The rest of the story…

27 06 2013

Everyone who knows me knows that I have been raped, and knows very personally how damaged I have been by it.  Few know the other side, because it took a lot of digging for me to get it:  It was so that I had the answers that I needed, not for anyone else.

Now I have been sucked in to this story that I found and the wave of opinions that followed, and I think its worth the telling.

Over a decade ago I moved back to the town I was raped in.  It had been a long time since I had lived there and little was familiar anymore.  The bar where we hung out was there but repainted and under another name.

That lonely street it was on had become a business district so little else looked the same.  My daughter lived in a new apartment complex just a bit further up the street so that I had to drive right past it to see her.   The first few times I could barely drive past without being sick, but it wasn’t long till it began to be just a part of the neighborhood she lived in.

We were out together in her car one day and I had this over whelming need to go looking for where I had been raped.  I hadn’t thought about it at all in a long time but that day I was driven by the feeling it had to be done right then.

My Daughter looked at me a bit worried, but took me where I asked her to.  It was miles out that road and I had only been there that one night over a decade before.  Didn’t know if I could even find it.  Then I saw it in the distance and the knot in my stomach said that we had to turn back, that was all the further I could go.

A long time past without a thought about it, when again I felt this overwhelming need to be there.  Again I was with my Daughter.  This time it was late and we drove right up to where it was.

The business was closed and almost looked abandoned.  We got out and climbed though the fence and looked around.  I looked in a window and the bed where I was raped was still there just as it had been years before.  That seemed to be enough and I let it go.

The last time we went there I had been obsessed with thoughts all day that I had to go there and called my Daughter.  She said that she would go with me.  This time we went when the business would be open.  I wanted to see him.  To know how he was.

We walked in the door and the man at the counter was not familiar at all.  He was waiting on a customer, so I looked around the room till there was no one left but the two of us.  On the wall by the door were a bunch of pictures posted on a pin-up board and one of them was Doug.

Seeing that face was painful and I was glad when I could get a moment alone with the guy at the counter.  I asked for Doug and he said, “There is no one here by that name”.  I told him that was his picture there on the wall and he said “ohhh, yea he died a few years back just before I started working here.”

I thanked him and he went back to working and as I was leaving I had this need to have that picture.  I grabbed it off the board as I left.  I was crying as I got into the car and showed it to my Daughter.  “MOM, I can’t believe you stole that picture!”  I didn’t know why but I knew I needed it.

That night I scanned it and put it on my computer.  It brought up a whole ton of feelings I had long forgotten so I just spent the night processing them all.  The next morning I went to take the picture back and talk to the guy at the counter and see if he knew any thing more.

When I came in this time no one was there and the same man was behind the counter.   I told him what I did and apologized for taking the photo.   “I’m sure that you can keep it, it seems to mean more to you than it would to anyone here”.

I told him I needed to know what happened to him.  “He was good friends with the mechanic down the street and was married I think.”   Here is the guys card.  I’m sure he would be happy to meet a friend of Doug’s and talk to you if you wished.

This time I couldn’t let it go.  I called the number on the card, to speak to this man who knew Doug so well.  “It’s funny how you should call now”, he said, “Yesterday was his birthday”.   “He committed suicide 3 years ago.”  He gave me the number of Doug’s wife, and said if I would like to come by and talk I was welcome to do so anytime.

I hung up and called her number and gave her my name.  She knew that I had been a friend of Doug’s but she didn’t seem to know  much more about me.  She said she loved him very much but that “he seemed a haunted man”.  “It was hard to get him to leave his room, then finally one day he just ended his life and left her and her daughter to deal with the loss”.

It isn’t every guy that will carry a shit load of guilt for getting away with what he did.  I am positive that this one did.  I think HE was the driving force that kept bringing me back there.  I think he needed to work it through as well.

I know Doug didn’t just go on like nothing happened.  I wasn’t the only victim that night.  I wrote a few poems and processed the grief for a while and have pretty much left it at praying that he finally has peace.  I know that after this that I did.

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We still don’t know how to deal with victims of Rape.

26 06 2013

This Morning I came across a picture of a child at Disney with the Headline “It happened to me: I was raped at Disney World and nobody cared”   IF you read the story the woman was not a child at the time and WASN’T RAPED AT DISNEY!

I had a very visceral reaction to the fact that they would post something so libelous.  The site routinely posts supposed first person accounts all the time under the subtitle of “It Happened To Me”.    I was extremely offended that anyone would do that!
What about free speech???  Doesn’t this person have a right to say what she feels happened no matter how inappropriate her blaming Disney was?  Yes she does and without the headline and photo the story was fine, but no one would care to read it.

The unfortunate fact is that I really feel that most people seeing that headline wouldn’t bother, yet that photo and headline will make an impression that will fuel their doubts about the safety of Disney World.

OK that was my first reaction but I have had days of reaction time now and can’t seem to let this go.  I am not the victim and I have no ties to Disney.   I am a rape survivor.  This person needs privately counseled in a way that helps her work through what happened, not further exploited.

In the post She is randomly assigning blame and it does nothing to help her situation.  It is clear from the account that she hasn’t sorted through her issues, and that nothing posted will bring about any real change in how people see victims.
As a society we often blame rape victims for their own predicament. I don’t want to imply that this woman was in any way guilty for what happened to her, nor for how she was treated afterword, but she is not getting what she needs from most of the posts people have left on that website.Now that I have spent some time there I hope that she never goes there at all.

There is a flood of posts that I think are just to flame people and keep some kind of interchange going between themselves and anyone they can engage to start a flame war with.

Wow…that people would out of boredom or some warped need of their own to be noticed say hurtful horrible damaging things just is beyond my comprehension.  It’s damaging beyond belief to someone in the mist of trying to sort through the blame and guilt they are dealing with after a rape.  I want to shake them and make them look at the damage they are doing and ask them if its really worth it!  Sadly I do believe that there are people that exist and can’t see beyond themselves to care about anyone else.

There is a camp of people out there that really are trying to change society’s view of victims.  Then we have those who would like to but just don’t know how.  The best place to learn is from those who make it their life’s work at the Rape Advocacy centers.

I really feel that this local Rape center needs to work with Disney so that if anyone has problems in the future, that they feel comfortable having them contact someone at the rape center FIRST, so that they get an advocate immediately to help them work through all the issues they will face.

The Rape Advocacy center in Orlando may have to do some major work to get Disney to trust them enough to do that but IT IS CRITICAL to the emotional welfare of these woman that they get that support.

Rape Victims are horrible at self avocation!  Most often their thinking is clouded by self-doubt and feelings of complicity.  It takes time to process those feelings and that compounds what happened.  They need support.

People’s attitudes about rape haven’t changed enough, and the person that’s been raped is in the best position to help change them, but NOT ALONE.

Very few people raped have been trained in how best to deal with people who are not supportive.  Advocates at these centers HAVE BEEN, and the more they are used and seen out in the community the more respect people will have for the victims.

If you have been Raped these centers are the best first contact you can have.  Call the hotline.  They even have a national toll free number who help you find the center near you.

Rape Crisis Hotline 1-888-956-RAPE (7273)

They will support you through the process.

They will help you figure out what to do next and know where to go in your area, to get you the help you need.  Just as important is the fact that budget cuts are a consistent threat and if victims don’t use the service it will cease to be an option in the future.





Flashbacks

12 06 2013

window

It’s late on a Thursday night in 1991 when the ambulance brings me into the back entrance and they take me inside.   The sound of the door is heavy and metallic clanging shut behind us.  They show me to a small bare white room with only a sink, a toilet and a bare mattress.

I curl up on the mattress and can’t sleep the words sticking my haid wrong wrong wrong wrong head and scaring me.  stop stop stop stop malfunction lockup lockup lockup lockup lockup … long animal like screams coming from other rooms…terrify me.

He is there “please, please, please, don’t, send, a man, in here!” … I am under the sink and won’t come out and cry; He returns again and again so that is where I stay.

This and the screaming go on late into the night.  Several cycles of me sleeping intermittently between the visits where he seems as uncomfortable as I am with his presence there.  They keep tormenting us both by sending him in again and again.

Time passes and I can’t stand my teeth.  I am tormented as much by them as by the men they keep sending into my room.  They just stand inside the door.  Out, out outoutoutoutoutoutout!, I scream at him.  But they don’t move.  When I turn and face the wall quiet he finally leaves.

The next one is just a kid and looks as scared as I am and I feel sorry for him.  We just stay in our assigned places till the time has passed and he too is allowed to leave.

I scramble back to my mattress and try again to sleep.  Words words words words…the chanter guy comes back and mumbles over the top of them so that i don’t hear them any more.

It must be getting close to morning as the screaming is back.  Long wild monkey wails of grief and torment.  ”48 hour hold”.  I can do this,  but then it is the weekend and no one comes; NO ONE.

I am alone for how long;  I don’t know.  I sleep till I can sleep no more and drink water from the sink.  The lights are always on and I can’t tell the day from the night.  The screams come and go and I am left alone.

My teeth are making me crazy and no one has been here for a very long time.  It is quiet again.  I try the door and it opens.

I hadn’t seen anything when I came in.  The fear was shutting me down.  Now I look out and mine is the first door in a long hall next to the nurses station.  A small square room with windows on all sides with the one that has a pass through and a metal vented circle to speak through on my side.

A much larger room surrounds it  with lots of chairs and a TV up in the corner high up on the wall.

The floor is brown with a path of cream tiles going all around the outside of the room just one tile space from the walls.  No one is out and I think if I stay on the cream tiles it is safe.

I slip out the door and walk that safe path to the window and whisper to the nurse.  ”may I have a toothbrush please?”  She makes me repeat it and it is almost more than I can do.  The tired weighs down on me again and the need to go back to my room.

She can see that it is hard for me and steps out and presses one into my hands.  It is cheep, white, and wrapped in cellophane with a small envelope of pink powder.

Suddenly there are people moving everywhere, someone brings me a peanut butter sandwich and chocolate milk I forget to follow the path and let them lead me to a table where I can sit down to eat.

For the first time since I came I realize that I am hungry.   I have no idea how long its been since I have eaten.  I manage a thank you but other than that we don’t speak.  When I am done I ask to go back to my room.

Now there is a problem: The table is in the middle of the room.  I don’t remember leaving the white trail of tiles against the wall but am suddenly very anxious about it.  Just do it; there is no other way!

I take several big steps and get back to the wall and am breathing hard when I get there.  Now I can safely make my way around the room to the corner, turn, then to the first wall of the nurses station, turn, to the corner, turn, to the corner, turn, carefully retracing the path back to my room.

When I step inside I am unsure that this is the room I left.  Sink and toilet are in the same place but now there is a cot so that the mattress is up off the floor and there are crisp clean white sheets, a blanket and a pillow on it.

I went to the sink, wet the brush and poured the pink powder into my palm and rubbed the brush into it.  I scrubbed and scrubbed my teeth until they returned to their normal state of smoothness.

The sheets smell of bleach and it is such a comfort to slip between them that in moment I am sound asleep… but as I do I get it…They offered me nothing till I made some request.  I did something right and this was my reward.

Monday comes and the therapist has me brought to his office.  They have extended my 48 hour hold “my behavior is to bizarre, to return me to the general population”.  I cry as they take me back to my room.  It is clear they can keep me as long as I don’t conform to what they want from me.

I am assigned a psychiatrist.  He asks what medications they have given me in the past and I tell him that everyone wants to give me Lithium and that I hate it because it makes me feel drugged.  I tell him my Dr’s keep telling me its only a salt and CAN’T do that.

He says IF you need Lithium you feel nothing when you take it, but if a normal person takes Lithium they feel drugged.  Finally I feel heard.  I have found someone who listens and will work with me to fix this.

He is trying me on some medication.  I take it the first few times but don’t like it’s effects and begin to refuse to take it.  I get called back into his office and he says he will change it.

Now I am lucid in my mind but my body is stiff and robotic.  I feel the drool from the side of my mouth and can only imagine what I must look like.  I grieve for what I have become…this shell of a person that can’t function or interact with others in any tangible way.

I get it.  I feel angry and tricked.  I have a right to refuse but they can do worse.  I will do what ever he wants.  Get me off this and out of here.  I can’t be this anymore.

Once I start to co-operate I am off the locked ward and sharing a room with someone else.  My roommate tries to cut her wrist with a safety razor, I am thinking of ways to remove the blade from the plastic but say nothing.  She is an idiot.

I ask for something to draw on and am given a rather nice flip book of blank paper and some pencils.  I am beyond grateful for the gift.

Now I am required to go to group.  There are men in the group.  The first day they confront me about my behavior when I was first admitted.  I tell them I was afraid.  Of what?  I say “I don’t know”.

The groups facilitator is quiet a moment like he is thinking about that.  Then he says.  ”I believe that”.  ”I really believe that you don’t know” and he moves on to the next person.

Every day I take my drugs.  I go to meals, and to our exercise periods, and I go to group.  Other than that I lay on my bed and draw.  I think about my children and wonder what they know.

Some how I let it out that i have been raped in one of those groups.  I don’t even know when or how.  I just know that one day I am in a group with a guy who has been in them with me before and he is talking about “going down to the boulevard and picking them sweet young strawberries.”WP_003086

I ask him what he means, and he says he picks up underage girls that will trade sex for drugs.  I totally lose it then and think I will rip his hair out, I am screaming as they pull me from the room and He is saying “I ain’t the one who raped you bitch! “

That night I am dreaming that I am sitting on my bed and there are lots of pills on the night table.   I am sliding them off and taking them one at a time saying “I don’t want to go home”.  ”I don’t want to go home”, and taking another and another.

They don’t make me go to group anymore.

I have been in almost 2 months when I am called in for a long conference with the psychiatrist who has been prescribing my drugs.  He tells me they are thinking of letting me go home and I break down and cry.

He asks about the side effects of the drugs they have been giving me lately and I tell him that I don’t notice them anymore.  I feel good.  In fact that this is the first time anyone has given me anything that seemed like it really helped.  They give me one months supply of med’s and release me to go home.

For the first three days I am curled up on the couch when I am not asleep I pretend that I am so that I don’t have to deal with anyone, till I realize that no one will push me.  I can do what I can and rest when I must.

Finally I begin to do what I used to do.  I wake up and clean and help with homework and we learn what it is to be a family again.  In a short time I go back to work.  At first its clear they are watching me but before long they forget to do so and everything is normal again.

I have my life back and that is more than I ever hoped for just 2 short months ago.








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