I am sure by now most of you are familiar with the name of Brock Turner, the rapist from Stanford. Over the past week I have read more than my fair share of articles and information regarding this incident and, each time, under the surface of my skin, a rage has begun to bubble up...fiery and ready to erupt. The disgust at his sentence, the letter from his father leaving me utterly nauseated and full of contempt. I have felt myself begin to obsess, devouring each word. Often times trembling when the feelings became overwhelming.
Yesterday I had to step back and away from the articles. It was only two short years ago that I was entrenched in an intensive therapy for PTSD stemming from childhood molestation and a brutal rape as a teenager. While in therapy, I would find myself immersed in any story regarding instances of rape and the seemingly never ending injustice for sexual assault victims. Penn State was like a drug I couldn't quit. This would only encourage nightmares to invade my sleep and begin to swallow me back into the grisly mouth of the black hole of despair. Eventually, my therapist and husband "banned" me from reading about rape of sexual assault as I finished my therapy.
It has been almost fifteen months since the monsters plagued my mind during slumber. Monday night, the ugly showed back up, paying no mind to not being the little bit welcome. And in my nightmares, I was once again been transported to the scariest place I know... the inside of a dumpster corral. I know that this has become a media sensation for the simple strength of the survvor and for the miscarriage of justice, but for me, the dumpster detail has packed a powerful punch.
One part of my PTSD encompassed having to vocalize one of my instances of abuse; sometimes it was the childhood abuse and other times the rape. Usually we would hone in on one particualr moment of abuse that occured in a dumpster corral while it was raining. As part of my therapy I would rehash the abuse verbally, spelling out the intimate details of the most horrific moments of my life as a three year old little girl. The sessions would be recorded and I would tell the story over and over until my hour was up. My therapist and I would discuss how detached I was, what I was feeling, etc. Then every day, twice a day, I would listen to the hour long recordings of my assault. Each session I was given homework and often times it included walking to the place I feared most, the dumpster corral. I would have to stand in there with the door locked for a few minutes at a time until I was able to do it without panicking or any major reaction.
To get to the simple place that I was even able to stay in there for more than 30 seconds took me almost a year. Twelve full months of walking towards what I feared the most, the sweet and pungent smell of the garbage feasting upon my nostrils, and I would once again be transported to a tiny blonde hair blue eyed toddler crying on asphalt through the pain asking my babysitters son when I could see my momma. It took almost eighteen agonizing months to be able to actually place garbage where it belonged and not run like hell back to my house to take a shower to wash the stench of the memories off of me. It took forever and a day but I came upon the realization there is no soap strong enough for a feat of that magnitude. The love of Jesus is the only thing that has come close for me and even still, it lingers.
That is what less than fifteen minutes of action led to in my life. The rape that occurred when I was just 14 years old lasted even less than "15 minutes of action." I am not even sure it lasted a full ten minutes. My memory of it seemed as if he was pawing at my body, sweating over me and grunting for an eternity, but with his hand over my mouth and whispered threats of having to hurt me if I didn't stop fighting what "I knew I wanted"...the entirety of how long it lasted is suspect.
However long it lasted is a trivial detail of the event, because the mere second it started, I was handed a life sentence. He may not have physically killed me, but he murdered my spirit just as certainly as if my body had been lowered into the ground three days later. I had never even kissed a boy before that night. I was giddy with excitement and slightly timid. Instead, the remaining innocence I had left was violently stolen from me that night and the ability to truly understand intimacy and all it entailed was ripped away.
I lost all sense of self worth and deemed myself tainted and ruined. I was broken and shattered, the pieces of me to fragmented to even try to put back together. I cared little for my body, it was no longer a temple to respect but a toy for whoever was in the mood to play. Then, mere eight months later, death beckoned and I answered the call. I took hundreds of pills and suffered cardiac arrest. My parents were given a 50 percent chance of my survival. I did survive (obviously;) with frontal lobe brain damage that causes seizures and ten days later I was released from ICU and the real journey began.
I was admitted for my first psychiatric stay, of what would become many. I would develop eating disorders. First anorexia, then bulimia, the second led to a ruptured esophagus and more heart problems. I would beg to die many more times before my 19th birthday. I was hospitalized 13 separate times, all over the east coast and before I could legally vote. I would be diagnosed and un diagnosed to many times to keep count. I would become involved in very abuse relationships, one that only ended when he put a cigarette out on my arm because I fetched him the wrong beverage.
Eventually I stopped treatment and pulled off the facade of "normalcy" for awhile. I got married and my ability to pretend I was fine ended when I struggled with prolonged infertility and miscarriages. This is when everything I thought I had put to bed came crashing back. I was at a place where I could no longer function without intervention. I was once again hospitalized and, in addition to my other diagnosis, I was given one of PTSD. Shortly after my release, I began therapy for two to three days a week for a little over two years. It ultimately saved, not only my life, but my marriage and multiple facets of my life.
I have always wondered who I might have been had two separate assailants not altered my story. What might my life look like. I will never know because the me that was ceased to exist in those "minutes of action"
This is a small snippet of my story, but my pages are still being written and right now I am in control of them. My path is one I am proud to not only walk down, but sometimes trot. I was blessed enough to always be believed by my family, to have friends who have showered me with love, to have a husband with more grace than most could ever muster and most importantly, I was privileged enough to have fantastic insurance that provided me with the treatment to get well. It is a privilege I do not take for granted ( that is another blog post;)
I want you to know that if this has happened to you that you are not alone. That no matter how steep the mountain may seem to you to have to overcome, it is possible. It will not be easy and at times it will feel almost unbearable, but the other side has the fresh air you so desperately seek.
To the anonymous strong woman in this case...your words have rocked me to my core. your strength has taken away my breath, may you be surrounded by love. You have my prayers as you struggle in this time. I cannot imagine the added dimension of the intimate details of my assaults being plastered everywhere for people to comment on and dissect. All my heart to you.
and in the meantime, let's call it what it is #rapenotaction
if you want to know more of my story, click here
Friends, if you wonder why I often talk about my past. If you think I focus on it to much, that I should let it go, the justice in this case is why my story and any one else's matters and must never be silenced.