*TRIGGER WARNING* This post discusses sexual assault.
Lately I’ve been struggling. Many things are going on that contribute to this like my kids being sick on a near constant basis, working evenings full time and never seeing my husband yet trying to keep up with the house and then there is the sexual assault scandals as of late.
I am a survivor of sexual assault. I’ve been assault many times over my life starting at age 8. It’s been hard growing up feeling like my body is the object of desire for men even when I was a little girl. A LITTLE GIRL FOR FUCKS SAKE!! Ugh…see, now I’m getting mad. I don’t like to get mad. *inhale*exhale* As a result of having been sexually objectified from the age of 8 I don’t like people looking at me and going to the gym causes me so much anxiety that I feel like I’m choking on my tongue.
This time of year is especially rough for me because I was assaulted by my step dad starting at age 12. He used to sit in his robe with no underwear and open his legs to expose himself to me. I thought it was just me but then my younger brother asked me about it and he mentioned it to our mom. My step dad stopped doing it to him after that but kept on doing it to me.
I was terrified of him. He was 6′ and a very solid man. I saw his temper flare on more than one occasion and I never ever wanted to be on that end of it and because of this…I kept quiet. Soon he started pulling his sweat pants down just enough to expose his junk to me even when my mom was just in the next room. I remember sitting on the chair near the Christmas tree admiring it and then looking over to see him exposing himself to me. I tried to pretend like I didn’t notice but how do you NOT notice this? Each time it made me feel sick and small and like I was suffocating.
After a while he’d start jerking off in front of me. We lived in a home that didn’t have AC and only had one air conditioner so my mom and he would drag their mattress into the living room and we’d all sort of lay around where ever. I laid on the couch and he made sure to sleep on that side of the bed. I’d wake up to him staring at me jerking off. After a while I started sleeping in my room to avoid it, heat be damned.
At some point my mom and step dad separated and I was SO relieved when he moved out. He had been gone for about 6 months until one day my mom shared with us at family counseling that she was thinking about getting back with him. My stomach sank and the room literally spun. I started crying and just said “If he moves back in I’m moving in with my dad.” which I knew wasn’t even an option.
I had called my dad several times crying telling him I wanted to move in with him. When he asked me what was going on I couldn’t say anything. The words would get caught in my throat like a bad piece of meat. As a result he would just say “I don’t think now is a good time for you to move in.” What I read into that was that it wasn’t a good time for his wife at the time. Rejection is hard for a teenage girl.
When my mom shared this and I said I’d move in with my dad the counselor looked at me and my mom asked “Why are you reacting like this?” I just said “I will move and that’s that.” We kept going round and round until the session was over but I stood my ground. I was not going to live in the same house as him ever again and I meant EVERY. SINGLE. WORD!
We got into the car and my mom just LAID into me. She started off by calling me an ungrateful bitch and extolling the virtues of this man (who cheated on her, gave her a permanent STI, raped her, and couldn’t keep a job to save his life) saying “He’s never done anything but to try and provide a place for us to live (We’d been homeless as a result of him twice) provide us with food and to try and create a good life for us. Then she looked in the rear view mirror and said “What’s he ever done to you!?”
That’s when I lost my mind and I just yelled “He masterbates in front of me!!!” She got quiet and then looked me in eye the from the mirror and said “You’re a liar! You’re just saying this so that I don’t allow him to move back in!” I don’t think I’ve experienced anything more painful than hearing the one person who’s meant to protect me call me a liar. I sat back feeling a cold breeze pass through my body and just cried quietly. I felt betrayed and alone.
Then she said “Show me how he does it.” so I did. Then she believed me. She then told me that we were going home to confront him. I told her that if she brought me home I would kill myself so she dropped me off at my friends house. She went home and confronted him and he admitted it. By this time I was 15 and he told her that he had been wanting to have sex with me since I was 12 when the abuse started.
Needless to say he didn’t move in and my mom made a report to the police. As a result I was asked things no 15 year old should have to think about. The interview itself was traumatic. I felt scared, naked and small. They told me since there was no penetration that they could only charge him with a gross misdemeanor. Isn’t that fucked up? He fled the state the day I went in to the interview. Good riddance.
Part of the reason this time of year is so difficult for me (fucked up family relations aside) is that I told my mom right around this date about my step dad. I had to be interviewed by the police around the end of December and my mom made me spend Christmas day with him because my youngest brother is his son and he wanted to spend the holiday with his son.
It’s took me until I was about 40 to get to a place where I didn’t feel extremely anxious during this time of the year. I would constantly say “I hate Christmas.” and my mom would gasp and say “I’ll never understand why you hate Christmas so much!” Um…how soon we forget.
When I was 18 the FBI called me to question me about him. It seems that his step son had gone missing and he was a suspect. Since he was a suspect he’d absconded and they were looking for him. I had NO idea where he was but I had no problem telling the agent that I hoped either he was in hell or that they found him and charged him so no one else could be harmed by him. I’m sure they contacted me due to the report I made with the police.
The last I heard about him was in 2002 when my mom called to tell me that he’d gone missing. No doubt he’d double crossed the wrong person. I was told he went camping and they found his campsite and all his effects but not him. He hasn’t been found since. At the time I said that I hope he died a painful death but since that time I’ve come to a place of peace.
I’ve forgiven him mostly because I know through my education that men like this aren’t just born this way they are created through the abuse they suffered. Apparently, his dad abused him as well. Physically and sexually. It’s sad. I’ve moved on with my life. I have a fantastic husband and four gorgeous boys. I have been working hard to teach them about having respect for women and that no means no and that even no response means no whether that woman is passed out or not saying anything. Both of those responses equal no.
Many times over the years I’ve asked myself if this is considered sexual assault. It was bad for sure but was it really sexual assault? According to the Department of Justice Sexual assault is defined as “Sexual assault is any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient.” So according to this I would say yes. This does fall under sexual assault.
Since this happened to me I’ve been assaulted several times including by and older man in the back of my store (he grabbed me and rubbed up against me and then told me he’d be back for more) and I was raped by an ex boyfriend. Both times I asked myself two questions:
- Did that really just happen?
- Is it really assault?
In both cases that answer is yes. I find it sad that as a woman when these things happen we have to ask ourselves these questions. We’ve been brought up in a society in which we are constantly told that the things that happened aren’t traumatic that we are making it up or over reacting. It’s not just sad it’s infuriating.
All these stories of women coming forward is encouraging because I hope that it indicates a new dawn where women aren’t slut shamed when they come forward with allegations of rape or assault. It’s also very difficult to hear these stories and realize this is SO prevalent as well as triggering, I hate that I have to use that catch phrase about myself but it’s true. I’ve had several nightmares about these assaults recently and I have to surmise that it comes from this being so heavily in the news. Especially the allegations made against Louis C.K. and Matt Lauer.
After I made the report to the police my mom made me go to intensive psychotherapy. I DID NOT want to go. I refused to cooperate for a full three months before I began to open up to my therapist. I saw her for 2 years and I am SO grateful that my mom made me go. I have friends who had similar things and things far worse than what I went through happen to them and they didn’t get the help they needed to work through it and I see how hard they struggle in their lives with drugs, alcohol and abusive men.
Counseling does work and I am living proof of this. These examples are just a small reason why I went into psychology. If you are or have experienced sexual trauma I highly recommend finding a good therapist and processing your trauma. It really does help.