain could distract myself from the excruciating internal pain I was feeling, so I began to self-harm. My sense of self was so degraded and all I felt I was good for was to be a sexual object for men, so I began to drink to forget about it. It wasn’t long before my drinking got out of control. For breakfast I would mix vodka and orange juice in a travel mug, with more vodka in it than orange juice and I drank it on the bus as I was heading to school. I couldn’t face a day sober. I started to crave something stronger than alcohol, something that wouldn’t just numb me, but make me feel happy again. This led me down a road of drugs.

Then one night I hit rock bottom.

I went to a friends Halloween party. I had been drinking and doing drug throughout the day, teetering on the brink of consuming more than my body could handle. Little did my friends know, I had been thinking about ending my life that whole day. I couldn’t even handle the thought of facing another day reliving my assault, not being able to tell anyone. Around midnight, I got up and walked out of the house my friends were having a good time in. I stepped onto the street, took a deep breath, laid down on that cool pavement and prayed to god a car would come and hit me. No one would think it was suicide, they would just assume I was passed out drunk, that it was an accident. The perfect plan because I didn’t want anyone to know how much of a coward I was.
It didn’t take long before I friend noticed I was missing and found me out on that street. She ran out onto that street crying as she called her mom for help. I don’t remember much after that.

After that day my depression grew stronger, completely debilitating. Many of the people around me grew very concerned, but none of them knew what the warning signs were for sexual assault. Oddly, my debilitating depression was what ended up leading me to what saved me. My depression sucked all the life out of me; I became a human rag doll. I couldn’t muster the energy to get out of bed, so I stayed in bed day after day mindlessly watching tv. Marathons of the show Law & Order: Special Victims Unit was often on and I usually never had the energy to change the channel. As I began watching episode after episode, getting more hooked on the show by the minute, I was sucker punched with the realization from watching that show that I wasn’t the only one going through all this, and more importantly, there are people out there that will believe me, support me and understand me. After every episode I began to understand what happened to me was not my fault. I began to research sexual assault on the Internet and that lead me to an online message board for survivors (www.Pandys.org). I made an account and for a while all I did was read posts from others. Eventually I began to feel safe enough to start opening up with little steps at a time revealing who I was and what I have been going through. I was met with open arms and understanding, I began to heal.
I also starting to research Law & Order: SVU and the people behind the show. I was in awe when I began to learn who the lead actress on the show, Mariska Hargitay, was. She is a champion for survivors, a voice for the voiceless. She created a foundation whose mission is to heal, educate and empower survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse and to shed light into the darkness that surrounds these issues. Finding this foundation was the beginning of finding my joy. I can’t say enough how much this foundation changed who I am and how I understood myself. I found my purpose. I began to realize I went through what I did so I could use my experience and knowledge to help and educate others.

And once I found that purpose I became a person and I realized I was never an object.

“By helping to heal others, you can heal yourself.” – Maile Zambuto; CEO of the Joyful Heart Foundation”

Speak Out: AJ’s Story

“It all started when I was in high school. I went to a very large high school and with me never being a very out-going person, I felt pressured to belong to a clique or to stand out in some way.I did well in school but was never very popular. Lots of girls end up having their first boyfriend and/or first kiss in high school and never of those things were happening for me, but I wanted it to. I was always jealous of the girls I saw walking through the halls with their boyfriends, making out with their boyfriends before and after every class, or seeing their boyfriends give them presents on their birthday or Valentine’s Day or even just seeing girls getting attention from the jocks and all the other popular guys. I wanted a guy to pay attention to me and make me feel special for once, and I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what I was doing wrong. Was I unattractive? Was I not smart enough? Was I in the wrong classes? Did people think I was stuck-up because I didn’t talk a lot?

 In addition to all of this, I’d also like to point out that I psychically “filled out” very early. Like most of the women in my family my body had already taken on womanly figure by the time I was 13 or 14 (around the time I started high school). But even though I had noticed and my parents and relatives had begun to notice, it didn’t occur to me that my male classmates would notice this as well, or that they would show that they noticed in a negative/inappropriate way.

 I remember the first time it happened, it started with one of the jocks that I actually had a crush on. We were on the newspaper together and I just thought he was so cool and handsome and I wanted him to notice me so badly (I’ll call him “Jake” for now). Then one day I remember I was in the newspaper room by myself, standing with my back towards the door. (I think I was reading/editing my article or something, I can’t remember). Then suddenly I felt someone grab me from behind and them touching me between my legs; when I turned around I saw that it was Jake, and I was so shocked I couldn’t even say anything. He just looked at me and smiled and walked away and by then our teacher and other classmates had started to come in. I never said a word to anyone.

 Although now I realize that that was wrong, in my own naïve way at that time, I had convinced myself that negative/inappropriate attention from guys was better than no attention that all. I had convinced myself that maybe if I just pretended to like it, that maybe Jake would think I was cool and ask me to hang out with him and even be his girlfriend (needless to say, neither ever happened). And I was going to find out later that Jake wouldn’t be my only problem.

 It got to the point where my other male classmates would start touching me, grabbing me and groping me too, usually in gym class when the teacher would be otherwise engaged and didn’t see what was going on. At that point I had started saying, “Stop! Let go! Leave me alone!” but they would just laugh and think I was kidding. I remember once one of the bigger football players pinned me to the wall so I couldn’t move and just put his hands all over me. And it wasn’t always physical; I’d be walking past a group of guys and they would make obscene comments about my body and call out things that they wanted to do to me. I remember one disturbing conversation I overheard in class where the group of guys sitting behind me talked about how they’d rape me if given the chance. I felt so sick.

 And I started hating my body, thinking that it was somehow my fault. “If I didn’t have such big breasts or such a big butt, guys wouldn’t say/do nasty things to me and they’d leave me alone.” So I started wearing unnecessarily baggy clothes all the time and wearing pretty much anything that would hide my curves, which didn’t always help.

 The random assaults happened on and off for about 2 and a half years and I never told a single sole about it. I started getting really depressed and would look for any excuse not to go to school (faking being ill, pretending to have overslept or pretending that I missed the bus). Pretty soon I had ran out of excuses to tell my parents and when I had to force myself to go to school, I’d take sleeping pills before I left the house, so that I’d just go to school in this haze, not really seeing or feeling anything; I’d just be in the numb, dream-like state all day.

 When my grades started to suffer my parents started getting on my case and it seemed like I couldn’t do anything right and I wanted to tell them why my behavior had changed but I’ve never been good at expressing myself verbally, so I started taking out my anger and frustrations on myself; I started cutting. I wanted people to know the pain that I was in without actually having to say anything, so I’d slice up my thighs and just bleed (the scars they left are still very visible).

 Things actually started getting better after I graduated high school and started college. I remember sitting in my room freshman year watching TV; it was the first time I ever watched Law and Order:SVU. Once I got to understand the crimes that they fought and the cases that they took to court and what their overall cause was (and the strength and courage of the female lead detective) I then at that moment decided what I wanted to do with my life: I decided to change my major from International Studies to Criminal Justice. At first I said to myself that I wanted to be a police officer (turned out that that position wasn’t really right for me) but then I decided that I would work my hardest to become a lawyer so that I could perhaps one day be the person who puts evil people away so that they can’t ever hurt anyone again.

 In 2010 during my sophomore year of college (about 4 years after my assaults first began) I sent my mother a random e-mail one night, explaining to her what had happened to me in high school. She immediately picked me up the next day and she took me to one of my favorite restaurants and we talked about my ordeal. In a manner that I’m still not entirely clear on. . . .my sister found out as well, but I only told her about it myself about a month ago. So the other person in my immediate family who didn’t know what happened, was my father.

 I’d been “living with” what had happened to me pretty well for the past few years, although I’ve still never had a boyfriend and I still jump whenever I feel someone touch my upper thighs (even if it’s just my sister or a female friend). I still find it hard to trust men because in the back of my mind I’m always preparing for me to be assaulted again. But for the most part I thought I had put it all behind me until I saw the episode of SVU “Beast’s Obsession” and (like a lot of other people) I was triggered by certain scenes. It felt like all in an instant all the bad things that had happened to me came flooding back without warning. I remember very clearly the next morning after I woke up, I couldn’t even get out of bed. Suddenly I started crying and then the crying turned into full out uncontrollable sobbing. When I had finally stopped I told myself, “I can’t do this anymore. Hiding what happened to me won’t make it go away.”

 Less than 48 hours ago, I sat my father down and told him what happened to me all those years ago. Although I generally felt like he was sorry about what happened to me, I got a bit confused/upset when he told me that he was, “Happy that I was admitting my partial responsibility for what happened to me.” Like a lot of men, I just don’t think he can wrap around his mind the idea that rape/assault is NEVER the victims fault; I think he’s somehow under the impression that I “lead on” the guys who assaulted me in some way.

 Anyway, I want to make it clear that NO ONE has the right to violate your body in any way; not your relatives, not your partner, not your friends and definitely not a complete stranger. “Provoking” the person means nothing; someone trying to claimed that you wore the wrong clothes or said the wrong thing is BS, you were not “asking” to be hurt or violated. And finally, keeping quiet does not make your ordeal go away. Keeping quiet gives your attacker power over you. I waited too late to say anything about what happened to me and so those boys who assaulted me went on unpunished. But I know now that even though it’s too late for them to be punished, it’s never too late for me to heal and come to terms with what happened to me, or what could’ve happened. I want to help other women who have gone through what I’ve gone through (and even worse) because this type of behavior must stop. But it all starts with you, whether it happens to you or you hear/see it happening to someone else. We have to be able to find our voice and say “No More”.”

Woman Crush Wednesday – Loving Myself Since 1988

   
I thought today would be a great day to do a quick blog on loving myself. So, I’m going to list some things I love about myself.

  1. My smile.
  2. My outgoing personality.
  3. My work ethnic.
  4. My love of life.
  5. How I care about others.
  6. My love of books.

I left it at 6, because that is my favorite number.

My name is Katie Butterfly and I’ve been loving myself since 1988, some days are harder than others! But I’m still working on it!