Yesterday’s story was pretty clear cut, a father doesn’t rape his daughter. It’s “easy” to be strong in that case. It’s CLEAR where the lines of right and wrong, lines of BLAME are, you know? But when it’s not? What then? Because a lot of the stories I am reading are of women who have been raped or molested or groped or abused, in short VIOLATED, but because of circumstances feel doubt, feel culpable in their own attacks. Here’s what I know (now obviously) the lines are always clear. Even if you feel they are fuzzy because you were in a relationship, you may have just wanted the guy, you may have been drinking, you may even have come on to him, you may have been drunk. It doesn’t matter. It reallly doesn’t because in the end no one WANTS to be violated. NO ONE wants to feel these things after sex, to have these questions PLAGUE THEM. No one wants to have future sexual relationships and reactions TAINTED. Going a step further when you are no longer making your own choices, either through alcohol, being drugged, coercion or force and someone else is still in control? THERE IS A LINE.
But sometimes even when you see the line, when you know the line is well trampled over, when you hate yourself and him, you stay.
Especially if you are already “damaged goods” (thanks mom) the cycle of abuse is a thing people discuss for a reason. My therapist called it my “freak beacon” It’s real and overwhelming. It starts small. A boundary crossing RIGHT FROM THE GET that is disguised as a romantic gesture. It’s a test, they always test how far they can push you once they have you, but they have to know if you are one of the ones that can even be pushed in the first place. In my case a senior who had been picking on me in photography class, broke into my locker and removed all of my possessions. But. That’s obviously fine, right? Because he left me a rose. SO ROMANTIC. Me now wants to shake past me SO HARD for this moment. Even then there was a little voice wayyyyyy back screaming at me but all my friends were soooooooo jealous. Sooooooo completely over the moon for this move and he was a SENIOR. Plus and lets be honest, given my past I was pretty damn desperate for “love”. The boyfriend I had just prior to this situation was also older than me, had tried to have sex with with me but was thwarted by a tampon (because NO didn’t slow him a bit) and yet I didn’t dump him for that, I dumped him because I found out he was repeating a grade and lied about it. To 15 year old me boundary crossing and having no respect for me? JUST FINE. Being a dumbass? NOT ACCEPTABLE.
But back to “the high school boyfriend” aka pyscho, he eventually won me over and we were a solid item. We dated for 3 months before the first time we attempted to have sex. He got ANGRY AT ME because I “didn’t bleed” which of course meant I wasn’t a virgin, that I was a LIAR. So I explained what happened to me. I explained that I still called myself a virgin because until I CHOSE to have sex with someone for the first time, it wasn’t the same thing. He was instantly apologetic and caring and SO ANGRY at my father but looking back? I think that was the moment he knew he had me. I was “weak”, I was “tormented”, I could be manipulated and abused and all he had to do was act like he cared. Act like I mattered. Pretend to not be that guy.
There was a lot of stupid teen drama and stupid teen desperation in our relationship. We broke up and got back together a lot. But I also ended up pregnant at 16 by him and I KNEW that it was a bad, bad thing. I was willing to let myself be treated like shit and possibly (definitely) be hurt but there was no way in hell I would let a child be damaged. I had an abortion and it didn’t go well for me. I got very sick after. I was bleeding A LOT and since I was keeping it all a huge secret from my mother and my step-dad and all of my friends, I trusted him to take care of me. Which is how I ended up in a bathtub at my boyfriend’s house, trying to bring my fever down, and being raped.
He stopped when I screamed out in pain but I was weak and defenseless and he took advantage of that situation. His apologies were immediate and profuse. “He lost control of himself” “He’s just been so overwhelmed with our situation that he doesn’t even know himself anymore” “He just loves me so much and is so WORRIED ABOUT ME that he NEEDED TO BE CLOSE TO ME” “You’re just so beautiful that sometimes I can’t take it” “It will never happen again. I will be so perfect, you’ll see”
At some point in all his attempts to “make it up to me” he started working in his fear about leaving me when he graduated from high school. His fear of leaving me with my mother who obviously hated me and that my father was still out there and could hurt me. How he wouldn’t be able to protect me. (PROTECT ME) Always these nagging fears. Always these reasons I NEEDED him.
My junior year all of my friends pretty much abandoned me. Wouldn’t even talk to me in the halls. Wouldn’t look at me. I was alone. Except for him. How perfect for him! He didn’t even have to work to alienate me from people, they did it for him.
My senior year my mother kicked me out of the house and then he had me all to himself. We had an apartment together. I worked full time and went to school. He was always scheming. He was gone a lot late nights and never really telling me what was going on. I was working my ass off trying to keep us afloat and not fail out of school so he got away with a lot and I felt all the more isolated and lonely. And then his day in court came up. In the early days he told me that he had this “thing” that may or may not end up going to court that stemmed from a fight he got into with some dude. That they were fairly certain they could get it dropped but “just in case” I needed to know what happened and what might happen. See, he was a child of privilege and his mommy and step-daddy were doing everything they could to get this “taken care of” because obvs he’s innocent.
Cut to court when they read the charges and the plaintiff is not a man. NOT A MAN. A woman. A WOMAN. Court turned into a huge goat rodeo. He fainted on the stand and actually had to be taken out in an ambulance because of the history of heart disease in there family (his sister got a pace maker in her 20’s) and while I’m standing there with his step-father trying to parse what the fuck just happened, it dawns on Gary (the step-father) that he didn’t tell me it was a woman. That I DIDN’T KNOW. In that moment of shock and confusion Gary could’ve told me the truth, he could’ve cut me the fuck loose but instead he took that opportunity to convince me it was a lie. To use his medical evidence (that’s what he was doing there and what he did for a living) to sway me back into the fold. Gary knew what he was, they all did, hell later on when I finally did end it for good the psycho’s own FATHER told me he didn’t blame me and he felt bad I stayed so long because they loved me and knew it was bad for me to be with their son.
Part of me feels bad that it took me another year. I stayed while he went to jail. I stayed when he basically cut out on me, our apartment and bills to go run some scheme in California. I stayed knowing he cheated on me. I moved to Texas to be with him (likely more to get the hell away from my family). I stayed after another rape. I left when I found the crystal meth addiction started, the paranoia started, the threats escalated, the hate escalated. That even after I “left” I was stuck living with him for a month because I didn’t know ANYONE here but his family. That even after I left for good he stalked me. He stole my car (more than once). That he slammed my head into a car window one of the times I got my car back from him. That he told me he was HIV positive so that I wouldn’t sleep with anyone else. That he told me he had cancer to try to get me to come back and take care of him. That when NONE of that worked, he went and found a girl that looked so much like me my brother (the one here, not biological one) mistook her for me at a record store and then called me to warn me because it freaked him out. That he took out his residual shit about me on her, I know this, she called me. He kept a box of all of my photos (he took them when I left him) clothes and UNDERWEAR under their bed. UNDER THEIR BED.
The other part of me? Well. If I didn’t move to Texas, would I have my Sprog? If I didn’t go through all that with him, would I still be in the headspace from my childhood that would allow someone else to do this or worse? If I didn’t go through all that, would I have had the strength to leave Sprog’s father when I did? If I didn’t stay in Texas, would I have ever met Willy?
Either way, I can say this: my freak beacon is off. That cycle is done and those days are OVER. The “cycle of abuse” ended with me and if I had to go through all of that so that my son is kind, healthy, happy, respectful, loved and loving? So be it. I am my experiences but I am also the knowledge that I am more than they ever were.